“The 100 Books to Read Before You Die”|Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Since my last update, I completed only one book…Yay?

The one book was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn {Full Review}

I also want to post mini-reviews for the rest of the books in the near (or distant) future!

My Goal is to complete FOUR more books from this list by the end of the year (hey, I have a full lifetime to finish this list!).

Goodreads 100 Books You Should Read in a Lifetime
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
4. 1984 by George Orwell
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
11. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel by Ray Bradbury
12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
13. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
14. Animal Farm by George Orwell
15. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
16. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
18. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
19. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
21. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
22. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
23. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
24. Night by Elie Wiesel
25. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
26. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
27. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
28. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
29. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
30. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
31. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
32. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
33. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
34. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
35. The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery
36. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
37. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
38. The Giver by Lois Lowry
39. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
40. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
41. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
42. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
43. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
44. The Holy Bible: New King James Version by Thomas Nelson
45. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
46. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere
47. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
48. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
49. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
50. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
51. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
52. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
53. The Stand by Stephen King
54. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
55. Watership Down by Richard Adams
56. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
57. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
58. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
59. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
60. Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel by Arthur Golden
61. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
62. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
63. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
64. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
65. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
66. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
67. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
68. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
69. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
70. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
71. Dracula by Bram Stoker
72. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
73. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2) by Suzanne Collins
74. Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
75. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
76. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
77. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
78. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
79. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingslover
80. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
81. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
82. The Odyssey by Homer
83. Celebrating Silence: Excerpts From Five Years of Weekly Knowledge 1995-2000 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
84. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
85. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
86. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
87. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
88. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
89. Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins
90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
91. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
92. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
93. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
94. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
95. Beloved by Toni Morrison
96. Helen Keller: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
97. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
98. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
99. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
100. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I prioritize?

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Books I Recently Purchased!

I only bought three books in the last 3 months! Yay! Also, my background is my kitchen in all these photos because there’s no proper lighting in my house so enjoy that:).

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Processed with VSCO with p5 presetHunger by Roxane Gay

Have I read it?: Yes!

Rating: 5/5

Thoughts: I read Hunger in  May, and I just had to buy my own copy! Hunger is a memoir about the relationship between Roxane Gay and her body. It’s raw, powerful and moving book that will stick with you.  I will forever rave about this book because I think it’s critical for all people, especially those who struggle with weight loss and trying to fit society’s ideas of beauty, to read.

 

Processed with VSCO with p5 presetGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens

Have I read it?: Yup!

Rating: 3/5

Thoughts: I’m not going to lie, I only bought this book for the gorgeous cover! I’ve read Great Expectations, so I don’t feel too bad about this purchase. I want to collect all the editions of these covers because they are just so aesthetically pleasing to me! It’s an okay book, Pip as a character grew incredibly annoying, and I thought the themes weren’t too memorable, but overall it’s an easy read for those who are looking to read more classics!

 

Processed with VSCO with p5 presetAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Have I read it?: Nah

Predicted Rating: Maybe 3/5?!? Hopefully!

Thoughts: This is my next classic that I’m going to read! It’s short, so this shouldn’t take me too long to read. I also heard that people love this version more than Disney’s. I have to read this book in order to buy a new Penguin Classic, so that’s my motivation!

 

 

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Mini Reviews|Short books by Black Authors!

Binti (Binti, #1)Binti by Nnedi Okarafor [Goodreads]

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆

Review: Overall, it was a nice, at time strangely humorous, read. Binti leaves her family to find something greater than her family already has planned for her. She got accepted into a highly acclaimed college, and throughout the short book, we follow her journey as she navigates prejudice and runs into some trouble with some vengeful aliens! For some reason, despite it being a rather short read, this took me FOREVER to finish! I don’t know why and I seem to be the only one, but this wasn’t a page turner for me. However, I did think Binti is a strong but flawed female character. I sympathized with her and understood why she wanted to leave her family in the first place. I might give the other books in this series a shot!

