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What I Read: July 2019

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The majority of my reading for July was comics and graphic novels. It’s funny how things work out that way, even when you rely on the library for your reading material. Big Questions by Anders Nilsen arrived with plenty of time for our graphic novel book club meeting, but it was followed shortly after by both volumes of Skyward by Joe Henderson & Lee Garbett and The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui.

I won’t get too into Big Questions, mainly because I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with my book club yet. (We meet Saturday.) But I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was diving into the world of these confused and helpless birds every time I sat down with it. The trade publication, which assembled every Drawn & Quarterly issue of the comic, made me feel like I was lifting weights each time I sat down to read. It was physically heavy, a match, I suppose, to the heavy philosophical matters these birds navigate.

Both volumes of Skyward were beautiful and fun to read. I’m pretty over this comics trope of killing a hero’s parents in order to set them free/give them a path to seek vengeance, but other than that I really loved it. I was told that there’s only one more volume on the horizon, that the comic is wrapping very very soon. I’ll be eager to see how the creators wrap everything up, but I don’t want this to be the end of Willa’s journey. Someone please turn this into a superhero movie! It’s so damn good.

The Best We Could Do was messy and heartbreaking and everything I could have ever wanted from a graphic memoir. The way Thi Bui portrays her parents and digs into their pasts is done with such care — both thorough and respectful. I loved it.

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The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli is an absolute masterpiece. It took me several weeks to read — it’s dense. But it’s dense with poetry, dense with language, dense with fractured perspectives and a family that’s falling apart. I’ve always loved Luiselli’s writing, but her novels were slim, digestible in a weekend. I was lucky enough to see her speak at Seattle Arts and Lectures earlier this year and knew immediately that I had to read her latest. The 400 pages packed with text no longer scared me. I was aching to read this book.

If you’re looking for a road trip novel that contends with the real world ripples and consequences of the crisis at the US-Mexico border, The Lost Children Archive is for you.

For August, I’m relieving myself from the deadlines of library return dates. I have so many books in my apartment that I’ve never read — paperback novels and collections of essays that I’ve cast aside in favor of shinier, newer library books. I have too many deadlines in my life right now. I don’t need to add yet another from the library. I want to love the library at the end of this.

I’m not reading any slower, knowing that I own the book — that I can savor it. But I am enjoying the experience more. I pick up a book because I want to. And it’s nice. It’s so nice.