Reading Rainbow: Popkaiture’s 2017 Reading List

2017 has already started off as a mixed bag, but there is no better way than remedying it with some good old fashioned reading. If you have nothing better to do in your free time or just really love to read, join me on a unique reading journey. Between revisiting old favorites and journeying onto new stories, I hope you will join me for one helluva reading voyage. At the end of each month, I’ll dive into a dissection of each book and what I’ve gained through each piece of glorious literature. Let’s get started, we don’t have much of January left to finish our first book!

January’s Book: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler’s Wife is my favorite book, and I learn something new with every reading of it. Unfortunately, the rest of Audrey Niffenegger‘s writing has not been able to recapture the magic of this book, but that isn’t going to stop me from loving it. If you are willing to dive into a relationship and the various moments of times they spend together, then get ready for one amazing magic carpet ride. I’m very excited to revisit this book, as it is the perfect way to kick of 2017!

February’s Book: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

I’ve solved mysteries with Miss Marple and followed behind collecting details with Hercules Poirot, but this is the first crime I’ll be solving with Tommy and Tuppence. Mysteries are my game, and this is the first of three on the list. If you’ve never read Agatha Christie before, she is the mother of modern mysteries. I wish there was another author who could recapture her magic for today’s audiences, but I’ll settle for constantly finding new stories of hers to read. The Secret Adversary specifically follows a couple who is attracted to the allure of private investigating, but their first assignment threatens to test their bond. There’s nothing better to celebrate the month of love than a couple who embarks on these mysteries together, and continue to grow with one another over each new case.

March’s Book: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Every new year deserves a little bit of comedy, and Mindy Kaling is the perfect author to help you giggle. Why Not Me? is the follow-up to her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and I’m excited to see the different aspects of her life with this new(ish) short story collection. Maybe we will find out the answer to the lifelong question: why not me? Or maybe we will just get a full heartfelt laughs at relatables stories. Any way it goes, Kaling will be the perfect entry way into St. Patrick’s Day 2017!

April’s Book: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Marking off one of the classics, April is dedicated to Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse-Five. My husband and I just inherited a whole collection of Vonnegut’s books, and I’m looking at this being the first of many books of his that I will be reading. I missed out on reading this gem in high school, so I’m making up for lost time.

May’s Book: Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Just like January was dedicated to my favorite book, May is dedicated to my husband’s favorite. A science-fiction story centered around a badass teenage girl? Sign me up! Since Isaac Asimov is my husband’s favorite author, I’m familiar with a few of his works and have been dying to read Second Foundation. 2017 is going to be dedicated to tackling things I’ve been wanting to do, and my reading list is no different! Let’s adventure into one of the greatest sci-fi stories of all time together.

June’s Book: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

To mark the start of summer, we will be backpacking with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Okay, maybe not backpacking, but Ann Brashares captures the joy and turmoil of a teenage summer. I’ve been wanting to revisit this series for awhile, especially with all the talks of a third Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. If I get you addicted and inspire you to read the rest of the story, well that’s all part of job! 😉

July’s Book: Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

Heroine Complex was, hands down, my favorite book of 2016, and it’s sequel is getting released July 4, 2017! If you aren’t familiar with Sarah Kuhn‘s work, get acquainted with her. She has such a genuity and quirkiness to her writing, and I indulge in it wholeheartedly. Heroine Complex follows Evie Tanaka, while Heroine Worship will be following Aveda Jupiter, who is her best friend and original superhero. I’m a little skeptical of diving into Aveda’s mind, mostly because I loved Evie’s story, but I’ll follow Kuhn to the end of the line. I hope you will, too!

August’s Book: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

If you are familiar with Barbara Kingsolver, then you know that she weaves together her words with lyrical storytelling. I read her novel, The Poisonwood Bible, in high school, and I’ve been dying to revisit her writing. Prodigal Summer feels like the perfect next step, and I’ve only heard people rave about it. I’m not sure what to expect for it, but I’ve heard that it centers on three different stories and it’s very organic in more ways than one. If you don’t know how to interpret that, neither do I. Let’s do this together!

September’s Book: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I was introduced to Rebecca in my senior AP English class. Described as a modern-ish Jane Eyre but with a lot more intrigue, and I’ve been dying to read it. I’ve owned this book since reading that article, and I’ve never touched it. Well, that’s all about to change this year! I feel like this is a good way to welcome back school or welcome in fall, whatever change you are experiencing in September. I’m ready to experience Daphne du Maurier. It’s been a long time coming.

