Posts By: DoingDewey

Favorite Nonfiction Reads of 2020

December 30, 2020 Uncategorized 10

Typically I restrict myself to ten favorite nonfiction books, but I found that my five-star reads skewed far more heavily towards nonfiction this year. So, I’ve allowed myself a dozen nonfiction favorites and suspect I’ll select closer to five favorite fiction reads. Although I have a few more books on the list than usual, they were really all wonderful reads. I hope you’re able to find some here that appeal to you:) Read more »

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A New Year’s Prep Review: Hello, Habits

December 28, 2020 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★

A New Year’s Prep Review: Hello, HabitsTitle: Hello, Habits: A Minimalist's Guide to a Better Life
Author: Fumio Sasaki
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This book combined the soothing, humble approach of Sasaki’s previous book with better citations and even more useful advice.

This is the second in a pair of books by minimalist Fumio Sasaki that I stumbled across at the perfect time in my life. I was able to read his Goodbye, Things just as I was moving, which always makes me excited to reduce the number of things I own. Now, as I’m settling into a new place and getting ready for the new year, felt like just the right time to pick up my review copy of his next book on developing new habits. Read more »

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Feminist Essays in Review: The Mother of All Questions

December 24, 2020 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Feminist Essays in Review: The Mother of All QuestionsTitle: The Mother of All Questions
Author: Rebecca Solnit
Source: Bought
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Some of this book felt like a repeat of other feminist essays I’ve read, but the author presented some unique ideas and ways of thinking that made this a valuable read.

I’ve had this book on my shelves for at least a year and I’ve been hearing good things about Rebecca Solnit for longer, so it was about time I picked this up. Having heard her speak, the tone of these essays was about as I expected – smartly using humor, anecdotes, and statistics to skewer sexist people, events, and social mores. I was a little disappointed by the focus of many of these essays on ‘current’ (at time of writing) events and works of pop culture. The sections where she got into more general commentary appealed to me more than the essays focused on specifics. Read more »

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Two Fiction Mini-Reviews

December 21, 2020 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★

Two Fiction Mini-ReviewsTitle: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

I’d heard great things about this sci-fi thriller and for the most part, it didn’t disappoint. Although the premise is well worn, the book itself felt unique. I particularly liked that it focused on the broader social impacts of a common sci-fi technological development. Many different possible courses these social developments could take were explored. It felt as though the author really pushed these scenarios to their extremes too. At every turn, the more interesting possible outcome happened, even if it was hard to see how the story would continue afterwards. As a result, the book happened in several distinct phases, each of which was interesting in its own way. We also saw many parts of our protagonists lives and got to know them well. The book was fast paced and gripping. My only complaint is that the end did finally push into overly dramatic territory for me. I felt it could have ended more simply and several chapters earlier and been a stronger book. Read more »

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Pop Psychology Nonfiction Review: Biased

December 16, 2020 Uncategorized 12 ★★★★★

Pop Psychology Nonfiction Review: BiasedTitle: Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do
Author: Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was everything I want from pop psychology or books on race –  a great blend of personal experience and expertly presented research that changed how I see the world.

I don’t understand how this book on subconscious bias isn’t on all the recent reading lists on racism or making more of a splash for being a fantastic work of pop psychology. Within the first few chapters, I’d learned enough about how race and age impact face recognition to totally change my understanding of the world. Similar revelations were scattered throughout. This was the perfect blend of the author’s personal experiences, her interviews with others, and her expert summary of related research. That’s enough that I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book to any one interested in reading on psychology or race, but I’ll tell you a little more about what made me love this book. Read more »

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Fantasy Review: Tess of the Road

December 14, 2020 Uncategorized 12 ★★★

Fantasy Review: Tess of the RoadTitle: Tess of the Road (Tess of the Road, #1)
Author: Rachel Hartman
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Enjoyable characters and character development, but the plot and world building just didn’t grab me.

I enjoyed Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina duology, so I was excited to revisit that world with Tess. Unlike Seraphina, Tess is an ordinary mortal and expected to behave in particular, lady-like ways be her strictly religious mother. Eventually, Tess runs away to escape being sent to a nunnery and starts to come to terms with herself throughout her many adventures. Read more »

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Historical Fiction Review: The Ventriloquists

December 11, 2020 Uncategorized 14 ★★★★★

Historical Fiction Review: The VentriloquistsTitle: The Ventriloquists
Author: E.R. Ramzipoor
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was incredible! Great characters, a little poignant, but felt like a fun heist story and surprisingly rooted in fact.

Well, this book was such a pleasant surprise! The story is about a bunch of clever revolutionaries, captured by the Nazis and kept alive to write their propaganda. Instead, they decide to write a fake edition of the Nazi newspaper, making jokes at the Nazis expense to give people hope. They do this knowing that it will almost certainly lead to their death. To me, that seemed like a pretty depressing premise! Instead, it ended up feeling poignant, but hopeful. I really loved it and I’m excited to tell you why. Read more »

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Two Quick Reviews From the Road

December 7, 2020 Uncategorized 12 ★★★

Two Quick Reviews From the RoadTitle: Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel
Author: Matti Friedman
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

 

I read both of these books in the middle of my move. That could be part of why I found them both only so-so. This story of four of the first Israeli spies, in service just as Israel was coming into existence, was an interesting read. I know very little about the Middle East and so learned a lot about the history of the region. There were some tense moments, but the author’s writing wasn’t very immersive. Despite ample use of quotes from primary sources, I couldn’t get into this one. There were many time jumps, making this feel more like a series of vignettes than a continuous narrative. The author provided less help than I needed keeping track of the many people involved. I also didn’t enjoy when the author broke the third wall to talk to the reader about his experiences researching the book. Some authors can seamlessly blend the story of their research with the story they’re telling, letting the reader learn with them. In this case, the author’s asides weren’t related directly to his discovery of information, but incidental visits to similar locations. This added to the disjointed feel of the story. It was a story full of exciting moments and I learned a lot. I just couldn’t get into it as a narrative. Read more »

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Historical Fiction about Determined Women in Review

December 2, 2020 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★

Historical Fiction about Determined Women in ReviewTitle: Lilac Girls (Lilac Girls, #1)
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

 

Lilac Girls is the story of three women – Kasia, a Polish resistance member sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp; Herta, the only female Nazi doctor at Ravensbruck; and Caroline, a New York socialite trying to help women who were experimented on at Ravensbruck. As you might expect, their lives all intersect, giving us several different perspectives on the same events. Based on the description, I expected a particular character arc for several of these women. I appreciated that the author subverted those expectations in interesting ways. This was a longer book, but unpredictable and full of high stakes tension, making it a quick read that was hard to put down. The writing was also vivid, making it easy to picture every scene. I particularly liked that the story continued after the war. Obviously women who’d been at Ravensbruck wouldn’t immediately recover just because the war ended. It made for a more believable, complex stories to see some of Kasia’s subsequent struggles. The ending still ended up being a bit too neat, but as someone who loves a happy ending, I don’t find that the worst flaw in a book. I also loved the author’s note at the end, highlighting how much of this book was rooted in truth. Highly enjoyable and particularly recommended to fans of Jennifer Robson’s historical fiction. Read more »

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