Project Reread Update #4

Over the past few years my book collection has expanded a lot. Because I have a small apartment and as a result, limited shelf space, I decided I wanted to limit the number of books I have on my shelves with no reread value. Initially I thought I’d just unhaul books I’m no longer interested in, and one set of books that almost didn’t make the cut was The Boyfriend List. But then I remembered how much I loved that series growing up, so I gave it another chance, reread it, and absolutely loved it. Since then I started Project Reread, where I reread all the books on my shelves in order to give them a fair chance before potentially unhauling them. Here’s the latest set.

Title: Something Blue
Author: Emily Giffin
First date read: <2010
First rating: 4.5/5 stars
Second date read: March 22, 2020
Second rating: 3/5 stars

Something Blue is the companion novel to Something Borrowed and while the books do not have to be read in order, I would not recommend reading them out of order. Something Blue follows 29-year-old Darcy Rhone, who has just learned of her fiancé’s infidelity after catching him with her best friend. Darcy’s no saint either and has been sleeping with one of the groomsmen, Marcus, but still views this act between her best friend and ex-fiancé as unforgivable. Without fully thinking things through, she decides she is going to marry Marcus and have his baby. Marcus is not overjoyed by this turn of events and eventually dumps Darcy. Pregnant and with no one to turn to but her friend Ethan, she moves into his flat in London. 

Something Blue did not age well, like at all. Unlikable characters can be pretty hit-or-miss for me, and while I ultimately do like Darcy, the way her character development unfolded left much to be desired. I also just cannot overlook the fact that Darcy forced a pregnancy on someone, that scene was incredibly distasteful and problematic. While I’m always going to look back fondly on Darcy’s romance, this is not a story I’m ever going to revisit and this is a definite unhaul.

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner
Author: Lianne Oelke
First date read: February 16, 2018
First rating: 4.75/5 stars
Second date read: March 31, 2020
Second rating: 4.5/5 stars

Nice Try, Jane Sinner follows a young woman named Jane Sinner who recently got kicked out of high school after failing to attend her mandatory counselling sessions. She ultimately decides to finish her high school diploma by collecting her remaining credits through a community college. She also has every intention of moving out and stumbles upon an ad looking for show contestants for a reality TV show put on by students of the college called House of Orange. Because rent in the house is cheap and there is a possibility of winning a car, Jane decides to join the show. The premise of the show is that there are a group of students living together in House of Orange who perform tasks to win prizes and/or immunity from being voted out of the house. Hilarity ensues.

Jane’s my girl so of course it was no surprise that I loved revisiting her and her story. I was actually in a much better mindset the second time I read this one so in that regard I related to Jane less, but I still really appreciated this story. I think if you’ve gone through a mentally taxing time this is a great read to pick up, I definitely felt my own experiences with depression were seen and validated while reading this, and sometimes that’s what you really need.

Title: The View from the Cheap Seats
Author: Neil Gaiman
First date read: July 22, 2017
First rating: 4.5/5 stars
Second date read: March 31, 2020
Second rating: 4/5 stars

The View From the Cheap Seats is a collection of essays, articles, introductions, etc. written by Neil Gaiman throughout his career. There is no one over arching theme of the novel, and to give you a better idea of what you’re getting into, the novel is divided up into the following sections:
-Some Things I Believe
-Some People I Have Known
-Introductions and Musings: Science Fiction
-Films and Movies and Me
-On Comics and Some of the People Who Make Them
-Introductions and Contradictions
-Music and the People Who Make It
-On Stardust and Fairy Tales
-Make Good Art (the Make Good Art speech)
-The View from the Cheap Seats: Real Things

I really only started reading non-fiction three years ago. It can be a pretty intimidating genre to pick up if you haven’t before, and I found comfort in reading non-fiction by an author I previously enjoyed. The View From the Cheap Seats is a good starting point, especially if you’re just getting back into reading, because one of the takeaways I had the first time I picked it up was a reminder of why I love reading and why reading is so great. This second time around I wasn’t nearly as invested I’ve become a jaded reader and thought some parts got a bit too repetitive, and for that reason I don’t feel this has much reread value for me anymore. So unfortunately I’m unhauling The View From the Cheap Seats. I do still own the audiobook and could definitely foresee myself listening to Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech again though!

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
First date read: <2011
First rating: 4/5 stars
Second date read: April 10, 2020
Second rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Help is a historical fiction novel taking place in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. We follow three perspectives, a wealthy young white woman named Skeeter, and two black maids named Aibileen and Minny. Skeeter is an aspiring writer, and she convinces Aibileen to help her write a novel detailing Aibileen and several other maids’ experiences being a black maid working for a white family in the South. With the prevalent racism going on in the state, Skeeter and Aibileen’s task is dangerous to say the least.

