May Wrap-Up: Living up to the ol’ username

I’M GOING TO LIVE FOREVER!!!

Translation: I just had the single most insane reading month I have ever had, and sure maybe it was because I’m in the gilded age of being unable to be alone with my thoughts, and yeah perhaps “just” here means more than 3 weeks ago, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I read 38 books.

That’s a trade-off I’ll take every month of my goddamn life. Put that on the record.

I can’t even wait any more to talk about it. LET’S GET INTO IT.

Over the last four weeks (previous to the immediately preceding 3), here are some late-breaking news stories and general developments:

  • As mentioned, I cannot be alone with my thoughts, and thereby am often found doing things like reading books while refilling my water or brushing my teeth, bringing my laptop into the kitchen, and struggling to keep one hand dry for TikTok-scrolling reasons while doing the dishes
  • My precious Sixers’ precious season precious ended
  • The idea of a fun night, which was once going out and getting very drunk with two or more of my dearest friends, is now making a tofu/rice/veggie bowl and watching physically inadvisable amounts of a Netflix reality dating show with my sister until I develop a disorder not yet in the DSM. This opens up more time, both because going out somehow takes 9 hours and because I am illiterate when hungover, like any self-respecting citizen
  • Instagram, Goodreads, and blogging, while still fun, are not the same Fountain-of-Youth level of rejuvenating and life-affirming I somehow found them to be in the last couple months
  • I no longer need sleep, and so I usually spend the 10 pm to 3 am window doing nothing but reading

All of these developments are crucial to provide an understanding of just how I was able to have the reading month I had.

In other words, do not ask me how I read so much. This is not a lifestyle you want to mimic.

I also had a TBR of 39 books, and I read 38 of them. I didn’t part from my TBR one time. I do not know how I did that, but I fear consequences of mysterious construction may arrive at any moment.

I doubt I met any of these beyond the reading-related ones.

MAY GOALS

FINISH BOTH BOOK CLUB BOOKS ✓

READ BOOKS BY ASIAN AUTHORS ✓

READ 31+ BOOKS ✓

BACK TO #1 ON GOODREADS PERHAPS X

BLOG TWO OR SO TIMES X

POST ON INSTAGRAM 8+ TIMES X

Kind of cute that I just predicted that so well. And also that my successes and failures are so neatly separated and organized.

Another thing that happened last month is I suddenly, with no real explanatory personal growth or effort, stopped caring about Instagram likes or about getting back to #1 on Goodreads. Both are things I could achieve with an immense amount of Trying, but trying is passé.

GOALS FOR JUNE

FINISH BOTH BOOK CLUB BOOKS

READ ONLY OWNED BOOKS

READ 25+ BOOKS

BLOG TWO OR SO TIMES 

POST ON INSTAGRAM 8+ TIMES 

SPEND MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS, OR GENERALLY OUTSIDE OF YOUR PERFECT APARTMENT

What a time to be alive.

Two other things that are not new developments in my life, and therefore don’t go in the last list, but are necessary for your understanding of my plans for June:

I am currently addicted to the following reading-related things-

  • Reading three to six books at a time by literally alternating chapters (best when I have a stack next to me that I am cycling through)
  • Having what I read be somehow project-based.

My non-reading-related current addictions include an invention called Mega Lunch, which is ordering enough food for two or more people to eat both lunch and dinner (and weird 3 pm grazing), and taking the longest walk I can make up.

But those aren’t relevant.

Anyway, my plans for June are to read as many of my owned TBR books as I can, probably in batches of 6 at a time. Clear Your Shit is happening now, but I read an incredibly strict TBR last month, and I’m afraid for my poor mood-reading brain, so I will be going off of vibes alone.

Onto the main event.



1. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Read: May 1 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

I started writing this blog post at the very good (for me) time of June 1, and now it is June 7.

How many days will it take me to write a charming paragraph for each and every one of these 38? Who knows, but it’s a fun game we can play together.

This book is good, but it is good in the way that a long-form and didactic article by a vaguely amusing writer is good, and not in the usual fiction-book way. Which is I guess refreshing? If unexpected.



2. The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Read: May 2 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars

Even though romance is, somehow, my second-most read genre so far this year (can’t stop requesting e-ARCs, for some reason, and NetGalley approvers appear to find me roughly as charming as kids I babysat when I was in high school and the employees of the restaurant below my apartment, which is to say unpredictably but hugely when they do), I rarely really enjoy it.

Which is a bummer, because it’s the best genre when you enjoy it.

But unfortunately, it very rarely Feels Romantic, and then we end up in situations like this one.



3. Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Read: May 1-2 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

Speaking of NetGalley ARCs: I realized like two months ago that I could, you know, actually request them, instead of waiting for them to show up in my Blogging Inbox, and blacked out and came to having requested 17.

