Recommendations from March 2023

I haven’t been reading at my usual pace, which typically gets me through 50-75 books a year. But, I did read a few books in March that I’d like to bring to your attention in case you haven’t heard of them.

The first book I finished in March was Babel, or the Necessity of Violence by R.F. Kuang. Despite the academic-sounding title, Babel is actually a work of fiction. Although, as the author notes, it draws heavily from her own scholarship as a doctoral student.

I enjoyed her Poppy War trilogy (which Jen has dubbed one of her three favorite trilogies ever), so I was eager to read this book.

I must admit, though, that I found it sometimes a hard read. And, that’s partly because Victorian England really isn’t a time period that I tend to enjoy. I think of it as an era of repression when the British built an empire through exploitation and violence. And, that’s exactly what Babel analyzes through a fictional lens.

It is, like the other books I’ve read by R.F. Kuang, beautifully written and filled with vivid characters. But, I found that I wasn’t reading as many chapters at a sitting simply because I was so angry at the world the characters inhabited.

My next title for March was Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. After delving into the dark world from Babel, tackling a memoir about a family where mental health issues combined with the family’s religious beliefs perhaps was an odd choice. Where Babel took me over a month to read, I blew through Educated in two days.

Since I’ve given some thought to writing a memoir, I’m trying to read more of them to see how other writers select their material. Westover’s background is a tough one to imagine, and I think she told the story with as much compassion as she could.

My next March title was The River of Silver, which is a short-story collection from S.A. Chakraborty featuring the characters from her Daevabad trilogy. That series is another of Jen’s three favorite trilogies ever. I raced through the collection and very nearly re-read the entire series just because revisiting those amazing characters and that vivid world appealed.

Instead, I exercised a bit of discipline and dug into Stephen Graham Jones’s Don’t Fear the Reaper, which is the second book set in Proofrock, Idaho and follows the events after My Heart is a Chainsaw.

While I’m a proud Gen Xer, I was never really into watching the classic 1970s and 1980s horror movies that play such a pivotal role in these two books. But, after reading both …Chainsaw and …Reaper, I am starting to wonder if I should go back through the books and watch the movies that are referenced so prominently in each.

I’m really excited that a third book featuring Jade/Jennifer Daniels and Proofrock is expected. I’ll be watching for it because I have no idea where and how a third book could occur, given what happened in …Reaper.

With Jen busy with law school classes, we haven’t watched much recently, although we did finish The Last of Us and are caught up on The Mandalorian. I have my theories about what is to come with Din Djarin, Bo-Katan Kryze, the Armorer, Moff Gideon, and Elia Kane, but time will tell if I’m right.

What have you read, watched, or listened to recently that you’d recommend?

Image Credit: Photo by Tanya Santos on Unsplash

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