Currently Reading: June 2016

June was another fairly slow month as far as fresh and exciting new books went, but there were a few stand outs in the bunch. I’m pretty sure that I can blame the drastic slow down in reading pace on my newfound addiction to the X-Plain the X-Men podcast, though, which is both hilarious and informative.

Got to love that combination.

Comics aside, though – the top three books of June, including two new releases and one older book I’ve been meaning to read for over a year.

The Girls by Emma Cline. This debut novel was one of this years “buzzy” books – partly because of the large advance, which some people took umbrage with. Admittedly, the plot here is tailored to my particular and weirdly specific interests – true crime, teenagers who kill people, and dysfunctional friendships – but it was excellently done on the whole. Following Evie Boyd, a disaffected young woman in California in the 70s, as she finds herself drawn into a cult through her attraction to Suzanne. (Oh, yes, there’s at least heavy queer subtext here, too. If I needed more specific interests catered to.)

Dark and luscious and very much about the struggle of teenage girls to create their own identity in a world that wants to tell them what to be, the weakest part of this novel were the flashforwards to Evie’s present, although there is probably an essay to be written about that particular narrative choice.

Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive by Julia Serano. This was a book I badly needed to read, and honestly an antidote to almost all of the discourse on social justice and activism that I have been involved in. Julia Serano writes a clear and readable discussion of the ways in which feminism and queer movements have limited themselves, and how movements have designed new hierarchies that can be as exclusive as the old. She advocates a complex approach to activism that she calls “holistic” – moving beyond simplistic notions of privilege and oppression. Instead, Serano pushes for an understanding of the complex experiences of women and queer people and the essential heterogeneity within those groups. This was a book that made me whisper yes in a coffee shop while reading.

The Devourers by Indra Das. Another debut novel, this one was previously published in India but is just now being published in the United States. A college professor named Alok meets a man who introduces himself as half-werewolf, and finds himself drawn into a project of transcribing a series of scrolls that reveal a parallel world of shapeshifters living alongside humanity.

This book was visceral, often brutally physical. I’m always easily drawn in by stories about folklore and shapeshifters, and this was a new, fresh take on the genre that delighted me. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart – there’s a great deal of graphic violence – but in my opinion its well worth the reading.

That finishes out another month, and three more books to add to your reading list (or not, as the case may be). I’ve just started a collection of female-authored female-centric Lovecraftian stories called She Walks in Shadows that I’m pretty excited about; I’m also looking forward to reading The Winged Histories and Julia Serano’s first book, Whipping Girl.

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