And I was eventually approved for seemingly 289.

This was one of them, and look how good and fun! Magic and monsters and old Hollywood, oh my. The Nghi Vo hive continues strong.



4. The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada

Read: May 2-3 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars

If I had a dollar for every time I added a short horror-adjacent Asian translated work titled “The Hole” on Goodreads, I’d have two dollars.

Which isn’t a lot of dollars but it’s still weird it happened twice.

(I think this is like the 100th time I have posted that exact statement. But I’m proud of it.)

This was better than the other short horror-adjacent Asian translated work titled “The Hole” I read.



5. N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto

Read: May 2-3 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

I love books that are short and translated and seem creepy and have low average ratings on Goodreads (or lowish, okay, I’m not that picky), and then I feel unendingly betrayed if I don’t completely love them.

This was exactly the weirdness it told me it was going to be.

But I didn’t completely get it.

And that is the sort of disappointment that I may need to avenge via an action movie franchise’s worth of plots and malfeasances.



6. Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

Read: May 4-5 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

Folks, it is now June 22.

I have typed nary a word in more than two weeks, which is a dreadful situation but on the bright side, isn’t the word “nary” fun?

I now have just under a week to reasonably complete this post, which will require writing roughly 3,300% more than I have in the weeks before.

Another bright side, though: This book was smart and good! And still is, I imagine, unless something has somehow changed in the last month and a half.



7. Parade by Hiromi Kawakami

Read: May 5 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

I have a few passions in life, and one of them is a little something I like to call “accidentally picking up a companion novel or sequel without having any idea there was a first book, let alone having read it, and then either never getting to the first book in question or being disappointed by it [see later this month], and I really only have myself to blame because I have thoroughly bastardized the intended reading process.”

Relatedly, I am now accepting pitches and constructive criticism on things to call this.



8. Set on You by Amy Lea

Read: May 3-5 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars

Reading books about working out counts as exercise, I’m pretty sure.

If it doesn’t, do not tell me otherwise. This is all I have.

Also this book probably counts as exercise because, like what I understand “working out” to be, albeit from an immense distance, this was mildly arduous to get through even though it had its positives.

Does it sound like I know what I’m talking about? No, right?



9. Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

Read: May 7-9 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4.5 stars

This is one of those books that I thought would be 5 star and I loved like a 5 star but then something happened that prevented it from being a 5 star but I still kind of feel about it like I would about a 5 star so 4.5 star it is?

My brain is constantly filled with these kind of annoying, incomprehensible thoughts/monologues.

You guys don’t get just how hard it is to be me. I live like this literally all the time.



10. Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Read: May 5-9 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars

Our foreshadowing has come home to roost.

This is the first book in question that I should have read, if I had any self-respect or critical thinking skills, both of which I am famously low on, before Parade.

But I did not.

And I liked Parade better anyway!!!

Which I guess is to be expected, because, again, I did it wrong. Oh well.



11. Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Read: May 10 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars

Emma is the best Jane Austen book, and Jane Austen is the best ever, so describing yourself as Emma set in modern Asia is a tough title to live up to.

Also this book was just not very good.

I can’t resist Emma, but that was my downfall.

That and the fact that I think spectacularly low average ratings don’t apply to me. Maybe the real not like other girls trope was in my internal monologue and sense of self all along.



12. If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Read: May 5-12 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2.5 stars

Try as I might (and, in the interest of full discretion, the amount I’ve tried could be described as “not really that much”), I’m not a multiple perspective enjoyer.

Sure, there are some several-POV books I’ve liked, but that is in spite of it, due to my huge heart and arduous effort.

And that was especially true here.

The not-liking part, not the liking in spite of.



13. Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Read: May 5-12 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars

Some things in life are sacred.

My ability to eat brownie batter and fully believe that salmonella is a conspiracy created by people who don’t want me to have a good time. Netflix’s canon of the worst reality shows possible starring human garbage. And most importantly: the heist plotline.

This is a heist book that has no heist-iness to it whatsoever.

What a sin.



14. Chemistry by Weike Wang

Read: May 13-14 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars

There is an expression that goes “you can’t always get what you want,” and the full version, helpfully set to music, further elaborates that “if you try sometimes, you just might find (dramatic pause) you get what you need.”

In this case, what I thought I wanted was this book, and instead it was brutally taken from me à la an episode of American classic television program The Fairly OddParents.

This is a combo of two books I love and it’s just okay.



15. Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

Read: May 15 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars

For me, this book is about compromise.

It’s half a kind of book I hate (detailed and long-winded renditions of the suffering of innocent people, in this case children) and half a kind of book I love (philosophical musings).

And for that reason it is perfectly three stars, which is, in turn, a compromise from me.

