My January reading

I’ve been working through a couple nonfiction reads this January, and have sprinkled in some romance novels for something lighter.

After seeing the film First They Killed My Father, I picked up the memoir by the same name, written by Loung Ung. Loung Ung was a child during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. I am appreciating all the detail that could not fit in the movie. I have put it down for the last couple of weeks because I got distracted by my other nonfiction read, but I plan on returning to this memoir soon.

My other nonfiction read is Miguel A. de la Torre’s The U.S. Immigration Crisis: Toward an Ethics of Place (published July 2016, 198 pages on Kindle edition). Rev Dr. de la Torre is a professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology. In the introduction to his book, he emphasizes the importance of being presente with those who are being oppressed, of understanding the physical spaces in order to better form an ethical response. So as a scholar-activist, he went to border cities, and anti-immigrant rallies, and walked with No Más Muertes volunteers as they left water for the people making the risky journey across the harsh borderlands of Arizona.

This book is so good – the title and cover are not enticing, so I’m glad I was recommended this book last fall or I’m not sure how I would have found it. I am highlighting passages frequently, like this one:

I conclude that whenever one nation builds roads into another nation to steal their cheap labor and natural resources, we should not be surprised when the inhabitants of those nations take those same roads and follow all that has been stolen from them.

I’m filling in some gaps in my knowledge of history, from the United Fruit Company and the banana republics, to the repercussions of NAFTA.

With all the heartbreaking deportations and ICE raids in the news and the Dreamers in limbo, this book has been a helpful and humane companion.

The romance novels I read were all dance-related! First Position by Melissa Brayden is actually the first lesbian romance I’ve read. I liked it – it was very chaos muppet meets order muppet. I also read Alexis Daria’s Take the Lead and Dance With Me, which feature characters who dance on a competition show. Of the two I preferred Take the Lead as it had more of the wonderful behind-the-scene tidbits that should be familiar to anyone who watches Dancing with the Stars. It was like unREAL except less depressing and more romantic. Dance with Me was also enjoyable, but seemed to get a little stuck on repeat at times, as far as the emotional dynamic between the two main characters.

As far as my February reading plans, in addition to finishing my two nonfiction books, I will also be reading The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies, for my book club. I started it a few days ago, but am only 50 pages in so far.

I also plan to read Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard in February. Other reads I’m contemplating include: Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, the March graphic memoir trilogy, Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, Seanan McGuire’s Rosemary and Rue, and Slavenka Drakulic’s How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed.


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2 responses to “My January reading

  1. Yayyy for romance novels! I read Dance with Me and I think I agree with you about some of the repetitiveness — plus it really bugged me that the characters refuse to categorize (for instance) oral sex as sex. But I enjoyed it overall, and I’m looking forward to Take the Lead, which I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

    I recommend Into the Beautiful North, btw! It’s so good! I really liked it!

  2. Another huzzah for romance! I also liked Take the Lead more, mostly because the tropes lined up with my taste and, like you, I liked the behind the scenes antics. I love the interracial and intercultural pairings in the series so far and am excited to see what comes next!

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