Six in Six by 2018

Six

At the end of June, suddenly everyone was posting their half-way stats: what they loved, hated, and how many books they read. I totally missed that (it’s late July now), but figured I could do something similar by trying out the Six in Six 2018 edition. I’d never heard of this meme until I saw it on Fiction Fan’s blog. The meme was started by The Book Jotter, who has been doing Six in Six since 2012.

What is it all about?

Share 6 books in 6 categories, or, if time is of the essence, then share just 6 books. Whatever combination works for you as long as it involves 6 books. Of course, the same book can obviously feature in more than one category. You can find the categories at The Book Jotter’s post.

Okay, here I go! I’ll link any reviews applicable.

Six books I abandoned

I’m with Leah on this one; life is too short to read shit books (though she wouldn’t say “shit”). Here are six books I just couldn’t finish:

  1. Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion. Apparently a classic, though I found it poorly planned and executed. The author admits as much in the introduction.
  2. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence. Maybe I technically finished this book, though I know I skipped a ton.
  3. Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee. A memoir that claimed to be about how sex changed the war in Liberia, though the author refused to talk about sex.
  4. Fra Keeler by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi. Okay, the sentences made sense, but nothing else did. I didn’t even read enough to write a review.
  5. As If A Bird Flew By Me by Sara Greenslit. The sentences didn’t go together. Nothing added up. A bit of word soup at times.
  6. What Begins with Bird by Noy Holland. Again, abandoned really fast; I had a phase about 7 years ago when I bought lots of experimental books because everyone else in my writing program did, too. Turns out, if I can’t read it, I’m not reading it.

Six books I have read but not reviewed

  1. Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl by Roman Dirge. This is a re-read for me, a book in a series I simply enjoy and don’t feel like reviewing, though I do recommend it.
  2. Black No More by George S. Schuyler. A satire published in 1931 that I didn’t review because there’s a lot of racy racist stuff in there that’s meant to be social commentary, but would be challenging to navigate.
  3. Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks. This is the play I’m stage managing. Since we’re digging in so much for the acting, I would end up doing a literary analysis instead of a review if I tried.
  4. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Simply put, because I don’t review books by men on Grab the Lapels (obviously I still read them, I just don’t review them here), I didn’t review Bryson’s book.
  5. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. I would have loved to review this series of comics narratives, but the large sections on depression were too personal, and I didn’t want to go there.
  6. Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion edited by Pasha Mala and Jeff Parker. These guys take quotes from athletes and turn them into poems. The poems are fantastic, funny, and illuminating. I taught this book in my creative writing class this spring and didn’t review it because we were creating poems, not judging quality.

Six books I was disappointed with

  1. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Reads more like a transcript of a college classroom than a memoir about talking with girls in Tehran about books.
  2. Losing It by Lindsay Rech Faith. I called this book a piece of garbage, and I stand by that.
  3. Daddy’s by Lindsay Hunter. The stories tried to be too “edgy.” I got exhausted by the emphasis on hooking up.
  4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Things were funny when Henry was around, but often he was not. And where were the Gothic elements? I should have read Udolpho instead.
  5. No Bed of Roses by Joan Fontaine. A life-long victim and name-dropper of the elite.
  6. Fat Bodyguards by Marita Fowler. A bit one dimensional, the magic was lost by sending the characters to Mexico. Head back to Nitro, WV!

Six new authors to me

  1. Julie Murphy — her novel Dumplin’ took me back to high school and depicted fat people with dignity.
  2. Janet Mock — she shared her transformation from being identified at birth as a boy to an upwardly-mobile woman in Redefining Realness.
  3. Loung Ung — I read First They Killed My Father, the first book in her trilogy about growing up during the Cambodian Genocide.
  4. April Sinclair blew me away with first Coffee Will Make You Black and then Ain’t Gonna Be the Same Fool Twice, both of which I read this year.
  5. Billie Letts — she’s been around for a while and even had one of her novels made into a movie, but The Honk and Holler Opening Soon was new to me.
  6. Hilary Mantel is super famous, but I read her for the first time in 2018. I mostly enjoyed her memoir Giving Up the Ghost.

