Boxwalla’s October Literature Box Review

[#partner this box was gifted to me by boxwalla]

“Because when I read, I don’t really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.”

― Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude

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“Life was neither something you defended by hiding nor surrendered calmly on other people’s terms, but something you lived bravely, out in the open, and that if you had to lose it, you should lose it on your own terms.”

― Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker

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I was recently gifted Boxwalla’s October Literature Box but I knew I didn’t want to post about it until I had read the books in the box first because I am more interested in giving genuine feedback on gifts of this kind than simply just posting a photo.

I’ll start by saying that I have tried two other book box subscriptions before and was very underwhelmed by their monthly selections that it had made me reluctant to try another box subscription. However, I had been intrigued by Boxwalla for a while after a few friends recommended it to me. Therefore, when Lavanya from Boxwalla approached me to try a box, I said yes.

With this box I got to read a Czech classic, Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal, a story about a trash ‘compactor’, whose job is to destroy waste paper and books, however, his love of art and literature makes him secretly save and hide rare and banned books. This book spoke to me on so many levels. I underlined a lot. For the protagonist, Hant’a, books provide an escape from his gloomy and isolated reality but more than that books give him an education and spiritualism. As a person who values books, as most of you guys must, I fell in love with this story that still feels very relevant today.

The next book I read from the box was The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat, a collection of linked stories that center around a Haitian immigrant to the U.S. with a dark past. In these stories we see the roles he plays for many different people. Each story could stand alone, since each has so much to give and teach about redemption, oppression, love and family. I felt it was a good choice to tell the story of this man through the eyes and lives of other people. Edwidge Danticat has a gift for writing with much humanity.

Lastly, I read a tiny book of T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Pulfrock, reprinted and illustrated beautifully by Obvious State. This pocket size book makes a for a good source of inspiration when in a funk.

The most important thing I gathered from Boxwalla’s Literature Box is that they care about literature and it’s power to enlighten. This is a box that is true to literature. I had never heard of any of these books before this box so I am grateful to Lavanya from Boxwalla to have brought them into my life.

Boxwalla was kind enough to send me another box and I will tell you guys about it when I read the books.

#boxwallabook

BOXWALLA also does beauty and film subscription boxes… check them out at here!

Putney by Sofka Zinovieff

First, I’d like to thank Harper Books for gifting me a copy of this book and for allowing me to be able to give away a copy.

“This was not a confession. Although her memories of being with Ralph as a girl were tender, she knew they could not be talked about openly. It had always been a secret, but not a dirty one. It was still precious to her. And Putney was going to be her private vision of this forbidden but genuine love, fueled by the view from her window, a few old letters and notebooks and carefully retained objects that symbolised a whole era. A distillation of the past.”

— Putney, Sofka Zinovieff

PUTNEY tells the story of the relationship between Ralph and Daphne. Through flashbacks, we witness as Ralph meets Daphne, he is twenty-seven and she’s only nine, and how their relationship progresses as she gets older, while in the present Daphne is already in her 50s and with a young daughter of her own. We get to experience this story from three perspectives Ralph, Daphne, and Jane, Daphne’s childhood friend that witnesses as the relationship grows.

While reading this I felt very uncomfortable in certain parts, especially while reading the chapters following Ralph. I actually had to close the book and allow a wave of disgust to go physically through me before continuing to read. However, I felt those scenes in the book were necessary and felt accurate, it allowed us access into what the mind of a child predator is like, how they justify the damage and evil they are doing. As for the Daphne parts, they were difficult to read, as well, because we read from the mind of a child who was so well-conditioned to think a certain way from a young age and even more disturbing that she continued to think that way as she got into her 40s. Yes, it’s disturbing to read but this book closely demonstrated what this type of relationship would be like. The characters were well-written and thought-out as was the story. I feel Sofka Zinovieff did an amazing job at handling such a delicate topic and giving us all the perspectives.

This book challenged me in the best way. Not just as a reader but as a woman. I’ve been put in tough situations by men and reading this felt real.

If you read to escape reality, this isn’t a book for you. If you like being challenged and like facing the harsh reality of the world and questioning it, then this is a book for you.

