December reads

I know many of us have spent a disconcerting amount of time at home this year, and of course, it would seem that we should have that much more time to read. Not so, apparently. I’m almost to the finish line of my (for me) modest Goodreads challenge with just 6 books left to go before I hit my goal of 36.

Just 6, with 4 (almost 3) days left to do so, but I’m confident. I’ve been giving myself my fair share of breaks this year, and short stories have been among my favorites, along with children’s books and YA novels. Given that I’ve been needing a mental break, I’ve been reading books- funnily enough- about mental and bodily breaks. Pun, ha.

My recommended books for the month of December are mostly not translated works, but they’ve been getting me to explore a new diagnosis and find my mental footing in this mind-bender of a year; somehow getting lost in teenage romance and mental illnesses has sucked me back into my habit of devouring books at warp speed. Here are some of my favorites of the month.

  1. Eliza and her Monsters

Eliza is the author of the very famous webcomic Monstrous Sea, the catch is that no one knows that she’s the author, and her parents have no idea just how famous she is on the web. I allowed myself to fall in love along with Eliza, to get swept up in the teenage feelings of brand new first-time romance. I empathized with her, nodding my head when she recounts how she was so up and into her work that she even forgot it was Christmas. Eliza’s descriptions of anxiety and her bipolar made me ache and feel so seen. I thoroughly loved this book.

2. Little & Lion

This book is delightful, I read it in practically one sitting, I didn’t want to put it down. Suzette moved back to L.A. after being away at boarding school on the east coast. She comes back to a loving family but an increasingly sick brother who suffers from bipolar disorder. The novel deftly touches on race, disabilities both seen and unseen, Suzette’s own fight with herself to establish exactly how queer she is, which I totally get, and her place in religion and society. I would place this book in the category of family drama rather than romance, because it’s not exactly the romance story you’re expecting. I loved how much the family clearly cares for each other and takes care of their own, and how the author explores the friendships surrounding the family.

3. Made you up

Oof. this book was another whirlwind for me. It’s by the same author who wrote Eliza and Her Monsters, but where that was more lighthearted, even when dealing with extremely dark subjects, this entire book is disconcerting. It kind of almost reminded me of The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie toward the end. Alex suffers from schizophrenia and is the ultimate unreliable narrator, the feelings of confusion and suspicion permeate your brain just like they do Alex’s and her schizophrenia is woven into every aspect of her day- whether she’s aware of it or not- and she tries so hard to be aware of it. I’m curious to discuss the end with anyone else who has read it, because I’m still not sure what it was.

4. The Heart

This is the only translated book on my list and it’s truly glorious. Fans of Nabokov will sit right at home in this novel, the paragraphs go on for pages. I’m truly am impressed by De Kerangal’s abilities to focus on the minute aspects of a scene that expand before your very eyes, a coffee maker sizzling away the last droplets in the carafe, for instance. Her description of the surf session in the beginning is so heart-breakingly accurate it made me want to run out and grab my board. Her web of characters touches everyone involved with the heart transplant that begins with Simon Limbres’ demise and ends with Claire Méjan receiving his heart. The story is inevitable, but it’s a perfectly worded journey and it’s obvious why Sam Taylor won the 2018 Lewis Galantière Award because it is so. God damn. beautiful.

That’s all for now, but I am planning a post on my upcoming reads for 2021, I’m going to try to do something I’ve never done before, make ayear-long reading plan! Let’s see how it goes.