A brutally honest list of books I’m currently reading — or, haven’t finished yet

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

What started out as a random book thrift in Vancouver, Canada turned into one of my favorite reads of the year.

Once upon a time, I was a loyal reader. I’d pick up a book, sit down, read it in a timely manner and shelve it before moving on to the next one. As one should, right?

Well, I have no clue what life-altering event happened to change that very straightforward and logical way, but it’s easy for me to admit I no longer follow that moral code. Now, a stack of semi-read books looms over me as I carry on with my daily antics. 

The stack is shamefully tall — 13 tall, to be exact — and today we’re going through them in chronological order from newest to oldest. Maybe this will embarrass me to the point where I finally finish some of these to preserve my bookish image. Maybe not. We will see. 

The newest of them is “Writers & Lovers” by Lily King. Since its publication in 2020, I’ve ogled the cover both at Barnes & Noble and at Books-A-Million, but I just recently caved and bought it. I’m glad I did. 

From what I’ve gleaned from the first 32 pages, our protagonist, Casey, is going through it, you could say. It’s the 1990s, she’s in deep student loan debt and the cherry on top is the sudden death of her semi-estranged mother. 

All Casey wants is to lead a creative life and be happy again, but finds herself trudging through the daily motions as her mind is stuck in the past — full of memories of her mother, and her extensive travels as a recent graduate with her polyglot ex-boyfriend. 

At least, that’s what I’ve read so far. 

King’s writing style has a dry sense of humor and is fascinating to read — I highly recommend you check it out. 

Next is “S.” by good ole J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorset. Those of you who’ve been following Bookclub will recognize the title from one of my previous articles

While I’ve, technically speaking, only read twenty pages of “The Ship of Theseus,” if you include the translator’s note and the million annotations and inserts — I’ve read more like 100 pages, or at least it feels that way. 

In a complete 180-degree turn, next is “A Man & His Cat,” a cutesy manga by Umi Sakurai that follows an old widow who buys a cat to comfort him after the passing of his wife. 

Told from the perspective of the cat, it’s chock full of horrendous cat-speak that doesn’t really work most of the time. The opening line, for instance, is “I am a cat. I’ll be turning one any meow-ment now….” 

In all honesty, I bought it because it looked cute, but the cat puns are really getting to me, even though the storyline is precious. Someday I’ll finish it, I promise. 

Another manga follows that, and it’s the notorious “I Want to Eat Your Pancreas” by Yoru Sumino, a supposed sob-fest about a young pair of lovers tragically pulled apart by pancreatic cancer. 

I suppose you can think of “A Man & His Cat” as a chaser, or palate cleanser, for this one, should I ever get to the sad part. I’m not utterly destroyed after one chapter — so far so good. 

I stole this next one from my sister — it’s called “Boneset & Feathers” by Gwendolyn Kiste (I genuinely didn’t know the title of this one, I am ashamed). It’s a witchy sort of story about a young witch who lives on the outskirts of a small village. 

Witchcraft and her kind are ostracized as they believe the witches only bring bad tidings, like dead birds falling from the sky and the inquisition — or witch hunters, whoever they are. 

I picked it up for some spooky Halloween vibes and turns out it’s just really sad. It has beautiful writing and a really interesting concept, but I don’t know if I’ll finish this one. At least I’m honest about this. 

Speaking of sadness, “Tales from the Cafe” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is next. This is the follow-up to “Before the Coffee Gets Cold,” the subject of an earlier Bookclub article. I tentatively started part one, titled “Best Friend,” and immediately started sweating. 

I need to be in the right headspace before I read any further — especially in anticipation for part two: “Mother and Son.”

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but we’ll have to continue this saga next week, as there are at least seven more books I’ve yet to cover. In the meantime, I will reflect deeply on my actions and repent. Of this you can be certain. 


Schutte can be reached at [email protected].