Thank you all!

p.s. don’t forget I’ll be hosting a giveaway for a copy on my Instagram book account, here.

Putney (Hardcover)
Fiction
By Sofka Zinovieff
Harper, 384pp.
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
BUY IT FROM INDIEBOUND

Non-Fiction List

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Hello!

Yesterday, through an Instagram Story post I asked you all “What is the last great nonfiction book you read?” because I’ve been wanting to read more nonfiction this year and needed suggestions. Well, I got A LOT of replies, I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest but I am very delighted that y’all took the time to reply, so thank you!
In return I have compiled a list of the books and all will be linked into their Goodreads page so y’all can read more about it and maybe even add it to your tbr lists. Oh and if there’s an (x) thats the total times it was submitted.

Here it is:

An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor
And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O’Connell
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson
Black Swans by Eve Babitz (Technically fiction BUT very autobiographical)
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (x2)
Coyote America by Dan Flores
The Country Under My Skin by Gioconda Belli
Educated by Tara Westover (x3)
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee  (x2)
I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man who Raped Her by Joanna Connors 
I’m Suppose to Protect You From This by Nadja Spiegelman
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood
Just Kids by Patti Smith (x2)
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (x2)
Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Leviathan: or, The Whale by Philip Hoare
Lola’s House; Filipino Women Living with War by M. Evelina Galang
M Train by Patti Smith
Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures by Mary Ruefle
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay
Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran
So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That Will Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Washington
Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
The Art Spirit: Notes, Articles, Fragments of Letters and Talks to Students…by Various
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy (x2)
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (x2)
The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavitz
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade by Ann Fessler
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jennifer Lewis
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt
The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck
The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (x2)
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Han Abdurraqib
Things I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy (x2)
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill
What Happened by Hilary Clinton
What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte
You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent

And some that weren’t mentioned above but I’ve read recently and have stuck with me:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
Mansoon Mansion: A Memoir by Cinelle Barnes
The Miracle of Mindfulness (The Classic Guide) by Thich That Hanh

Hopefully you guys find this list useful!

If you have anymore suggestions to add, leave a comment below.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply!

ps excuse the typos and errors, I did this after a long day at work.. :/

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

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After I finished reading THE PISCES by Melissa Broder, I felt lighter and, in a way changed, which is also how I felt after reading Melissa’s So Sad Today. If you guys know me, you know I am a big fan of strange and weird reads, and this book is all that and more. Besides coloring outside the lines, what also impressed me about Melissa was her honesty, how she unapologetically and openly wrote about the ugliness most people often try to hide in order to seem normal or sane and the great lengths some go to seem that way, in fear of not being wanted if they are not. In The PISCES she puts all that and added a merman as a love interest to her narrator, which is what made this cleverly funny. I believe it is Melissa Broder’s humor, which is also evident in her personal essays, that prevents her writing from seeming melodramatic and more relatable.

In this book, we read from the perspective of Lucy, a 38-year-old grad student, right after her devastating break up with a man she has been with for years. The anxiety and depression that comes with the break up begins to eat at her making her unable to think or do anything that isn’t related to filling up her need for love and attention. Like most people who go through this, she begins to react to things in a self-destructive and aimless manner. Eventually her behavior leads her half-sister to offer Lucy some distraction by having Lucy temporarily move to her Venice Beach home to take care of her dog and home while she’s away. Lucy agrees to the distraction and even begins to attend therapy group sessions that focus on love and sex addiction, however, instead of opening herself to it’s guidance, she often contemptuously ridicules her peers. And so in her desperate desire to fill the empty void, she beginning to find men on Tinder, often neglecting everything else including her Sappho dissertation and even her sister’s diabetic pup. But still the Tinder men are not enough to fill the void, and she ends up at the beach at night alone contemplating her life, and there is where she meets a mysterious swimmer, Theo, who actually turns out to be a merman. The two fall for each other but not necessarily for good reasons.

