Thursday, June 6, 2019

DNF-fing for mental health

While I fully support people who don't finish books, I've never been big on DNF-ing a book. The logic to DNF makes sense. Life is short. This is a hobby and why should I spend my free time doing something I don't enjoy? That's silly. And yet, I tend to have trouble stopping a book mid-read unless I'm really pissed off at it. If it's just mostly bad, I'll usually finish it. Hell, if it's really bad, I'll finish it just so I can write about how bad it was. But in general, if I start a book, I'm going to finish it.
But I think this was the first time I've put down a book that was pretty good and well written because I just couldn't with the story.

I was reading The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch. I got a copy for free for World Book Day and free is always exciting. I didn't know anything about the book but the description was interesting so I thought I'd give it a try. Here is that description:
Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin. 
Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.
See, that sounds pretty interesting, right? And there's going to be violence. I mean it's about a town executioner and involves a murdered child found. But I like true crime and horror stuff, I can do violence.
I started reading the book one day on the train, so I had an hour of (mostly) uninterrupted time. The writing was good. The story opens with violence, but the violence isn't glorified. It doesn't shy away, from the violence. I liked the characters of Jakob and Magdalena.

But as I read, I found I wasn't enjoying myself. Because, and I don't think this involves spoilers, but there's a lot of child death. Obviously there is that one mentioned in the description, but the deaths go on, mostly as a way of life of that time. Again, it doesn't seem to be gratuitous; it seems like that is what it was like. Children died in a lots of horrible ways and childbirth was extremely dangerous.

So I kept reading on that train ride. But when I got home, I put down the book. There were a few times I had the opportunity to actually sit down and read, which are few and far between now that the little monster is here. But the thought of picking up the book...I just couldn't do it.

I still didn't give up the book yet. I just decided "Now isn't the time, but I'll pick it up later." And then "later" came in the form of another train ride, and I didn't have much of an excuse to not read. So I picked it up again and thought "It's not so bad." But then. But then.

There was a new character introduced. I think a minor character. A little orphan girl who was remembering her family. In particular her mother, who died giving birth to her younger brother. Her younger brother died a few days later because with the mother dead, there was no breast milk for the baby. And that was when I quit. I couldn't do it anymore. So I put the book down and listened to music the rest of the way.
Turns out, since having the monster, I can't do child death. It's upsetting, and its stressful, and this is my free time. Why should I stress myself out? Why should I be crying on the train on the way to work over the back story of a minor character?
Obligatory baby pic to break up sad stuff
It wasn't till I was getting ready to go home, facing reading more of the book, when I realized I don't need to read this anymore. No one is making me. It's 100% up to me what I do with my free time and that free time is limited, especially with the monster. And it was this moment where I felt this weight was lifted. I didn't have to read this and I wasn't going to read this.

So maybe someday I'll revisit this book. But for now, I'm happy with my choice. And HIGHLY recommend DNF-ing if it's going to make you happier.

Monday, June 3, 2019

May Reading Wrap Up

I just realized I didn't post once in May. Not once. My bad, guys. That was not my intention. I thought I was getting better at the posting thing. Except then the goblin decided that sleeping at night was lame but getting real mobile was awesome, and so that has been taking up a lot of energy. Seriously, I had to buy the little dude shoes, which is not something I thought I'd need to do for a while still but daycare said differently and time is flying.*
In book news, I finally got connected to my local library and OH MAN, did you know they have tons of books and audiobooks and comedy albums and they just...like let you borrow them?? No charges or anything. Pretty sweet deal I 100% should have started taking advantage of at least a decade ago. Let's look at those stats now, shall we?

Books Read
5
Dark Water Bride by Marty Ross
My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places by Mary Roach
The Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar
Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women & the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
I also started another book. However, I had to put that book down for reasons I was going to go into here but figure I can save it for another post. Maybe that'll help me keep writing.

Pages read
864

Fiction
40%

POC author
20%
Not 0% so that's something!

