I’m back and Best of July!

I’m back! Hope you have all been well. The heat was not my friend, but I didn’t let that stop me. I had a blast. If you’re new here, or just don’t remember me, or where I went. I went to Italy a few weeks back. I came home to a lot of changes, finishing up my summer classes,( I aced both 🙂 ) and a stubborn cold.

A teaser of my Italy recap post:

 

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Stay tuned for that post. Suffice to say, Italy is great country so much history, friendly people, and delicious food. Also, very bookish.

 

As you can imagine, I packed my suitcase with books, and managed to only finish one, but man was it a good on!

 

Elena
The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante can write. Angry, happy, confused, or sad, she captures human emotion to the letter. Her characters are authentic, and chances are you can always find yourself in them. The Days of Abandonment follows Olga in the days after her husband decides to leave her. Olga is distraught, angry, and sad. The beginning of her story depicts her trying to be strong as she attempts to hold  it together for herself, and her two children. She wants to find the reason why her husband left, and if there is anything she can do to bring him back to her. When she discovers he’s taken up with a younger girl, she loses it, and throws decorum out of the window.

 

“I don’t give a shit about prissiness. You wounded me, you are destroying me, and I’m supposed to speak like a good, well-brought-up wife? Fuck you! What words am I supposed to use for what you’ve done to me, for what you’re doing to me? What words should I use for what you’re doing with that woman! Let’s talk about it! Do you lick her cunt? Do you stick it in her ass? Do you do all the things you never did with me? Tell me! Because I see you! With these eyes I see everything you do together, I see it a hundred thousand times, I see it night and day, eyes open and eyes closed!”

Yes, girl! Even though I have never been in Olga’s shoes, I felt such fulfillment in her anger, and so glad that Ferrante didn’t hold back on it. Olga spends the rest of the novel piecing herself back together, and relearning how to be her own woman again.  The book has its quirky moments that added a little lightness to this otherwise  bleak story. This is a small book, but it packs a big punch. If you want an intimate look at a woman’s journey back to herself, I highly suggest picking this one up.

I’m getting old because it took much longer than I care to admit to recover from this trip. Between catching up on sleep and work, I haven’t been all that productive in little else besides watching TV shows.  I have a few weeks of relaxation before I start my fall semester, so I am enjoying my lazy time as much as possible.

Read anything good lately? Also, I’ve started a listy accent. Come find me  @Bibliosa.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Best of June

What happened to June? I know I was super busy, but it’s crazy how busy this month flew by. Between a hectic work schedule, prepping for my upcoming trip(3 days away!), and taking two summer classes, it’s a miracle I managed to read anything at all. June was a great reading month. While going over my list I found it hard to narrow it down to three.  I love having that problem.

The first book I want to talk about is also my favorite of the month, and one of my favorites of the year.

History

The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani

“Time was the only variable in every equation of power and oppression-how long before the pot boiled over.”

Part murder mystery.Part historical fiction All beautiful prose. Vegas is known for its wackiness, we all know that, which is why it’s the perfect backdrop to for a story that features  conjoined twins, sideshow acts,shady government activities, and  unsolved murder cases. Plus, the writing is absolutely spell-binding.

All

All Involved by Ryan Gattis.

L.A. has a short fucking memory. It never learns nothing. And that’s what’s gonna kill this city. Watch. There’ll be another race riot in 2022. Or Before.

If you’ve ever been interested in the real bare faced Los Angeles, pick this one up. It takes place over a series of six days following the Rodney King trial, and the subsequent L.A. riots. Trigger warnings  for violence.

The Long FIre

The Long Fire by Meghan Tifft

“Under the influence of the written word my mind loosens, wanders, sinks deep into unknown places, places I can’t control or even fathom, leaving so little of me at the surface that I don’t even notice what I’m doing here.”

What a unique story. Natalie, has pica, a condition that makes her want to eat everything, and eat everything she does.  She is particularly  drawn to books, however, and the description of her disorder is so comprehensive and beautifully written.  This is a also a mystery as Natalie attempts to uncover the irregularities in her mother’s recent death, and the truth about her mother’s gypsy origins.

 

What were some of the best books you read this month?

