In October I took a break from fantasy while expanding the voices I was reading. I finally got to some highly anticipated books AND hit my 52nd book of the year, therefore meeting my 2022 challenge (Yay!). Truthfully I find New Years Resolutions to be silly, but it still feels good to make one (read more) and actually DO THE THING. Wow, Meredith, what progress.
On to the reads!
When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
When Women Were Dragons is an unapologetically feminist novel about “The Great Dragoning” – a remarkable period in a time of conformity when hundreds of thousands of women – mothers – spontaneously dragoned. After it happened it became uncouth – illegal even – to discuss the events of that day. We see this event, prior and subsequent years through the eyes of Alex, an intelligent girl growing up in a time where a girl was expected to marry out of high school and certainly not attend college.
What I didn’t learn until after reading the book was that it was dedicated to Christine Blasey Ford. Barnhill was so incensed after watching the Brett Kavanaugh Hearings that she decided to write about the oppression of women and how they, in some ways, reclaim their power.
It’s a book that has stuck with me and has some absolutely breathtaking writing. I’d like to think there’s a little bit of dragon in us all.
Rating: 4 Lindsey Buckingham’s
My Life As a Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)Popular Culture by Guy Branum
Truly no genre of book is more “Meredith” than a pithy memoir chockfull of delicious pop culture morsels written by a gay man. So, it comes as no surprise that I absolutely adored My Life as a Goddess by comedy writer Guy Branum. His stories had me feeling all the feels and laughing out loud (seriously his Chelsea Clinton story is wild).
It’s a fabulous read and you’ll learn about a part of California you probably know nothing about (I know I didn’t).
Rating: 4.5 Lindsey Buckingham’s
Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions by Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi
I have to out myself for a second. I totally missed on the cover how it says “a novel of interlocking stories” and thought I was a genius when I realized early on that characters from other stories were appearing in new characters’ stories (insert face palm emoji).
The style of this book reminded me somewhat of Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola in terms of the writing. The book centers around Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape, young girls who meet at a Nigerian boarding school, and the way their lives – and their families – twist and weave together and apart throughout the following decades.
Without giving too much away, we get to see the girls’ perspectives in 2050, which I found fascinating and wish we got more of. The only thing I didn’t love about this book was that the ending felt so abrupt. That was probably intentional, but I felt like I was just dropped out of their lives. It’s probably a good sign that I wanted to know more.
Rating: 4 Lindsey Buckingham’s
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
A Woman is No Man follows the dueling stories of Isra – a young Palestinian woman in an abusive marriage living in Brooklyn, NY in the 90s with her husband’s family while raising her four daughters and years later, Deya, her eldest daughter who finds herself of a similar situation with her grandmother, Fareeda, who is trying to arrange her teenage granddaughter’s marriage in a increasingly changing, modern world.
I found the book absolutely fascinating and the plot laid out in such a way that I needed to keep reading to figure out what happened. What did bother me is how repetitive some of the conversations between characters became. We understood, “a woman is no man” after the 50th time it is said or illustrated to another character. I think a little more editing would have tightened this book up a bit and made it a better read, but still, I recommend it for its storytelling and glimpse into a culture that I personally didn’t know a ton about.
Rating: 3.5 Lindsey Buckingham’s
Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret
by Craig Brown
I have somewhat of a double life.
And by that I mean I have a TikTok where I mostly tell stories about historical figures, royalty, old Hollywood marriages, etc. I’ve done a bunch of videos on Princess Margaret and the book that kept coming up about HRH was this biography by Craig Brown. Ninety-Nine glimpses is literal; the book contains 99 chapters, some as short as half a page, others 6 or 7 pages long. It’s a departure from the typical stuffy royal biography; full of facts, yes, but also stories from those who met her (primarily at dinner parties where she could cause quite the scene). Brown also muses about the role of a biography and how much stock one can take in a biography since it’s based off of accounts from other people. He gives a few examples of accounts of Princess Margaret that, depending on who you’re speaking to, shift ever so slightly, but the impact is drastically different. It’s sort of meta and I like it.
This book definitely isn’t the end all be all of biographies on Princess Margaret, but a good starter book if you want some tidbits about her life. I’m seeking out a heftier biography on the Princess (and some of her family members) next.
Rating: 3 Lindsey Buckingham’s
That’s it for October. Onto November!