Monday, July 15, 2019

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.

Educated by Tara Westover: This was good but didn't live up to the hype for me. The story didn't really grip me until more than a third of the way in, when we learn about the emotional and physical abuse Tara experiences at the hands of her brother. That, ultimately, is what makes this an emotionally powerful story — not the wild and crazy stories of her doctor-scorning, paranoid survivalist father and how she went on to learn better by going to school, but how insidious the combination of abuse, silence, and patriarchal control can be.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson: The writing was a bit clunkier than I expected, but ultimately I walked away with what I hoped for: a much deeper understanding of the Great Migration, what prompted it, how it came about, and what the consequences were, illustrated by some memorable stories.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I liked the idea behind the book and I think I would have genuinely liked the book a lot had it been executed better, but the poor writing made this a challenging read for me. There's a sweet message about found family and laying aside differences and how we can come to terms with the past and move forward, but it's buried underneath intentional confusion, nonsensical plot elements, and a lot of telling rather than showing.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by Dr. John Gottman with Joan DeClaire: This book reiterates a lot of what is in Faber & Mazlish's classic works but backed by Gottman's research studies. However, it was published over 20 years ago, and many of the examples feel dated, plus it's extremely heteronormative and relatively conservative in the understanding of "good" and "bad" family structures. You'd get much of the same information — with more helpful examples — from How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen.

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie: I'm never much of a fan of Christie's short story collections — it's necessary to wrap up the mystery too quickly — but this wasn't bad. I have a soft spot for Tommy and Tuppence's husband-and-wife banter and enjoyed the listen.

Tyrell by Coe Booth: Tyrell is the definition of a complex character, dealing with a multitude of pressures and having to decide what he is and is not willing to do to take care of himself and his little brother. There's no straightforward redemption arc or moral to this story, and personally I would have liked less glorification of violence, but on the whole I found this very readable and a good reminder that no one's life is straightforward when you get past the surface.

El Deafo by Cece Bell: This is a graphic memoir of Bell's experience becoming hard of hearing after contacting meningitis at age four. Through her memories, you get some best practices for interacting with people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, and you also see her dealing with the relatable stresses of growing up, navigating school, friendships, and crushes. She grew up in the 70s and was anti-sign language, so I would suggest reading modern-day experiences of people who are Deaf for a more well-rounded view, but otherwise I think it's a good intro to difference and disability for kids.

Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day by Nikki Giovanni: Poetry is hit or miss for me, and I found this collection challenging because Giovanni is speaking to those who will resonate with the experiences and feelings she's had, which I don't share. There were a handful of poems I liked, which dealt with the most universal themes, like aging and navigating human interaction. I can imagine how many of her other poems feel the same to people who can relate to her experiences. I just wasn't one of them.

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Raven King, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and Sarah's Key
Five years ago I was reading: Love in the Time of Cholera, The Virgin Suicides, and A Suitable Boy
Ten years ago I was reading: The Alchemist

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