P.S. I’m currently wrapping school assignments before I head off to La Bella Italia, so I won’t be around much, (more than usual, I mean).   Happy 4th to my fellow Americans, and happy Monday to everyone else.

Happy Reading 🙂

 

3 on: Summer Reads

Last  week marked the official start of summer  in my part of the world. I drove down the Pacific Coast weekend highway this past weekend and aside from the traffic,  the coastline gorgeous and the beaches full.  I am not a huge fan of Summer, but Summer to me always means travel. Even when I wasn’t physically going somewhere, I indulged myself immensely with that armchair traveling.   To mark the start of Summer 2016 I wanted to share three books that encompass summer, travel, adventure, change, and just everything that to me embodies summer.

Wanderlove  Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Since I started this Blog, I feel like I have mentioned this book every summer, and here’s to another one. This book will never lose it’s charm for me. It’s the summer I know I will have some day. The book follows Bria who has recently graduated high school. She’s an artist who has lost her passion after a passing up an opportunity of a lifetime, and a subsequent breakup. She decides to do something out of the ordinary and books a guided tour to Guatemala. Not the typical place an eighteen year old goes alone, but she decides to just go for it. Along the way she meets a brother sister traveling backpacking duo who convince her to ditch the intinerary  and fancy hotels,  for a backpack and hostels.  Bria finds herself drinking coke from a plastic bag with a straw, riding buses alongside chickens, and taking showers with buckets of ice cold water. I am very familiar with Central America, and this books brought out all kinds of nostalgia in me. I enjoyed reading this perspective of life in Central American, and the respect Bria grows to have for its people and culture. My all time favorite travel book. Central America is  beautiful region of the world, and I think Kirsten Hubbard did a fantastic job in representing it.

 

                                                                           Me, You

Me, You by Erri De Luca

Me, You takes you back to that summer of self-discovery and change. For me, it was the summer before high school when I spent two months in Nicaragua living with my mom’s family. It was the summer that forever changed me, and the way I look at the world. Me, You evoked that sense of nostalgia for that in between phase when you’re still  a child, but growing into the adult you’ll become.  The book takes place on an island off the coast of Naples. The characters are still reeling from the aftermath of World War II, and as a result, relationships are tense. Our young nameless narrator visits the island for the summer and he befriends a local fisherman, Nicola. Nicola regals him with tales from the war, which to many Italians, is a subject of taboo. Our narrator also falls in love for the first time with  young Jewish survivor battling her memories and demons.  Me, You is lovely quite novel that reads so fluidly. It’s filled with lush imagery and unexpected turns. I wanted to visit this small island, and lounge around the beaches and listen to Nicola’s stories with a glass of wine.

Jello  On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetti

I love Melina Marchetti and this is my favorite of her books. It has lovable characters that I seriously wanted to be friends with, humor, and so much more. The writing is beautiful as is the characterization. Taylor lives in a boarding school in a town where every summer, the townies, the cadets, and the boarders fight for dominion over the forest and town. The novel takes place in Australia and gives a fascinating look at Australian small town culture. This book is complicated to explain, and explaining will only take away some of its charm. I will say, however, that on the surface, it sounds like a fun witty YA novel, and it is that, but it also delves into  dark and disturbing places. Marchettta writes believable young characters with a grace that left me wanting more. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my time with this book, and how I craved more when it was over. Trust me with this one, less is more.

 

Summer Reads I will be reading this week:

The Rocks by Peter Nichols

Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht

3 notable mentions:

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Here are a few  articles on the best summer reading book:

http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/summer-reads-2016

http://www.elle.com/culture/books/a35543/19-summer-books-for-every-kind-of-warm-weather-reader/

http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Beach-Reads-Women-29238806#photo-29238806

http://www.vogue.com/13450235/beach-reads-summer-best-books/

What’s a book that makes you think of summer? Do you have any summer reading recommendations?

Happy Summer and Happy Reading 🙂

For Poet Enthusiast and the Poet Reluctant

I know for many people poetry is a love hate thing, and I completely understand why. While I am a professed poetry lover, I must confess that I don’t love it all. Not all poetry is the same. Poetry can either blow your mind, or frankly bore you to tears. Today I have four poetry collections written by women that are different, mind blowing, and thought provoking. I make no guarantees about falling in love with poetry after reading them, however, I don’t think you’ll have the urge to nod off mid-verse while reading them either.  These women are fearless and relentless, and tell you exactly how it is in such a beautiful and simplistic way.

