I never put what month I'm writing about in the title. Does that bother you?
Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise, Gene Luen Yang
I was on an A:TLA kick during the end of March/beginning of April. Whenever I watch the original television series, I never want it to end. Before going on to watch Legend of Korra, I read through The Promise, which is one of three comic book series that follow the events of the Avatar-verse after the series finale where Aang defeats the Fire Lord. It doesn't disappoint in serving up another great Gaang arc. Where it lacks in cool bending scenes (the limits of the genre), it makes up for in thematic material. One of the cool things about this installment is that it sets up some of the political problems that Korra faces in the future of the A:TLA-verse, which is cool to see play out in LOK. I'm also a big fan of Gene Luen Yang, the author of American Born Chinese, which was a formative work of fiction in my early college days in terms (literature-wise and identity-wise).
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
A few weeks before I opened this book up for class, it seemed like everyone was talking about how good it was. If I'm being honest, I didn't know what all the hullabaloo was about. At first. I kept reading and found that Kalanithi's struggle with life and death resulted in one of the most life-changing narratives I've ever read. Someone had told me that they couldn't put the book down and I see why. His prose is very relatable, yet it touches on something that the average person without his intelligence or experience would never be able to put into words. Even more profound to me was Kalanithi's work in and passion for neuroscience and his thoughts on the life and death decisions he made every day. I couldn't help thinking of my family members who are in the medical field (or are striving to be) - my father, my aunts and uncles, my brothers, and my boyfriend - and the struggles they go through every day.
Love & Misadventure, Lang Leav
This little collection of poems has been on my to-read list, so I decided to pick it when I got a coupon code from Barnes and Noble. The first word that comes to mind when it comes to this book is "cute." The poems are small and cute, the subject is cute, clingy love, and there is cute Lolita art in the book. The book, while cute and a fast read, wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. When I think of poetry, I'm thinking of experimental, lyrical play with language. This collection is not that. The poems aren't super remarkable, but anyone who has been in love at some point can probably relate to each and every poem, which is a great strength of this particular collection. However, I was looking for a little more. It often felt like I was reading something that a younger version of myself would have scribbled in a notebook as a teenager with a crush. The poems did give me a sense of nostalgia that was pleasant at times. Then again, who really wants to remember being a teenager?
A Home at the End of the World, Michael Cunningham
This is probably the best book I've read in a while. The plot is convoluted and the book itself is quite dense, but the characters are so rich and complex and the prose is beautiful. All of this to the point of wanting to chop my own hands off because I know I won't ever measure up to this in my own work. The novel is about two childhood friends, Bobby and Jonathan, and it follows their relationship between themselves and with different people throughout the stages of their lives. While I was reading, I felt as though I was peering into something enormous and vast. It was focused, and yet I couldn't stop marveling at the commitment it took to write the lives of these characters from start to finish. Their lives were by no means ordinary, but Cunningham manages to capture a sense of the ordinary in the tragic and complex parts of these characters' lives and he make their thoughts and emotions extremely relatable to the reader.
That's what I read this month! What did you read? Let me know in the comments below :)