 

For EveryoneFor Everyone by Jason Reynolds [Goodreads]

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆

Review: Jason Reynolds is honestly such a gem. I decided to read this on audiobook since he narrates it and I could tell in his voice that he’s passionate and optimistic. Although the message is pretty basic, he inspires his readers and listeners to keep moving forward because that’s all you can do. I think I rated this book so high is because this came to me the right time. I recently dropped out of university, and I’m currently struggling through my summer courses. I feel overwhelmed, stress and sometimes I even question if college is the right fit for me. Reynolds words just wrapped around me and I may or may not shed a tear while listening. Again, yes the message is simple but one that I will keep remembering when I’m facing hindrances in my life.

 

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie[Goodreads]

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen SuggestionsA few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response. Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆

Review: Adichie is becoming one of my favorite authors! In this short, Adiche’s friend asks her how to raise a feminist daughter, so Adiche gives her 15 tips! She talks about gender roles and equality but also about how a feminist woman can navigate through a misogynistic society. Adiche really focuses on the caretaker to enforce their daughter to be independent, let them choose their own path and support them no matter what. Adiche received some backlash over her comments on trans women saying “trans women are trans women.” However, I personally believe that trans women are just women. I think Adiche was trying to say is that trans women have different experiences than cis women (which is true) and although it’s all part of feminism, we should treat both issues separately. I feel that both issues relate to one another (because again, gender is a social construct). I do wish Adiche were more inclusive to trans people in this but (just a simple “not all women have vaginas” type of statement) but overall a beautiful read.

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What I’m Reading|Reading Books By My Faves!

Thought I would give a quick update on what I’m currently reading! I started a lot of books recently so let’s get started!

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah [Goodreads]

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

I love Trevor Noah’s political commentary so when I found out that he wrote a book a couple years back, I immediately put an ebook hold in the library. It took SOOOOOO long to get it, so I’m thrilled to finally read it! I read the first 30 pages or so and this is hilarious! I can hear Noah’s voice in writing and, I wish I owned the audiobook! Although it’s humorous, it still deals with a lot of heavy topics!

 

 

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay [Goodreads]

INot That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Cult…‘m slowly making my way through all of Roxane Gay’s books, and I thought I would start on her anthology! When I read Hunger a couple months back, it tore me to pieces, so I thought, “why not experience that again?” I’m listening to this on audiobook which I recommend because everyone who contributes to the anthology reads their own story! I can’t wait to review this one (I’m going to tell you now, although I’m only 100 pages in, this is a five-star read).

 

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay [Goodreads]

An Untamed StateYes, another Roxane Gay book. I picked this up on a whim. I’m reading other books with heavy topics so why not add this to the load? I read about the first 45 pages, and I don’t want to say I enjoy it (because it deals with kidnapping and separation of families), but I like the pace, and I love the main character. She’s strong-willed and smart, and I can tell that I will most likely relish this book in the end.

 

 

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{Review} Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli| Realizing That Not All Authors are Perfect

31180248.jpgLeah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

TW: Biphobia (stereotypes), Racism, Bi/Sexuality Shaming

Note: swear words are in this review

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What?!??! Did I read the same book as everyone else?!?!

How did I go from giving Becky’s Albertalli’s books 4-5 stars from rating this an astounding 1.5 stars?!?!?

How come my most trusted reviewers rated this book so high?!?!?!

Ok, I liked the beginning, I really did. However, the book got progressively worse as the story continued. I never thought I would rate one of Becky Albertalli’s book so low. I thought she was becoming my queen for YA contemporary. I was even considering putting her as one of my favorite authors on Goodreads!!

But I was disappointed, angry and sad how this book turned out. It doesn’t even feel like Albertalli even wrote this.

I also thought I loved Leah. In my Goodreads update, I even said:

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But wow! What some shitty character development. I sat on this book for a couple of days, and I hated it even more.