Six authors I have read before

  1. Katie MacAlister and I are old pals, seeing how I found A Girl’s Guide to Vampires when I was 18. I’ve since read many in the Dark Ones series, including Even Vampires Get the Blues in 2018.
  2. Mary Brown’s book The Unlikely Ones was assigned in my science fiction and fantasy class in college. I was 19 or 20. This year I finished the quartet.
  3. Cris Mazza I first read in 2009. This year I read Your Name Here: _________.
  4. I read Meg Tuite’s short fictions Disparate Pathos in 2012. This year I read another collection, Domestic Apparition.
  5. Leesa Cross-Smith reached out and sent me a copy of her fiction collection in 2015. This year I read her new novel, Whiskey & Ribbons.

Six books that I had one or two problems with but am still glad I tried

  1. Meaty by Samantha Irby had a knack for making me feel bad about myself when Irby was cruel to her body, but overall her style is so funny.
  2. Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston. All the academic “extras” weigh the book down, but Kossola’s story still shines.
  3. Hometown by Michele Feltman Strider had some racist/homophobic moments that are true to the setting but felt . . . off-putting in 2018. I still loved Sharon’s journey and was drawn in by the story.
  4. The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn Raffel was a cool idea — flash non-fiction — but the images were distracting.
  5. Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson was a delight. Except every time she mentioned the normal-sized main character need to lose weight. I argue one could cross those sentences out and have a fantastic book.
  6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas had great characters and a meaningful plot, but it is way too long/repetitive and hampered by being in first-person.
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42 comments

  1. I’ve seem this a few times and it’s definitely fun to see what books people have for each category.

    I tried to listen to The Hate You Give a few months ago but put it down (I’m doing that a lot this week; certain books aren’t working, but maybe it’s my mood)

    Northanger Abbey is on my TBR but a tea friend recommend I read another book before hand (I think she said Austen wrote NA as a satire and I’m forgetting the rest of the explanation).

    Want to read Whiskey and Ribbons, I’ve seen some good reviews on that one.

    Barracoon is on my radar, on the library wait list

    • Northanger Abbey is satire that’s making fun of the Gothic romances being published at the time, including Udolpho. If you actually want a Gothic romance, read Udolpho.

      If you don’t the loads of extras in Barracon, it’s only about 117 pages, so it’s a quick read. I would encourage you to read the editor’s introduction and Hurston’s introduction, but the rest you can skip.

      It’s possible that The Hate U Give isn’t as well written as we would like, that the idea is more interesting that the book itself. I want to support #BlackLivesMatter, but this book wasn’t for me.

      Whiskey and Ribbons is delightful and hits you right in the feels all the way through. The characters are unique. Happy reading!!

    • She has a follow up, too, which I think is more about how she became famous. This book goes from childhood to transitioning to telling her boyfriend that she is a transwoman. That’s where it ends.

  2. I like this meme a lot. It really encourages you to think about what you’ve read. And I like the variety of your choices. I agree with you, too: life’s too short to read shit books.

  3. I really like the idea of this meme too. But I would be inclined to do it maybe once a year, or twice at the most. As that’s a lot of books in each category. I’m not sure I could do six in each. I think I’ll save this one for the year’s end.

    • That’s a good idea! When I saw Fiction Fan do this first, I was thinking, “Who on earth has read 36 books in six months?” And then I realized because I tend to read more than one book at a time, and I also read shorter books on occasion, that I’ve read more than that. If you like to read longer books, the year-end version is a fantastic idea.

  4. I have been eyeing out Dumplin’ for a while now, after reading your post, I will be checking it out. And Redefining Realness sounds also super interesting.

    I really enjoyed this post, thanks. And I’m so with you regarding abandoning books. Life is too short indeed! 🙂

    Would you recommend Hate U Give? I have it out from the library and can not decide if I want to read it or not. 🙂 Thanks.

  5. “life is too short to read **** books (though she wouldn’t say “****”)” – Hahahaha! You know me so well! I just had to insert some asterisks… 😉

    Oh dear – I can’t believe Northanger went into the Disappointed section – what about the trunk in the bedroom! Henry coming up the stairs! The wife-murdering (maybe) father! The being driven away with no notice and left to find her own way home??? You must just read it again and keep reading it till you enjoy it… 😉

  6. This is a fun trip down memory lane! I’m sorry that so many books disappointed you this year, but it is fun to remember all the ranty reviews you wrote.

