Evicted (Matthew Desmond)

I’ve actually read a couple other physical books in the last month or two, but this is the first I’ve really felt an inclination to review. I took Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark on a weekend camping trip because I knew it would be a quick read; I think I picked it up at a book sale, and while I probably wouldn’t recommend you go out and buy it, it was worth the 50 cents and fine for an easy camping trip read. Another book that took me a lot longer to get through was Inheriting Our Mothers’ Gardens, edited by Katie Geneva Cannon, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Kwok Pui-lan, and Letty M. Russell. This collection of essays is one I had only read bits of for a Women Theologians class in college; it was excellent (unsurprising, given the brilliant authorship) but definitely not a light read that would interest just anyone.

The book for this review – Evicted – has gotten widespread praise and even won the Pulitzer Prize. Having finally read it myself, that doesn’t surprise me in the least.

TitleEvicted: Poverty and profit in the American city

Author – Matthew Desmond

Year published – 2016

Page count – 336 (read through the whole epilogue – I know some people skip, but it’s worth it)

This book follows several families in Milwaukee as they experience eviction. It’s divided into three parts: Rent, Out, and After, and looks at eviction not as a single event but as both the result and cause of various factors. It explores how eviction is interconnected with poverty, race, housing policies, welfare, drugs, addiction, domestic violence, and community support structures. Continue reading “Evicted (Matthew Desmond)”

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In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan)

I finished another audiobook! I’m taking a little break from audiobooks to spend some time with my CDs again (yes, I listen to CDs while I drive…don’t judge), but I’m glad to have discovered that I actually do enjoy listening to books (as long as they’re non-fiction). It definitely makes the drive to and from work more interesting, and it’s helping me reach my Reading Challenge goal after such a slow spring/summer. Yay!

TitleIn Defense of Food: An eater’s manifesto

Author – Michael Pollan

Year Published – 2008

Page Count/Length – 6 ½ hours on audiobook or 205 pages (according to Goodreads)

I’ve read a few books by this author before. While I’ve always felt a tinge of pretension in his writing, this one seemed to push it over the edge. Maybe it was just the voice of the person reading it? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt at the moment, but there were definitely some issues I had with the ideas/philosophies presented in this book. Continue reading “In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan)”

Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Lynne Truss)

Something I’ve discovered about myself is that when it comes to audiobooks, I am able to pay better attention if it’s non-fiction versus fiction. Now that’s not to say I haven’t ever enjoyed fiction in audiobook form, but if you’re someone who has written off audiobooks (like I once did), maybe just try switching genres. You could discover a delightful little book like this one!

Title – Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Cutting a Dash – The Radio Series That Inspired the Hit Book)

Author – Lynne Truss

Year Published – 2003

Page Count/Length – 209 pages (according to Goodreads) or 70 minutes of audiobook Continue reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Lynne Truss)”

All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)

At this point I should know better than to promise regular book reviews. I’ve been told it’s not a smart idea to talk about work on the internet so I won’t get into any details; let’s just say I’m spending more time at my new job than I had anticipated. I’ve updated my Goodreads “Reading Challenge” goal from 26 (one book every two weeks) to 12 (one book a month). It’s a bit demoralizing to set such a low (for me) goal because the previous two years I’ve gotten through 44 and 36 books respectively. Alas. One must be realistic, and right now I think I can’t expect much more of myself than that.

It’s really too bad because if every book I read is as good as this one, there’s never going to be enough time in the world to read them all!

TitleAll the Light We Cannot See

Author – Anthony Doerr

Page Count – 530

Year Published – 2014 Continue reading “All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)”

The Spy (Paulo Coelho)

Hello all…It’s been so long!

This final semester kicked my butt. I managed to read just two books in January/early February (which I did not review but would 100% recommend as they were both excellent – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf and Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin) before having to turn all my attention to schoolwork. BUT I just moved into a new apartment, where my stack of to-be-read books is nicely organized, and a new library card has been secured so I am back with a vengeance! The current plan is still to read 26 books within the year; right now, that means I’ll need to read about 3 books a month, which is a pace I’ve done before, so I think we can make it happen.

TitleThe Spy

Author – Paulo Coelho

Page count – 186

Year Published – 2016

Recommendation – I want to read this one again to know for sure how I feel about it. My initial impression was that it’s an intriguing story (based on real events, which is pretty cool) that makes you think about narrative (un)reliability. From whose perspective a story is being told can greatly change what we hear and what we are encouraged to believe is true.

**CW for the book: suicide, rape/sexual assault, a firing squad scene**

This book is based on the true story of Mata Hari, a famous exotic dancer who was (wrongly?) accused of being a spy for Germany during World War I. The book opens with her final moments of life. The rest is a series of letters, mostly from Mata’s perspective, recounting her life and the events that led to her being accused of espionage.

While “innocent” isn’t necessarily the first word that comes to mind to describe Mata Hari, the “crimes” for which she was actually tried in the court of public opinion – and which were used to justify her espionage accusation – were her hunger for power and fame, and use of sex to manipulate men into providing for her lavish lifestyle. People love a beautiful woman for entertainment, but she crosses a line once she asserts her own desires and fails to pretend she’s ashamed of her sexuality.

The following is a snippet from Mata’s lawyer, to Mata Hari, addressing this:

“[I wrote] a book telling the injustice of which you were victim for the sin of being a woman, for the greater sin of being free, for the immense sin of stripping in public, for the dangerous sin of getting involved with men whose reputation needed to be maintained at any cost.” (p. 168)

Lioness Rampant (Tamora Pierce) + Year-End Review

Well, friends, it’s that time of year. My 2017 Reading Challenge goal of 36 books in the year has been met! I’ll list a few of my favorites at the bottom of this post. I’m not going to dedicate a separate post to what next year’s Reading Challenge parameters will be. I anticipate moving around April/May, and I have a stack of books I want to read through rather than pack in a box to take with me so I can’t be quite as particular about reading certain subjects or authors. BUT I will nonetheless keep the reviews coming! We’ll end the year with this gem:

TitleLioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness #4)

Author – Tamora Pierce

Year Published – 1988

Page Count – 384

Recommendation – A great way to end my year! The difficulty/complexity of these books has grown with each installment of the series, as if Pierce was writing these books to match the growing age of her target audience.

(If you haven’t read my reviews for the first three books, you can find those here, here, and here.)

This is the final book in Alanna’s “Song of the Lioness” series. Continue reading “Lioness Rampant (Tamora Pierce) + Year-End Review”

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Tamora Pierce)

If you haven’t read my reviews of the first two books in this series, you can find those here and here. In full disclosure, I’ve actually already finished the fourth and final book in this series and LOVED it. (Which also means I reached my Reading Challenge goal of 36 books for the year…YAY! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it for awhile there, but this series pushed me over the top.)

Title – The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3)

Author – Tamora Pierce

Year Published – 1986

Page Count – 284

Recommendation – This installment impressed me less than the first two. It wasn’t bad…Just felt out of place. Like, this part of the story didn’t fit with the rest. I almost think you wouldn’t miss anything important if you just read the last three chapters (which were enjoyable and took me back to what I liked so much about the first two installments).

This book picks up where the second left off, after Alanna’s knighthood ceremony. She and her man-at-arms Coram (who has watched over her since she was a child and traveled with her to the palace when she first began her training) are traveling in the lands that make up the edges of Prince Jonathan’s kingdom. Continue reading “The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Tamora Pierce)”