Sometime late last year Lotería Chicana became all baby all the time — or at least when I updated every month or so. I didn’t intend for that, but pregnancy was the only new thing I felt like writing about. Everything else — even newlywed life — felt familiar. I actually wish I’d been writing more over the past 9 months even if just for myself. I’ll never get to experience this for the first time again.
Anyway, I could’ve blogged about other topics. First up: my recent reads.
I have a list in Google Drive with books I’d like to read. Some have been on there a long time and others were just added. Now that I can read without worrying that I may get motion sickness on the bus, I’ve been making some progress on my list. I also have the feeling that I won’t get much of a chance to read for fun in the near future. Recent reads:
A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez
Part travelogue and part essay on visiting Haiti after the earthquake. It’s saddening but leaves you with a sense of hope. I also like that it continues her theme of exploring immigrant life and borders.
Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez
YA fiction. It bugged me that she never mentioned the country Milly and Pablo are from, but I understand why she left it out.
Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories by Sherman Alexie
Alexie has been one of my favorites since I read Ten Little Indians about ten years ago. I was geeked out to meet him after a reading in San Francisco in 2009. Even his Twitter feed is entertaining. Anyway, I was a little disappointed that most of the stories in this collection had been published in previous collections. Still, I remembered them well and found myself highlighting (read the e-book version) the same passages that originally struck me many years ago. There were a couple of new stories that really shook me.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Achebe’s classic had been on my bookshelf for a while. Unknowingly, it would start a mini-Nigerian contemporary fiction kick.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I heard about Americanah from friends, but didn’t know anything about the story or the author until my friend Gene posted a photo of a page. Gene was rightfully excited to see the blog he started PostBourgie and worked on with friends (including yours truly — I’ve cross posted a few times) mentioned in the novel. In it the protagonist, Ifemelu, mentions PostBourgie as one of her favorite blogs. Sean — also part of the PostBourgie family — bought the book that afternoon. A week later, I was at the Central Library downtown for AloudLA where Adichie read from the novel and discussed the various themes (race, taking on a black American identity, relationships, immigrant experience, hair) with Faith Adiele.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When I really like a writer, I tend to binge on her work. Adichie is no exception. Purple Hibiscus didn’t have me laughing like Americanah, but I was still touched, saddened and disturbed.
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I didn’t read this short story collection with the same eagerness as the previous two novels, but still enjoyed it. I found myself thinking of characters in the short stories as characters from the other novels.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
No, I didn’t intend to read books by “A” writers. It just happened that way. I really liked this novel and was a little upset with myself for taking so long to take it off my bookshelf and actually start reading it. I don’t know why I delayed. I probably wanted to read it in Spanish, but that always slows me down a lot. The final third of the novel reminded me of what I’d learn in my contemporary Chilean film and literature course in college. I no longer felt like I was reading fiction as the novel covered the Salvador Allende presidency, the military coup and the repression and torture under the Pinochet dictatorship — without ever mentioning any names.
Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez
I’ve never been drawn to Rodriguez. When I was younger, I knew little about him and simplistically just thought of him as the sell-out against affirmative action and bilingual education. However, I grew more interested when others recommended him as a strong essayist and memoirist. I can’t say I liked it mainly because I never could relate to Rodriguez even when he talked about growing up devoutly Catholic (he remembers pre-Vatican II days). I do intend to read his more recent memoirs.