What I read in December, 2017.

Well, I went to the library.

It doesn’t happen often, because I’ve taken to purchasing books. And that’s lead to it’s own conundrums, such as: how do I determine which books I want to own if I haven’t read them yet? And once I have read them, are they worth keeping? Will I wish I had borrowed a book from the library rather than purchasing it? Or if I do borrow a book from the library, will I wish the reverse?

I have the same problem with audiobooks. In any case, last month’s library trip was the result of spending all my money on Christmas gifts and then coming across someone’s list of “best books from 2017” and wanting to check some of them out. With that in mind, here’s what I read:

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy Sayers.

OK, so this wasn’t a “best of 2017” book. Actually, it was a 1928 mystery by Dorothy Sayers, the 4th installment or something in her Lord Peter Wimsey series. The books in general are great fun, and I was enjoying listening to them on audiobook, but not all of them have actually been made into audiobooks, and I didn’t want to start purchasing the series partway in, so: the library.

It occurs to me that I’ve been on something of a murder mystery kick lately, what with Sayers, and Grantchester (book and BBC series), and Phryne Fisher (TV series), and Mindhunters (TV series), and good Lord I still have to watch season 3 of Broadchurch.

Spoiler alert: the other two books I read last month were also murder mysteries.

Anywho, there’s something in particular about old-timey British murders that scratches an itch. I imagine I’ll get back to Sayers before too long, but I have a few other things to get to first.

Himself, Jess Kidd.

Boy did I wish I’d bought this book. Better yet: I want it on audiobook. It’s a murder mystery set in a small village in Ireland in the 1970’s, and Kidd does a wonderful job channeling the Irish dialect in her writing.

Sure, Kidd spends sometimes a bit too much time writing about how gorgeous Mahoney is, and at times I thought she was trying to win some kind of competition for number of times she could fit the word “arse” into a paragraph. But what hey: a book this enthralling can get away with an extra share of minor grievances.

The premise is: in 1950, a teenage mother who has given birth out of wedlock is murdered in the woods. Her fatherless son is left on the steps of an orphanage with a cryptic note. Twenty-six years later, the note falls into his hands for the first time, and he decides to go back to the small village where he was born to find out what happened to his mother.

Oh, and he can see ghosts. And is super good looking and full of rakish charm and wins almost everyone over with his pleasant, easy-going manner.

IQ, Joe Ide.

So, this murder mystery, set in modern day LA, features a 20-year-old, African-American genius who drops out of high school after his brother dies in a hit-and-run, then after a series of circumstances discovers his knack for private investigation, learns to drive like he’s in a Fast and Furious movie, and stashes a bazooka in the back of his car because why not?

It’s a little over-the-top at times, but still lots of fun. This is not literature, but it is of higher caliber (by virtue of being unique) than your average vacation read. I feel like the adjective for this book is “smart.” Not necessarily “deep” or “insightful” or even particularly “clever.” It doesn’t out-wit you, nor does it blow your mind, but it provides a good story with an original cast of characters, held together by the unlikely partnership between IQ and Dodson.

That said, I didn’t really get the feeling this book was written for me. There are basically no positive female characters in it. I would gripe about this more, but most of the characters, while unexpected, aren’t actually likable. I’d still try another book in this series, but seriously: it’s not asking a lot to have one female character who isn’t a victim, a vindictive ex-wife, or a drama queen. It just isn’t.

What I’m working on:

I got a lot of exciting reading material for Christmas, and then picked up a few volumes I’d been holding out for afterwards. This month has a few conflicting priorities:

The Abhorsen trilogy, by Garth Nix. I bought this for my sister-in-law for Christmas, then decided to purchase a set for myself so I could re-read them. This is currently my light reading for when I don’t want to work on my more challenging literature.

Chinua Achebe’s Igbo trilogy. I have all three of these on by headboard shelf. Currently about halfway through Things Fall Apart. None of them are long, so I expect to polish them of pretty fast.

We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Yeah, I’ll have this finished by the end of the month.

What I’m avoiding:

Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon. I made myself read another ten pages the other day, just so that I wouldn’t totally forget what was going on. If I keep making a little more progress every month, then one of these months I’ll pass a tipping point and it won’t seem so hard to finish it off… right?

GEBThis almost shouldn’t be on the list, because I’ve barely started. But it’s enough of a presence on my shelf that I can feel myself grabbing almost anything but. I’m including it here so that it will eventually shame me into reading it. I’m totally going to one of these days, you guys. Totally. My pride demands it.

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