Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin, In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan, and Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour. No spoilers. I promise.
You’ve read the title, you understand how far my false sense of superiority over reading fast, and being able to take in and enjoy books while reading fast is going. But I doubt you understand how far my disliking, or at least not particularly caring for, a lot of the books I read thing is going. This is an entirely unprecedented event. I read 3 books in one day, and all of those books were 4 stars. Ridiculous, I know. It’s not just high improbable, it’s near impossible. After all, my average rating on goodreads is 2.93 stars and April has been a pretty disappointing month, reading wise. Two stars, a couple of one stars and the odd three star book have littered my shelves, which makes the string of four stars particularly striking.
Alright, now that we’ve established the rainbow unicorn in a grey expanse of land like quality, the Alice Oseman books in the large expanse of YA quality, the RWRB in the overwhelmingly disappointing expanse of the romance genre quality, let me explain myself. I was having, what I like to call, a Bronte day™. Yes, I’ve trademarked that. Don’t bother checking. I languidly lounge around my house, reading books about sad people and nature with beautiful prose and I contemplate life and listen to my best soft playlists and spend a few, brief moments trying to work up the will to do anything else, realise it’s pointless, and then return to the books, sad people, nature, prose, contemplation and music. They’re good days.
So, I awoke and quickly came to the realisation that I was going to have a Bronte day and decided on my selection of books. Yes, I said books. Now it’s time for an admission that will make my achievement seem less momentous. One, I knew I would enjoy the books and I did not want to read something that I wouldn’t enjoy. Two, two of the books I read were under two hundred pages. Three, I abandoned the three other books I had been reading to indulge myself.
Alright, now on to the actual books.
The first thing I read was In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan. It was recommended by Harry Styles and by Jack Edwards, who’s one of my favourite book tubers. I was destined to like it. This book was very weird and very good and if you don’t believe me here’s the synopsis.
iDEATH is a place where the sun shines a different colour every day and where people travel to the length of their dreams. Rejecting the violence and hate of the old gang at the Forgotten Works, they lead gentle lives in watermelon sugar. In this book, Richard Brautigan discovers and expresses the mood of the counterculture generation.
Okay, here’s a thing you should know about me: I love the 60s, and I love counter culture. I also really, really liked this book, and I don’t quite know how to explain it. Basically, this is a satirical, post apocalyptic take on a lot of the culture in the 60s. The main character lives in a world where everything (or a lot of things) are made of watermelon sugar. You know how in Bojack Horseman the decision to make half the characters animals is never really explained? Same thing. You learn to run with it. Anyway, on the surface, there’s whimsical prose, an enchanting, strange, little book that completely sucks you in, sad, sweet characters, and a lovely, surreal world. But Brautigan explores the violent undercurrents of this seemingly idyllic world. The violence that is so… frankly, the way that it’s treated is so indescribable and in it is where Brautigan’s genius lies. The violence is almost ignored by the characters. Treated so pragmatically. It doesn’t shock anyone except the reader. And yet it makes sense. And yet it remains beautiful.
None of the words I can come up with do Brautigan’s words justice, but do keep in mind that this book probably isn’t for everyone. You have to enjoy a particular vein of whimsy, surrealism, post apocalyptic satire, and just straight up strange shit written beautifully. If that sounds appealing to you, you should probably check this out.
The next book I read was less objectively weird but it was just as, if not more, beautiful. Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Dusapin. This book was simple and yet exquisitely beautiful. The book is exactly what it sounds like, a snapshot of winter in Sokcho, a small, tourist town on the border of South Korea. It follows our main character, a young French Korean woman who has spent the majority of her life in Sokcho and a young French artist visiting Sokcho over the duration of his trip. First of all, this isn’t a ‘romance’. Yes, we see the beginnings of romance bloom between the two, but I would liken this book to Sally Rooney’s works, but with more appreciation for the beauty of the setting and intensely atmospheric. It was intimate, and despite the sparse writing, or possibly even because of it, beautifully written.
A lovely, meandering portrait of Sokcho, and two, confused, heartfelt, awkward, and insecure young people intertwined. If that sounds like your kind of thing, check it out.
Alright, the final book on the list. Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour was something I usually do not like at all. A YA paranormal book. But, it was recommended by paperbackdreams, another one of my favourite booktubers. So of course, I had to pick it up. And boy am I glad that I did. This was all kinds of beautiful. And sad. And it made me want to curl into fetal position and ask Nina Lacour to articulate my thoughts for me because goddamn if I’m going to be sad I want it to sound like that.
I loved the main character and felt so much for her, and ugh, this was just so good. If you need a sad gay girl book, check this out.
All in all, a lovely reading day.