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« August, 2022 »

A short book that grew out of a Humans of New York story about an older Black woman who used to be a very popular burlesque dancer (among other things) in New York City in the 1970s and talks extremely frankly about (some of) her experiences in that world. It has some neat illustrations, but they didn’t all match--some were illustrations of places in the book, some were actual photos of the people in the book--and the book had an oddly large font that made it seem less of a real book than it might have been otherwise. My friends who follow HONY on Instagram were already aware of this story which was serialized there and starting from that point might have made this narrative make sense. For a book that started out as a sort of “tell all” there were a few reveals at the end of things that didn’t make it into the book that were surprising to hear were left out.

The Sleepless

A really good take on the idea of a possible future where people don’t need to sleep, or maybe some of them don’t need to, and the implications for that and the lengths people will go to control that situation. It starts off with a mysterious murder at a media agency and expands from there. The lead character is hard to get a handle on as he stumbles through things but the overall plot is good, complex and doesn’t go TOO deep while still managing to be interesting and entertaining.


An intense “Go back into the past to fix the future while someone tries to mess with you from the far future” book which could have been about five times as long and I still would have really enjoyed it. It’s a great story that gradually reveals what the hell is going on but you don’t know for certain until really the last few pages but it doesn’t feel confusing or smarmy. This novella really stuck with me.

Gender Euphoria

A really engaging book of essays by trans, non-binary, and intersex writers of various backgrounds talking about the times they felt RIGHT in their bodies and happy about who they were and/or where they were in their lives. A lot of different stories. There is definitely some trauma among the good news stories but it’s not the overarching dynamic. Joyful and a good read.

Drunk On All Your Strange New Words

A neat take on a post-contact future where translators have to be employed to help the aliens communicate with people from Earth, on Earth. And translating makes them woozy. And it’s a real JOB job. When a crime is committed against one of the people from another planet, this set up gets complicated fast. I feel like the wor5ld that Robson built is believable and yet somewhat foreign. This book is ambitious but I think it delivers on what it’s trying to do.

Ghost Light

This is the last book (so far?) in this series which I have overall really enjoyed. Jones now has a co-author and the books seem slightly less complex but with better interpersonal interactions and character growth. Not a lot of bush piloting in this one. Active is working out some of his own stuff which can be frustrating sometimes (when you’re reading thinking "Just go to therapy!!") but the case itself is interesting and I hope Jones continues the series.

Portrait of an Unknown Woman

The most recent in this series which is really supposed to be after Allon has retired, no seriously this time for real. Almost no Israeli assassin stuff and chock full of art world stuff for those who have missed that aspect to his novels. The story felt a bit implausible and needlessly complex, but it’s the same old characters in a less-harrowing-than-usual story.

All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep

Henry does a great job talking about his frustration with and anger about American racism (and White nonsense) and his creative and strategic responses to them, and the friends he lost along the way. This book covers his gradual self-awakening about someone who not only cared deeply about racial justice but wanted to (and did) DO SOMETHING about it. The more he got involved, the more he shed White friends. Eye-opening for me as someone who means well, tries to do well, but could easily fall into a “white friend” category and needs to be more careful and thoughtful.

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing

This is the second one I’ve tried in this series. It was fine, not great. There was some implausible science--people swear they’ve seen an apparition which turns out to have been created through entirely normal means, I didn’t buy it. It’s too hot to read about people suffering through intense heat waves.

Dirtbag Massachusetts

This book was a deeply relatable set of essays about growing up a certain kind of poor boy in rural MA and the complex class issues surrounding that. As someone whose parents also left the MA cities for the MA rural life and kind of lost it, I read it with interest. The book coheres a bit unevenly in that it jumps back and forth in time a little because of the nature of some of these essays. Fitzgerald was raised by parents with problems in that “raised by wolves” way some people talk about. At the same time he’s currently a white man in America doing well. He’s mostly aware of this essential odd juxtaposition, and occasionally isn’t. He probably has (or had) a drinking problem. He had a poor body image and now he’s doing okay. He’s made up with his family. I probably dated a LOT of guys like him in high school and so it was weird to read something like this, but also very very useful.

The Big Empty

This was the first in this series which Jones wrote with his co-author Patricia Watts. The book seemed shorter and slightly more linear than some of the previous ones. There was more interpersonal stuff, maybe almost too much as one of the characters struggles with her feelings towards her pregnancy, and the usual cast of characters you’ve grown to expect.

The Case of the Missing Servant

I had mixed feelings about this one. It’s about Vish Puri, an Indian detective in Delhi by a White British author. I enjoyed the mystery generally and the setting was fascinating. At the same time, I don’t know enough about the culture to know if the author was being true to it in any real way (his bio implies that he has background but then of course it would). While reading it I just had an odd gut feeling about it because of the pronouncements it made about India and the quirky nicknames that the main character gave his employees. I will try the next one. Also it was fully too hot while I was reading it and everyone’s sweaty and borderline miserable in the book so it was a poor time-of-year fit.

Run: Book One

Another graphic novel about the life of John Lewis, taking place after the events in March. This is Book 1. I assume there will be more based on the title but since Lewis died I am less clear on that and it was not mentioned in the afterword. This book talks about the South after the Voting Rights Act passed (and how little changed) and Lewis’s ouster from SNCC which changed his life dramatically.