Booknotes: January 2024

Last year, I got back to reading books consistently for the first time in several years, partly thanks to rebooting my relationship with social media post-Twitter. I also started using The Storygraph to track what I’ve read and want to read, but recently remembered that I’ve lost years of reading history and notes when various platforms went under, including my own too-hasty nuking of my Goodreads account years ago, before I’d downloaded my archive.

Fool me once, yadda yadda yadda…

Starting this month, I’m going to post the books I read each month and a brief note about them, so a few years from now when I’m trying to remember a book I think I read, I’ll be able to find it here. If you’ve read any of these, let me know what you thought. And if you have related recommendations, drop ’em in the comments like we used to do in the good old days!

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World by Rutger Bregman

  • (3.5; print) Insightful but ultimately depressing because, despite UBI seeming particularly realistic, it feels like we’re even farther away from it ever happening at scale than when this first published in 2014.

Remina by Junji Ito

  • (3.0; print) Great art, bonkers story; like a disaster movie on acid.

Bright Dead Things: Poems by Ada Limón

  • (4.0; print) A range of good to great poems, strengthened by Limón’s ability to tell insightful vignettes in verse that flow like prose; accessible without ever sacrificing or flaunting craft.

What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte

  • (3.5; print) Ostensibly a response to and critique of Hillbilly Elegy and its fans, it stands on its own merits as an insightful and educational look at the history and nuance of the oft-stereotyped Appalachian region.

Go! Go! Loser Ranger! Vol. 1 by Negi Haruba

  • (3.0; print) A fun premise but it’s time to accept that Shonen just isn’t for me. The art, in particular, was really difficult to follow.

{STAR} An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

  • (4.5; print) A wonderfully crafted thriller in sci-fi clothing and socio-political accessories, Solomon keeps the plot and worldbuilding in the background, focusing instead on developing an amazing cast of characters who will stick with you long afterwards.

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

  • (3.0; print) I loved Essex County and this is a solid follow-up, notable mainly for Lemire’s emotive visual storytelling, which props up an otherwise familiar story of overcoming family trauma.

Notes on Notes

Where possible, I’m linking to as the least offensive online shopping option for books, although I’ve been disappointed to see a couple of this month’s titles, and a few I read last year, don’t even have listings there, as if the book I held in my hand didn’t exist. They’re affiliate links, but please switch to your preferred local bookshop if you have one and decide to purchase anything.

Where Bookshop doesn’t have a listing, I’ll link to the publisher’s page, which is often the best place to purchase your books anyway, although it may be a little more expensive and less convenient. If you’re lucky, some of them may also be available at your local library, in print or digital format.

Despite my day job, I still mostly read in print, but I’m noting the format along with my rating for context. If the format has any impact on my rating, I’ll mention that, but it rarely will since I try to avoid reading ebooks of anything that has a visual element.

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