October’s Book: The Trespasser by Tana French

The 6th book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, Tana French is the closest we have to a modern day Agatha Christie. I’ve been a fan of this series after one of my English teachers recommended it to me. French has such a unique way of constructing a mystery, and each book follows a character from a previous book. This means you don’t need to read the first five, but I recommend it if you enjoy mysteries and if you want a little bit of background on everything. I’m excited to see where The Trespasser is going to take us.

November’s Book: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The last mystery on this list, so we have to do it right. Back to Christie, but this times at the hands of Hercules Poirot. Murder on the Orient Express is a classic, and one of the few big titles I haven’t tackled from the Poirot stories. Why has it taken me so long? I was waiting for something great to come along, like the Murder on the Orient Express film that will be released on November 22nd. I’m gearing us up for the movie, so you’re welcome. Also, just be prepared because we know it will not be as good, but we take the victories no matter how small!

December’s Book: The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Two years ago, I read this book called The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Little did I know, this was a series referred to as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the next book was a “prequel” called The Angel’s Game. Luckily for you, this book can be read independently of one another, but Zafon’s writing is very alluring and eerie. Some categorize this as a mystery, and while it has mystery elements, it feels like your technical gothic fiction. What is gothic fiction? I’m glad you asked. It’s like the best of horror, mystery and romance in a dark setting. If that sounds tantalizing, then Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the author for you.

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Things to Make You Smile: Best of 2016

What’s better than beginning a new year by looking back at what was good from the last? 2016 wasn’t one of the best years on the books, but it had it’s moments that reassured everyone maybe it would be okay after all. I mean, if you can’t escape with a good movie or book, then what even is the point? If you are still looking for a little bit of sunshine, I hope this list provides you with everything you need. Here are the ten things that made 2016 all worth it (well, kind of).

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La La Land

Damien Chazelle created a Hollywood musical masterpiece, and he knows it. Unlike traditional musicals, La La Land only boasts 6 songs with actual singing, but it’s soundtrack isn’t something to brush off. The songs littered through out the movie will make you fall in love and leave you humming for days. Maybe that’s just me, I have bought the soundtrack digitally and received the vinyl for Christmas (I can’t stop singing it, and I know I’m driving my loved ones crazy).

Much like the tagline, this movie is for the fools who dream. If the opening scene doesn’t draw you in and the last 15 minutes doesn’t get your tear ducts working, then I think we need to talk. Bring back the chemistry from Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Gangster Squad, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sparkle like they never have before. Gosling hit a stellar year with film, and has already partnered up with Chazelle for a Neil Armstrong-biopic, but it is Stone who steals your heart and doesn’t stop running. Stone brings sincerity to every role she touches, but La La Land is the next level and her career best. I’ll be forever grateful for this 2-hour romantic stroll about the ones who dream. Until it is on DVD, I guess I’ll just be humming along to the soundtrack every day (sorry loved ones).

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Sarah Kuhn’s “Heroine Complex”

Lately, I’ve had a hard time connecting to books. Graphic novels are a different story, but traditional books have eluded me this year. That was, until I stumbled across Heroine Complex at our local Barnes and Noble. If the cover didn’t suck me in, the story did. A fine mix between your soapy fantasy love story and the baddest female super heroines previously missing from DC and Marvel movies,  you’ll fall in love with Evie and her fellow companions and see why representation is so important in storytelling (and, of course, every day life).

With the sequel, Heroine Worship, set to be released in July 2017, I can’t wait to fall back into the comfortable, sassy mind of Evie Tanaka and see if her life is still ridded with evil cupcakes. Cheers to Sarah Kuhn for making such an easily lovable character, and for reminding me that good books are always waiting around the corner.

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Arrival

Speaking of women who kick ass, have you seen Arrival? One of the sharpest sci-fi movies to date, I instantly fell in love and connected to Amy Adams‘ character, Louise Banks. The story felt familiar (in the best way), and the structure of the film will make you long for more science fiction stories. The movie is based on a short story by Ted Chiang called, “Story of Your Life.” If you connected to this film like I did, I highly recommend checking out the short story and connecting to some of Chiang’s other material.

