Friday, January 15, 2021

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.

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: This was depressing and weird, but surprisingly I'm still glad I read it. I'm not entirely sure what Kafka's point was (even after reading the Sparknotes) but I found it a sharp critique of capitalist society, personally. I can't say I particularly enjoyed reading this, but I'm glad to now have the understanding of this classic story.

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary: This was a sweet slow-burn romance — two people occupying the same flat at different times of the week develop a friendship via the notes they leave each other, and then it develops into more after they finally meet. Despite how much of the book in general was predictable, there were still plenty of surprises and multiple laugh-out-loud lines.

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson: This was a very satisfying read! It wasn't as focused on the puzzle/mystery as I expected, but that ended up being OK. The sections from the 1950s provide a great middle-grade level look at the experiences of Black Southerners in that time period, while the modern-day sections dive into subjects like divorce and bullying.

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie: This was fine. It gets bonus points for surprising me with who the killer was. I wasn't a big fan of the narrator of this one, who made me roll my eyes at his lengthy reflections about women. Overall, I appreciated the solution quite a bit, but I could have done without almost everything else.

Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki: This is an incredibly comprehensive history of the immigration patterns and experiences of various Asian American groups. It goes into much more detail than the PBS series on Asian Americans (which I also recommend). This will take some patience to get through, but if you want to have a deeper understanding of this aspect of American history (and what it reveals about the history of race in America more generally) I definitely recommend it.

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy: It's impossible for me to separate my feelings on this book from the fact that I first read Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty, a look at Lucy Grealy from the outside, which definitely affected my perspective. However, I found it to be a valuable look at what it's like to be a child growing up with your medical needs at the center of your life, spending much of your childhood in hospitals or recovering from the time spent there.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster: Forster definitely has a gift for drawing out the odd and sometimes painfully awkward ways that human beings relate to one another. I also appreciated the idea behind this story, but in practice I was not a fan of how it played out. (Lucy "discovers her independence" by having two men tell her what she really thinks about other men.) Overall, I think Forster is a talented writer who wrote a great cast of characters and then completely undermined his own message with the way he went about bringing together the supposed romantic leads.

The Baby Signing Book by Sara Bingham: If you approach this book for what it is — not an introduction to a language by a native speaker, but encouragement to use bits and pieces of a language for other purposes — I think Bingham does a thorough job of making the case to skeptical hearing parents about why it's valuable to learn some ASL signs and use them with your hearing children as early as possible, and then she provides concrete suggestions for how to introduce these signs and use them as part of daily life.

Feminist, Queer, Crip by Alison Kafer: This was definitely a mixed bag. Kafer has moments of absolute brilliance and clarity and other moments where her terminology is undefined and her points unclear. There's a lot of valuable content in this book, but given that Kafer largely quotes from others' work, I don't think this would be my go-to recommendation for understanding either disability or intersectionality.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White: I finally got my 6-year-old to be interested in chapter books at bedtime, and this was the book that did it! There's suspense, there's humor, there's action, there's friendship, and there's just enough background description to paint a picture of the different seasons and locations without making my kid lose interest.

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Dreams from My Father, The Next Evangelicalism, and There There
Five years ago I was reading: Lonesome Dove, Dancing with God, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Stolen
Ten years ago I was reading: The Luck Factor

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