WHY HELLO THERE 😀 I know it’s a little bit later than I usually do these things but my reading habits have been T E R R I B L E this month so here we are. I didn’t feel like posting a review or a tag today, so Blogmas Day 4 will be a (very belated) reading update!

My reading has been weird this month. I started out strong with an early finish of Black Sun (Rebecca Roanhorse), after which I promptly crashed and burned, with the result that my reading tracker jumps from December 3 to December 13, and then from December 14 to December 19. I wish I could say I found my motivation again, but what actually happened is that I started a buddy read and a readathon at the same time. (Of course, having said that, I didn’t read last night because for some reason my crossword app seemed more important. I also won’t be reading tonight because I had an online gift exchange and now it’s midnight and I’m still not finished with this post, and, again, crosswords. #headdesk)

Mid-Month Reading Stats

Should I even bother?

Currently Reading

Okay so here’s my current reading pile just so we know what we’re dealing with

These normally sit on my nightstand glowering at me and it’s honestly kinda weird seeing them somewhere else. Given that Christmas is coming and I have been told not to buy any new books until afterwards, I’ve actually been pretty good about not running off to BN every other day, though I did sucker out at the Amazon store and pick up a copy of Caste because I honestly don’t think anyone is going to give that to me.

errr ignore the bag I buy too many of them

WARNING: Spoilers.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson

Current rating: 5 stars.

I picked this one up on a vague whim. I’ve never read Wilkerson, though I do want to read The Warmth of Other Suns, which was recommended by a friend earlier this year. I saw Caste in the Amazon store a while ago but passed on it, but then this past Sunday I was picking up a hard drive from the Apple Store because one does not simply walk into the Apple Store and buy a hard drive anymore (not complaining, I’m glad they’re being cautious) and I had about an hour to kill before my pick-up appointment, so I went downstairs to buy Caste. Usually when I buy a book with the intention of starting it on the spot, I end up fiddling with my phone instead and never actually get around to the book. That was not the case with this book. It was giving me crushing depression by page 7 but it is SO GOOD and I’m so glad I finally decided to give it a chance. Wilkerson is an excellent writer, and, though the subject matter is rage-inducing, she’s presenting it so well that it isn’t dull or hard to get through. It’s so good that I’ve added it to my winter five-star predictions, and I see no reason I might deduct any stars in the future. Of course, I’m upset that Oprah’s bookclub sticker has been printed onto the cover and I can’t remove it, but that’s nothing to do with the quality of the book.

As a side note, I have decided that I will not be writing a review for this book, or for any other nonfiction book. I’m not worried about people picking up on my biases for works of fiction, but I do want to avoid influencing people’s opinions on nonfiction. This is something you should be reading and wrestling with for yourself. I will gladly spill the entire plot of Gideon the Ninth, but I will not be sharing any of the in-depth soul-searching that will likely result from reading Caste, or other books like it. All I can tell you at this point is that it is excellent, and you should definitely read it.

A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin

Well I never thought I’d say this but my current rating is 4 stars.

I first attempted to pick up ASOIAF somewhere around 2015 or 2016, when I was still firmly in the grip of the most illiterate period of my life. To recap, I got my first smartphone in 2010 and my first iPhone in 2011, which resulted in a steady decline in my reading skills. I did continue to collect books, as one naturally does, but to say I didn’t read any of them would be a massive understatement. Then in 2017 I discovered goodreads, and, though I still have some problems with focus, I’ve gotten back on track readingwise, though it’s taken me the better part of the last three years to do so. All of this is to say that I read A Game of Thrones at the worst possible time, and did not enjoy it at all. I then listened to the audiobook in the vain hope that it would improve the experience. It didn’t. Fast-forward to September 2020, when my book BFF Lori mentioned that she had neither read the books nor watched the show, and, well, you can probably guess what happened next.

This all brings us to the biggest surprise of this year, which is that I actually don’t hate this (yet). I think this may partly be nostalgia for the show, but so far the book isn’t as dull as I remember it being, though the writing is no better. Over the last three years I’ve become even more judgmental while somehow also becoming less picky, which is weird and shouldn’t really work. I can’t really explain it, but, though my standards have shot up to the moon in certain respects, they’ve also relaxed a lot in others. To wit: I have realized that just because somebody doesn’t write like Margaret Atwood doesn’t mean they’re crap.

From this vantage it seems kinda strange reading the book again now that I know for sure who Jon’s mother is. I always knew (because my roommate and her boyfriend were talking about it way before I got into the series), but now that the show has confirmed it, it’s making the book more…….tolerable? By which I mean that I am actually getting interested in the rest of the books in the series, which after all the time I’ve spent shunning them is super fucking weird. That being said, I have been told that A Feast for Crows is literally 1,000 pages of Brienne riding the wrong way, so we’ll see how I feel if and when I get there, but in the meantime I am at least intrigued. I don’t know what’s got into me – it’s probably the effect of knowing what happens to all the characters in the show and wanting to know how it all goes down in the books because I’m nosy as hell. Of course, the problem is I know what happens to all the characters in the show, and, if you know anything about me at all, you can probably guess who my favorite character is.

THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S THIS GAL. Seeing Dany again at this earlier, more innocent stage of her life is already breaking my heart because I LOOOOOOOOVE her and I hate what the show did to her. I know the books are supposed to end the same way, even if the journey is different, but I will be so sad if her book story matches the show story.

Anyway. Regardless of how it all shakes out, I’m still only 324 pages (39%) into book 1, so I’ve got a ways to go. Dany just showed Viserys exactly where he belongs, Bran’s got a new saddle design, Lady is dead (WTF NED I’M GOING TO KILL YOU), Ned is trying to figure shit out, and Catelyn has taken Tyrion prisoner. I wish I could like Catelyn more than I do. She fought off an assassin and took a Lannister prisoner and I really respect the shit out of that, even if she got the wrong Lannister (not really her fault), but she is a bitch holy shit I’d forgotten how much I hate her >:( Anybody who wants to tell me that her habit of treating Jon Snow like shit is “understandable” can go straight to hell. Jealousy over Ned’s supposed affair is understandable. Verbally abusing and ostracizing a fourteen-year-old who literally had jack shit to do with said affair is disgusting and immature. I’d be fine with her if she were at least civil to Jon, but she’s not and I’m not. What really rankles is that she’s not upset at the idea that Ned had an affair; she expected him to have affairs and to provide for any children that might result. She’s upset that Ned brought Jon home with him and is providing for him right under their shared roof. That is a level of petty to which I will never aspire. It makes me wonder if Jon ever called her mama when he was first learning to talk, and how harshly she rebuffed him. No child deserves to be treated the way she’s been treating him.

Cersei is an even bigger bitch than Catelyn and I already want to throw her off a cliff. That scene with Lady destroys me every fucking time I just want all the direwolves to live long and happy lives is that really so much to ask for T^T (Of course, what really kills me here is that I already know Sansa still loves Joffrey so much even though he’s clearly shown her who he is and I want to climb into the book and slap her. However, she is eleven and she was raised as a proper lady, which means she grew up with certain expectations for her future marriage, and I’m trying very hard to forgive her for being a stupid little girl even though she is the literal definition of setting yourself up for disappointment.)

And yet even with these two awful women I’m actually enjoying the book, because it is surprisingly funny. I did not remember it being this funny the first time around because I was so hung up on the slowness and the writing, but the humor is excellent. I’d forgotten about the confrontation between Dany and Viserys, and, now that I’ve read it again, I really, really wish the show had kept that, because the way they ended up doing it wasn’t as good and it didn’t give Dany as much power and agency as it should have. Meanwhile, Show Tyrion fizzled out in the middle of season 7 in service to the terrible plot, but this reread is reminding me how much I love him.

Tyrion vs. Birbs

Tyrion glanced up. The bird peered down at him with those beady black eyes, ruffling its wings. “Fool,” it called again. Doubtless old Mormont would take it amiss if he throttled the creature. A pity.

Tyrion vs. Robb

“Tell Robb that I’m going to command the Night’s Watch and keep him safe, so he might as well take up needlework with the girls and have Mikken melt down his sword for horseshoes.”

“Your brother is bigger than me,” Tyrion said with a laugh. “I decline to deliver any message that might get me killed.”

And, though Dany has always been my favorite character, I also really love Arya.

Arya Being Tricksy

Fat Tom was knocking on her door. “Arya girl, what’s wrong?” he called out. “You in there?”

No!” she shouted. The knocking stopped. A moment later she heard him going away. Fat Tom was always easy to fool.

Ned Finding Out That Arya Is Armed

“I can keep it?” she said. “For true?”

“For true.” He smiled. “If I took it away, no doubt I’d find a morningstar hidden under your pillow within the fortnight. Try not to stab your sister, whatever the provocation.”

I love Ned’s relationship with Arya. They may have very different ideas of her future, but he knows her and he loves her as she is, and he even hires a swordmaster for her, which in Westeros is shockingly progressive. (I also really love Syrio, and I’m upset that he doesn’t get a good ending. Getting killed by Meryn Trant is quite possibly the worst fucking way to go unless you count getting caught by the Boltons, which I don’t since they’re not in the story yet.)

There were also these two moments, which I didn’t want to leave out even though they don’t fit in anywhere else.

Random Theon Humor

Theon Greyjoy had once commented that Hodor did not know much, but no one could doubt that he knew his name.

Meanwhile, Back at the Wall…

When he was gone, Grenn frowned. “Nobody likes cravens,” he said uncomfortably. “I wish we hadn’t helped him. What if they think we’re craven too?”

“You’re too stupid to be craven,” Pyp told him.

“I am not,” Grenn said.

“Yes you are. If a bear attacked you in the woods, you’d be too stupid to run away.”

“I would not,” Grenn insisted. “I’d run away faster than you.” He stopped suddenly, scowling when he saw Pyp’s grin and realized what he’d just said.

I really need to watch the show again.

Miscellaneous Reading News

We did a work Secret Santa and omg this is what my Santa sent me:

ASD;JKFHLGHPHGT BRB DYING ❤️ Not only did she get me one of the books I asked for (we all had wishlists), SHE GOT ME A NESSIE BOOKMARK IN THE PERFECT COLOR. Teal has always been one of my favorite colors, and it works so well with little Nessie. I love that she looks like she’s swimming through the book, and I can’t wait to put her to work!