What I Read: March 2019
I’m currently in a reading slump. Okay, it’s probably not actually a reading slump. It’s probably that I’m not particularly excited about the book I’ve been reading this week — or I haven’t had enough time to read or I haven’t been able to read more than a chapter at a time because there’s too much good TV or or or. But then I look back on what I’ve read this month alone and I’m genuinely impressed with myself. Every single one of these four books was not only completely different from the last, they were also all books that I genuinely loved. (I read a couple of duds too. But I’m not here to talk about those books.
Daisy and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was wildly entertaining and incredibly heartfelt. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of the book, which I finished reading literally one day before the novel’s publication. I’m so in love with this book’s style — all interview, which means it’s all dialogue — and tone. I was talking to a friend this morning who gave up on the book in the first few pages because he didn’t care for the premise (an oral history of a thinly veiled Fleetwood Mac-esque band) and it got me thinking about what exactly I did like. My own artistry is in this incredibly musical space these days, so I latched onto that language and process right away.
But it’s more than that. I’m fascinated with this idea of fan fiction because I’m starting a project from that space as well. I’m imagining the history of two Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir type figure skaters — using GIFs and memes as my only source of inspiration. So it was so fun to see how another writer approached the fan element.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas was so damn good. I read it in three days in between shifts and on buses and pretty much anywhere I could bring a book. I loved The Hate U Give for all the reasons everyone loved The Hate U Give, but On the Come Up was on another level. I was particularly drawn to the way Thomas examined the predatory nature of music producers. And the rap lyrics that Thomas wrote to score this novel were so damn good. That alone was worth the read, but the plot and characters kept me engaged from first page to last.
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang got me back into journaling, which is honestly why I haven’t been reading as much at night. Instead, I’m finding myself reflecting on my day and checking in with my own mental health. Wang’s essays are incredibly honest and wide ranging, giving readers a peek into, for lack of a better phrasing, her brain. It’s the first time I’ve genuinely thought about schizophrenia. Rather, I’ve never thought about schizophrenia in an authentic way, in a way that wasn’t masked and obscured by offensive pop culture portrayals or demonized villainy.
Theatre of the Unimpressed by Jordan Tannahill was suggested to me by a theatre friend, naturally. This friend knew that I’d been frustrated with the over development of one of my plays, the general problem of too much mediocre theatre on stage, and the slow slow speed of our industry. I read this book as both a manifesto and an antidote. And I’m so glad that I did.