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Let’s get this started. There will be some mild spoilers.

The Notorious Cliche Bi Love Triangle

Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, it’s between a girl and a guy. No, I’m not surprised. Leah enters into some type of love triangle between Garrett and Abby. Right from the getgo, I already know that we’re supposed to be rooting for Abby. Therefore, there was LITERALLY no point of this stupid love triangle.

However, I am happy that Leah is comfortable with the label and I’m also glad she was already out to her mom. I also understand how difficult it is to come out to friends, even though I already know they won’t think different of me. I appreciated ONLY THAT part of the book when it comes to bi rep.

Family

I enjoyed reading about Leah’s family because it was similar to my own growing up. I had to deal with my mom dating other men, and I reacted the same way Leah did. I do wish the relationship between Leah and her family was more developed.

Race

I’m glad that Leah’s friend, Morgan, was called out about her racist comment over Abby getting accepted to a university just because she’s black. However, while reading this, I kept wondering “why isn’t Abby as mad as Leah?” It felt weird and was borderline “white savior” which I HATE. I did appreciate Abby’s take on the situation, saying black people have to work twice as hard when it comes to education. I know that we were from Leah’s point of view, but I wish it were Abby that put Morgan in her place, as it would have been more impactful.

Abby’s Coming Out and Leah Being an ASSHOLE.

Going into this, I had no idea who Leah’s love interest was going to be so when it came apparent that it was going to be Abby, I was…confused? It’s just they had no foundation in the last book (only Leah being jealous of Abby), so this was RANDOM.

BUT, when Abby did come out Leah, I was LIVID. This was the scene that made me despise Leah SO MUCH. When Abby told Leah that she was “lowkey bi” and Leah was like “Nah, you’re either bi or not bi” I wanted to punch Leah in the throat. She made Abby feel ashamed. Abby is struggling with her sexuality and Leah, WHO SHOULD UNDERSTAND, makes Abby feel like shit for not knowing. The worst part? IT NEVER GETS RESOLVED AND NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. I’m honestly shocked that Albertalli wrote this and I’m even more shocked that no one is talking about this scene?!?!?!

Oh, and Leah was not just an asshole to Abby but to Garrett as well. She lied to him multiple times (NEVER EVEN TELLING THE TRUTH IN THE END) and used him just to make herself look and feel good. She dragged him throughout the entire book even though she had NO INTEREST in him.

The Romance

The romance was a big blob of meh. I didn’t see the chemistry, the spark. You know why? BECAUSE THIS WAS TOTALLY RANDOM. In Simon Vs., we were supposed to root for Abby and Nick, and we did! They got together, their connection was well-established. Boom, it was good! Why ruin that?!?! This is coming from a person who loves F|F romances more than anything, but I like GOOD F|F romances, not forced. Abby loved Leah’s art, and that was it! Leah liked Abby’s looks, and that was it! That was their spark?!??! I felt like they were just thrown together for the hell of it and it was shown through the writing. There were a lot of flashbacks of their past relationship (because apparently, they had one) but I still couldn’t get believe they actually have feelings for one another.

“Throw Up”

I swear if Leah says that she’s going to throw up every time something terrible happens, I’M GOING TO THROW UP. She says this phrase way often that it grew super annoying.

The Ending/What’s the Point?

Sloppy. No resolution, no consequences for any character’s actions, nothing. The ending was too perfect and convenient, and it just made me angry!

Also, I’m a character-driven type of reader, so I don’t mind when there’s no plot. However, what the actual hell was the point of this book? There were no lessons taught (maybe becoming a manipulator, good liar, teaching teenagers that consequences don’t exist for your actions?!?!).

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I was excited for a new Becky A. especially one featuring a fat bi main character. I was deeply disappointed, the bi rep was mediocre, I was hurt over Abby’s coming out and overall, just left a horrible taste in my mouth.

