#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in Mini-Reviews

May 19, 2016 Fiction, non-fiction 30 ★★★★

This post is for two events being hosted by Andi at Estella’s Revenge: the year long #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge and this month’s #SmashYourStack event, both of which focus on reading books you own. All four of these are books I’ve owned since before the beginning of the year and which I was finally able to read while travelling this week.

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
Author: A.J. Jacobs
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

This book was a perfect read for a busy time in my life. It was light and funny, but I still got to enjoy learning new things. I love the way that Jacobs mixes humor, fun facts, and personal stories about his life just as much in this book as in The Know-It-All. I have to say, I can’t believe the things his wife puts up with or the things she lets him share about their lives, but I’m glad she does! I’ll definitely be looking to read all of his other books.

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Qualities of Wood
Author: Mary Vensel White
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

I was excited about this book. I liked the premise and the writing was pretty good. The characters also felt real and I enjoyed the character-driven nature of the story. However, nothing happens. There is a murder at the very beginning, but this doesn’t lead to anything but a bunch of gossip. Disappointing.


#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in Mini-ReviewsTitle: People of the Book
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

I loved this book just as much as the previous two I’ve read by the author. Her writing style is a delight, as is her meticulous attention to historical detail and her ability to fill in the blanks in the historical record to make a believable, fascinating story. The characters are all interesting and I particularly appreciate the depth and complexity she brings to both her male and female characters. Many have their dark side, but can also display surprising heroism. Another author whose backlist I need to check out!

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Space Between Us
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

I picked this up because I enjoyed the author’s The Story Hour, even though the ending of the book just trailed off in an open-ended, anticlimactic way. Unfortunately, this book had the same problem. It did have many of the good aspects of The Story Hour as well. The author deals with themes of class and gender in both books in thought-provoking, nuanced ways. The plot of this book was intriguing and I couldn’t wait to find out all of the characters back stories. I was also completely taken by surprise by a twist towards the end. However, I couldn’t forgive the completely unsatisfying ending, which kept this from being a four star read for me.

30 Responses to “#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in Mini-Reviews”

  1. Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis

    I haven’t read the first or the last of these, but your ratings for and comments on both The Qualities of Wood and People of the Book match mine perfectly. Qualities was brain-numbingly tedious while Brooks was–well, Brooks: brilliant. I particularly enjoyed her March.

    • DoingDewey

      After reading this, I know I need to pick up March too! I’ve loved every one of her books that I’ve picked up and there aren’t many authors I can say that about.

  2. Naomi

    I love Geraldine Brooks. You’ve already read my two favourites; The Year of Wonders and The People of the Book. But I also loved March and Caleb’s Crossing. They are all so different!

    • DoingDewey

      It’s true! I’ve been very impressed that she tells so many different stories so well. I’ll definitely be looking to pick March and Caleb’s Crossing as well 🙂

  3. Booker talk

    Ive only ever read Year of Wonders by Brooks. I have her latest one The Secret Chord but am not really sure about it since it’s about King David and my knowledge of the Bible is rather thin

    • DoingDewey

      My biblical knowledge is also a bit thin, but I enjoyed The Secret Chord anyway. It was pretty brutally violent in some places though, more so than her other books that I’ve read, but that’s my only complaint.

  4. C.J. @ ebookclassics

    #SmashYourStack is a great hashtag. I really enjoyed The Year of Living Biblically as well. I have a copy of Know It All by A.J. Jacobs, but not sure when I will read it. I started reading The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar, but had to return the book. It sounds like you were really disappointed by how The Space Between Us ended.

    • DoingDewey

      I think so too! Andi’s really been killing it with the event hosting this year. I found The Year of Living Biblically pretty similar to the Know-It-All, so I’m guessing you’d enjoy that one too 🙂
      The ending of The Space Between Us did leave me feeling disappointed, as did The Story Hour. Objectively, I think Thrity Umrigar is a fantastic writer who deals with important themes, but I don’t think she’s for me.

  5. Lindsey

    I think you and I might be bookshelf twins. I have (or have had) three of these four books on my shelves!

    I think People of the Book is my favorite Brooks so far, although I’m happy to reconsider once she publishes a new book! 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Yay for bookshelf twins! 🙂 I might have liked Year of Wonders better, but it was the first of her books I read and I think that might bias me.

  6. Becca

    People of the Booook! Great one. I liked A.J. Jacobs’ The Know-it-All and have been meaning to read more of his.

    • DoingDewey

      People of the Book was so good! I’d also read The Know-It-All and wanted to pick up more of Jacobs’ books but this is the first that I got too.

  7. Heather

    I thought Year of Living Biblically was SO funny and really enjoyable to read – I actually listened to the audio, which is read by Jacobs, and it was really fun. I haven’t read anything by Geraldine Brooks but I do plan to, one of these days. I have read several Umrigar novels but they kind of all run together in my head so I can’t remember how I felt about The Space Between Us.

    • DoingDewey

      Ooh, I bet Jacobs’ books would be amazing to listen too! I love memoirs read by their authors. I’ve not loved either of Umrigar’s novels that I’ve read, but I’d highly recommend anything by Brooks 🙂

  8. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Hahahaha, I remember thinking the same thing about AJ Jacobs’s wife when I read his two books! If he were my spouse, I’d go insane with frustration over these year-long projects.

    Seems like you are being a rock star of reading your own damn books, madam!

  9. Kailana

    I can’t believe I haven’t grabbed a copy of People of the Book. There are just so many authors and sometimes some get lost. I am glad to hear it is good, though. I will bump it up the priority list!

    • DoingDewey

      I feel the same way! Sometimes I’m amazed by how many authors there are who I’ve heard wonderful things about, but never read.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Andi! So far, I’ve had the most luck reading my own damn books when it makes me get to the backlist of authors I’ve already enjoyed. I should do more of that generally, I think 🙂

  10. Melinda

    This challenge is fantastic – I’ve been reading a lot of my own books and accepting less for review, which really does lessen the pressure. From this list, I think People of the Book is probably the one that sounds most appealing to me!

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve really been enjoying this challenge too! It feels good to start clearing some books off my shelves. People of the Book is definitely the one I’d recommend most highly 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      It is hard to say no to a book about books! My mom had actually been recommending this book to me for months and I don’t know why it took me so long to get to it.

      The Year of Living Biblically was a lot of fun and I’d especially recommend it if you’re looking for something light, but still with some substance.

  11. Stacy

    I keep meaning to read A.J. Jacobs – I’ve heard so many fantastic things about his books! Thank you for the reminder to get to it already 😉

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