Sunday, 6 May 2018

2018 Reads: January to March

Better late than never. Right? Right. I have a vague goal of reading 52 new books this year - emphasis on new; I almost never count my rereads in this - but I'm clearly already behind. I'm hopeful that once I get around to scheduling some vacation that I'll have some dedicated reading time. I did subscribe to The New Yorker for real now, so I've at least been reading that every week (even if I skip all the reviews of things I'll never see and places I'll never go). 

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI - David Grann

Speaking of The New Yorker, I read the first chapter of this on the website and promptly went off to find the ebook. My interest in true crime is tenuous at best, but when one holds me, it grabs tight. This was fascinating, and tragic. It details the streak of murders that happened in Oklahoma in the 1920s and on of the Osage people, whose land had an incredible wealth of oil. It detailed the laws surrounding the Osages' ability to control their money that left them vulnerable, as well as the involvement of what would later be the FBI in solving some of the murders. I highly recommend this one.

The Purchase - Linda Spalding

And this is one I don't recommend. This book was a drag. It sounded like it had potential: Quaker family starts over in slave-holding territory, and everything after the patriarch purchases a slave is a strange, confusing, terrible chain of events for the family. But no. It managed to be dull and irritating. It's told from a third person omniscient perspective, but it's very difficult to get a good read on the characters or even have interest in them. They all seem to simply let things happen, rather than take agency. It deals with slavery and freedom, abolitionist and being complicit, in some thought-provoking ways, but ultimately, the character development in this novel is lacking.  

The Burning Girl - Claire Messud

I'm still not totally sure how I feel about this book. It's the classic coming of age story about a pair of best friends, and all the intricacies of those intense friendships. On its own, it was fine, if having somewhat of an abrupt ending. But after reading Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan novels last summer, it felt a little pale in comparison. Or maybe that's because the background felt like it could have been my own: the pop culture references were almost in line with how old I was on those dates too. I think I liked it but I don't know if I'd recommend it. 

Tempests and Slaughter - Tamora Pierce

Finally! A new Tortall book from Tamora Pierce! This is the first book in her set of novels about Numair Salmalin, before he appears in the Daine books. It's always interesting to me to see how her writing has evolved over time, and this one has been especially interesting, since it's the first of the Tortall universe that is told through the eyes of a boy. Anyway, I don't know if I liked it as much as some of the others, but it was a good read. It's interesting to have some of that background filled in and see where these characters were before I first read about them.

Tortall: A Spy's Guide - Tamora Pierce, Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger

This was fun - for anyone who has loved the Tortall universe in Tamora Pierce's books, you'll enjoy this add-on. It's a collection of letters, maps, documents, and other associated papers which give a set of short stories that fill in gaps between the main series books and offer a glimpse into what has happened with some characters since the end of the Trickster duo. 

The Experience Economy - B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore

I borrowed this book from another site at work and renewed it three times (the limit) before I got around to reading it. And then I still returned it overdue. Guaranteed that if we had fines, I would be the biggest contributor. But then again, maybe not, since I had a user return a book he had out for nine years last fall. Anyway, I read this because it was recommended in some leadership/HR/managerial training/meeting/lecture? I went to. And it was interesting - the idea is about businesses orchestrating memorable experiences for their customers. But being the jaded millennial I am, I have a few issues with it. Mainly because it almost completely ignores tourism and hospitality...which are whole sectors based on experiences. And because I have a general distrust of this genre to begin with.

Driven to Distraction at Work - Edward M. Hallowell

The other book that I borrowed from the same site, renewed three times, and returned overdue. I thought this might be a great read for me, someone who has a job that requires a lot of interruption out of necessity and often struggles with focusing because of that. HA. It was not helpful. I mean, there were some valid tips in there...but they always suggest things like "don't answer your phone!" or "block out time where you don't respond to email!" My chosen career doesn't work like that, friends. I don't answer things outside of my work hours, but when I'm there and on the clock, it is frankly unacceptable for me to not be responsive. Urgent patient care doesn't care that I set aside two hours to ignore my emails. It did get me to really reflect what I do struggle with in terms of distractions and how to better eliminate the ones I can control, so that was at least a good thought exercise. I don't know why I keep reading these types of books, though. 

Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

Finally, finally, finally I have started Outlander. It's one of those series that I've always thought I'd enjoy (and I really liked the first book) but just never got around to reading. But now that it's a TV show and three of my coworkers with whom I eat lunch every day are obsessed, I need to catch up. I find the time travel thing a little flimsy, to be honest, and kind of random, but the story is otherwise pretty entertaining, if sometimes a little wordy. I had a few other books I wanted to read before diving into the second one, but I found myself racing through those so I could figure out what happens next.

Jessica Jones: The Pulse: The Complete Collection - Bendis, Bagley, Anderson, Lark, Gaydos, Coipel

Working my way through the Jessica Jones part of the Marvel universe! I got this after Christmas from a local comic shop, but it's taken me a while to plunge into it, even though I thoroughly enjoyed Alias. This was also good, if a little less gritty. I think I liked the grittiness of Alias better. But let's face it, Jessica Jones is my favourite Marvel character, and at the time of reading this, had yet to start watching the Netflix show (which is also excellent).

Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion - Tansy E. Hoskins

I saw this recommended on Reddit's Female Fashion Advice as a good critical read about the world of fashion, from couture to fast fashion. It is a sobering and critical overview of the exploitation and devastation that fashion causes, as well as some of the troubling societal aspects that it upholds. It was a solid introduction to those things, though if you're already interested and have started to research on your own, it won't be much of a revelation. Still, it's not terribly long and packs a lot in the text without feeling overwhelming, and includes realistic suggestions on how to mindfully reduce your impact.

Total this quarter: 10
Total this year: 10


  1. I don't know if I have told this story before, but I racked up like $40 of late fees on ONE BOOK when I was 14 and never paid them so my card got cancelled. Before that I was probably singlehandedly keeping TPL alive with my late fees because I'd take out 15 books at a time (and read them all). It's been over 9 years since then and I keep thinking I should go in and just pay the stupid fee and get my library card back, but it's lowkey embarrassing so I never do it.

    The first one sounds so good! I am definitely a true crime person, though I never actually read books about it. I'm all about documentaries in that genre.

    1. Your fines have probably been waived, haha. And they usually only make you pay up to what the replacement cost is. We don't have fines for our collection, so my only penalty is the shame I felt when handing the books back to my boss with a guilty expression.

    2. The sad part is I actually returned the book but just never paid the fee! Maybe this summer I will finally go in and try to get another card.


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