The other day while talking with my dad, I realized I had not thought about my car since basically the second I walked through security onto my new year’s eve flight. Sure, I’ve talked about traffic to a ton of people since then. And how much I don’t miss it and how much I hope to never be stuck in traffic again in my life.
(Sidenote: I know how unrealistic this is unless I move to Antarctica. Although I hear even there the penguin to landmass ratio is as competitive as finding a reasonably priced studio in the city).
And public transportation here is just so easy. Sure, it’s crowded and smells and the chances of you being knocked over by some tourist’s over-stuffed backpack is pretty high, but for a guaranteed 45 minutes a day, I can hop onto the subway to and from work, link arms with an unoccupied pole, and become lost into my latest book.
Last week was the first week I was able to stand and read the entire subway ride with no motion sickness, no falling over as the train drunkenly sped up and slowed down at random. I felt like a queen! This took two months to learn and now, I’m a subway reading knight of the round table.
I’ve had a The Casual Vacancy on my bookshelf for a year. Critics’ mixed reviews originally swayed me away from reading it, but in the spirit of starting fresh in New York City, it seemed the perfect book to move with me. I’ll admit, it took me a few hundred pages to be fully into it.
The book is set in the small English town of Pagford – a town consumed with hundred year-old grudges, kids rebelling against their parents, domestic abuse, drug use, bullying — and shifts between the perspective of ten different characters ranging in age, race, and gender. The novel starts with Pagford’s great leader, Barry Fairbrother, dying and how this trauma influences the election and development of the town moving forward. But the ending, holy sh*t! It’s worth it just to read the ending! JK Rowling has still got it people!
While people continue to start their reviews with, “It’s no Harry Potter,” I felt the entire novel oozed with JK Rowling charm and talent. Her characters come to life on the page through brilliant dialogue and internal monologues. With each chapter, Rowling is inviting you into this new world; allowing you to witness the growing cracks in each character’s foundation and to desperately keep cheering for the tragic heroes. Next on my reading list, everything she has written under her pen name Robert Galbraith.
Now to Persepolis, one of the most creative, personal, creative memoirs I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Written by Marjane Satrapi, the graphic novel takes you through the author’s life as a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. I was excited for this book because one, when I bought it, my roommate started telling me it was the story of her family and how much it meant to her; and two, the way the story is told is something I haven’t before encountered in a memoir.
Marjane is a hero you keep fighting for, throughout her struggles moving to Europe, her attempts to reconcile her identity and family history, her relationships, and her undying determination to stand up for what is fair. This book is groundbreaking and teaches readers to stand up for the minority communities often ostracized for being “different” or “not from here.” If you’re a fan of graphic novels, nonfiction, or just books in general, I highly recommend adding this one to your collection.