A second edition of "list of things that have been keeping me sane"
I apologize for the two month accidental hiatus – as I have shared on twitter, my mother-in-law passed away pretty suddenly after an intense battle with bile duct cancer on April 17th. While my wife was busy taking care of her mother, and I was busy taking care of my wife, I did not have the bandwidth to do…pretty much anything. As per usual, the thing that helped me through was books.
So! please enjoy another edition of “A list of things that have been keeping me sane:”
Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale Trilogy
I started reading the second book of the trilogy – The Girl in the Tower – in early March, and it brought me through some uncertain times. As a lover of both fantasy and historical novels, this trilogy perfectly combines the two into an enthralling series. The third book – The Winter of the Witch – was genuinely one of the best examples of a third book in a trilogy I have ever read, and I felt cherished, challenged and rewarded as a reader.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
In looking at this list of books, I realize that historical and cultural accuracy are one of my kinks. Suffice to say, then, that Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club beautifully renders Chinatown in 1950s San Francisco with nuance, love and respect. The tension between the (white) queer community and the Chinese-American community that the protagonist has to grapple with was explored in loving, complex detail. I loved it!
People texting me bird pics
Look, I don’t care if the bird pic you’re sending me is a pigeon or a sparrow or an Arctic Tern. I am equally excited by all. I just like bird content, direct to my phone, from someone who is sending it to me because they know I will be excited. I am excited. Thank you for the bird pic!
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Did someone say a sweeping historical epic, interested in the intersections of class, truth and power? I know I am about a decade late on this, but PHEW I loved this book!
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
This literary fiction short story collection is quite far outside of the content I usually read, but how much I loved it is a tribute to the authors skill. This queer black collection is interested in the heart of communities, and I devoured it in hours.
Mary Toft; or the Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer
Palmer’s debut – Version Control – is a straight up science fiction novel about time travel. His sophomore novel, Mary Toft, is a historical novel that explores the nature of truth, power and privilege while also asking the important questions of who is heard. It couldn’t be more different than his first, and yet, somehow, it also has the effect of shaking you to your core. It’s weird, a bit gross, but totally worth a read!
The Unbroken by CL Clark
Lesbian Jesus blesses us with amazing queer post-colonial novels in 2021, and we are grateful. CL Clark’s debut is complicated, thorny, and beautifully written. The (you guessed it) historical accuracy blew me away. The complicated dynamics, the web of difficult decisions the protagonists are faced with, and the intense heat of the central romance are just some of the main wins of this novel. Don’t sleep on it, queers!
The Imperial Radch Series by Ann Leckie
I first read Ancillary Justice in August 2014. It had a profound impact on my life, and it is the book I asked my wife to read for me when we first met. The whole trilogy is very important to me, and it is one I return to when The Going Gets Tough. In 2019, when I had surgery, my wife and I did a total relisten. And now, we’re doing it again. We’re almost done with Book 1, and yes, I am crying. Can’t wait to start Book 2!
As always, thank you for reading!
Like many queers, I am leaving Substack ASAP. Substack has chosen to fund transphobic authors in their SubstackPro fund, and we don’t stand for that around here!
My latest short fiction round-up is available on Nerds of a Feather
Bird du mois: Pintail ducks