    I’m reading A Walk in the Woods right now! It’s a re-read, but I’m glad to get it back in my hands. I had forgotten how appealing Bryson’s writing is. How many books do you think you read a month? I’m just wondering how many don’t make it on the blog for one reason or another.

    • It’s hard to say. I read/review one book every 10-ish days during the semester and every 3-4 days in the summer when I’m not teaching. Typically, the book I’m reading to my husband is by a man, so I don’t review it on GTL.

      You know, it wasn’t until I finished this post that I realized almost every category is negative! 🙄

      • That’s probably why you focused so much on the books which let you down. Subliminal negativity from the meme overall. XD

        I definitely don’t have a 1:1 ratio of reading to reviews. O_o But, I’m okay with that. Someday I’ll set a goal to be more on top of that. Someday. You read quite a bit! Since you never do wrap up posts or talk about non-female author’s books, I hadn’t realized this. But it makes total sense.

  7. Nice category choices! It’s funny, two of the books on your disappointing list (Northanger Abbey and Reading Lolita) are books that I rated pretty well and remember enjoying but my memory of both is so fuzzy that I couldn’t tell you *why* I enjoyed them! I definitely intend to reread Northanger as I am a huge Austen fan, although I know I didn’t love it like some of her later novels.

  8. Thank you for joining in and spreading the word. Of course you could always have used the same book in more than one category.

  9. It took a few re-readings for me to get Northanger Abbey. The gothic elements are there but Austen is using them to make fun of the genre. So she has Catherine search for secret messages in a cupboard only to find its a laundry list. It’s not all laughs though – the behaviour of Henry’s father towards Catherine in sending her home unescorted is unforgivable

  10. This was the meme you were referring to, right? I can see that you put a lot of work into this one. I need to not review a few more books before the year is out. It’s nice to just read and not think about what you’re going to mention in a review. I think Henry Tilney is the best part of Northanger Abbey. Hope you pick up some amazing reads in the latter half of the year!

  11. What a handy way to sum up the half-year tally! April Sinclair rocks. I love how seriously funny she is. And funny seriously. I appreciate your comment about Barracoon; I do want to read this one and will be sure to have my “student” hat at the ready to sift through all the “extras”. (So far, I’ve just been enjoying the interviews and discussions, which only make me want to read it more, even though I don’t exactly have a plan to get to it “soon” either.) Hope you have fewer irritating/disappointing reads in the rest of the year, although it sounds like you’ve been doing just fine overall! 🙂

    • Yeah, I didn’t notice until I was done that I picked all these downer categories. There were plenty of positive one to choose from! I’m glad someone else has read Sinclair. Have you read any of her other works that don’t have Jean “Stevie” Stevenson?

  12. So for some reason I brought up your blog yesterday when I was blog hopping and it didn’t show this past week’s posts? The only reason I caught them now was because I was recommending your blog to someone and I noticed the new posts when I was copying your link… Not sure why that happened. Definitely could have been something on my end.

    Anyways! Julie Murphy was a new to me author this year too! Have you or are you going to read Puddin’?

    Did you read The Hate U Give with your book club? I’m going to assume so 🙂 I thought it was a great YA book with a very relevant theme. I agree that it wasn’t perfect, but if it gets young people reading than I am on board!

    • Oh, no! I subscribe to everyone’s blogs via email so they stay in one folder. It’s super helpful.

      I DO plan to read Puddin’! I didn’t put it on my to-read goals for this year, though maybe I should shift stuff around since I also read Dumplin’ this year. Actually, the main character of Puddin’ was my favorite character in Dumplin’. She’s unique and sweet and weird!

      The Hate U Give WAS part of a book club read, and my friend picked it, so I was doubly determined to read it. It was really the first-person and repetitiveness of the novel that reminded me why I don’t typically like YA. To be fair, the first-person point of view was one of my least favorite things about Dumplin’, too. It really emphasizes how lost in their own heads teens are, but I don’t think it has to be that way. This is one reason I super recommend Fat Angie.

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