It’s the final “Rad Reads” post of 2017 and I’ve got a few books to talk about this time. Thanks to flying back and forth between California and New York earlier in the month, I was able to get a lot of reading done while tackling the first book in this month’s roundup. And as the weather has gotten colder (and my kitchen continues to not be fully connected, thus not allowing me to plan for elaborate recipes), I’ve been inspired to do little else but hide inside with books. Everything I read was thanks to the library too, so I only had so much time to get through these books. Take a look at what I’ve been reading below.
IT (by Stephen King) – The first time I read IT was at the probably inappropriate age of 12. Despite a childhood fear of clowns, I was in the horror phase of my adolescence, obsessively reading the works of everyone from R.L. Stine to Stephen King. So of course, I read IT, but enough time had passed for me to only have vague memories of the book. With the release of the film earlier this year (which I finally wound up seeing and enjoying despite being nervous about actually having to watch an evil clown), I was tempted to reread the novel and wound up taking it out of the library. The thing I like about IT (a particularly questionable chapter, which I found more disturbing as an adult, aside), is that it’s just a no-holds-barred story. It’s incredibly long with a lot of flashbacks and maybe it could have ultimately been trimmed by 100 to 200 pages, but Stephen King’s writing takes me back to what I loved about reading as a child — you’re given a story that you can’t help being fully immersed in. Now, if horror isn’t your thing at all, I wouldn’t recommend visiting this novel — but if anything about it appeals to you, this is one of those classic Stephen King books worth reading.
The Thing Around Your Neck (by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) – I love everything Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes and a part of me almost regrets that I wound up taking this out of the library because I own just about everything else she’s written. This collection of short stories was just as good (if not better in parts) than her novels for me. The characters, all Nigerians — some who live in the U.S., others living in Nigeria — feel so real. I’d highly recommend this one.
What We Lose (by Zinzi Clemmons) – This was kind of a random choice for me at the library, but despite its heavy subject matter, it was a quick read and I actually enjoyed it. It’s about a young African-American woman as she comes to terms with the loss of her South African mother. The novel, written more in a series of vignettes that jumps around different periods of the narrator’s life, grapples with themes of mourning, identity and privilege. I think it’s something that everyone can ultimately understand.
The Power (by Naomi Alderman) – This novel, which is about women developing the ability to delivery electric shocks through their fingertips, establishes a world where the dynamic between men and women is the opposite of the one that exists today. It’s received favorable reviews and ended up on a lot of “best of” lists, but frankly, I was really disappointed when I read it. The characters were flat and the novel as a whole lacked subtlety. This was not the empowering feminist novel people tried to paint it as, and while I’m generally OK with the idea that women could use their power for the wrong reasons, the novel is simply not well executed. If you’re really curious about it, I’d suggest borrowing this book — otherwise skip it.