Shrill (Lindy West)

Please read this book. Especially if you’ve ever been someone who thinks that women are just “too sensitive” about online harassment, or if you think that fat people are “gross” or make comments about fat people’s bodies out of “concern for their health.” I think people believe those things because they’ve never really taken the time to truly listen to the voices of people actually living out those realities. Lindy West speaks about her experiences with humor and unapologetic grit – but also with far more grace and understanding than any of her tormentors deserve.

Title – Shrill: Notes from a loud woman

Author – Lindy West

Page count – 258

Rating – Borrow (Not one that I necessarily need to read again but would definitely recommend) Continue reading “Shrill (Lindy West)”

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Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)

This is one of the best fiction books I’ve read in a while. It was just so clever, and I could not put it down!

Title – Ella Minnow Pea: a novel in letters

Author – Mark Dunn

Page count – 208

Rating – Buy. I will definitely read this again and anticipate recommending it frequently.

Ella Minnow Pea is a teenager living on the fictional island of Nollop, just off the coast of South Carolina. The island is named after Nevin Nollop, the (again, fictional) creator of the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (This sentence is a pangram, meaning it uses all the letters of the alphabet at least once.) This sentence is spelled out in tiles on a statue of Nollop, but as the tiles suddenly start to fall off, the islanders are forbidden to write or speak using those fallen letters. The book is written as a series of letters/notes between the inhabitants of the island, including Ella. As more letters fall from the statue, the letter-writers have to get creative with how they communicate to avoid using the forbidden letters.

A quick thought: Sometimes I find the use of long or complex words in a story as the author just wanting to sound smart. I didn’t get that vibe here. The characters simply seem to appreciate selecting exactly the right word to express what they mean. And it helps to highlight the change in language as certain letters become forbidden.

**Some SPOILERS ahead for minor plot points, but I won’t give away anything major or the ending. You should experience that fresh for yourself** Continue reading “Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)”

Silas Marner (George Eliot)

This was a pleasant little book. It’s not one that makes me excited to write a lengthy review or wish I could delve into writing an academic essay. But it was a lovely use of my time, and I think I want to read it again at some point. It reminds me of Pride & Prejudice in that way – I wasn’t too excited for that one either when I first read it, but additional readings have led me to appreciate it more.

Title – Silas Marner

Author – George Eliot

Page count – 185

Rating – Borrow

Silas Marner is a spinner and weaver. As someone who came from another town and – except for his yarn and linen deliveries – keeps mostly to himself, he is regarded by the country folk as a “miserly recluse.” Continue reading “Silas Marner (George Eliot)”

An update and an article

Hello friends 🙂

I’m still in the middle of Silas Marner. It’s not a long book, but the language/writing style isn’t a quick read. In the meantime, I’d like to share a post I found on BookRiot. Ever since I started this blog with a goal of author diversity, I’ve wondered if there’s something wrong with creating a “quota.” Here’s BookRiot’s case for why that’s not such a bad thing:

An Open Letter to People Who Don’t Think They Need to Read Diversely

See you soon with another review…Cheers!

Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)

This is what I’d consider a good “beach read.” I tried not to analyze it too much because I was so drained from my last book – which was interesting but, let’s be honest, a bit pretentious. This one was an easy, fun read about female friendships, love, sex, and how to navigate (in both healthy and not-so-healthy ways) the frustrations of romance and men. Keep in mind that it was published in 1992 so there are some truly funny dated pop culture and technology references.

Title – Waiting to Exhale

Author – Terry McMillan

Page count – 409

Rating – Borrow

This book weaves together the stories of four black women in their mid-thirties living in Phoenix: Continue reading “Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)”

The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

I have never been so happy to be done with a book! It’s unfortunate because so many people (including the one who recommended it to me) have said it’s their favorite book. But by the end, I couldn’t enjoy the writing and story anymore. I was at a point where I was forcing myself to press on just so I could finish the darned thing. It’s not a terrible story – there were sections that certainly kept my attention – but this is one of those books that’s definitely not for everyone.

Title – The Count of Monte Cristo

Author – Alexandre Dumas

Page count – 1065 (nope, that’s not a typo)

Rating – It’s weird to publicly rate books that people have recommended for you. I hate to say it, but unless you’re looking for a very specific challenge…Bypass.

In a nutshell, this book is about a man who is wrongly imprisoned but escapes to exact revenge. Continue reading “The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)”

Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)

It seems cliché or exaggerated, but I can’t think of a book that’s ever affected me this deeply. I’ve had emotional reactions to books before, but this was different. Several times I had to put the book down because I couldn’t stop crying. It felt so visceral I almost couldn’t breathe. If this wasn’t a library book, I might have actually thrown it across the room. The more I learn about America’s criminal justice system, the more baffled and frustrated and angry I become at how we* can fail people in such spectacular and cruel ways.

(*I almost put “it” here, but the point of this book is about recognizing humanity. When we pretend like we aren’t complicit in the system’s failings, we absolve ourselves of responsibility to change.)

Title – Just Mercy: A story of justice and redemption

Author – Bryan Stevenson

Page count – 314

Rating – Buy. No question. This would be a great book to use for a discussion group, especially at church (Although, while his faith background clearly informs his worldview, it’s not the main point of this story – this is a lesson for anyone and everyone). Continue reading “Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)”