Hi, I'm Angi
Welcome to my corner of the internet! My passions include travel, photography, books, music, Japanese language and culture, Italian language and culture, and art.

Here at Abbott Lane you'll find my thoughts on these topics and much more. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

February 2022 TBR

It's been awhile since I've done a TBR, and my reading life has reflected that! I've felt a bit unmoored for the past few months when it comes to reading, so I'm happy to be reestablish adding a bit of direction back into things. I feel like when I do end up doing a TBR for the month, I'm much more conscientious about my reading.

This month is a mixed bag in terms of what I want to read. As always, there's some of my beloved SFF. But, there are a lot of books in translation this time around! I'm working to read more translated books this year, due to my business and the simply because I feel like reading work from authors in other places is important.

The plan is to get through eight books for the month (not counting my ongoing read of The Way of Kings, which is just taking me FOREVER, because I'm savoring it). Eight books is ambitious for me, but we'll see what we can do! Here's what I'd like to read...

The Taiga Syndrome - Cristina Rivera Garza

A fairy tale run amok, The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed Ex-Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth. A betrayed husband is convinced by a brief telegram that his second ex-wife wants him to track her down—that she wants to be found. He hires the Ex-Detective, who sets out with a translator into a snowy, hostile forest where strange things happen and translation betrays both sense and one’s senses.

This is a book I've been meaning to pick up ever since I finished The Houseguest by Amparo Davila. I was so enamored with that book's strange beauty that I immediately went searching for similar reads. The Taiga Syndrome was recommended again and again, and I have to say that so far it is delivering.

Freshwater - Awaeke Emezi

Freshwater tells the story of Ada, an unusual child who is a source of deep concern to her southern Nigerian family. Young Ada is troubled, prone to violent fits. Born “with one foot on the other side,” she begins to develop separate selves within her as she grows into adulthood. And when she travels to America for college, a traumatic event on campus crystallizes the selves into something powerful and potentially dangerous, making Ada fade into the background of her own mind as these alters—now protective, now hedonistic—move into control.

This was our bookclub's pick for the month, but it was also a book that I had already purchased awhile ago and never gotten around to reading. The story sounds fascinating, and like it will offer a lot for our group to discuss!

The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood, Youth, Dependency

Childhood tells the story of a misfit child’s single-minded determination to become a poet; Youth describes her early experiences of sex, work, and independence. Dependency picks up the story as the narrator embarks on the first of her four marriages and goes on to describe her horrible descent into drug addiction, enabled by her sinister, gaslighting doctor-husband. Throughout, the narrator grapples with the tension between her vocation as a writer and her competing roles as daughter, wife, mother, and drug addict, and she writes about female experience and identity in a way that feels very fresh and pertinent to today’s discussions around feminism.

I have to admit, I'd never heard of Tove Ditlevsen before I came across this book. I've been looking for more books in translation to read, and this came up on numerous as lists as one of the best out there. I've already started diving in on audio book, and it's been an interesting journey so far. The writing is very direct, very spare and it's interesting to hear the story of a young woman's experience growing up in the midst of Hitler's emergence.

The Mountains Sing - Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family.

Another book in translation - can you sense a theme? This has gotten great reviews everywhere I've seen, and I'm excited to dive into a story that shares more about a time that I - regretfully - know very little about. I'll be reading this as an audiobook, which I think will add an immediacy to the tale.

Feersum Endjinn - Iain M. Banks

Count Alandre Sessine VII has already died seven times. He has only one life left - one last chance to catch his killer. His only clues point to a conspiracy beyond his own murder. For a catastrophe is fast approaching the earth from which there is no escape - until a loophole through apocalypse is discovered. And a chosen few will do anything to keep it a secret.

Someone has betrayed Sessine, killed him before he could uncover the truth. Now he has three days before his funeral to live the way men used to live: restricted to one life where one mistake could be his last. Suddenly he finds himself an outlaw, a fugitive, a desperado. And his only hope of survival is finding others like himself. Others who hold a piece of the puzzle to an enigmatic weapon of salvation and chaos...

It's been forever since I've dived into a Banks novel, but he has never disappointed me. This is one I've been wanting to get my hands on for awhile, but there's no ebook version available, and I always seemed to forget about it when I would buy physical books. But after getting a gift card for Christmas, I finally remembered to add it to my cart! So far it's strange, confusing and bizarre..and I wouldn't have it any other way.

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us - Hanif Abdurraqib

In essays that have been published by the New York Times, MTV, and Pitchfork, among others―along with original, previously unreleased essays―Abdurraqib uses music and culture as a lens through which to view our world, so that we might better understand ourselves, and in so doing proves himself a bellwether for our times.

I'll be honest - this isn't the type of book I'd normally pick up. I don't read a ton of non-fiction and, despite being a musician, I don't read a lot of music writing. But the breathless reviews this received a few years back upon its release has convinced me to give it a try!

China Dream - Ma Jian

China Dream is an unflinching satire of totalitarianism. Ma Daode, a corrupt and lecherous party official, is feeling pleased with himself. He has an impressive office, three properties, and multiple mistresses who text him day and night. After decades of loyal service, he has been appointed director of the China Dream Bureau, charged with replacing people's private dreams with President Xi Jinping's great China Dream of national rejuvenation. But just as he is about to present his plan for a mass golden wedding anniversary celebration, his sanity begins to unravel. Suddenly plagued by flashbacks of the Cultural Revolution, Ma Daode's nightmare visions from the past threaten to destroy his dream of a glorious future.

And lastly, another book in translation! I don't know much about this novel, but the blurb made it sound like something I'd enjoy so I decided to give it a whirl. It was long-listed for the 2020 Translated Book Award, so I'm expecting that it's a good one!

And, whew! That's all (but that's plenty). So many books, so little time! We'll see if I can get through all of these. I anticipate that listening to roughly half of them on audiobook will help a lot, as I can listen to them at work and while I'm doing other things at home.

What are you planning to read this month? And I'm looking for great translated books - if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!