Female author
60%

US author
80%

Rereads
20%

Book format
audiobook: 100%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible: 60%
Library: 40%

Decades published
2000s: 20%
2010s: 80%

Resolution books
40%
Dark Water Bride is by a UK author
The Evil Eye is by Indian-American author
Both were Audible productions that were more like radio plays than a narrated a book and both were super fun. Highly recommended

*In the middle of this the little one awakened from his nap and is demanding just so much attention, so my plans of finishing this post AND another one have been thwarted. It's a cute thwarting but still.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

April Reading Wrap Up

I thought this might be my most prolific month (in pages anyway) since the monster's appearance, but alas, second best only. Still, this was fairly successful and almost entirely due to audiobooks. Good thing they are an option or I'd never get any reading done.
Obligatory baby picture
Of course, the challenge with audiobooks is what you're doing while you're listening to them. In my case it's a lot of commuting and then cleaning up around the house. The cleaning part is no big deal but driving. If anyone was looking closely, I'm sure they were wondering why this lady is crying in her car at 8am while sitting at the stoplight because it doesn't matter how many times I read it, The Graveyard Book brings up EMOTIONS. Something I hadn't considered when I started listening to it

Books read
5
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting by Jennifer Traig
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Number of pages read
1,676

Fiction
80%

POC Author
0%
It's no good. I know. I will try to do better.

Female authors
20%

US authors
60%

Rereads
20%

Book club/readalong
20%

Book format
audiobook - 80%
ebook - 20%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible - 100%

Decades published
2000s - 20%
2010s - 80%

Resolution books
40% both for being non-US authors (Neil Gaiman and Anthony Horowitz) BUT they're both UK authors so it meets the resolution but like, not that impressive, especially considering how bad some of those other stats are

Monday, April 15, 2019

September 2018 Mini-Reviews

I am so close to being done with the mini-reviews for 2018. How exciting is that? Will I get to some actual, for real, full reviews sometime soon? It's always possible! Don't expect full reviews of all of these books I've done mini-reviews for. More likely I will pick and choose those I wish to write more about. Cos it's my blog and I get to do what I want.

Also, for those who are paying close attention to these posts, you may notice that the last time I did mini-reviews, it was for stuff I read in May and June. And then this post is for September. So it would seem I am missing a couple months. EXCEPT, July happens to be when the goblin showed up so my reading over that month and the following tended to be sparse and re-reads.*

Speaking of the goblin, he keeps trying to stand now and it is both exciting and terrifying all at once, which his basically how this whole baby thing has gone.
He's so proud and yeah, the mattress was lowered that night. 

Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
You know those books that you just see a lot and the cover is interesting and it sort of wears you down so you finally pick it up and read it? That's basically what happened here. So good job to the cover designer. The book itself was...fine. It was fine. It's a memoir, I like those. About a woman (yay) in what is often a man's world (chef) though she doesn't much address this. There's much talk about food and I like food so the ingredients are there, but it didn't really come together for me. She's not the most likable narrator which and sometimes it was hard to sympathize with her, when clearly that's what the story was looking for. She comes off as arrogant a number of times, but without the charisma to bring you to her side so even if she has the talent, you sort of get to the point where you don't want to admit it. But her writing is engaging, at least when she's focused on the kitchen and the food.
Gif rating:


Choose Your Own Disaster by Dana Schwartz
Another memoir! What can I say, when I'm looking for a comfort read, memoirs are the way I go, especially memoirs from funny ladies. This is written like a cross between a Buzzfeed quiz and a choose your own adventure book, which was fun but a little gimmicky and sort of a pain on Kindle. About being a white lady in NYC in your early twenties, covering mistakes from bad relationships to eating disorders. The book was funny but ultimately not that memorable. Or at least I can't remember a lot of it now but in Schwartz's defense, I read a lot of it during middle-of-the-night feedings and in general there was a lot of sleep deprivation going on, so this may not be the book's fault. Entertaining but not all that unique (format notwithstanding).
Gif rating:

*Full list of reads July - September 2018
July
Agorafabulous by Sara Benincasa
August
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melineck
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
September
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
Choose Your Own Disaster by Dana Schwartz

Monday, April 1, 2019

March Reading Wrap Up

March is always a pretty neat month cos it's got my birthday and Tom's birthday in it. We spent my birthday hanging out in Central Park, since it was finally a nice day. We ate lots of food which is how I love celebrating things. And besides, I got to spend it with these two, so that was pretty much the best.
Reading-wise was sort of...it was fine. A lot of audiobooks and I find I have a hard time getting into fiction audiobooks so that caused some slow downs with reading but I did it and it all turned out good. Plus there was Kid Gloves which I'd been waiting for since at some point when I was pregnant and heard Knisley was doing a book about pregnancy and was VERY EXCITED. I might even write a real review for that one. Who knows. Spoiler alert: so good!

Let's get to those stats, shall we.

Books Read
5
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
Sakina’s Restaurant by Aasif Mandvi
A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain

Number of Pages Read
979

Fiction
60%

POC authors
20%
Not great but not nothing so I’LL TAKE IT

Female authors
40%

US authors
40%

Rereads
0% - that’s been a while

Book Format
Audiobook: 60%
Paperback: 40%

Where’d I get the book
Chain bookstore: 20%
Indie: 20%
Kindle/Audible: 60%

Decades published
2000s: 20%
2010s: 80%

Resolution books
60%
How to Be Good and Early Riser are by UK authors (Nick Hornby is English and Jasper Fforde Welsh)
Sakina’s Restaurant is by a POC author

Monday, March 25, 2019

May and June 2018 mini-reviews

Posting and reading seems to ebb and flow but I am trying to work out a rhythm. I mean, life keeps trying to throw me off said rhythm but still. Rhythm is attempted.

I'm still making my way through mini-reviews from last year, so hey, let's see how that's going

May Reads
And a Bottle of Rum: The History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis
This was an impulse buy while looking through rum related cookbooks and then I brought it on vacation when we went to Hawaii last summer because it seemed like a good beach read. I mean, it's a history book, sure, but the focus is on rum, so that's a fun way in. And hey, there's a section all about tiki drinks and yeah, they aren't actually from Hawaii but they pretended to be so it was somewhat environmentally relevant. If you need a gimmick to get you to read about history (I tend to need a gimmick) then this was entertaining. And an older gentleman staying at our hotel had read the same book so there. Building bridges.
Gif rating:

June Reads

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
This was so scary. But it's not a horror novel. It's a memoir. Not even a true crime memoir. No crime, just the human body deciding to go nuts in the weirdest way. It's never good when you hear doctors going "Huh. That's...interesting." Though I suppose it's an improvement over doctors not believing you. Fascinating read and while it does go into medical terminology, it was still easy enough for a layman (aka, me) to understand.
Gif rating:


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Dystopian? Science Fiction? Lit fic? See, this is why I hate trying to categorize what genre a book falls into because what if it falls into so many? Like this one, about an unnamed middle eastern country that people are desperate to leave. There are people who can get you out but there's a cost and of course risks. And doors that will lead you...somewhere. There's a love story, two people who find each other right as things reach a crescendo and fleeing is the best option.
Gif rating:


Hope Never Dies by Andrew Schaffer
Biden and Obama, detective duo. Listen, if you aren't sold on that description, I don't know what to tell you. Is it the best detective novel? It is not? Is it entertaining as hell? Yes of course it is. And it makes people stop on the train to laugh at the cover. Plus the story stays juuuuuuuuuust this side of ridiculous, so you could almost believe this is what Biden and Obama are doing now that they're "retired".
Gif rating:

So there you go. Pretty good couple of months.

Full May & June reading lists
May
And a Bottle of Rum: The History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Glitch by Elisabeth Cohen
June
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer
People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann