Review 56

hypThe Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty is the best travel reading; highly recommended for long plane rides! She creates such unique characters and I love the plot twists that have become her staple.  This one was a little long-winded for me, but had an interesting premise:  a hypnotherapist falls in love with a man who has a stalker.  Hearing the stalker’s perspective was an interesting choice, as it’s a voice rarely heard in literature.

 

youreYou’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day

My respect for Felicia went up exponentially after reading this book, and I was already a big fan of hers.  She’s an incredibly hard worker, ambitious, determined, confident, but also empathetic and genuine.  I loved her tone and discussion of the #GamerGate scandal.  The intro by Joss Whedon was also a highlight.

 

hungerHunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein

Confession: I’d never listened to Sleater-Kinney (Carrie’s band), going into this book.  I read this because “Portlandia” is frequently brilliant, and Carrie went to the same school I did growing up.  I have a strange fascination with celebrities, especially if they have a slight (however slight!) connection to me.  Her honesty and self-deprecating humor made this a terrific read, even if I’m not a groupie of Sleater-Kinney.

 

lightofThe Light of the World:  A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Devastating, and so wonderfully written that I stopped breathing at times.  Elizabeth weaves the most beautiful images of her life with her husband and two children, both before and after his death.  Poetic yet simple; sad yet optimistic; depressing yet full of life….After Joan Didion’s breathtaking The Year of Magical Thinking, this is the next best novel I’ve ever read about losing a spouse and the love of your life. NOT recommended for reading in public or on an airplane, speaking from experience.  I stored my tears in the fake fleece blanket, since the tissues weren’t enough to stop the flood.

 

alittleA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Holy crap, the reviews for this book were NOT overstated.  This is absolutely exceptional, ground-breaking literature.  I loved that it focused centrally on the friendship between four young men; a grouping that’s typically broken up by marriages, moves, and jobs.  But the four characters in this novel – and those who rotate or plant themselves in their lives – are absolutely unforgettable.  One of the best books of the year so far, hands down.

 

fuirFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Hilarious, and very honest about her battles with mental illness.  Jenny has a new fan.

 

soundThe Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner

Wasn’t impressed with the writing, but the story was crazy interesting.  Ruth escapes from an LDS breakoff polygamist cult later in her life, and tells the story of her childhood here.

 

troubleTroublemaker:  Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

I’m not quite done with this, but expect to finish it tonight. Leah is remarkably honest about her experiences with the Church of Scientology, which only further cemented my disgust towards that group.  She was involved in the church from a very young age, and the tactics used to control constituents managed to keep her tied to it for many years.  I very much admire her for taking a strong stand against them.  This is a perfect complement to the exceptional HBO documentary, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.”

 

univThe Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos

Phew, this book is DENSE.  Space is dense too, so I guess that’s appropriate.  I just felt out of my element reading this, without any science background.  My only credentials are an undiagnosed addiction to “Cosmos,” which inspired me to learn more.  Sometimes I just feel like what we know about the universe is already SO hard to believe, but I can’t get enough of it.  I have mad respect for people who have dedicated their lives to the nebulous task of piecing out the history and future of the universe.

 

argonThe Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Incredible writing, in a very memorable format that I’ve never seen before – her footnotes are on the side of the paragraph!  Eye-opening views on family and gender for someone who is pretty traditional in my experiences.  Very powerful and well-written; lives up the hype.

 

healthgapThe Health Gap: The Challenge of An Unequal World by Michael Marmot

Tons of great information and reminders in here.  It made me feel incredibly grateful for my health and access to an amazing medical team.  It’s absolutely heartbreaking that most of us live in a world without adequate medical care or health education, but Marmot takes us on an important journey into the causes and potential fixes for this crisis.  Very comprehensive.

 

witchesWitches of America by Alex Mar

Man, this starts out SO well.  I was completely engrossed in Alex’s uninhibited dive into American pagan and witchcraft groups …. That is, until she starts studying to become a witch (in a non-ironic way).   The baffling claims and beliefs of these groups and individuals will take your breath away.  I appreciated Alex’s ability to ask questions and be respectfully curious, since the ‘witches’ and ‘warlocks’ eventually trust her enough to be themselves.  I just feel like she took her journalistic obsession a little too far, though it’s still an interesting crash and burn.  The capacity of humans to deceive themselves in their search for meaning is boundless. (example:  one ‘necromancer’ she spends an evening with, digs up dead bodies from cemeteries and beheads them while chanting spells. Yes, really.)  Overall, though, I loved this book and the depths it went to understand this unbelievable community and human psychology.

 

alltheAll the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

I’m not sure what all the hype was for, but I wasn’t a fan of this book.  I found the characters needlessly irritating.

 

helloHello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Interesting premise: a brutally honest Christmas card draft outlining the main character’s anxieties, miseries, and depression is accidentally sent out to her entire email list.  I liked the way Monica wove together the stories and characters affected by the email.  Perfect for lighthearted beach reading.

 

youknowYou Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

Stories from the homefront, inspired by Siobhan’s real-life experiences living on an army base while her husband was deployed.  Nothing really stuck with me from this collection.

 

livingLiving in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-abortion Terrorism by David Cohen and Krysten Connon

This well-written book follows the lives of physicians and staff at women’s health clinics where abortions are performed.  It also discusses the intense and fatal violence enacted on these workers, both historical and ongoing. I want to use this book to pound in the faces of anyone who protests outside of these clinics; they are the true villains of this story.  I firmly believe in a woman’s legal and individual right to choose, but that’s not really what this story was about and that’s what made it unique.  Instead, this focused on the humble heroes who come to work every day in spite of personal threats, attacks, and unbelievable violence against them, to allow women the opportunity to continue making that choice.

 

bigquesBig Questions From Little People–and Simple Answers From Great Minds

I know this is meant for children, but MAN there are some amazing questions and answers in here.  The responses are written so simply that they actually stick.  Now I actually have an answer if someone ever asks why the sky is blue J.  I also have a renewed respect for people who are geniuses but can explain their specialty to children…and inspire them to learn more!  True teachers, right there.

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