Bookclub

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

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

Bookclub
November 25, 2022
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A stack of semi-read books looms over me still

Last week, I began the humiliating process of exposing my literary unloyalty to not one, not two, but 13 books I’ve “started reading” but haven’t gotten around to finishing. One or two is fine, but once you hit the five to 10 range, that’s serial treachery in my book. 

But I must finish what I started. Maybe by bringing some semblance of attention to this real and dire condition, we can bring about change. How inspirational. 

These next few titles I picked up entirely because of peer TikTok-related pressure. 

“The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon got rave reviews on BookTok. Folks went on and on over Shannon’s writing style, the seamless world-building — an often-fumbled feature of fantasy novels — and the sheer realness of the history and cultures she created. 

It’s a behemoth of a book, physically resembling a small toaster oven, though misleadingly so. While it seems like a monstrous 1,000-plus page book, it’s only 800. Only. This is still a hefty read, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more bearable when in the triple digits. 

I’ve been known to enjoy a fantasy novel or two in my day, so I was excited to get dragged into a new world equipped with two maps, a character list, a glossary and a timeline. Oh, Shannon, how you spoil us. 

I’m eager to continue reading, but 800 pages — though not 1,000 — is difficult to conquer during the school year. But I’m here for the dragons. It’ll happen. Some day. 

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I knew nothing about “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid when I bought it. It was on the BookTok table at Books-A-Million, the name was familiar and I’d only heard good things. I’ve caved for less. 

What I didn’t realize is that it’s a contemporary piece about a young journalist investigating the life of an older Hollywood star (think Marilyn Monroe) and her tumultuous and mysterious life and subsequent seven marriages. 

It’s an interesting concept, just not what I expected. I imagined more of a reverse Anne Boleyn, “The Selection” situation — not this kind of historical fiction, one so close to the present. 

I read the first chapter and needed a moment to reconfigure my perceptions of the book. Many people in my life foam at the mouth for Taylor Jenkins Reid, so I’ll get around to this eventually for them if nothing else. 

“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab 

I have less than 100 pages left in “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab. I have no excuses for why I haven’t finished this book yet. None whatsoever. 

I bought it last winter to entertain me during my international travels across the pond to Spain, where I would be studying abroad for the next semester. Somehow it never got finished — this is a crime. How upsetting. 

Just now, I picked up my copy and was leafing through, looking at my occasional smattering of annotations and dogeared pages (yes, dogeared, leave me alone). I forgot how beautiful this book is. 

Dark and academic, “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” hinges on questions of humanity, love and what it means to exist and be remembered — Schwab asks whether they are synonymous or not. 

Schwab writes gorgeous prose. This section from Page 337 is one of my favorites: “They make a mess, as the room fills with the scent of freshly baking bread. And in the morning it looks like ghosts have danced across the kitchen, and they pretend there were two instead of one.” 

Like, are you kidding me? That’s phenomenal. Maybe I drop everything I’m doing and finish this one right here and now? I think I will. (I didn’t.) 

You can expect the last four titles next week, and hopefully, that will end this series. But who knows, maybe I’ll find more titles and this will go on forever and forever, amen.

 

Schutte can be reached at [email protected]