 

war

Warsan Shire’s first poetry collection Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth delves into the darkness of being a woman, a refugee, and a person of color.  Her poems are raw. She tackles her family’s life and eventual flight from war torn Somalia.  Her poems are an intimate look at what war does to families and women.  She writes about the loss and loneliness, of refugee life in a country where her beauty is other and not appreciated, strength, heartbreak, witnessing one’s own city turn to ash, and former lovers turn into murderers. Ultimately, her poems speak about the power of human endurance in the face of atrocity. They are absolutely timeless, and reflective of the world’s current climate. “I hope the journey meant more than miles, because all of my children are in the water. I thought the see was safer than the land.”

 

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Suheir Hammad is a Brooklyn raised Palestinian poet who writes about the ghost of her ancestral homeland, Palestine. She doesn’t shy away from making you uncomfortable. In fact, that’s what she aims to do in her poetry collection, Zaatar Diva. In making the reader face the harshness of diaspora, she humanizes it by showing how even the most cruelest situations can give birth to compassion.  Hammad’s poems depict Palestinian culture both here in the United States and in Palestine. She writes about her mother’s love of music, her sisters’ strength and love, her own love for her family, the struggle of being of Middle Eastern desent post   9/11, and her dedication to fight for human dignity everywhere. “But these people 42851-054-5812 the believe human being can never be reduced to numbers not in concentration camps or reservations not in refuge camps not in schools and not in jails.”

 

Sara Kay

Sarah Kay ‘s No Matter The Wreckage has a little bit for us all. The poet enthusiast and the poet reluctant. She can be sharp and serious in one verse, and silly and playful the next. Chances are you might have seen some of her spoken word performances online, and many of those same poems are in No Matter The Wreckage. Her poems are perfect to read at any stage in your life, and for any mood. They can make you cry and laugh in the same breath. Her poem’s topics range from forbidden love in India, reincarnation, the bombing of Hiroshima, and the strength and courage she wants to pass on to her daughter. “You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat. You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.”

Milk and HOney

Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey gives words to feelings you didn’t even know you had. I felt so proud to be a woman while reading her collection. I felt an ownership over my own body and feelings.  She validates every feeling of loneliness, heartbreak, and longing you have and will ever feel. So many amazing verses and one liners that help you make sense of the nonsensical.   Kaur’s collection features themes of abuse, love, sexuality, and feminism. Her poems are a glass of wine on a rough day. “Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry.

Have any of you read these or seen these women’s perform their poems? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Reading 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best of May

May marked the end of the semester, and as you can imagine my brain was quite tired from all the academic reading and writing it went through, so I needed a break. Why does school disorient us so much? I spent much of the early part of the month catching up on shows, and with my own writing. A thing I always feel I never have enough time for. Mid-month, however, I got back into the swing of things and managed to read and enjoy a few books. Most of them were hit or misses to be honest, but two  really stuck out, and  they proved to be just the boost I needed to see out the month with a few winners.

 

ALbion

Daughter of Albion by Ilka Tampke

This is a historical fiction/fantasy novel  that takes place in ancient Britain.  While reading this, I realized how little I know about this part of the world, during this time period. Much of what I read has been through a male perspective and its all been war, honor, and bloodshed. Daughter of Albion tackles these issues as well, but we also get a glimpse of the women perspective. Which in my opinion is so much richer.   We are introduced to Allia, an orphaned girl who works in the kitchen of the Tribesqueen in the village of Caer Cod. In this society, Skin is everything. It is the mark of family and tradition. Without Skin, one cannot marry or hold higher positions. Allia doesn’t know hers, and while she lives a good life in the village, her lack of  skin  is a huge void in her life. However, Allia’s life changes as she encounters a mysterious salmon in the water who leads her to the land of the Mothers: the ancient goddess of the land who have chosen Allia to lead a special role in the upcoming Roman invasion. I loved reading a book about women being in charge, and the connection this society had to each other, animals, and the Earth. The writing was descriptive and vivid,  Allia was an endearing character, and I loved learning about this time period. Highly recommend for history and fantasy lovers.