I don’t want to spoil the plot of Arrival, but if you follow along closely you will catch little bits of detail that unravel for a very hard hitting final act. Don’t sleep on this film. If it is still in theaters around you, I urge you to go out and see it now.

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Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

One of the few new shows I actually loved this year, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency captured my heart with episode one. The titular character, Dirk Gently, is such a gem, but he doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the supporting characters. Ultimately, this feels like the love letter Douglas Adams deserves, whose novel the show is based upon.

To anyone worried about getting too attached to a show, Dirk Gently’s has already been renewed for a season 2! That means another season full of ridiculous adventures, a new mystery to explore and an opportunity to show this show to the people you care about most in your life. With all of its quirks, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was the show I needed in 2016.

Added bonus: If you love the show as much as I do, be sure to follow their Twitter account for a little extra pep in your step every morning.

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The Nice Guys

Shane Black created a very raunchy buddy-cop comedy, and I’m here for every second of it. I remember seeing previews for The Nice Guys in February and wanting to see it, but alas my husband and I waited until it was out on DVD. Out of all the movies we saw in 2016, I wish we would have saw this one in theaters. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe had some of the best on-screen chemistry I have ever scene, and, much like Dirk Gently, the Twitter account did a great job of promoting that fact (enjoy).

The movie itself found a way to pair up two unlikely candidates to solve a mystery that is so ridiculous, that you will want to follow it until the in. Sprinkled with inappropriate jokes, Gosling truly owns every scene, but his character’s daughter, Angourie Rice stole the show in her own way. Crowe reminds you that he can be charming, but more than anything the movie left me wanting a Yoo-hoo! If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

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Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr’s Batgirl Issue 50 (and before)

Why Issue 50? Well, that is the last issue that the Batgirl trio, Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr, worked on together. Batgirl of Burnside, as I like to call the journey (but it also the name of the first volume), was one of the greatest re-envisions of Batgirl and I relished in every issue. If you ever glanced at any of Tarr’s work, then you know exactly the kind of beauty you are getting yourself in for. As for Stewart and Fletcher, they help bring the images to life and create a story worth living in.

Don’t be too sad that they aren’t creating any more issues for Batgirl (even if I’m still silently sobbing in my pillow), they developed a new comic series through Image Comics called Motor Crush and it is worth diving into. Just as vivid and lively as Batgirl, this is a dynamic trio that I would keep my eye on in years to come.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

When I recently read Danielle Gutierrez’s article about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, it was everything I’d been feeling and more. With little promotion before it’s release, Popstar was one of the best comedies I’ve indulged in. The Lonely Island has always had a direct line to my funny bone, but this felt like a refinement over their past material and built a monster that I’ve watched multiple times since purchasing on DVD. Unfortunately, like Gutierrez mentioned, I was one of the few who saw it in theaters, much less to tell all of our closest friends about it who didn’t even know it existed.

If you are looking for a good laugh or some good weekend entertainment, rent it. Get stuck on the comical soundtrack, buy it and play it on repeat. After a gloomy 2016, who doesn’t need something like”Incredible Thoughts” to brighten up their day? If this is any sign of what is to come from The Lonely Island, sign me up for more. Like usual, I’ll be there waiting for it the day it releases.

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Kate McKinnon

If you’ve made it through 2016 without anyone bringing up Kate McKinnon, I’m utterly shocked. One of the brightest stars of 2016, McKinnon not only dominated SNL, but also made a name for herself in Ghostbusters amongst other comedies released this year. Even with lackluster releases of Office Christmas Party and Masterminds, McKinnon found a way to make herself stand out against a crowd of comedic superstars. If she didn’t steal your heart as Hillary Clinton on SNL, then I truly have no hope for you going forward.

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Mahershala Ali

The best parts of Moonlight and Luke Cage, I’ve been a huge fan of Mahershala Ali since his role as Remy in House of Cards. Every time Ali graces the silver screen, he brings something new to the show. Whether charming or threatening, I’m almost always captivated with what he is selling. The most disappointing part is that Ali is almost always in a supporting role. Somehow, he never lets that stop him from dominating every scene, usually stealing the light from the main performer (looking at you Mike Colter). Let’s leave it at this, there is a reason he is sweeping the awards for best supporting actor this season.