bookish

On My Nightstand: January 2018

So many books, so little time!  Here’s a look at some of my upcoming reads, which are currently sitting on my nightstand, demanding to be devoured.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
was one of the most talked-about books last year, so it’s about time I read it!  I’m currently two chapters in and I’m finding it hard to put this one down.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
has been on my radar since it was first announced, though I have to admit I’m a bit skeptical because it’ll be my first Zadie and I’ve heard it’s not her best.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
is probably the book I’m most excited about on this list!  Not only is the cover absolutely stunning, but so is Bennett’s prose.

The Girls by Emma Cline
was THE book of the summer in 2016, and for some reason I never got around to it.  I’m still looking forward to this Manson-esque coming-of-age story that Random House reportedly acquired in a seven-figure, multi-book deal (quite a feat for a debut novelist).

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
is one that I really don’t know too much about other than it won a Pulitzer, but the publication of Egan’s newest release, Manhattan Beach, has gotten me curious about Goon Squad.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
will be my first Chabon, and it’s an absolute behemoth, but it’s his most popular and I’ve heard it’s a good one to start with.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
seems like the quintessential love-it-or-hate-it book, but I’m hoping my own reading experience is the former.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
won the 2016 Man Booker Prize, so it’s been on my to-read list for a while.  As with Goon Squad, I know virtually nothing about The Sellout, so I’m anxious to pick it up.

Have you read any of these books?  Which one do you think I should read first?  Let’s chat in the comments!

xx,
Hannah

How Blogging Changed my Reading

I began blogging a little over two months ago, but in that short period of time my reading has undergone some changes.  Since starting Hannah and her Books, I’ve noticed that I’ve been reading more, reading with an analytical eye, and reading diversely, but I’ve also been feeling pressured and stuck.

I read more.
When I started college, my excessive workload forced me to put reading on the back burner.  However, starting this blog has made reading a priority again.  I am always carrying a book, and I make sure to set aside reading time every day, either right after I wake up in the morning, right before I got to bed, or other random times throughout the day such as between classes or during lunch.

I read analytically.
Since I started blogging, I’ve looked deeper into the books I’ve read to really understand what I like and dislike about them.  Reading has become more than just simply absorbing books, but rather taking them apart like a puzzle and examining the pieces and how they work together.

I read diversely.
Blogging has allowed me to discover so many books I never would’ve found without being a part of this online community of bibliophiles.  I’ve stumbled upon so many different novels and authors across a wide variety of genres, and I’ve been picking up books written by POC, like Homegoing and Behold the Dreamers.

I feel pressured.
One of the cons of book blogging is all the pressure that comes along with it.  There is the pressure to read “popular” books, the ones that everyone else is talking about, so that I can stay relevant.  There is the pressure to read new books, even though it means less rereading, which I used to do all the time!  I also feel pressured to read as much as everyone else, even if I don’t have the time; I’m happy if I manage to finish two or three books a month, but others are reading fifteen or twenty.  Lastly, there’s the pressure to write positive (read: dishonest) reviews, because no one likes a Negative Nancy.

I feel stuck.
I feel stuck in the sense that I am always reading books I’ve heard of before.  When I shop for books, either in person or online, I find myself buying books that I recognize, compared to when I was a young girl and I just perused the shelves for a book that looked good.  Not to say there’s anything wrong with that, but I guess I just miss being surprised by a book.

Overall, blogging has been a rewarding experience thus far; it has definitely changed the way I read, perhaps for the better.

xx,
Hannah

Homegoing // Yaa Gyasi

I read Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing during finals week, which was probably a mistake on my part because once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.  It is incredibly powerful and engaging, a heartbreaking family saga with rich characters and an even richer story.  Homegoing takes you on the journey of seven generations, each scarred by fire either literally or figuratively, and with every tale intertwined and connected.


From the back cover:

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other.  One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle.  The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.

Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem.  Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed- and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.


“Evil begets evil.  It grows.  It transmutes, so that sometimes you cannot see that the evil in the world began as the evil in your own home.”

-Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing


Homegoing may be a novel, but it reads like a collection of fourteen short stories; there are two stories from each generation, alternating back and forth between bloodlines.  I found it a bit difficult to keep track of the descendants at first, and I kept flipping to see the family tree in the beginning of the book, but after a few chapters I got to know the characters and it became easier to tell who was related to who and in what way.  As with any book built this way, I enjoyed some stories more than others; I flew through the chapters of Ness, Abena, H, Yaw, and Marjorie, but I could’ve done without Akua’s and Sonny’s.  However, the ending truly made up for it!  Although I did predict it shortly after I started reading, it was still SO satisfying.  The ending was the happy conclusion the book needed, tying it up with a nice, pretty bow.


“You want to know what weakness is?  Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you.  Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”

-Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing


Homegoing covers about 250 years of both Ghanaian and American history, a tremendous feat for a debut novel.  It hits on most of the important time periods in black history, from the slave trade and the American Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance and modern civil rights movement.  It is not just a family saga but a harrowing story of escape and hardship.

You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon.