Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for March, 2016…
Jam on the Vine, by LaShonda Katrice Barnett – The fictionalized story of an actual historical figure, Jam on the Vine introduces Ivoe Williams, who along with her lover, Ona, founded and ran the first African-American female-run newspaper. We meet Ivoe as a young girl and see her struggle through hardships and injustices with the help of her love of words, and cheer as she falls in love with Ona and grows into a determined and, ultimately, a successful woman. I thought this book was wonderful – but fair warning, there are some scenes of violence that are very distressing (up to my threshold, which is admittedly not that high, but any more violent and I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish the book – so if you’re sensitive, be forewarned).
My Man Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse – I needed something a little lighter after reading about horrible violence in the Jim Crow South, and Jeeves always does the trick. This wasn’t my favorite – it’s the first appearance of the brilliant valet, and you can tell that Wodehouse is still developing the characters. And there are a few stories featuring neither Bertie nor Jeeves, which felt like filler material (although I’m sure they weren’t at the time the book was first published, before Bertie and Jeeves were so well-known and beloved). Still, Jeeves and Wooster are always good for a laugh, and My Man Jeeves is no exception to that rule.
The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson – Oh, how I love Bill Bryson. Let me count the ways. The man is the patron saint of American Anglophiles, he’s achieved what most of us only dream of (living in England!) and he’s absolutely hilarious. In this latest offering, Bryson commemorates the twentieth anniversary of his classic Notes from a Small Island with more travels around Great Britain. He’s cantankerous and grumpy and wonderful. (Although I have to agree with Rebecca of Book Riot – why is it necessary to describe hills as “bosomy”? Dear editor, this is where you come in.)
Saga: Volume 5, by Brian K. Vaughan – The fifth trade paperback installment of Saga delivered on the drama and excitement just as its predecessors had. Marko and IV are searching for their families, but will they find them in time? Sophie and The Brand are looking for a cure to The Will’s injuries, and Dengo involves some really frightening characters in his quest to bring attention to the disadvantaged of the Robot Planet. Saga is weird and disturbing and excellent – but why is the next trade not being released until JULY?
The Queen of the Night, by Alexander Chee – Lilliet Berne is an opera sensation in 1870s Paris, with every honor except one – a role written just for her. So she is intrigued when a novelist approaches her with a proposal to write an opera for her. There’s just one problem – the opera is based on her life and reveals secrets she thought long buried. Now Lilliet must discover who from her past may have betrayed her. This was really well written, and there were a couple of twists I didn’t see coming (although I did predict the biggest one). I really enjoyed it, but I think I would have liked it better had it not been so hyped.
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim – This is the most famous and beloved of von Arnim’s works, so I’m glad to have started here. The Enchanted April tells the story of four English ladies, none of whom know one another particularly well, who escape a rainy Hampstead spring in favor of a villa in Italy. Among the wisteria and sunshine, their hearts and souls are cured of various and sundry hurts. I found this story charming, atmospheric, and just what the doctor ordered to get me through grey March.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald – Another one that was everywhere, and that I might have enjoyed more had it not been so hyped, but I have to confess I was kind of underwhelmed by The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. I found the legal issues really distracting (although they did lead to a good laugh with one of the partners at my firm, so that’s something!) and I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters or buy into the central romance. The best characters, Claire and George, were only half-developed, and the rest seemed wooden. I know that many, many people just loved Broken Wheel, but I couldn’t get into it.
So, not a bad month of reading, although only one book by a person of color this month, which isn’t great. But as for enjoying myself, for the most part I did. I loved The Road to Little Dribbling and The Enchanted April and really enjoyed several other of my reads this month. Looking ahead to April, I have a teetering library stack (again) but there’s some good stuff on it, so I’m excited for page turns to come.
What was the best thing you read in March?