Monday, February 15, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

A lot of good stuff this past month! Here are my thoughts on everything I've read in the past month.

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher: I spent most of this book worrying about how Christopher was going to end it, but she nailed the ending, so now I can recommend the book. It's told by a girl who's kidnapped at the airport and taken to the middle of an Australian desert. The attention to detail and the descriptions of nature were fantastic.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: This was a daunting undertaking — a same-sex, interracial romance set in the midst of school integration — but I thought Talley pulled it off well. The characters were complex and didn't always understand their own motivations for doing things. The white characters were not white saviors and the black characters were not silent martyrs. Definitely worth a read.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: This was sweet, hilarious, and a pitch-perfect depiction of life in high school. Although I figured out the identity of Simon's anonymous e-mail penpal pretty early on, which took away some of the mystery driving the plot, I still enjoyed the read. I especially love Simon's family.

Hunger by Knut Hamsun: I had read books describing the physical effects of starvation before, but this book was much more about the psychological and social consequences of prolonged periods of hunger, which I found fascinating. The narrator can't get a steady job and only gets money for food when he writes an article that sells, but the hungrier he gets the harder it is to produce quality writing. Some parts of the book were super weird, but I liked it overall.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry: It took me a very long time to finish this book, but I finally did after getting the audiobook. I enjoyed the story, though I don't know that I understand people's fanatical love for it. I do understand why the novel received a Pulitzer, as it paints a vivid picture of the "Wild West" and what it was actually like to be a rancher or cowboy during that time. If you want to be immersed in that time period, this is your book.

Dancing with God: The Trinity from a Womanist Perspective by Karen Baker-Fletcher: This was recommended by a friend who knew I was interested in womanist writings. Much of this book's theology was over my head, but I did like Baker-Fletcher's thoughts on evil and suffering. I just wish that her main point, about the Trinity, had been written as clearly. Mostly she was just explaining her disagreements with existing theologies that I wasn't familiar with.

Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry by Albert J. Bernstein: The concept of this book is good — describing five common personality disorders, how they manifest in day-to-day life, and how to protect yourself from getting bullied, hoodwinked, or just constantly irritated. Unfortunately, the execution was overly simplistic and bizarrely theatrical, so it was hard to gain practical information in between rolling my eyes.

The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein: I read this play prior to auditioning for it. It was an interesting review of the 60s-80s in America, as seen through the experiences of the titular character as she tries to figure out what it means to be a woman. Based on seeing snippets performed at the audition, I think it's probably much better watched than read.

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El-Saadawi: I wouldn't call this an enjoyable read, but it's a brief yet powerful one. It's based on a true story of a woman who was essentially taken advantage of from a young age, in a society where women had few opportunities and little recourse if their fathers or husbands wanted to beat them. Eventually she has to choose between her dignity and her life, and she chooses her dignity.

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh: This sweet story carries over many of the themes of Diffenbaugh's first book, The Language of Flowers, such as what it means to be a family and what it means to be a parent, but instead of foster care and Victorian love languages we have a backdrop of bartending, scientific research, and immigration. While it doesn't rise to the level of her first book, it's still definitely worth a read.

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio: While I applaud the effort to write a YA novel with an intersex protagonist, the finished product was cringeworthy in so many ways, from the horribly clich├ęd writing to the anti-transgender sentiment throughout. I'd like to see more books featuring intersex characters, because this definitely should not be the gold standard.

The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami: This book has a super interesting premise that is well executed. Based on a true story, it's the tale of one of the Spanish expeditions to the New World, told from the perspective of a black Moroccan man who accompanied the explorers after selling himself into slavery to help his family survive. The idea is that the white men's accounts are sanitized to make themselves look good, but this narrator has no incentive not to tell it like it is.

What have you been reading this month? Share over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

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