March 2021 reading wrap-up

If you had your doubts about my reading slump, let it be known that I did not finish my first book in the month of March until March 14th, and afterwards I blazed through a number of books, hitting some fantasy, a short story collection, a memoir, and an essay collection.

In the end, I finished nine books this month. As I head into April, I plan on resuming my Toni Morrison read-through and dive into some nature writing. Stay tuned, but for now here are my favorites of March!

Best of the month

“I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return.”

From The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January / Alix E. Harrow

The final book I finished this month turned out to be my favorite, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. The book tells the story of a young girl who lives under the care of a wealthy older man in his sprawling mansion filled with treasures pillaged from all ends of the world. One day she discovers a strange book that tells of secret doors leading to other worlds, and that sets this fantastical tale in motion.

The book was wonderfully imaginative, playing with one of my favorite fantasy tropes, doorways to other worlds. At times, it felt like a distant cousin of the Wayward Children series that I particularly enjoy. The story is also achingly romantic at times, and there were many moments where I couldn’t help but crack a smile. A true delight, and it makes me excited to pick up Harrow’s other novel, The Once and Future Witches.

Bonus: the cover is stunning.

Other highlights

Hood Feminism / Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall was my book club’s selection for March, and it ended up being one of the most insightful things I’ve read in awhile. Kendall crafts an expansive argument highlighting the ways that the feminist movement is failing women of color, and in particular Black women. The book is separated into essays, and I have to admit some of the early ones were weaker, and they meandered at times. Towards the middle of the book, Kendall really finds her footing and the final 150 pages are blistering and illuminating. A challenging, but necessary book.

Memorial Drive / Natasha Trethewey

Poet Natasha Trethewey’s memoir Memorial Drive opens by telling the reader that when she was 19, her mother was murdered by her stepfather, an event which shaped the course of the rest of her life. She uses that moment to explore topics of racism, sexism, segregation, trauma, grief, family legacy, and resilience in this concise, but powerful book. I picked this book up to break myself out of a reading slump, and I finished it in one sitting. Trethewey’s writing is lush, and her storytelling prowess is unmatched. It’s a short book that packs a big punch, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Jade City / Fonda Lee

I had heard amazing things about this fantasy novel, and it did not disappoint. An Asian-inspired fantasy that follows two crime families as they jockey for control of jade, which in this world has magical properties that can give the wearer superhuman strength. This novel is political fantasy at its best, as we follow numerous characters in and around the Kaul family, one of the two families willing to start an all-out war to protect their access to jade. It took a minute or two to fully get my bearings within this world, but once I did I could not put it down. A great entry-level adult fantasy for those interested.

Complete list of march reads

  • Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
  • Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee
  • Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enriquez
  • Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers
  • Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
  • Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

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