This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a Halloween freebie, but since we at My Book Jar don’t subscribe to Halloween, we’ve decided to do a different kind of Top Ten listicle: Autumn 2020: 10 MBJ Book Recommendations
Carmen doesn’t like Halloween in the same way that people born near Christmas have a love-hate relationship with that holiday. One kind f gets lost in the holiday shuffle and what’s a birthday compared to Christmas or the hallmark holiday that Halloween has now become, which is the reason Sash does not enjoy this particular holiday either.
So we’ve decided to switch it up a bit!
This Autumn Edition of Book Recommendations is brought to you by MBJ’s apathy for Halloween and good ole fashion procrastination skills! We have come to the realization that there a select number of books we’ve been talking a lot about but have yet to either do a review or give them their own spotlight.
So until we do, here are the books we think should be on your TBR list:
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
I had a very rough summer. It was mentally and emotionally draining, more on that in a different post.
Reading Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race made feel seen and heard. Sadly, in the early chapters the experiences she wrote about in regard to racism had me nodding my head in commiseration.
Yes she was writing about the racism all people of colour face and in particular those in the Black community but more than that she was talking about my summer. My experiences with racism at the hands of friends of over ten years.
It was a soothing balm to my battered mind and soul. More importantly, Oluo’s approach to the topic of racism is conversational—despite the “shouty-ness” of the title—it is a hand-holding-tough-love read for those who want to know how to talk about race and a validating read for those in the Black community.
So You Want to Talk About Race is a book I highly recommend you read instead of listening to. It just hits differently when you absorb the words the old-fashion way.
The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
This summer we took a Literature of the Fantastic course. We thought it was going to be tailored more towards fictional fantasy texts as a popular genre. Instead, it was a more in-depth look at the literary modes of fantastical texts.
If that is confusing to you, imagine how we felt! It was confusing to us too and we were taking the course! Throughout the course, we had a very vague idea as to what the takeaway was supposed to be.
Reading Thomas’ The Dark Fantastic—which Sash had to read for a research essay—solved a lot of the problems we had with defining the fantastic as a literary mode.
Now we know that the fantastic is not just a book set in an imagined world or with imagined characters but rather it is the hesitation between what is real and not real. If you’re questioning whether something is real or not then you are reading a fantastical text!
Note: though we both own a copy of The Dark Fantastic we highly recommend the audio version. It can be a pretty dense read but listening to it was much more enjoyable.
Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf
Unlike Carmen, I was not a big fan of Woolf. For me, she’s too wordy and a fair bit pretentious. However, I have only just started to appreciate her penchant for pretension.
Orlando was a required reading text for our Literature of the Fantastic course and one of the books I thoroughly enjoyed. Orlando starts of life as a man, then, halfway through she becomes a woman and lives the rest of her days (there are a lot of days) as a woman.
Woolf not only opened my eyes to the fantastic in the terms of writing a biographical prose that is not quite a biography (which in my opinion showcases her skills as a writer), she also challenges gender binaries in the 1900s.
If you’re looking to start reading Woolf, then Orlando rather than “A Room of One’s Own” is our recommendation for you. You won’t regret it!
/wɝdslʌt/: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language by Amanda Montell
When we first created a bookstagram for MBJ, we stumbled on Amanda Montell’s live takeover of Harper Collins instagram. She read bits and pieces of her book, explained why “y’all” is so magical in its grammatical accuracy and its necessary inclusion in the English language.
Having just finished a grammar and proofreading course, I was in love. Then, Montell went and asked bookstagram to comment on their favourite English word. Carmen: damn | Sash: shall |MBJ: facetious
It was really fun to comment on our favourite words, and we were so happy to have a sit down with her a few weeks later. More on that in a different post!
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Jean Rhys takes a look at the previously unexplored and often unquestioned narrative of Rochester’s first wife, Bertha, who is labelled as the madwoman in the attic.
If more people read Wide Sargasso Sea to broaden their perspectives to encompass more than just Jane’s, I think more people would be hesitant to claim Jane Eyre as their favourite classic.
Yes, I concede that Brontë was writing for her time, but as readers, we should surpass the author in our analysis and in doing so we may not hold our greats up so high. Just because something was okay for the time doesn’t mean it was okay.
The depiction of Bertha as an animal reinforces the dark other Thomas talks about in The Dark Fantastic and our societal views of Blacks.
To that end, I highly recommend you add Wide Sargasso Sea to your list and read it!
The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King
I am always happy to read required texts for English classes. My intertextuality class introduced not only Wide Sargasso Sea but King’s The Truth About Stories. It is a great portrayal of oral storytelling traditions of Indigenous people mainly because each chapter opens with the same story with a slight variation. Though most of oral storytelling is lost when in written form, King still manages to preserve enough for basic understanding of how it would have worked and how written storytelling detracts from the oral tradition.
Each chapter gives the reader new insight into Indigenous culture and only a fraction of the pain and misunderstandings of a minority. Nevertheless, it packs a punch; and though a short read, it’s worth it.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This was the first real Science Fiction book that I ever read. And I love to tell people to read it. I think that it is the perfect introduction to Science Fiction because not only is it light and short but it is also very humorous. If you don’t like the absurd, then this book isn’t for you. But if you love an adventure story with a reluctant traveller, towels all in outer space then this book is for you.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I have talked about this book in so many posts and yet I still haven’t written a review. Nevertheless, this is the first book I recommend when someone asks me for a fantasy book. I won’t say that it is an adult Harry Potter but if you love magic, vampires and history then it is right up your alley. The main character of this novel /series is a low key badass. She has her doctorate in history once a personal goal of mine and works with old books another personal goal of mine.
Well Met by Jen DeLuca
I read this book when I was supposed to be writing an exam and I Loved it! Mainly because it distracted me from the exam I was supposed to be writing but still. If you are Geek adjacent like me and love renaissance fairs, then I can’t recommend this book enough. I have a deep-seated nostalgia for renaissance fairs, they were a big part of my childhood summers and this book fulfills that love.
Also if you are a fan of hate to love romances like me, then this is the book for you.
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
Ah, the book that brought us together! How can we not have it included in our first list of book recommendations?
Here at MBJ, we love hate-to-love romances, and this is one of my favourites. Alice Clayton is so real about sex and the struggles of getting back the elusive O. This is a great romantic comedy as well with loveable, real, and hilarious characters. So you should definitely give it a read.
Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs
This is a great Canadian mystery thriller. And if you are familiar with the TV series Bones then you should give this book a read. It’s actually the book series that Bones is based on, though I have to warn you, it is a loose adaptation. The science of forensic anthropology is really explored in this series and I love that the main character, a doctor is a woman.
We had so much fun with our list of recommendations that we’ve decided to keep it going. Every quarter MBJ will recommend books for you to read.
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