June Reads

Another up and down month for me . . . I got a new job which has been great but also time-consuming, hence why I’ve read less this month (and this will probably be my new pace moving forward). Still, I’m still happy that I’ve had the chance to read such a wide breadth of books and hopefully I’ll have time to finish a few new texts this July.

All photos courtesy of Goodreads

Shut Up, You’re Pretty by Tea Mutonji

I tried not to make everything about sex, every act of kindness, every well-wish, every hello. But you go through life being touched, you go through life being looked at, you go through life with an uncle commenting on your breasts, or your brother’s friend giving you a condom for your birthday then denying it, you go through life being called a cunt on public transportation, you go through life being followed at midnight, you go through life being told you’re pretty, you’re pretty, you’re so f*cking pretty – it gets complicated.

Short Description: A collection of short stories focused on a young woman navigating her racial, sexual, and gender identity.

Critic Quote: “The stories are vivid and unsettling in their detail. . .Mutonji writes with grit and quick-witted humor. The ease with which these stories unfold is a facet of the author’s craft: the prose holds its emotion in the same way the characters hold their pain. ” –Quill and Quire

My Verdict: Beautiful writing, though the plots of the stories eluded me. Talk into consideration your own writing styles tastes when picking this up.

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals about Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen

The ace world is not an obligation. Nobody needs to identify, nobody is trapped, nobody needs to stay forever and pledge allegiance. The words are gifts. If you know which terms to search, you know how to find others who might have something to teach.

Short Description: A thorough look at asexuality, examining the many was acephobia permeates through society and how ace people find their identities amongst a sex-obsessed public.

Critic Quote: “ Chen argues, through a fantastic blend of nuanced and clear-eyed reporting, research, and personal reflection, that true liberation requires the dismantling of compulsory sexuality.” –Them

My Verdict: An intensive and well-needed study that is both insightful and enjoyable to read.

Read Full Review Here

The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes

People might think that everyone starts out in a closet until they’re ready to ‘come out.’ The closet could be dark and scary or quite roomy and resemble more of a clothes rail. But what’s funny for me is that I didn’t even know that there was a closet—or that I was very much stuck inside it.

Short Description: A graphic novelist’s adolescent coming-out story.

Critic Quote: “A heartwarming, delightful memoir of self-discovery.” –Kirkus Reviews

My Verdict: Short and cute, though not particularly memorable.

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

But did it count as deception if it was done in the name of self-protection? Withholding vulnerable information was a habit born of survival. I’d been lulled into letting my guard down before, only to later regret it, the admissions used against me as I bore her wrath.

Short Description: A Palestinian-American woman reconciles her familial and romantic relationships.

Critic Quote: “At once complicated and engaging, this is the kind of debut novel that announces the arrival of a powerful new author who, besides writing beautifully, has a lot to say.” –NPR

My Verdict: A book with great potential, but ultimately flounders due to constant romantic relationship drama with little depth to ground it.

Naturally Tan by Tan France

So many times, I think we do things because we don’t want to cause an issue. I wish I had spoken up earlier, instead of going along with something because I thought it was what was expected of me. All I can say is speak up; ask questions. Explain your concerns. It’s the first step in feeling empowered to push forward with your own agenda. There is no reason to stifle yourself! Because as a wise man once told me: the best moments are the ones where you’re you.

Short Description: The memoir of Netflix’s Queer Eye‘s fashion expert, Tan France.

Critic Quote: “France’s charming anecdotes and candid opinions exhibit no shortage of humor, and fans of the TV personality will revel in the peek into his colorful history.” –Publisher’s Weekly

My Verdict: A great book for fans of Tan, which you’ll need to be in order to enjoy the sometimes distracted, fragmented writing style.

The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.

Short Description: A young man’s psychological descent after becoming obsessed with a portrait of himself.

Critic Quote: “Oscar Wilde has created an amusing tale that does not end very happily but ends beautifully with our easy-going Lord Henry still chirping.” –ThoughtCo

My Verdict: An engrossing, contemplative story that, for me at least, drowns in overly flowery language.

She’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

That girl? That’s a girl on the edge. Give her a push, and she’s going over.

Short Description: Three Californian teens find their lives intertwined after one photo lights up on social media, causing all to question their personal relationships and artistic aspirations.

Critic Quote: “A wild and satisfying romp.” –Kirkus Reviews

My Verdict: A fun, stylish mystery with messy characters and addicting writing.

Read Full Review Here

Her Body and Other Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them.

Short Description: A collection of short stories that mix genres in order to give voice to a mixture of female voices.

Critic Quote: “ . . . an abrupt, original, and wild collection of stories, full of outlandish myths that somehow catch at familiar, unspoken truths about being women in the world that more straightforward or realist writing wouldn’t.” –NPR

My Verdict: Though I enjoyed the first story, the following pieces, were unfortunately forgettable and generally uninteresting to me. Consider your own tastes before picking up.

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