 

Body

The Body where I was Born by Guadalupe Nettel

“Perhaps, by the time I finally finish, this book won’t be more than a collection of lies to my parents and my brother. I console myself by thinking that all objectivity is subjective.”

Most definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I adored Guadalupe Nettel’s writing. This is a small book detailing the life of young Mexican girl from the moment she was born with a deficiency in her eye, up until her late teens. Told in retrospect from the now adult woman’s psychoanalyst sessions, the novel gives us an intimate look at this young women’s strange and surreal childhood. We never learn her name, but we learn what life was like growing up  with sexually free parents in the 70s, later moving to France discovering the world of immigrant life, and coming back to Mexico to live with a distant and strict grandmother. What truly struck me about this books is the writing. I was lost in it, and I didn’t want to come out. Nettlel’s writing reminded me of Yoko Ogawa, who I’ve mentioned quite a few times as being one of my all time favorite authors, so that is a high praise coming from me.

Other notable Reads this month:

March: Book 2  by John Andrews and Andew Aydin (The second book in the amazing graphic novel series about the civil rights movement.)

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter (France and  a doomed love affair. Need I say more?)

Room by Emma Donaghue (Don’t know exactly how I feel about this one, but one thing is for sure, I could not put it down. It was so gripping and frustrating, and just ugh! So many feels)

There you go, that was my best of May in books. I am looking at  a pretty busy June, so I hope the reading front doesn’t suffer because of it. What were some of the best books you read in May?

Happy Reading 🙂

 

 

3 Books: Latin American Authors

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My love of reading is parallel to my love of travel. A personal dream of mine is to visit every country in Latin America, Motorcycle Diaries style. Well, perhaps minus the motorcycle because, you know… book nerd here. Instead, I would ditch the motorcycle and go for a bookmobile. A huge gaudy bookmobile.  In lieu of not of dropping all of my responsibilities for books, a thing I excel at, I am reading my way through Latin America, and I am sending postcards along the way.

Here are three books I’ve discovered along my “Travels.”

Trafalgar

Trafalgar By Angélica Gorodisher (Argentina)

We all have that wacky friend that constantly regales us with tales of their crazy weekend in Vegas, their epic spring break in Cabo, or that time they almost got arrested in Rome, right? Well, if you don’t, let Trafalgar Medrano be that friend. Traflagr is a space merchant who enjoys sitting at his favorite café drinking liters of coffee while his friends laugh and ask the juicy follow up questions.  Let him take you on a wild journey to the stars, and to distant lands where nothing is ever as it seems, and if there is trouble to be found, Trafalgar will find it. Trafalgar is a short story collection, and each story manages to make you laugh and contemplate life on other worlds in a really moving and thought provoking way. One of the stories followed me around all day actually. I loved Gorododischer’s take on classic science fiction themes mixed in with traditional Latin American story telling techniques. If you’re a lover of classic science fiction complete with wibbly wobbly time gadgets, you should give this one a chance.

Prayers 

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement (Mexico)

Prayer for the Stolen will steal your heart, and in its place you will be left with a deep sadness, and an overwhelming feeling of frustration. It makes you never want to care for another character again. Told amid the deadly cartel wars in Mexico where being a girl is a dangerous thing. Ladydi, the protagonist blackens her teeth and runs to the snake filled holes in her backyard to hide from the nearby drug lords. She attends school when a teacher can be bothered to come from the big city, and she thinks about what life is like in places where the men actually stay. The novel takes place against the backdrop of the Mexican jungle where you feel the stifling heat, and the desperation to escape it. The book touches on themes of love, friendship, mother-daughter relationships, and perseverance. The prose is lovely, and Clement manages to squeeze out bits of humor which frankly amaze me. If you’re at all curious about the current political climate in Mexico, and its effects on the civilians, then this one is perfect for you.

 

 Lis

 Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector (Brazil)

I recently finished this one and I’m still riding its high. I knew from page one I would love this one, if not for the characters, then for the writing alone. Lispector writes in a field all of her own. Her command of language is interesting and fascinating.  The unknown narrator, a writer, recounts the life of Macabéa, an insignificant girl who no one ever notices, and if they do, it’s for the wrong reasons. She becomes orphaned at a young age, and leaves her small northeastern village for the big city where she works as a typist for peanuts.   Despite her situation, she’s an optimistic character whose curiosity for the world endeared her to me.  Lispector gives us a look at the despairing class issues in Latin America where being poor and brown earns you scorn and ridicule. This little book made me fall in love with Lispector, and I’m so thrilled to power through her backlist.

