Reading Roundup: January and February 2022

Vanishing Edge by Claire Kells I think this is the first book in a new mystery series, and I plan on reading at least the next one. I did not figure the mystery out until the very end and I had a great time reading this book. The pacing is good, the protagonist is relatable, and it almost convinced me to do more hiking and camping because of the descriptions of the setting. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee This book was a little dense and slow to read, but filled with a bunch of interesting insights that helped me see things in a new way. It connected well with other books I've read recently about history and racism. The author's arguments are compelling and well-supported by the data and I recommend giving it a read. 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard I guess that after two years of COVID pandemic it's not surprising that there will now be novels using it as a plot device. This one jumped around quite a bit betwee

Reading Roundup: 2021

I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this blog, and perhaps anyone who used to is wondering if it has finally died (like most blogs I used to read). 2021 was a momentous year that blew up my life completely and I'm still trying to put everything back together and figure out new routines and things. In the fall of 2020 I started a new position at work and the kids went back to school on a weird schedule because of the pandemic--and I thought that would be it as far as disruptions went. Then the year went on and Covid quarantines and protocols kept disrupting things. And we had a house fire in May that destroyed Little Dude's bedroom and caused enough damage that we couldn't live there for two months while they removed everything from the house, cleaned it, and moved it back in. I am enjoying the new paint on the walls, but I'm still sad that my good carpet got replaced with an inferior product. And then in the fall S-Boogie moved away to college and the other two

Reading Roundup: February 2021

  El corazon con que vivo by Jose Maria Perez This book took me a while to read because it was a little slow and meandering. Based on the description of the plot, it sounded like there would be more action and a clearer narrative arc. This was an interesting look at the Spanish Civil War and a good way to practice my reading, but it wasn't the best book I've read this year. The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt This book was recommended by a friend, and although I was skeptical about the premise I decided to give it a chance. I worried that it would have a particular ideological slant and would be biased against university education or students. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I found myself agreeing with a lot of it and have recommended it to others multiple times since then. Their arguments about the nature of some of the problems in education and society are compelling and fit in with other things I've been reading lately. The

Reading Roundup: January 2021

 Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne Applebaum This is the book I can't stop talking to people about, even two months after reading it. It's fairly short and yet still packed with all kinds of interesting insights. It tied together threads from several books I had read last year about history, media, and race relations. I highly recommend that everyone I know reads this book. The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein Wein is so good at creating complex and unique characters that are also believable people I would love to spend to with. She also does a wonderful job creating an optimistic tone throughout the book, despite the rather awful things that were happening to everyone. This was a great book to read right now when I could use some realistic hope. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia About halfway through this book I remembered that I actually don't like horror fiction. All the positive reviews I had read of this convinced me to read it,

Reading Roundup: 2020

 In 2020 I read 122 books; that's 12 more books than I read in 2019 ( see this post ). I set a goal to read one book of poetry a month, and the 11 I did read just about made up the difference (although I counted the March trilogy as one thing, so I guess I could say I really read 124 individual books). I read 27 books by men, 92 books by women, and 3 books with mixed authorship. There were a few more books with multiple authors, but if the authors were the same gender, I counted them with that gender.  I read 78 books of fiction, 33 nonfiction, and 11 poetry collections. The breakdown between fiction and nonfiction has remained pretty consistent for the last thirteen years that I've been keeping track of my reading. So has the breakdown between male and female authors. As I was counting up my totals, I started to feel a bit worried about the fact that I always read more fiction and always read more books by women. But why should I worry if I know what I like? I can still suppo

Reading Roundup: December 2020

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe I had read one of Monroe's pieces before this book (I believe she did expand it), and had vaguely heard of the other three stories she tells. This book reflects on why she is interested in reading about crime, and why other women might be too (and why some women commit crimes). There were a lot of interesting tidbits scattered throughout the book that lead me to reflect on both the stories we tell and the stories we consume. Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella Kinsella's books have been inconsistent for me; sometimes they are really fun and tell great stories, and sometimes they just don't work. This book had a great premise that didn't ever pan out. The main character was supposed to be cute and fun. Instead, she's pretty annoying and never changes much. The book is meant to show that both she and her love interest need to change in order to be more compatible, but it seems to favor

Reading Roundup: November 2020

The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart I thought I would love this book more than I did, since it's both a mystery and historical fiction (and features two female characters as the protagonists). The plot was well-paced and I was surprised at the end, but the book was still slow-going and a little boring. The ending seemed to set up a sequel, or perhaps the start of a series, with the same characters. If that does happen, I will probably read it, but I won't be waiting anxiously for it to arrive. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center This was a nice little romance for a quiet Saturday afternoon. I don't know much about the world of firefighting and I learned a lot about it, plus I felt like both the leads were realistically drawn and fit together well. My main quibble with the book is that it uses unresolved major trauma as the underlying base for the main character's 'quirks', and that trauma is easily resolved by falling in love with the right pe