Yes, I’m still reading, just slowly

Here are the books I’ve read so far this year and my thoughts! I am way behind schedule!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: Amazing! I have a much longer post about the book versus the show coming up, so I’m not going to post much here besides ‘I loved it!’

Sapiens: a Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Harari: Incredible, mind opening, engaging and humorous and supremely informative! There are so many things I took away from this book that it’s hard to name one, but I think the realization that there were many human species existing on earth at once in the past is a stunner to think about. Can you imagine how things would be different if one or more of them had survived to build their own societies alongside us?

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson: Boy do I love her writing style. Subtle, understated, and some just really weird stuff that fans of modern, severed-limb style ‘horror’ will probably be bored by. The title story has had such an influence on the world of fiction that it will probably be predictable to most and not very shocking or impressive, but it’s still a great read and there are a lot of gems in here!

The Passion According to G.H by Clarice Lispector: Wow. This one is really hard to describe because almost nothing happens in the book outside of thoughts and feelings. This is definitely not for everyone. Probably not for most. But the language is beautiful and if you love getting into weird head-spaces, this one will really take you for a ride. The final 15% or so my face got sore from being in the D: position for too long. The book as a whole reminded me of a few very intense panic attacks I’ve had, which I called ‘horror attacks’ (though terror is probably a more accurate word) that really changed the way I thought about life.

I love how you get sucked into the bizarre mind-state of GH, but when you pull yourself back and think of the objective reality of what actually happened in the book, it’s actually kind of hilarious.

A strange experience. I’ll have to read it again at some point, I feel I probably missed a lot in the middle.

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess: It’s a book, okay! It’s going on the list! I need the numbers! This was actually great for me, a relative beginner at chess, and I bet it would be useful as a refresher to someone more experienced, too. Unlike a lot of chess books, it gets laser focused on one topic: back-rank checkmates. It goes through every conceivable variation of every pattern, and by the end of it you’ll be recognizing those patterns in your games and saying ‘oh yeah, that’s where I force the king into the corner like this’ and so on. Very helpful!

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M Coetzee: Short and potent. Beautiful prose. A sordid story of our past that is still a sad reflection of our present. Life goes on, and seems completely out of our hands, but even so we must try to do what’s right, even in the face of impotence. Powerful and memorable.

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