PopJustice Book Club

Just finished reading Giovanni’s Room, and goodness, I don’t know why I waited so long. Beyond the queer themes, I was really taken with the feeling of homelessness it captured. The layering of queerness and never quite knowing where is home is a feeling that resonates—and in some ways I think it’s part of being American.

Anyway, highly recommended to anyone who hasn’t gotten around to it yet.
 
I started my year off by reading Angela Davis' autobiography and it is sensational, highly recommended. She's basically the Forest Gump of communists; there are so many historical moments she is connected to without me realising.
 
Just finished the last of the Neapolitan Novels and I am done for. I cried not because it was sad (it was very sad) but because I didn't want to let those characters slip away and turn into memory. I want another ten books telling the story of Elena's daughters please! I wanted to put my thoughts about these books together so I'll put it here under a spoiler because I can't be arsed with creating a GoodReads account ff.

Much is said about the hyperrealism of this series and how it's unbelievable that it isn't an actual autobiography. But to me the most striking element of these novels is the surreal - how can this malfunctioning friendship last so long? How can all these characters' lives be intertwined in so many ways for such a long time? How come the names of Elena's and Raffaella's childhood accompany them their whole lives, only going their own ways after death? I've read somewhere that the book is full of clichés: an earthquake happening in the middle of a heated discussion, characters who are always in the right place at the right time, telenovela-style comebacks of characters you'd count as done for. But these are the elements that tie the book together for me, how mystical it feels that the characters aren't just themselves - Lila is actually Lenù, and both are actually the rione, which is in fact just a miniature version of Napoli, which sums up everything that's wrong in Italy and consequently the world. At the end you aren't sure if Elena wrote this book or if it was Lila, or even a third person. The title of all the books can be applied to many characters at once just like the earthquake hits the entire city at once. As much as the characters try to run away from the rione, all of them come to the conclusion that that's exactly what makes them part of it - Elena isn't different from Gigliola or Ada for being a famous, successful writer, she is in fact more like them for that. It's hard to follow Lila's rationale most of the time, but by the end it was clear that she was the only one aware all along that you can't change certain things as much as you try to. More than a story about friendship, womanhood, motherhood and storytelling, it is a story about the inevitability of life and death, about how there are invisible chains running underground leading us one way or another, even when we think we are acting out of our own free will. It is a two thousand page version of the saying "you can take the girl out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the girl" - and here the hood is the entire universe.
 
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Cutie.

Here's my 2022 list:
o The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
o The Girls by Emma Cline
o A Separation by Katie Kitamura
o Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson
o A Very Nice Girl by Imogen Crimp
o White on White by Ayegül Savas
o In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
o Free Love by Tessa Hadley
o Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
o The White Album by Joan Didion
o Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors
o Heartbroke by Chelsea Bieker
o Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman
o Cherry by Nico Walker
o How Strange A Season by Megan Mayhew Bergman
o Little Rabbit by Alyssa Songsiridej
o Luster by Raven Leilani *
o Hammer by Joe Mungo Reed
o Objects of Desire by Clare Sestanovich
o The Russian Debutante’s Handbook by Gary Shteyngart
o The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
o Dirtbag, Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald
o Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
o We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart
o Homesickness by Colin Barrett
o NW by Zadie Smith
o Trust by Hernan Diaz

*Luster was a re-read.

There were also several false starts that hopefully I can list in 2023. Stay focused!

Let's see... The Incendiaries was beautifully written and with a big, beating heart for such a short book; Little Rabbit, which of the sex and power debuts (A Very Nice Girl, Acts of Desperation, Acts of Service, We Do What We Do...) felt the most whole to me with a truly great ending; Trust lives up to the hype, Diaz's control of language is incredible and my only regret is that I kept picking up other books when I was halfway through, so I read it far apart; NW, fantastic, brilliant, etc., I had tried White Teeth a few times and could never persist, but I was determined to read a Zadie Smith novel, so I'm really happy I picked up a different one, and gives me confidence to go back to some of her other work. Also Hammer and Free Love, neither of which reinvent the wheel, but are just good, all around novels.

Of course, there's other heavyweights like Galgut, Gaitskill, Didion, and Kitamura, all of which I enjoyed and are flagged and underlined from front to back.

It's staggering to see some of you list 40, 50, 70 books a year, and it blows my mind when I see people on socials talk about reading over 100 books. Unless I had a huge lifestyle change, I think 30 would be my top limit, which is more than a book every two weeks by the way!

