Book Review 62

Howdy book nerds! It’s been a while, but I’ve thankfully been able to distract myself from these terrible political times with some fantastic books. Hopefully some of these can warm up your winter months as well. Or at least help you decompress from holiday chaos.

In related news, I left my soul-sucking job in October and have ventured into exciting new small business territory. I had no idea it was possible to be happy during working hours!  I also celebrated my freedom with adventures to New Mexico with my mom and Boston to visit one of my longest-term friends, so life is good :).  

And now, in no particular order…


whatfWhat the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves by Benjamin Bergen

This was a topic I initially thought might be too specific to encompass a full book. But Bergen’s lighthearted analysis of the psychology (and importance) of swearing, along with the cultural and historical discussion made for a really F-ing fun read.

your-heartYour Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

I loved parts of this book so much that I literally stopped breathing. The language and characters are powerful and confident and unforgettable. Set in the middle of the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, Yapa tells a multifaceted story from all sides (police, protesters, WTO representatives, media, etc.).  It absolutely deserves all the accolades it’s received so far. I’ll never forget this one.

door-to-doorDoor to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation by Edward Humes

This was an enlightening and terrifying slap in the face. Humes’ breakdown of the distance traveled by a fraction of the parts that make up an iPhone is worth the read alone. I’ll never look at mail delivery the same way (or coffee, or cars, or even aluminum soda cans). Highly recommended.

todaywillbeToday Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Not a fan of the latest book from Semple. Extremely unlikable character combined with forced jokes made for a disappointing read.

spontaSpontaneous by Aaron Starmer

This was one of the better YA books I’ve read in a long time. Features a unique and hilarious voice. The ending fell a little short for me, but I liked the premise (seniors in high school start spontaneously combusting). Really curious to see what the movie version will look like…and how they’ll get away with showing so much gore to children.

fine-artThe Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start A Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills, and Leave A Positive Impression by Debra Fine

I got the sense that this book would be most beneficial to single people in the dating scene, but there were still some good takeaways. The biggest one being, PRACTICE.

omnivoreThe Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

This would’ve been a great appetizer for the vegan lifestyle I’m following now, but it was a good complement nonetheless. Extraordinarily well-researched, with tons of scary nuggets about the fast food industry, corn, and factory farms. Pollan’s exceptional writing helps the reality go down a little more smoothly.

boss-of-youThe Boss of You: Everything A Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run, and Maintain Her Own Business by Lauren Bacon

This was my favorite of the small business guides I read last month (not going to list the others, since they all said essentially the same things). I enjoyed the female perspective and unique obstacles women face in the entrepreneurial world, but mostly I just appreciated the honest, no-bullshit voices of Lauren and Emira.

hillbilyHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

I totally get why this is receiving every positive book review imaginable. Vance sheds light on an area and group of the country that is marginalized and mostly hidden from me and my other western hippies. Fascinating perspective from a wider lens, as Vance reflects on his upbringing, struggles, and accomplishments. Exceptional writing.

girlwith-lowerThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

I was already a big Amy fan, but this book actually made me respect her even more. Her passages on domestic violence, gun laws, online trolling, and media’s objectification of women were clear-headed and bitingly honest. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised given her style of comedy, but I was really impressed with her writing and topics.

crosstalkCrosstalk by Connie Willis

There were parts of Willis’ sci-fi novel that resonated with me, but I ultimately left feeling unsatisfied. Ambitious premise that could make for an interesting episode of Black Mirror.

thewonerThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue

I didn’t really enjoy this one. The Irish accents were extraordinarily distracting and i just couldn’t bring myself to care what happened, or how the mystery unfolded. Definitely didn’t live up to Donoghue’s Room.

commonwelathCommonwealth by Ann Patchett

Patchett is a master of the written word. Her latest didn’t disappoint, about the combination and dissolution of two families. Unforgettable characters.

undergroundThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Breathtaking novel from Whitehead. Absolutely deserves every bit of positive praise and award it’s gotten so far. I could barely put it down.

gold-fameGold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

The imagery of this was unlike anything I’ve ever read. Watkins is not shy with her descriptions and characters. Refreshingly sharp.

swing-timeSwing Time by Zadie Smith

I know…I’m arriving late to the Zadie Smith show. But I understand now why she is so beloved. Her language is crisp and confident, and her characters are believable and believably flawed.

but-whatBut What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

Chuck is so fun to read. His curiosity and dedication to questioning the questions made this an utterly enlightening and ground-shaking novel for me. A well-rounded and thought-provoking take on our country’s past and current state of affairs.

shecameShe Came From Beyond! by Nadine Darling

This was one of my favorites of the month. Stunning, hilarious, and solid debut novel from Darling. Such well-developed characters, too!

harmonyHarmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

The ending of this felt a little rushed and forced, but otherwise Parkhurst spun a good yarn. It definitely helped give me a better insight into the daily lives of families with kids on the autistic spectrum.

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