There were no cute romantic moments, the humor was “offbeat,” and the characters became 2D.

I know some people are saying that this is an excellent book for F|F romances and for bi rep but let me tell you, there are WAAAAY better books out there.

However, if you found something worthwhile out of this book, good for you! I’m glad others can see some connection to the characters and/or story. However, personally, this book did not work for me, and I do not recommend.

I will still read anything by Albertalli, but I’ll pretend this book doesn’t exist.

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June Wrap Up|Pride Month|YA/Middle Grade

What a month!

TheBlackLitQueen’s Personal Pride TBR

Considering I started summer classes in the middle of the month, I actually didn’t do that bad! I completed 7 out of the 10 challenges I set myself!

  1. Read a Non-Fiction book by a Trans Author
  2. Read a Fantasy/Thriller/Mystery book featuring a bisexual main character
  3. Read a book featuring an LGBTQIA+ Black main character (with this category, I would like to read multiple)
  4. Read a middle grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ main character
  5. Read an OWN-VOICES LGBTQIA+ book (easy!)
  6. Read a book with a genderfluid/ nonbinary main character
  7. Read an LGBTQIA+ Classic
  8. Read a Romance with a Trans main character
  9. Read a Fantasy book featuring a queer MC
  10. Read a book featuring a person/author who is left out of the “LGBT” (Asexual, Intersex, Demisexual, etc.)

Gone girl by Gillian Flynn (4)

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My Favorite: “Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (4 Stars)–>Review

My Least Favorite: Leah on the Offbeat (1 star)—->Review to come

Gone girl by Gillian Flynn (2)

I don’t have many goals in terms of reading. However, I woud like to read at least one book a week, since I will be busy with summer school and work!

 

What did you read June?

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My Top 5 Reasons Why Coming Out Stories are Important

There seems to be a new attitude towards “coming out” stories that I’ve noticed in the last couple of years or so. Many people are tired of these types of stories, as they are overused and seem to be the “same idea.” However, I feel that these stories are significant and believe that these stories should keep getting published. Here are the top 5 reasons why I love coming out stories and why they are important

(1) Not every person will benefit from every coming out story

Everyone reacts differently to books. A bi person who may saw themselves in a story, another bi may think it was absolute trash. Some people have positive experiences coming out; others have negative. Someone may be read a book and be scared to come out, but another may feel motivated. Every one is different. It’s good to have some variety in coming out stories.

(2) Normalizes coming out

It sucks that people already have to “come out.” It feels like going to a party you weren’t invited to and peaking at the door and saying “hey, um can I come in?? It feels like you’re intruding in someone’s life, even though it’s not even about them. It’s a scary and anxious feeling. If more and more coming out books get published, maybe coming out can be normalized. It doesn’t have to be afraid or even a big deal at all. Maybe down the very far road, acceptance will be the most natural thing to gain (no effort at all) no matter what part of the world someone lives.

(3) Provides tips on how to come out, especially outside the gay/lesbian label

Don’t we all dream of just sitting on the couch and telling our parents “hey I’m gay!” and we all hug it out. However, sometimes we don’t get the opportunity. There are “traditional” parents that are unaccepting. There’s the issue of safety. Sometimes when people don’t identify as gay/lesbian, they have to explain their identity which can be confusing and frightening. People should read these stories.

(4) Promotes Understanding

These books are not just beneficial for people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Allies can gain something from these stories. People who are curious about specific labels can also learn something new. People who doubt LGBTQIA+ people can get some insight. Overall, these books are not just for us but for everyone as well.

(5) An author should be able to tell their story

LGBT+ authors deserve love. They deserve to have their story said, whether it’s through fiction or memoir style. I’m tired of people referring to coming out stories as a “trope.” It’s an experience. These stories also give opportunities to closeted authors to write down their anxieties/frustrations over coming out.

What is your opinion on coming out narratives? Love them? Hate them? Let me know!

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