I don’t have as much to say about The Help as I did about other books. While I still enjoyed it the second time around I don’t think I’ll be rereading this story again. So many own-voices novels are coming out now that I’d rather be reading. I’m not saying I can’t appreciate a story if the author doesn’t have the backstory for it, I’m just saying I’d rather read an own-voices novel or from an author who puts in the time and effort to research perspectives different from their own, because there was a definite lack of authenticity in some of the voices of these characters.

Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
First date read: April 11, 2017
First rating: 4.5/5 stars
Second date read: April 16, 2020
Second rating: 3.75/5 stars

Alex, Approximately follows 17-year-old Bailey (Mink) Rydell. She’s just moved across the country to live with her father. Shes a movie buff and has been chatting online quite a bit with a boy named Alex, and, unbeknownst to him, she just happens to be moving to the same town as him. Bailey proceeds to spend her summer working and flirting with an obnoxious boy named Porter, and trying to uncover Alex’s identity. 

I loved Alex, Approximately the first time I read it and it made me think Jenn Bennett was going to be a new favourite author. I was wrong, and I haven’t loved a Jenn Bennett novel since 😅. Bennett is fantastic at writing characters that feel so real, but lately her premises and their personalities haven’t worked out for me, so naturally I was hesitant to reread this one. I was pleasantly surprised to say that this is still a story I enjoy, though now I know I don’t like my contemporaries so dramatic. I don’t think I’ll ever reread this one, so it’s going in the unhaul pile, but I do still really like this book.

Final thoughts: This was my least successful (or most successful if we’re looking from a freeing-up-space-on-my-shelves perspective) round yet! Of all the books listed I’m only keeping one, Nice Try, Jane Sinner, it’s the title I would have guessed I’d like the most the second time around so it’s not surprising in that regard. I also do think titles I’ve read 10+ years ago tend to be pretty hit-or-miss. I’ve changed a lot as a reader from my teenage self. I actually did like all these books, I just don’t see myself reading almost all of them.

Have you had any interesting rereads lately? I’d love to know in the comments down below! 💗

Book Review: Something Blue

Title: Something Blue (Darcy & Rachel #2)
Author: Emily Giffin
Date Published: June 1, 2005
Rating: 3/5 stars
Date read: March 22, 2020 (reread)

Something Blue follows 29-year-old Darcy Rhone, who has just learned of her fiancé’s infidelity after catching him with her best friend. Darcy’s no saint either and has been sleeping with one of the groomsmen, Marcus, but still views this act between her best friend and ex-fiancé as unforgivable. Without fully thinking things through, she decides she is going to marry Marcus and have his baby. Marcus is not overjoyed by this turn of events and eventually dumps Darcy. Pregnant and with no one to turn to but her friend Ethan, she moves into his flat in London.

Something Blue is the companion novel to Something Borrowed and while the books do not have to be read in order, I would not recommend reading them out of order. 

Boy, did Something Blue not age well. I think that if most readers pick up Something Blue now they’ll find the writing insensitive and harmful, and some of the content problematic. I don’t think this is too much of a spoiler because it happens in the beginning of the novel, but at some point Darcy decides, pretty spur of the moment I might add, that she wants a baby, so she doesn’t let Marcus pull out. Marcus is not pleased with this since he doesn’t want a child. This made me SO uncomfortable. The novel is also told in first person narrative through Darcy’s perspective and she often belittles people based on their looks. We’re not meant to like Darcy or support the things she says, but that didn’t stop some of her remarks from making me cringe. 

My biggest issue, problematic content aside, was the pacing of this novel. It takes half the book for Darcy to move to London, which in my opinion is when the story really starts to pick up, so for half the novel we’re in the head of a terrible person who cares only for herself. I’m not against unlikeable characters, but she was starting to get unbearable at the quarter mark and I considered DNF-ing. Darcy also goes through some extreme character changes in order to try to improve herself, and while I do like this aspect of the novel, her progress happened much too quickly for me to find her changes believable. I also just don’t like how much she changed since all of a sudden all her interests were different too. The novel also seems to give off this message that in order to be a good person you need to have a career that helps people, which rubbed me the wrong way. Another, much smaller issue I had was the ending, it felt a bit rushed and I would have liked to see Darcy’s relationship play out a bit more, it was also incredibly cheesy.

So why the three-star rating? I read Something Blue a long while ago and it still holds nostalgia for me. Darcy and her love interest are still, to this day, one of my favourite couples. This novel has two of my all-time favourite romance tropes and I can’t help but have a soft spot for any novel where one of the conflicts is a friend breakup. Friend breakups are such a difficult thing to experience and I don’t think enough novels explore them. I thought the relationship between Rachel and Darcy was one of the best and most believable parts of the novel, and while it’s not something that is actively present, it is something that serves as a major hurdle for Darcy and something that she dwells on a lot. 

Overall, would not recommend.