Friday, November 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.

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres: Scheeres does a fantastic job bringing to life both Jones and the various people from Peoples Temple she profiles throughout the book. I got a sense both of how Jones could draw so many people to him in the first place and how he kept them under his control as he started to become more and more paranoid. It's unflinching but not gratuitous in the descriptions of what people underwent at Jonestown, and it will give you a much richer understanding of this piece of history in a relatively quick read.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay: This fictional account of a kidnapping in Haiti is broken into two parts: what Mireille undergoes at the hands of her kidnappers, and Mireille's attempts to go back to her previous life while dealing with PTSD. The writing at the beginning isn't super strong but it's worth sticking with it to get into the meat of the story. It's dark and brutal but well written, and it will stay with you.

Possession by A.S. Byatt: It took me quite a while to get through this one. I liked the mystery aspect of it, and the story was good, but the structure was a bit too meandering at times for my taste. I don't have any strong feelings that make me want to recommend this book, but I don't regret the time spent listening to it.

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele: I was familiar with the idea of "stereotype threat" before reading this book, but I was missing many of the key components that make it so fascinating and so pervasive. I found this book a valuable complement to reading about bias and privilege. We can't ignore the realities of both conscious and unconscious bias, but understanding stereotype threat and the ways to combat it can help provide additional tools for creating a more inclusive and equitable world.

King of the Murgos by David Eddings: The plot isn't terribly compelling in this one, but what makes these books enjoyable for me — the character relationships, the banter, the one-liners — is all still there. I have no way to gauge if someone who hadn't read this series growing up would enjoy it, but I'm still really liking the reread.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis: Well, that was a weird and racist end to the series. Lewis decided to double down on the offensive stereotypes of Middle Eastern Muslims in this book, and the plot is kind of strung together to prop up a bunch of different theological arguments he wanted to work in. Not worth the read unless you are a completionist and feel the need to read the entire series.

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Born a Crime
Five years ago I was reading: And the Mountains Echoed, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and Cordelia's Honor
Ten years ago I was reading: Bonk

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