Source: Library

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Essay Collection in Review: A Little Devil in America

January 12, 2022 Uncategorized 5 ★★★★★

Essay Collection in Review: A Little Devil in AmericaTitle: A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
Author: Hanif Abdurraqib
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Beautifully written essays that blend pop culture and memoir to address big topics in ways that are both thought-provoking and moving.

I really loved Hanif Abdurraqib’s previous essay collection, Go Ahead in the Rain, enough so that I’m very surprised to say that this book was even better. His previous collection focused pretty tightly on the band A Tribe Called Quest, although it did still include a lot of memoir and some references to other pop culture from the author’s childhood. This book was wider ranging. The collection as a whole covers pop culture icons and moments from the 1800s to today. Individual essays thoughtfully engage with and manage to connect with many different types of pop culture, from music to movies to comedy. Read more »

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Romance Review: Red, White, and Royal Blue

January 10, 2022 Uncategorized 7 ★★★★★

Romance Review: Red, White, and Royal BlueTitle: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Practically perfect in every way, with convincing relationship development, fantastic banter, and a wonderful supporting cast.

This story of the First Son of the United States falling in love with a British prince was delightful. I’m so glad I picked it for my first read of the year. It made more me excited to just read for hours than I have been in a long time. I’ve read the occasional romance where poorly handled consent or an annoying lack of communication make me knock a star off the rating. But most romance I’ve read has felt worth five stars to me. This was no exception. It’s just so emotionally satisfying. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, and it gave me the HEA (happily ever after) every good romance deserves. Read more »

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Nature Nonfiction Review: The Glitter in the Green

December 31, 2021 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★

Nature Nonfiction Review: The Glitter in the GreenTitle: The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds
Author: Jon Dunn
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This was a beautifully written blend of travel and nature writing with a little bit of science and history.

I don’t read much travel or nature writing, but I have started to really enjoy reading about birds and a great review from Rebecca at Bookish Beck sold me on this one. Plus the cover is truly lovely! This is the story of the author’s travels through much of North and South America to see an incredible variety of hummingbirds. He sees hummingbirds everywhere from Alaska to the tropics. Some are common, while others exist in precariously tiny ranges – perhaps only the slopes of a single mountain. The author gives a history of primarily European study of these tiny birds, as well as info on their role in South American myths and descriptions of current conservation efforts. Read more »

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Books on the Camp Fire in Review

December 21, 2021 Uncategorized 10 ★★★½

I was interested in reading about the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, CA because of experiencing the long-distance, air quality effects of several large fires (including this one) while living in the Bay Area. My connection to these events is only tangential. Even from the Bay Area, though, it was clear from the smoke and apocalyptic orange skies in 2020, that these massive fires were yet another terrible “new normal” we’d all have to live with. Even just being close to them was enough to make me want to learn more.

Books on the Camp Fire in ReviewTitle: Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy
Author: Alastair Gee, Dani Anguiano
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-half-stars
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Sociology Nonfiction in Review: Work Won’t Love You Back

December 15, 2021 Uncategorized 10 ★★★★★

Sociology Nonfiction in Review: Work Won’t Love You BackTitle: Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone
Author: Sarah Jaffe
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: The best of narrative nonfiction – moving personal stories plus informative history, both of which helped me better understand the world.

This book covers a wide variety of seemingly unrelated industries, connected only by the way “love” is used to coerce workers into staying in underpaid positions. This jobs fall broadly into two categories – care work and artistic work. Care work includes jobs like teaching, being a home aid, or working at a charity. Artistic jobs include the obvious (actual artists), but also other professions where people are expected to enjoy performing at a high level (programming, athletics). Interestingly to me, the category of care work includes jobs stereotypically associated with women. The category of artistic work includes jobs stereotypically associated with men. Both rely on pressuring men and women to feel obligated to fill stereotypical roles in poorly paid jobs.

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Biology Nonfiction in Review: Gut

December 13, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★½

Biology Nonfiction in Review: GutTitle: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ
Author: Giulia Enders, Jill Enders
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-half-stars

Summary: Engaging and easy to follow, but I found it overly simplistic.

This book about the microbiome came out about 5 years ago, just as people were starting to explore this exciting new field. A lot of the content was in also covered in 10% Human, another book that was published (and that I read) around the same time. It felt immediately dated to me as a result, but the author’s enthusiasm for what was new info at the time was quite enjoyable.

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Science Nonfiction Review: Life’s Edge

December 2, 2021 Uncategorized 2 ★★★★★

Science Nonfiction Review: Life’s EdgeTitle: Life's Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive
Author: Carl Zimmer
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was interesting and clear, full of new-to-me biology stories, and really made me think.

This book was one of several I spotted on the new books shelf at my library and impulsively picked up based on reviews from Rennie of What’s Nonfiction. The others were Uncaring and The Plague Year. I enjoyed both of those books a lot, but this was my favorite of the three. In this book, author Carl Zimmer explores what it means for something to be alive. He primarily does this by looking at cases where whether or not something is alive is in question. This led to some fascinating corners of biology research that I’ve not read about in any other pop science book. The question itself is interesting and the test cases the author explored were incredible. Read more »

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Medical Nonfiction: Uncaring

November 25, 2021 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★½

Medical Nonfiction: UncaringTitle: Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patients
Author: Robert Pearl
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-half-stars

Summary: Occasionally repetitive, but incredibly informative and interesting!

This is a book about the way physician culture contributes to the dysfunction of the American health care system. The author carefully acknowledges the heroic efforts that medical professionals make to save lives. However, he also notes that a preference for this kind of heroic work, causes healthcare workers to overlook the important but less flashy work of preventative medicine. It also leads doctors to believe they can be good at everything, although specialization leads to better patient outcomes. There are many other problems related to a focus on prestige and resistance to change as well. Read more »

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Contemporary History Review: The Plague Year

November 21, 2021 Uncategorized 5 ★★★★½

Contemporary History Review: The Plague YearTitle: The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid
Author: Lawrence Wright
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-half-stars

Summary: It took me a bit to get into the digressions in this book, but in the end, I really appreciated the many differing perspectives on the year of 2019.

This is a history primarily focused on COVID, but it spans most of the major events of 2019, ending around the Jan 6 insurrection in 2020. The murder of George Floyd, the subsequent uprisings, and the election all feature heavily. It also includes a lot of personal experiences, both from the author’s own life and from people he interviews who had particularly representative or moving stories. Read more »

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Science Nonfiction: Nine Pints

November 3, 2021 Uncategorized 11 ★★★★

Science Nonfiction: Nine PintsTitle: Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood
Author: Rose George
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Funny and quirky, but also informative – perfect for fans of Mary Roach.

I read this history of blood with my science book club. We were all surprised that it turned out to a social history, focusing on blood transfusions and stigma around menstruation, rather than technical details of blood cells, etc. We all really enjoyed it though! It included enough technical details to keep this group happy and the social aspects were fascinating. Read more »

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