I missed February favorites because things have been so busy at the bookstore. So I’m going to include both February and March favorites here.
A Change of Scenery: Alpine, Texas
I actually took a couple days off, and drove out to West Texas with my husband and pupper. (Tuco is so good in the car. I feel bad for everyone who doesn’t have a Tuco.) Alpine and the surrounding areas are so beautiful. Time slowed down. Stars are bright. Hills are hilly. And people are so friendly. This is the Texan-friendly that Austin sometimes forgets. We visited the McDonald Observatory for a star party and witnessed a satellite flare that was brighter than all the stars. Picked up a stack of used science fiction/fantasy mass markets at Front Street Books for under a $10 (indies forever). Alpine reminded me of Thibodaux. My parents would love it.
For my eyeholes:
Shelter by Jung Yun which I call “the quintessential Korean-American novel” here and I admit that I don’t actually have the authority to make that proclamation. And I don’t know how to exactly articulate why I think this is so (I am not Korean-American).
Human Acts by Han Kang
If you follow me on my social media at all, you would know how much I love The Vegetarian. Last November (way back in 2015), I called it “my favorite book of 2016.” Three months in and I stand by that. Human Acts is Kang’s second English language translation. It isn’t available stateside yet, but I can’t wait for it to arrive. This is a collection of interconnected stories of victims and survivors of the Gwangju Massacre of 1980. If you don’t know anything about the Gwangju Massacre, Kyung-sook Shin’s semi-autobiographical novel The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness paints a delicate picture of the social conditions and climate for South Korean factory girls around the time of the massacre.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Lauren Groff’s masterful story of a marriage offered our best (and most controversial) conversation for the New & Noteworthy book club. This is a story about an unpleasant woman married to a likeable man. As an unpleasant woman who is married to a likeable man, it’s real to me that marriage is a liberating thing.
I pulled back from television a bit these last two months, but I did catch up on Broad City. God, I am so late to this, but so glad I am watching this.
For my earholes:
I had a bad experience with an audio book on a long drive several years ago. It was the wrong book, wrong author, wrong reader–all soured me on audio books for years. But with that 7.5 hour drive to (and from) Alpine, Texas, I downloaded a couple of audiobooks. A coworker recommended Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, which is, of course, hilarious, but also turns out Ansari as a researcher and sociologist on the evolution of dating, love, and coupling in the modern era from the middle of the 20th century to today. Sure, he calls you lazy for listening to the audio instead of reading the book (which makes me slightly uncomfortable because what about blind listeners?) but those funny voices are worth it. Yes Please by Amy Poehler is the second book we listened to on the way home. Did you know that she built a personal recording studio at the foot of Mount Rushmore for this very recording? I’m writing this from that very sound booth (you can’t prove that I’m not)! This is the book that made me a full convert to audiobibliophile (that’s a word now). Amy packs so much extra stuff into this recording that you just don’t get in reading a book by yourself: the voice talent of Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, and her own parents; interviews with the important players who helped shape her career; and a live recording of her final chapter from the UCB Theater.
Over the last two months, I’ve listened to The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero, Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema by Anne Helen Petersen, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman, Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell, and Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Christin O’Keefe Aptowicz
During vacation, I also started listening to the You Must Remember This podcast by Karina Longworth. Longworth focuses on the hidden histories and forgotten stories from Hollywood’s first century. I am obsessed with this podcast. It has infiltrated my entire life. Inspired by her Star Wars episode VI on Marlene Dietrich, I read Karin Wieland’s Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives (reviewed here). And by her twelve-part series on Charles Manson’s Hollywood, I read Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders and Adam Nevill’s Last Days. (Also the reason I listened to Scandals of Classic Hollywood on audio).
I usually avoid concerts because I don’t typically enjoy crowds. I specifically don’t enjoy Austin concert-going crowds in which there are always people who stand in front of me and talk loudly to each other above the music that I’ve paid to see and to hear. (Always.) But I did attend one concert at SXSW at K-Pop Night Out. (I’m trash for pop music from a certain area of the globe.) And because that area of the globe is not this area of the globe, I don’t get the opportunity to see some of my favorite bands. I was happy to drop everything and see Love X Stereo & Mamamoo at the Belmont. I had to leave early, so I missed Haihm, which I suspected would be a little bit too loud for me (I also missed Zion.T but I’m not exactly a fan of his anyway so there was no big loss there). Also, Block B just released their comeback single (their first in over a year in a half!) 몇 년 후에 (A Few Years Later) earlier this week and yes, I am trash for this group.
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