The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter (★★★★☆)
MONTHLY TOTAL: 10 YEARLY SO FAR: 25
It does seem like I read a lot this month, and I certainly read more than I did last month, but I also read two teeny tiny novellas and a couple of shorter novels, which is probably why my overall count is so inflated. It was a pretty good reading month; I found some new favorites and was entertained by some classics.
A Border Passage: From Cairo to America — A Woman’s Journey Leila Ahmed
Penguin, 1999 ★★★★☆
“It was as if there were to life itself a quality of music in that time, the era of my childhood, and in that place, the remote edge of Cairo. There the city petered out into a scattering of villas leading into tranquil country fields. On the other side of our house was the profound, unsurpassed quiet of the desert.“
With these vivid, lyrical words, Leila Ahmed begins her memoir. With this almost languid imagery she establishes what will be the tone of her life story. At times incredibly personal, at others broad and historical, Ahmed interweaves her own personal history of growing up in Egypt with the more general history of the country itself, which was going through turbulent times as Ahmed was growing up.
It is, above all, a gorgeously told story, rich with colorful imagery and evocative prose. Ahmed’s writing skill is unparalleled. True, sometimes you can tell that she is an academic and not a novelist, in that at times the writing comes across a bit too formal, a bit too stilted, and perhaps a bit too detached, but it never stops being beautiful.
If you want a little more context, check out Part 1 of this post, but basically, over the past couple of years I bought a lot of Kindle books on sale, and then completely forgot I owned them. I’m making these posts as a kind of accountability TBR so that I can refer back to them to see what books I actually own. Also, one of my yearly reading goals is to read more indie/obscure books, which a lot of these Kindle books tend to be!
Before we all collectively forget Supernatural and eradicate it from our cultural consciousness I’d like to take a moment to appreciate my favorite female character from the show: Bela Talbot. Sadly, she was only around for a brief period of time in the third season, but boy, did she make an impression! Bela Talbot was an amoral conwoman and thief who traded in cursed or supernatural objects. For her, it was all about the money. She was unapologetic about her actions and didn’t really care about the consequences. It was refreshing to see a female character who wasn’t caught up in being good or bad; she just did what she did for money and took care of herself.
I’m getting better at resisting Kindle Daily Deals, but back in the day (like…a year or two ago) I would buy so many Kindle books on sale. They would then sit buried on my Kindle, languishing and forgotten, and so I have ended up accumulating a ridiculous amount of them. It’s difficult to remember what I actually have, so rather than making a boring spreadsheet, I thought I would make a post here for some accountability. And also! A lot of these Kindle titles happen to be either indie or more obscure books, and for next month I was thinking of reading exclusively underhyped books, so it would be good to have a clear list I can refer to.
This was not initially going to be broken up into two separate posts, but I had not realized the sheer number of books I would have! While it would be nice to have a single, organized post, it would be far too large and unwieldy in the long run, and would probably break a slower internet connection. So, two posts it is!