Doesn’t that work out nicely!



16. Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim

Read: May 12-15 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars

It’s three star city around here!

This was one of those reading months where I was capable of reading like 4,000 pages and really liking 200 of them.

A blessing and a curse, as they call it.

This was a very cute and fun and silly book that kept going out of its way to ruin itself with weird serious insane stuff. Which kind of sounds familiar…



17. Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Read: May 16 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

I either want to be Mindy Kaling or for her to adopt me.

Kind of an either/or situation. To reference Elif Batuman.

I have been looking for a reason to reread this book for approximately 7 years, mainly due to how I used to reread like every other time I picked a book up and am trying to stop, but it turns out I can just do that whenever I want.

I will never make this mistake again.



18. When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Read: May 17 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

I read this, like, last month or something, and I didn’t really like it, and I was all, “It’s not you, book, it’s me.”

And GUESS WHAT.

I was right.

I mean, it actually wasn’t quite as good as the first book in the series, and as I suspected the first time it really didn’t have the same poeticism or complexity…but still.



19. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Read: May 16-17 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

I cannot believe I liked this book.

I don’t like historical fiction.

I’ve gone back and forth on Ishiguro.

England is boring.

And yet…wowza. What a damn goodie.



20. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Read: May 17 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

Once I unlocked the ability to reread Mindy Kaling books, after 7 years of just…not realizing I could, for some reason, there was no going back.

Here I am, even still, at the Mindy Kaling altar.

Occasionally scrolling through her social media.

But in a cool way. Not a stalker way.

I’m normal.



21. The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao

Read: May 18-19 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

This is like Ace of Spades, except a lil bit worse and also not as well-written and also if the protagonist of Ace of Spades was inexplicably knocked into / bumped / tripped / generally grazed no fewer than 5 times in the first 50 pages.

These are the kind of writing quirks I obsess over.

This, my friends, is WHY I REVIEW.

Anyway, this was good, I promise.



22. The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Read: May 16-20 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars

GUYS, I’M GETTING BACK TO MY ROOTS.

Welcome back to the popular fantasy bestseller to me reading it to me disliking it to me writing a rant review to me ignoring the comments because they’re mean pipeline.

I needed to take a few years off due to I’m sensitive.

But we’re back and we’re better than ever. Rant review has arrived.



23. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Read: May 10-20 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

It’s June 23. I may be in a sort of this-blog-post-related time warp or purgatory, and will keep writing about a handful of books at a time at great physical cost until I perish.

Which seems kind of on theme for this book.

Relatedly, my whole review of it comes down to “you’re allowed to be sexist if you’re very talented.”

So take that on at your own risk.



24. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Read: May 20-22 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

Sometimes you need to pick up an international bestseller that everyone adores, that has been called a best book of the year it was published by a million publications, that is book club fodder for the foreseeable future, that is casually referenced in conversation by people who don’t read at all, that skyrockets its author to fame, that everyone says made them cry and shake and see the world differently…

Just to be like, yeah. You guys were right.

Anyway, this book is good.



25. You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked by Sheung-King

Read: May 22-23 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

This book was interesting in that it talked mad sh*t on many of the other books I read or wanted to read this month, and then just kind of…kept going, as if it hadn’t inspired a kind of weird existential meta crisis in my heart and mind.

It’s even weirder that the most interesting parts of this were 100% from other stories and books.

I really want to read The Unbearable Lightness of Being now, though, so there’s that.



26. Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung

Read: May 23-24 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

I love curses.

I love bunnies.

I love darkness.

I love borderline fairytales.

I love being reminded of how f*cked up and creepy our world is.

This is…everything to me.



27. Almond by Won-pyung Sohn

Read: May 24 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2.5 stars

This book is sweet and nice.

I am not sweet or nice.

We are sworn enemies and we did not get along from the beginning, and actually it was before the beginning because I did not think I would like this book and I read it anyway.

But I refuse to blame myself. (See: above reference to not being sweet or nice.)



28. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

Read: May 18-25 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars

If you’ve ever been tempted to be impressed with me, now is the time.

I got through this entire 800 page whopper…without enjoying it for a single goddamn second.

The writing is not good. The plot is not there. The characters are driveling and weak and annoying. There are three separate stories, but there might as well be one for how identically unpleasurable they were.

Should I one star this?



29. Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami

Read: May 25 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

Look at that cover.

Look at that author.

Look at that page count.

How could I resist?

And I was rewarded! This was fine. I would call it pretty good, even.



30. Nothing Like I Imagined by Mindy Kaling

Read: May 26 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

It’s Mindy Kaling month. Which, to me, in my perfect brain, is every month.

This is a sad weird little collection of Amazon-exclusive essays that altogether barely crack the 100 page mark. A full third memoir it is note.