Most people who speak of this book, often describe it as a story of a love affair between a woman and a merman, which yes, technically, it is, however, the bigger narrative here is Lucy’s struggle with anxiety and depression and how she deals with it. Yet, Theo isn’t a prop to her self-discovery either but more of a reflection, in a way, because Theo is also a being that is going through emotional anxiety as he is uncomfortable with his body and afraid of being unloved because of it. She finds in him the similar kind of need that she’s been struggling with throughout the book, however, she underestimates what Theo’s need asks of her.

Once I finished the book, I read other people’s reviews of this on Goodreads, and it annoyed me to see that those that gave this book less than three stars strongly dislike this book either because the protagonist is unlikable or because this book describes how Lucy prepares herself for anal sex by attempting to clean her butthole as best as possible or even how graphic the sex scenes are. They have missed the point of those scenes and the whole book, probably. While in those scenes you get to read what goes through Lucy’s mind while they are happening, we see how Lucy desperately and obsessively tries to put meaning into the nothingness. I am aware that writing about cleaning one’s butthole isn’t graceful nor “profound,” yet that is the beauty of Melissa’s writing, she tells it how it is, without sugar-coating anything so its easier to swallow. The fact that Lucy is going as far as she goes in that scene and, even in another scene where she buys hella expensive undergarments, is proof of her desperation to be perfect so some Tinder guy will find her to be a fantasy and, in turn, make Lucy feel wanted and needed. Yet just as we are privy to her thoughts before and while those scenes are happening, we are also privy to her thoughts afterwards, when she’s all alone by the beach, the moments where she feels even lonelier. Lucy isn’t perfect. She is human. The way Melissa paints her is very real and very human and I effing love that. As much as I can appreciate the elegance of Marcel Proust’s words, I can also appreciate the crudeness of Melissa Broder’s because both have purpose in their respective context.

Whether you agree or not, don’t hesitate to comment.

I’ll leave you guys to check out Melissa’s Twitter @SoSadToday where she writes little longing notes into the void.

Also I highly recommend her collection of personal essays which are a lot like THE PISCES.

Thank you all!

Yadi @bookiful.life

Thank you to Hogarth for sending an early copy upon request. #partner

Look Alive Out There by Sloan Crosley

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I was lucky enough to receive this book from the wonderful people over at MCD/Farrar Straus and Giroux. I had been intrigued by the buzz I was hearing on it but also it seemed to be the kind of book I was looking for at the time; a light and witty read about relatable moments in life. Sure enough, it filled the need wonderfully.

In this late essay collection by Manhattan-based writer, Sloane Crosley, you get the wit and humor she’s known for, yet something different than from her previous collections. However, I should say, I had to go out and get her previous collection of essays I Was Told There’d Be Cake, to feel confident making that statement.

In this collection you get the sense of a woman who is beginning to feel her age. Each essay had a situation which in some way reflected that, which for me made it a bit hard to relate to, since I’m still at the age where I’m too unaware of age, really, lol. However, that’s what Crosley is good at, getting anyone hooked on whatever she’s putting out there! Even though I didn’t always relate to her situation, I most certainly was entertained and engaged in her life moments.

My personal favorite was the second essay, Outside Voices, where Crosley ends up obsessed with the boy living next door, not because of anything pervy but simply because her apartment windows overlook the family next door’s backyard, in which this teenage boy spends most of his time in. All the sounds that come from the backyard she is able to hear clearly, therefore, in a way over time she pretty much becomes an expert on this kid’s life. In many instances, she even acknowledges how this kid is making her an old person before her time, but an idea, which she finally truly faces when the kid goes off to college. That was a hilarious and deep essay, though it may not seem deep while you’re reading it but it’ll definitely hit you after.

What I, especially, found impressive about this collection was how different each essay was with length and topics, yet it all felt connected. I know that’s the strength of Crosley and the consistency of her writing style. Something that lead me to pick up the collection she’s most known for, I Was Told There’d Be Cake from April 1st, 2008, nearly exactly ten years ago.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is familiar with or a fan of Crosley’s previous work. If you’re not then, I’d only recommend this if you’re in need of a feel good book with some substantial mini life lessons ingrained in there. 🙂