Cake Flavored Book Tag!

I am participating in my first book tag! I was tagged for the Cake Flavored Book Tag by Danielle over at The Introverted Bookworm. Thank you, and you should check out her blog 🙂

CHOCOLATE CAKE: A dark book you absolutely love

This is probably a cliche, but I really love Macbeth. I’ve only read it and seen some of the Patrick Stewart adaptation in school, but it’s certainly one of my favorite Shakespeares from what I’ve read so far and one of my favorite dramatic/tragic plays. I just love how the the dramatic irony that makes you feel that impending sense of doom and how the darkness is personified by supernatural occurrences. And witches!

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VANILLA CAKE: A light read

I can’t say I read a lot of books that are completely or mostly “light”–I like my hard-hitting subjects and emotion–but one of my favorites that certainly fits is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its series! I’m aware this isn’t for everyone and it’s certainly light on plot, but not only does it have a lot of iconic phrases, but much of the humor comes from wacky situations and images that result from the precise placement of words (it was originally a radio series, after all–great example of word-level humor).

marvin hitchhikers

RED VELVET: A book that gave you mixed emotions

I’ve got to go with a book I read this year: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’d heard for years about how AMAZING this was and I bought it on Kindle when it was on sale, and then I met someone who never stops talking about it because it’s his favorite book. So I finally read it, and…I didn’t love it. There were certainly things I liked about it, but I had conflicting feelings about the characters (many were not very memorable to me), and there was something missing in the plot and world that would have kept me reading. I did really love the ending, though. I hope I can get back into fantasy one day…this just wasn’t the book to do it.

CHEESECAKE: A book you would recommend to anyone

I always worry about recommending books, especially ones I love, because I know everyone has different tastes. That said, I think I’m going to go with the play of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. I’m sure not anyone wants to read a play, but it’s got both great one-liners and situational comedy to make for an entertaining–and quick–read. Also, the main reason I chose this was because it’s one of my favorite books I read for class AND everyone (seniors in high school) also seemed to really like it, which is pretty rare to see. (It’s also likely I’ll be trying to teach it in the future!)

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COFFEE CAKE: A book you started but never finished

I don’t DNF very often, and if I do it’s sometimes a case of “I have this out from the library but don’t want to read it right now so I might as well return it and read it some other time,” but one I did DNF recently (like, 2-3 years ago) was Angelfall by Susan Ee. I thought this was going to be a quick ebook read, but it really wasn’t, and I found myself not enjoying it as much as everyone else seemed to be. Something about the main character and the angel character I didn’t enjoy, and I realized post-apocalyptic writing is probably

CARROT CAKE: A book with great writing

toni morrison.jpgI just finished reading Beloved by Toni Morrison, and while I loved her turns of phrases in The Bluest Eye, I gained even more appreciation for her writing in Beloved. It’s a tough book to follow, but I’m amazed at how Morrison weaves in many perspectives, supernatural forces, and flashbacks, jumping from one to another effortlessly. She alters the writing style based on the character or situation, and it’s also a great story to boot.

TIRAMISU: A book that left you wanting more

To Kill a Mockingbird, hands down. I was expecting more of a reflection on Jem’s emotional fallout as a result of the ending. It was also really disappointing that (SOME SPOILERS, if you care) the white lawyer and sheriff were like “so, one of these two white people killed a man, but that guy was most definitely bad, so let’s just let them off the hook” without a hint of self-awareness that this was a result of the hasty judgement and incarceration of a black man…between that and Jem, the ending raised so many questions for me and not a bit of resolution. This also kind of ties into my frustration about how this book is so often taught in schools, much more than books by African-Americans, and if you’re going to pick one book about racism to teach…you should probably choose one actually written by a black person. Teaching this feels like a nostalgia-tinged way to please everyone.

CUPCAKES: A series with 4+ books

I’ll be honest: I’m not very good at reading series right now, especially ones that are longer than trilogies! Harry Potter is a bit too obvious (though, plotting-wise, one of the best IMO), and I already talked about Hitchhiker’s (“a trilogy in five parts”), so I’m choosing something that I haven’t finished but is absolutely a recent favorite: the Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente! Starting with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making his is not only a cute and fun middle grade series, but it’s a love letter to fairytales and kidlit with plenty of satire and real-world comparisons that makes it great for older readers, too. I confess I’ve only read the first 2 but need to finish it

fairyland

FRUIT CAKE: A book that wasn’t what you anticipated

I want to choose a positive one for this, so I’ve got to go with one of my all-time favorites: The Great Gatsby. I had to read this my freshman year of high school (and recently reread it in college–appreciate the writing even more now) and in the beginning and based on the back synopsis, I assumed it would be a traditional love story. So when I got to Chapter 7 and (SPOILERS, obviously) everything goes DOWN and it all blows up in his face, I was riveted. I was at a point in my life where I was starting to realize relationships weren’t simple, people were complicated, and the image you have of others is often not who they actually are.

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I tag…

Bluestocking Bookworm

Cassie from Cassie’s Library

Ash from For the Love of Books

And anyone else who wants to do this tag!

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2017 Reading Goal: More African-American Literature

Diversity is one of my efforts as a reader. It builds empathy when I’m reading about characters unlike myself, and it’s always refreshing to learn and explore something different from the usual white, middle class narratives and heterosexual love stories. I noticed, however, that I tend to focus mostly on LGBTQ lit and books dealing with mental health topics (which I gravitate to because of personal experiences) and have not read nearly as many books by POC authors.

As such, I really want to focus on reading African-American literature this year. I will make an effort to read from other POC perspectives as well, but I want to make African-Americans a priority because I really want to listen to their perspectives. This is not only because of the current, tense climate in America, but also because I grew up in a rather white, middle-class area and was rather segregated in honors classes and at a charter school that was diverse, but mostly in regard to religion, Asian-Americans, and LGBTQ-identifying students. So, I have picked out some books on my TBR written by and about African-Americans that I want to read by the end of this year.

Personal Reading:

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker: I’ve had this on my Kindle for several months now so it’s at the top of the list. After I read it, I also want to listen to the musical’s soundtrack! (I loved the revival’s performance at last year’s Tony’s, and I love LaChanze in If/Then.)
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison: I bought this in paperback last year because I loved reading The Bluest Eye last school year, so I’m very much looking forward to diving into more of her backlist.
  • Between the World in Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: One of the biggest nonfiction books in the last couple of years and definitely relevant.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: This made a big splash with publication last year because Oprah got it to release even earlier than expected AND it was really good. Plus, historical magical realism? Yes please!
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty: The most recent Man Booker winner, and first American (well, born in America) winner to boot.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: This is one of the most lauded books for last year.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Released in February, this is going to be a huge YA book and I’m interested (especially as a future teacher!) in reading this perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Assigned Reading:

I can’t speak for the fall semester yet, but this spring semester I am taking two literature classes (which are taking up a lot of my reading time!), one of which focuses heavily on the history and literature of the 20th and 21st centuries and is rather diverse. The books I’m reading by and about African Americans this semester are:

  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (I’ve wanted to read this for a couple of years now, very excited!)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Quicksand by Nella Larsen
  • Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat

Does anyone have any recommendations? This is rather heavily literary, mostly because of recent releases, but I feel a little strange not having more middle grade and YA on the list.