Welcome to another monthly recap: March is the month when my life started to pick up again. It was definitely hard to make new routines and keep up with everything when I transplanted my life into a totally new world, but it was fun and an enjoyable experience all the same. I started going on morning walks and I found that it was the perfect time to bust my earphones out and listen to audiobooks again (not that I even stopped 😂). So I’ve been burning through interesting books via audio.
This March 2022, I was able to finish 7 books:
- Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell – 4.5/5☕
- 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert – 4/5☕
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – 5/5☕[short review]
- This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan – 3.5/5☕
- Beautiful Beginning (Beautiful Bastard, #3.5) by Christina Lauren – 3/5☕[short review]
- Writers & Lovers by Lily King – 4.5/5☕ [full review]
- A Match Made in Lipa (The Laneways, #2) by Carla de Guzman – 3.5/5☕
Non fiction books are really starting to dominate my reading lists lately. Out of the 7, I read 4 non fic this month – and what can I say, I really enjoyed them so much. I have a particular soft spot for memoirs especially if they’re in audiobook. My favorite read this month, and also a great author I discovered recently as well, is definitely The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. It shot right up in my list of favorite memoirs I’ve read to date. This is my first Didion and I really resonated with her writing style – and also the topic for this book. I loved how this book was not written from the perspective of a “believer” because it’s hard to find books around grief that are not tied to belief or a specific religion. I just know I’ll be reading more from her this year.
I also finished 32 Yolks which was born out of my recent fascination with Eric Ripert. I mentioned before that I sort of went into this Bourdain rabbit hole – and watching a couple of Parts Unknown episodes spiked my interest in Ripert because of his personality and just his overall philosophy in life. Sadly, this memoir stopped when he went away to America to start anew (before he found Buddhism) but I still definitely enjoyed it so much. It also made me admire him more, at how he was able to achieve his state of mind now, considering all that his experiences. There is also Cultish by Amanda Montell, which is a fascinating look into how words or language shapes minds and beliefs. I rated this 5 stars because it is evident how deeply researched the book was and the way it was presented (using facts, stories, and even the author’s personal anecdotes) really made this book engaging and interesting. On the other hand, This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan – dives deep into 3 substances: caffeine, opium, and mescaline. The Caffeine bit I think was an extension of what he put out in the Audible Original audiobook that I reviewed before. I find the Mescaline part of this book pretty interesting which lead me to read up on a couple of other topics related to it. As they say, “the war on drugs is only a war on certain drugs“, the government dictates what is deemed harmful and what is not. Like how caffeine is a drug all the same but it is not regulated because it pushes the productivity agenda, which in turn helps companies to extract more from its workers.
I also read a couple of fiction this month. I listened to Beautiful Beginning by Christina Lauren (novella 3.5 from the Beautiful Bastard series) in my morning run, which I admit is a book I read just because of continuity. I also (finally!) read Writers & Lovers by Lily King, which is a book that I’ve been seeing forever and have since wanted to read. Expectedly, I really liked it! – and I resonated with a lot of things in that book. But I think the writing is what kept me glued to it. I loved reading quiet books, because (for some reason) when they really strike a chord, they leave a deep impression on me more often than not. And Writers & Lovers is like that. (Read my full, non-spoiler review HERE.) I also finished A Match Made in Lipa by Carla de Guzman, which is the second book in her Laneways series. Though I definitely loved Sweet on You more than this second outing, there is something really charming in this story. I honestly enjoyed the childhood bit because it’s not all the time I get to read a Filipino childhood (specifically THIS scene) and it also helped that my head is playing this song nonstop while reading this. It was just a bit “alta” or upper-class a POV for my liking but I do think where it shone the most was reflecting the kind of familial duality in Filipino households. Istg I really liked reading Santi’s POV because being a panganay (eldest child) myself, a lot of his internal monologue resonated with me (and honestly can be a little triggering). I rated this 3.5 and is still a decent read – but not really because of the romance per se😅.
What I’m reading right now
These are the books I’m actively reading these past few days:
- In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado – Was finally able to secure a copy of it and it was glorious. When I bought it from Waterstones, the cashier really gave a glowing review of it which made me more intrigued to read it. This book is part memoir, part a commentary on how society views queerness and queer relationships. This memoir is very poetic in its approach and it’s so unique – uniquely written, uniquely presented/edited. Just excited to read more of this.
- Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques by Gillian Butler – Went back to reading this after putting it on the backburner back in February. This is actually one of the first books I bought when I moved to Belfast. And as someone with social anxiety, this book really hits home and is pretty helpful.
- What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence edited by Michele Filgate – This was a random find in Scribd when I was looking for books I could listen to in walks after I DNFed The Spanish Love Deception. It was an unexpected gem, from what I’ve listened to so far. I loved reading these essays about all the things various people have not been able to talk about with their mothers. It’s mostly heartbreaking, reading these, and I expect that at one point or another, this book will make me cry. There were familiar names in the roster of authors that participated in this essay collection – and when someone writes from personal experience, you bet they produce something beautiful more often than not.
This month was definitely significantly better than February’s 3 books (if book count is the baseline). I wanted to finally read Pachinko this April but I won’t really pressure myself. Hoping for a good reading month this April!