Fuccboi's in paperback in a couple of weeks, I'll cop it then.
I thought you were sharing your top books for a second there, and when I saw The Plot at the top of the list… I was worried for you.

With you in Trust. What a bloody achievement that book is. Not perfect but I just love a novel that makes me constantly re-evaluate what’s true.

What did you think of Cleopatra and Frankenstein? So much hype, and yet I found literally every character (except Eleanor) insufferable.
 
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So… I have started a BookTube channel because I’m a glutton for punishment and would quite like a creative outlet. I won’t share my channel here because I quite like to keep my online presences separate, but it’s mostly been fun so far, other than my crippling addiction to metrics.

The community is largely very supportive and welcoming, but some of the viewer behaviours/stats can be so depressing. I got to 100 subscribers just after Christmas and wrote a community post basically saying ‘I am happy’… and two users disliked it. The brutality, ddd.
 
I finished The Good Left Undone by Trigiani last night and despite having some frustrations with the pacing in the second half, it did elicit the intended emotional response. Not sure I'll explore more of her work but reading from the perspective of a woman at the end of her life is a theme of which I'd happily take additional recommendations.

Going to start Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi later today, my favorite subgenre is fraught dynamics between mothers and their children so I'm excited!
 
I started the year well with my reading. Went straight into The Sea of Tranquility and flew through it... but I'm kinda disappointed. Station Eleven stays untouched. Still curious but wary of The Glass Hotel.

Then I read Fernanda Melchor's Paradais and ffffffff this woman and her disturbed mind. I need to watch an interview with her or something because she can't be sane. A great novella if you want your skin to crawl.

I'm almost done with the first Mistborn book because I felt like checking what all the fuss around Sanderson was about and I'm silently screaming at how this is the pinacle of the current fantasy genre. The prose is laughable and even the narrator doesn't seem to know what the next word is sometimes (the use of ellipsis is driving me insane). But is an easy story to follow and I think I kinda need a palate cleanser like this before diving into more serious fiction.

I really want to get more into fantasy this year but all the big serie (Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, Joe Abercrombie, Robert Jordan, Queen Ursula...) are so long it's daunting. A page at a time, I guess.

My goodreads challenge for this year was to read one book. I think the pressure of reaching X amount of books/pages in the past couple of years put a lot of pressure in going for quantity instead of quality, and that's just not the tea.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

It's great! And a great companion read to Real Life (even if people around here hate it!).
 
What did you think of Cleopatra and Frankenstein? So much hype, and yet I found literally every character (except Eleanor) insufferable.
Mm, Mellors is a friend of a friend, and my friend asked me to read it as a favor so she wouldn’t have to… and let’s just say it turned out to be quite a favor.

That stretch of Cleopatra & Frankenstein to How Strange A Season was a weird one.
 
Rightfully so x

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It's great! And a great companion read to Real Life (even if people around here hate it!).
Rightfully so x

What I appreciate about this little pocket of the forum is how much opinions differ! Feels emblematic of the medium.

@Trinu 3.0 have you read any other Melchor? I've been eyeing Hurricane Season for awhile but after I finished Exquisite Corpse last year I decided to take a break from the more explicit reading nn.
 
Just finished reading Giovanni’s Room, and goodness, I don’t know why I waited so long. Beyond the queer themes, I was really taken with the feeling of homelessness it captured. The layering of queerness and never quite knowing where is home is a feeling that resonates—and in some ways I think it’s part of being American.

Anyway, highly recommended to anyone who hasn’t gotten around to it yet.

Do you know "Swimming In The Dark"? "Giovanni's Room" takes quite a prominent role in it.
 
So… I have started a BookTube channel because I’m a glutton for punishment and would quite like a creative outlet. I won’t share my channel here because I quite like to keep my online presences separate, but it’s mostly been fun so far, other than my crippling addiction to metrics.

Come to BookTok, sis! It's just me and a bunch of friendly lesbians.
 
Mm, Mellors is a friend of a friend, and my friend asked me to read it as a favor so she wouldn’t have to… and let’s just say it turned out to be quite a favor.

That stretch of Cleopatra & Frankenstein to How Strange A Season was a weird one.
I am very glad we are on the same page. Taste always wins and now I need to get my head into NW.

Come to BookTok, sis! It's just me and a bunch of friendly lesbians.
Ha, I am not funny enough or Gen Z enough for TikTok. Ten to fifteen minutes of rambling about books I like is more my speed!
 
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