And yet, here I am. Eating it up.

I’m ready to declare she can do no wrong. (If she gets canceled in the next 8 days I’ll take the blame. Jinxed it.)



31. Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Read: May 26-27 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

I don’t like poetry.

I don’t like prose poetry, I don’t like YA books that are written with the enter key used so many times it should be a crime against Johannes Gutenberg (shoutout the printing press), I don’t like Instagram poets with faux-typewriter font on a pastel background.

But I do like Ocean Vuong, so I gave it a shot. And it worked out okay. No tears were shed.



32. A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn

Read: May 24-29 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

At about this point in the month (read: basically when it was over in all but name) I suddenly remembered I had ARCs on the CUSP of being overdue.

Which of course, for me, typically means about 3 months to 1 year before I’ll get to them, but I decided to try on conscientiousness for a change.

I gotta say, in this case I recommend it!

(This is foreshadowing.)



33. The White Book by Han Kang

Read: May 30 ✿✿✿ Rating: 5 stars

FINALLY.

AFTER SEEMINGLY A HUNDRED YEARS. AFTER WHAT FELT LIKE 200,000 PAGES. AFTER A PERIOD I ALLEGE TO BE CRUEL AND UNUSUAL.

A FIVE STAR RATING.

SWEET MERCY.

I have to ignore that this is apparently prose poetry, for crisis avoidance reasons.



34. All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami

Read: May 27-30 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4.5 stars

Mieko round 3!!!

And this time it’s a sad girl read!!!

The sequel in my heart and nowhere else to Breasts and Eggs!

This was so good. I love women.

Also, these Europa editions…Mieko Kawakami stays winning. I’m not even mad that they denied my Netgalley e-ARC request because I asked for it too late.



35. The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Read: May 25-30 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars

Hello, the thing I was foreshadowing, my old friend.

I’ve come to talk about you again.

This is another ARC I remembered just before it became overdue (in this case, a literal week before publication), but this ARC, unlike the last one, was bad.

I cannot fathom why the author of this decided to have so much going on, but I salute her bravery?



36. The Very Secret Society of Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Read: May 31 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars

Another ARC!

Except two differences!

One, this isn’t out yet even NOW!

And two, it was actually good! A very cute and fun read that was only sometimes annoying, which I’m not mad about, relatively speaking!

Exclamation point!



37. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Read: May 31 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars

Okay. I’m aware things are getting a little crazy.

This is where I need to remind you that I was a) not sleeping, and b) reading 6 or more books at a time.

Because yes, I finished 6 books in the last 2 days of the month. Yes, I started and finished 3 on the last day. And no, my brain does not and did not feel good or normal.

Also, this book hit me too hard for me to know what to write about it even now.



38. The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

Read: May 31 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2.5 stars

And now, the grand finale:

This weird ass book.

A lot of the times I think I am “special” and “hashtag not like other girls” and that low average ratings don’t apply to me because I am so unique.

Always stunning to be wrong!

I don’t have a lot of practice, y’know.



AVERAGE RATING

And now the fun part!

Everyone cheer, please. A lot of books means a lot of math.

3.34!

For me…and for a quantity reading month…I’m not complaining!

I’m not even doing a top posts section this month. Would be truly beside the point.

HOW WAS YOUR May, long ago as it was? WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE READ? (Or one you hated, to my fellow haters/critics out there.)

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THE BOOKS I READ? What were your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “May Wrap-Up: Living up to the ol’ username

  1. Alyssa Thomas says:

    I read 14 books in May which I’m supremely happy about. As someone who shops when I’m bored I have decided that instead of going to therapy to deal with why I like to shop so much I’m just going to block all shopping websites and read in my free time. And if I’m not reading then I’m watching Criminal Minds. Therapy probably is needed, but for now, I’m enjoying the reading high. I’m at 15 books so far for June!

    Like

  2. Alan Nicholas (@BigAltheLawyer) says:

    What. A. List.

    Very impressive. I only managed 2 or 3. One Chuck Palahniuk, which turns out to be my least favorite of the (check’s list) 11 that I’ve read. One from Steven Erickson, Willful Child, a Star Trek satire. I swear there’s one more, but I can’t think of it, but I may be wrong.

    On Murakami – spot on with the sexism, though in some of the work there’s something…charming? about it. There’s a RELIANCE, that’s the charm, on females from the male protagonists, while simultaneously being…well…sexist (by way of reducing them in some fundamental way, objectifying women, worshipfully in some instances, but still objectifying).

    But Wind-Up Bird is my LEAST favorite Murakami out of the (check’s list) 6 that I have read. With spots 1 and 2 going to Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84 respectively.

    It has been an extremely busy year and will be for the foreseeable future extremely busy as well. Kudos to your 38!!

    I salute you!!

    Like

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