Have any of you read these authors? I’ll be sending more “postcards” from my bookish “travels” so stay tuned!

 

Andiamo!

Cinque Terre

Hello, lovely people! I have just wrapped up my first year of library school, and after breakdowns, meditation sessions, mindful breathing, yoga, and lots of red wine, I am alive. Barely. It’s still quite early, but I  am already indulging in summer vibes. I remember last year I was lamenting my circumstances having just taken a job, instead of traveling. Two weeks in I wanted to quit my job after realizing I would have to wait a year before I could ask for vacation time. It was tragic.  Well, I just wrapped up a year at the job, and I did take a small vacation before the year, and now  I am using  some much deserved vacation time.  I am headed to La Bella Italia! I’ve been before, but this time around I am not a broke unemployed undergrad with some shaky Italian under my belt. This time I am a slightly less book graduate student who is using her paid time off from work. Adulthood isn’t so bad most of the time. Last time I also only got to travel through Rome, and this time I’ll be hitting up a few more cities, and my Italian is…adequate, I am hoping at least. I have been studying  pretty much everyday since I booked the trips six months ago, so it better be adequate.

Aside from researching all the bookish sites I plan on visiting,  the food, transportation, and the general gorgeousness of the country, I’ve been reading as much Italian authors as I can get my hands on. Italian translations are not that east to come by, at least not in the U.S. I’ve found. Which is sad  because the ones  that I have  found, have been gems.  If you are at all interested in books by Italian authors, or books set in Italy, here are the three best ones I’ve read so far.

Books:

Me, You

Me, You by  Erri De Luca

Me, You takes place in a small island off the coast of Naples. It’s inhabitants are still reeling from the effects of  Word War II, a topic that is has become a taboo for many Italians, especially the men. The unnamed narrator is visiting the island for the summer, and he becomes engrossed in the quite fishing life of his Uncle. He is very nostalgic and curious for the past he didn’t live. Through his curiosity we learn what it was like for Italian men who fought in World War II, and their feelings about what they did and didn’t do. The novel is also a quite love story as the boy  soon meets and falls in love with a Jewish girl who recounts her own experience during the war. The unnamed character struggles with dealing with the present and the past as they seem to converge at such a transformative time in his life. His mediations about life, love, and war stayed with me for days.  Erri de Luca’s prose is so vivid and lush. I felt transported to this small island and its marriage to the sea.

 

Leonine

Léonie by Sveva Casati Modignani

I have a thing for rich people problem novels especially when they’re multi- generational. Léonie follows  the Cantoni family, a Milanese family who made its fortune by manufactoring faucets. The family is successful and on the surface they appear to have it all, however, that is far from the truth. The family members each harbor their resentments and their secrets which slowly come to light as Léonie,  the wife of  Guido, the Cantoni family heir, slowly unravels them all.  However, Léonie harbors secrets of her own, such as her once a year disappearance to a small hotel on the shores of Lake Como… This often felt like a soap opera, but it was great! I loved the twist and turns, discovering they whys and hows of some of the family members secrets, and the unexpected ending. Also, the insight into Italian culture and life from the rich to the poor was insightful.

 

Beautiul

Beautiful Ruins be Jess Waters

(Not an Italian author, but the book is partially set in Italy, and has Italian culture and language references.)  I Initially read it for the Italian bit, but I enjoyed the story as a whole. Jess Waters weaves the Italian coastline with the classic golden Era Hollywood and new era Hollywood. It has dry humor, and twist, and celebrity cameos.  It was such a joy to read, and I loved how I barely needed to consult my Italian dictionary!

Books on deck:

I Hadn’t Understood by Diego De Silva

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca

All Our Yesterdays by Natalia Ginburg

I’m hoping to get to these before the trip, so perhaps I’ll do a follow up post about these.

I’ve also been watching Italian movies, if you’re at all interested I could do a second post talking about my favorites! And, please let me know of any Italian authors or books that are set in Italy that I’ve missed.

Thanks for reading! Ciao 🙂