Tacky Books – An August Reading Wrap-up

My reading month in August was filled with a healthy mix of fiction, non-fiction and a graphic re-telling of Romeo and Juliet.

Tacky GoblinTacky Goblin by Steele T. Sean

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“Tacky Goblins” is a slim little novella that follows an unnamed narrator who decides to move to Los Angeles with his sister. And kooky hijinks ensues! This is billed as humorous fiction but for me, it just read like a college course assignment on bizarro fiction. Wouldn’t it be weird if, like, a mold stain on the ceiling just started talking? Or, like, wouldn’t it be funny if the narrator and his sister get a pet dog but it’s not actually a pet dog, it’s a baby? The book feels weird for the sake of being weird and I guess we’re supposed to chuckle and relate to our narrator because growing up is soooo weird and hard, amirite? I guess.

Hope Never DiesHope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Hope Never Dies” posits a ridiculous what-if scenario: Biden is lonely and dejected after the 2016 election, Obama’s off gallivanting with celebrities while the country is in turmoil but a murder mystery brings the two back together once again.

This clearly panders to the population who desperately miss the charismatic, particularly the Obama/Biden bromance that is the stuff of meme legends. And, I couldn’t help myself, I delighted in reading this with the voices of Biden and Obama in my head.

Prince of CatsPrince of Cats by Ron Wimberly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This technicolor graphic novel re-imagines the tale of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt Capulet. The story takes place in a neon-colored urban landscape where gangs of Capulets and Montagues duel it out with katanas.

The book was a pleasure to read even if the art was a little hard to follow and some of the Shakespeare-speak felt forced. And the character design in this book is not to be missed!

Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black AthleteForty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete by William C. Rhoden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even after more than a decade, “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete” is still a serviceable book about the challenges and adversity black athletes faced throughout history and continue to face as they churn through the merciless, mostly white-owned machinations of pro-sports. Is the book insightful and interesting? Definitely. Is it a page-turner? Not really. Reading this felt a bit like a necessary chore. And, I feel like Rhoden is a little unfair in his criticism of the ignorant aspiring black athlete, who he believes should know more about their predecessors. And, he laments the lack of coverage of black women in sports only to spend a single chapter of his book on the topic. Despite it’s flaws, this book provides some valuable historical context about the black athlete – especially in a time when figures like Lebron and Kaepernick are heckled to just “shut up and play the game.”

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyHunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook of Roxane Gay’s memoir which is also like getting sucker punched in the gut over and over and over again. It’s so incredibly honest and raw and caused me to look inwardly at my own insecurities and subtle prejudices I have regarding weight and appearance.

However, I won’t lie: about 70% of the way through, I felt like I had had enough. Gay spends a significant chunk of the book detailing her inner monologue which is ruthlessly self-loathing as a result of a deeply traumatic experience. I get it, it’s her reality. But I couldn’t help feeling relieved when the audiobook was finally over.

Hits and Misses: StoriesHits and Misses: Stories by Simon Rich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wildly irreverent and fun, this collection of humorous short stories had me chuckling and laughing out loud. The stories focus on the concepts of fame and fortune especially those who get to enjoy it, imagine they have it or wish they did.

A few of my favorite stories include “Adolf Hitler: The GQ Profile” which imagines a GQ-styled interview with the genocidal maniac, “Hands” about a monk who will do almost anything to out-do the piety of his fellow monks and “Stage 13” where the angry ghost of a dead starlet prevents a film production crew from finishing their movie.

The FarmThe Farm by Héctor Abad Faciolince

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a good family saga. In “The Farm,” a trio of siblings reminisce on the history of the family farm located in the remote mountains of Colombia. Pilar, ever-loyal and selfless, wants to keep the farm in the family, no matter what it takes. Eva, traumatized by nearly being murdered at the farm by a local gang, wants nothing to do with it. And, Antonio, the baby of the family, is obsessed with researching the genealogy of the family and their familial roots in the country.

Beautifully written with such vivid perspectives from each character, I was wholly invested in the fate of these siblings and the farm. Except for Antonio – insufferably boring Antonio – who droned on and on in painful detail about the family tree. And, there’s a few things about Antonio that felt a little problematic to me, specifically his troubled relationship with his black husband. And, how he’s so utterly aloof and selfish.

This turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the month despite how much I dreaded Antonio’s chapters. I highly recommend it for fans of Latin American literature.

And that’s a wrap for August! Tell me, have you read any of these titles? Do you plan to? Leave a comment or stop by my Instagram to say hello.

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