5 On My TBR #12

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook. Every Monday, we get to rave about 5 books on our TBRs that fit the prompt, and this week’s prompt is…

White Covers.

I’ll admit, this one stumped me for a while, because I can’t think of many books that have pure white covers that I also want to read. I’ve expanded the working definition of “white cover” to have the following criteria: the cover must be at least 50% white, and can be a different shade of white than pure, snow-like white. (If you have ever had to paint your walls or ceiling then you know there are fifty-six million different shades of white). As I was selecting these books, it seems like a lot of classics and poetry are the ones to get white covers, as opposed to… everything else that is more in line with what I normally read.

If Not, Winter by Sappho (Transl. Anne Carson)

This is the first poetry book I’ve included in a 5 On My TBR post. Sappho was an ancient Greek poetess who lived on the island of Lesbos, and it’s because of her poetry that we get the words “lesbian” and “sapphic.” Her works were burned wherever they were found in the western medieval world, but fragments survived to the modern day and have been collected and translated by Anne Carson. I’m particularly interested in Carson’s translation because the excerpts I’ve read of If Not, Winter just resonate more deeply with me than other translations of Sappho have done.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Transl. William Weaver)

A good friend of mine has repeatedly recommended this book to me, but I know nothing about it beyond it is (supposedly) an account of the great yet impossible cities that Marco Polo describes to the Emperor Kublai Khan. Invisible Cities has been nominated for the Nebula Award (1976) and was a National Book Award Finalist (1975).

Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

This nonfiction pick is kind of beige-y, but whatever. I think the title describes the contents of the book pretty well. I became interested in paleo-history after reading Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series when I was way too young to be reading that kind of adult fiction (I snuck the books out of my parents’ bookshelves and read them in secret) but Ayla and Jondalar have clearly made a big impression on me, since I still keep an eye out for any books set in or describing this era of prehistory. The Paleolithic was that last time in the history of the Earth that more than one species of the genus Homo existed simultaneously, and I just feel this sad ache in my gut for our extinct cousins, Homo neanderthalensis.

This book is also one of my picks for my 2021 A to Z Reading Challenge.

The Tao of Raven: An Alaskan Native Memoir by Ernestine Hayes

I started this book way back in March of 2020, but then realized I was reading the sequel to Blonde Indian, which is Hayes’ debut memoir about growing up Native in 1950s Alaska. I switched books, but then the pandemic really got under way, I had to return Blonde Indian to the library, and this sequel fell by the wayside. The Tao of Raven is the second part of Hayes’ lifelong memoir, taking place when she is a grandmother trying to care for younger generations of her family. Interwoven with her own story are the stories of Raven, the Tlingit trickster deity, and an introduction to how a legendary past can be applied to a real-life present.

Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue

Another nonfiction pick, and another instance where the title tells you all you need to know. As an English major at my university, I’m intensely curious about this one, even if my concentration is in creative writing rather than literature analysis. I’m aware of Sappho, of course, and Radclyffe Hall, but that’s… about it when it comes to my knowledge of classic sapphic writers. I think this is going to be a very enlightening book!

Inseparable is another pick for my 2021 A to Z Reading Challenge.

And that’s that! We have three nonfiction picks, one poetry, and one that is more than a simple fantasy. All of the books on this list are out of my comfort zone, but that’s more than okay. I’m very excited to get started.

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