the bookshelf: april 2022
a quick, fiction-heavy roundup
Just a quick update from the shelves since April has been a blur! I feel like I’ve done little in my free time but read, go for walks, and rewatch The Good Place, but I’m pretty happy with that being the case. I log all my reads on Goodreads to keep track of where I’m at with my reading goal this year (although I’m not much of a Goodreads reviewer). Here are a few thoughts on fiction that delighted and devastated me recently. We’re at 15/52 so far!
These Violent Delights & Our Violent Ends
Some of the most stunning prose I’ve ever read—as several Goodreads reviews I’ve skimmed through have said, Shakespeare wishes he could be Chloe Gong. This Romeo-and-Juliet storyline set in 1920’s Shanghai isn’t something I’d see myself picking up if I hadn’t stumbled across the author’s social media and admittedly became a Chloe-as-a-human-being stan, and I sometimes felt the plot a bit wandering and the narration slightly repetitive—but ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this duology for its twists and turns throughout.
Elaine Hsieh Chou
The narration was delightfully dramatic, the events of the book abhorrently absurd, and the multi-dimensional characters both jarring and logically dissonant. I definitely got a little lost in the structural sauce with how some scenes and dialogue were written, but I honestly kinda loved how much the storyline and interactions in this book made me cringe start to finish.
The Last Place You Look
One of the better mystery books I’ve read since my Tana French era. I really enjoyed this read and the way the story played out (though I didn’t necessarily expect to—in the words of an old friend, I definitely wish this book overall had better marketing and cover design to reflect what’s on the inside).
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
I first listened to the audiobook of Good Talk, Mira Jacob’s audiobook (which, I probably need to re-read as a physical copy because I found out after listening that it’s actually a graphic memoir). She reflects on her multi-year novel-writing in the memoir, which ultimately led me to picking up The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. I was drawn in rapidly and deeply, with Jacob’s gorgeous writing and talent for describing things both artistically and accurately. The plot spoke to me as a child of South Asian immigrants to America, for sure, and I loved that the story refused to turn the broader Indian-American experience into a single representation. But there were a few lines from the main character (and others) that felt ... bigoted, to say the least. Which perplexes me even more as I found out the author herself is queer—maybe just a product of being in a very different place in life when she wrote the novel? I stumbled on this review that sums it up better than I can in a few sentences. I loved the extended theme of sleepwalking (literally and metaphorically), the South Asian rep, and the writing style, but I sadly did not end up loving the main character herself in the end.
life lately, otherwise
My anthurium FINALLY sprouted leaves after being radio silent for the past nine months. My blood pressure has definitely (thankfully) decreased since spring begun.
I tried my hand at making stickers for the first time in a while. Updates (maybe, hopefully) to come re: this later this year?
My roommates made me watch Batman for the first time (not the new one). Pretty big, considering I’ve never seen a movie in my life.
I’m revisiting my Animal Crossing island for the first time in like, many months.
I helped make this MTV-inspired edit of penguins. I’m pretty proud tbh