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Friday, March 20, 2015

Books you can buy for 77 cents on the dollar

“Art makes nothing happen in a way that makes something happen.”

-Ali Smith, How to be Both

Holy cats on a car hood it’s been a good year for books so far. Not, like, books that have been written so far I don’t know what those are but books that I’ve read. This year. I believe I’ve discovered more new authors in the last two and a half months than I had in the last five years. Frankly I haven’t been so excited about literature since I was studying it in college.

What has changed? Well. I made a conscious decision towards the end of last year to change the way I was reading. If you glance at my Goodreads list on the right (go ahead and add me, we should be friends) you’ll see that before November 13, 2014 I listed 36 books. Of those only 9 were written by women. Since then I’ve read 21, 11 of which were by women authors. I’ve gone from roughly 25% to over 50% and wow, you guys.

Last year I found a TIME article entitled “These Are The 21 Female Authors You Should Be Reading” somewhere and realized that aside from Donna Tartt I hadn’t heard of a single one. Honestly I think that’s ridiculous. Did I think that while women were absolutely crushing it in the young adult scene what with their Hermione Grangers and Peetas they somehow couldn’t be dominating in the Capital L Literature scene? If I did, I was soon proven hilariously wrong.

In one trip to the library, I picked up The Rehearsal, The Luminaries, and Salvage the Bones. Sweet lil’ babies in a handbasket, you guys! I’ve written about them, and as you can see by clicking the above links I just thought they were delectable little morsels (haha at The Luminaries being called “little”) to be just savored like a normal-sized Caramello you need to make last for your whole work shift.

So now I’ve just finished How to be Both, by Ali Smith, and even though I have so many more books to write about in the backlog I just have to talk about this one right now. I finished it last night while enjoying a pleasant spring evening outside, my kids playing some bizarre modification of croquet in the background, and closed it with such a sigh of satisfaction.

Like the aforementioned The Rehearsal, there’s essentially two novels in here. In fact, depending on which copy you find, you’ll either read Eyes, or Camera first. My hunch is reading them in the opposite order than I did would give you a completely different insight into the second story, as they overlap in a very clever way. One of the stories we follow a grammar-obsessed teen girl coping with a recent family tragedy. The other follows a 15th century artist about whom very little is known aside from the fact that he felt underpaid for his contributions to a famous fresco.

You know, I read that description, too, and said HA NOT FOR ME and checked it out anyway. It was for me, you guys.
“Cause nobody's the slightest idea who we are, or who we were, not even we ourselves
- except, that is, in the glimmer of a moment of fair business between strangers, or the nod of knowing and agreement between friends.
Other than these, we go out anonymous into the insect air and all we are is the dust of colour, brief engineerings of wings towards a glint of light on a blade of grass or a leaf in a summer dark.”
I hadn't even realized it but I was bored with books. How dumb is that? I wasn't bored with books, I was bored with the books I'd been reading. There are people out there who are redefining what a novel even is anymore. Lady people. Read more books by lady people, people.

Is people a word? Is that how people is spelled? How do those letters say "people"?