All (abridged) summaries taken from Good Reads. Notes are my own.
#1: Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith
Summary: From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year.
Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland with no design, yet heeding signs–including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger’s words, “Anything is possible: after all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.” For Smith–inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing–the year evolves as one of reckoning with the changes in life’s gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.
Notes: - "My logic may have been full of holes but so was Wonderland," (82). - "The Virgin kneels within a kaleidoscope void ornamented with her words inverted in burnished gold," (144).
Personal Rating: 8.5/10
#2: The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Summary: Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck map, with Adichie's signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them.
Notes: - "How can you love somebody and yet want to manage the amount of happiness that person is allowed?" (153).
Personal Rating: 7.5/10
#3: Honeybee: Poems by Trista Mateer
Summary: You will meet people in your lifetime who demand to have poems written about them. It’s not something they say. It’s something about their hands, the shape of their mouths, the way they look walking away from you. Honeybee is an honest take on walking away and still feeling like you were walked away from. It’s about cutting love loose like a kite string and praying the wind has the decency to carry it away from you. It’s an ode to the back and forth, the process of letting something go but not knowing where to put it down. Honeybee is putting it down. It’s small town girls and plane tickets, a taste of tenderness and honey, the bandage on the bee sting. It’s a reminder that you are not defined by the people you walk away from or the people who walk away from you. Consider Honeybee a memoir in verse, or at the very least, a story written by one of today's most confessional poets.
Personal Rating: 6/10
#4: Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin
Summary: Part cultural meander, part memoir, Flâneuse traces the relationship between the city and creativity through a journey that begins in New York and moves us to Paris, via Venice, Tokyo and London, exploring along the way the paths taken by the flâneuses who have lived and walked in those cities.
From nineteenth-century novelist George Sand to artist Sophie Calle, from war correspondent Martha Gellhorn to film-maker Agnes Varda, Flâneuse considers what is at stake when a certain kind of light-footed woman encounters the city and changes her life, one step at a time.
Notes: - Infraordinary: what happens when nothing is happening (idea from Georges Perec) (5). - "I had an astonishing immunity to responsibility, because I had no ambitions at all beyond doing only that which I found interesting," (6). - "She is going somewhere or coming from somewhere; she is saturated with in-betweeness," (22). - "saucer eyes..." (219). - "wallow," (220).
Personal Rating: 10/10, genuinely one of the most thought-provoking books I have read in years!!
#5: My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
Summary: Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.
Notes: - ""If I or she should chance to be/involved in this affair,/He trusts you to set them free,/Exactly as we were,"" (Lewis Carroll, 135).
Personal Rating: 9/10
#6: For The Time Being by Annie Dillard
Summary: From Annie Dillard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and one of the most compelling writers of our time, comes For the Time Being, her most profound narrative to date. With her keen eye, penchant for paradox, and yearning for truth, Dillard renews our ability to discover wonder in life's smallest--and often darkest--corners.
Why do we exist? Where did we come from? How can one person matter? Dillard searches for answers in a powerful array of images: pictures of bird-headed dwarfs in the standard reference of human birth defects; ten thousand terra-cotta figures fashioned for a Chinese emperor in place of the human court that might have followed him into death; the paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin crossing the Gobi Desert; the dizzying variety of clouds. Vivid, eloquent, haunting, For the Time Being evokes no less than the terrifying grandeur of all that remains tantalizingly and troublingly beyond our understanding.