Source: Library

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Another 9/11 History in Review: Fall and Rise

October 26, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Another 9/11 History in Review: Fall and RiseTitle: Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11
Author: Mitchell Zuckoff
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Another comprehensive, moving account of 9/11, although one that could do with slightly less editorializing.

I debated about whether to read two chunksters about 9/11 in a row, but decided to go for it because I think I retain more when I read multiple books on a topic. It was also interesting to contrast this narrative nonfiction account of 9/11 with the oral history in The Only Plane in the Sky. The bulk of this book is two sections with “fall” in the title, one about the people on the planes and one about the people at each impact site. The last section, called “Rise From the Ashes”, was a short description of where people were in the months following 9/11. Read more »

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Oral History in Review: The Only Plane in the Sky

October 19, 2021 Uncategorized 15 ★★★★★

Oral History in Review: The Only Plane in the SkyTitle: The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
Author: Garrett M. Graff
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was tough, emotional read, but so worth it.

I feel like I’m getting to this book at just the right time as we approach Nonfiction November, because I added it to my TBR based on many reviews during the last two years of that event. This oral history of the 9/11 terrorist attacks completely lived up to the recommendations. I’ll have to remember to listen to you all when you say a book is good this year and bump it to the top of my list sooner! Read more »

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Science History Review: The Great Secret

October 11, 2021 Uncategorized 3 ★★★½

Science History Review: The Great SecretTitle: The Great Secret: The Classified World War II Disaster that Launched the War on Cancer
Author: Jennet Conant
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) Rating:three-half-stars

Summary: This was an interesting, well written story that quoted lots of primary sources, but it suffered from repetitive and unclear sections.

I picked this up for my book club and I had low expectations. Based on the subtitle, I was concerned this would be a conspiracy-theory focused book. Instead, it was a fascinating story of doctor and researcher, Stewart Alexander,  who realized that mustard gas could be useful for chemotherapy. I thought it was pretty incredible that as early as the 1940s, scientists realized that one of the greatest challenges with cancer is distinguishing cancer cells from normal ones. The specific impact of mustard gas on only white blood cells therefore made it a good candidate for targeting cancers that impact these cells. The military disaster that allowed Alexander to study the impact of mustard gas on humans and the subsequence cover up made for a more action beginning to this story. Read more »

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Nonfiction Review: The Art of Gathering

September 27, 2021 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★★

Nonfiction Review: The Art of GatheringTitle: The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
Author: Priya Parker
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This book was both full of helpful, practical advice and an interesting read.

After my experience reading Belong, I was concerned that this book on how to host good gatherings, from professional facilitator Priya Parker, might be too focused on big events. To my surprise, I found that generality was one of this book’s greatest strengths. The first four chapters were the most helpful to me. They first two chapters cover the basic elements of a gathering – purpose, venue, and attendees. The following two chapters were helpful for thinking about details of the events itself – explicit and implicit rules, what will happen at the event, how to host, etc. I finished these sections with some ideas I’m excited about for as simple an event as the next time I host friends for games. They were helpful and practical and really made me think about what I want from a gathering. Read more »

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Nonfiction About Millennials in Review: Can’t Even

September 20, 2021 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★★

Nonfiction About Millennials in Review: Can’t EvenTitle: Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation
Author: Anne Helen Petersen
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was an informative, engaging history of work, but mostly it was cathartic to hear that I’m not alone.

I have to say, I really enjoyed reading this book about the systemic issues leading to millennial burnout. I didn’t relate to quite everything here. I think I may have a healthier relationship to social media than the author (of course, it’s not part of my job!). I’m also fortunate to be dealing with pretty low precarity in my life in terms of jobs and finances. I related to almost everything here though. It was incredibly cathartic to hear about other people who feel the way I do about life, work, and relationships. It was also affirming to see all the ways the system is stacked against millennials laid out so clearly. The author does an great job mixing memoir, interviews, and history together to give a complete picture of where we are and how we got here. Read more »

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Self-Help Book Review: Belong

September 15, 2021 Uncategorized 7 ★★★

Self-Help Book Review: BelongTitle: Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life
Author: Radha Agrawal
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: There were a few bits of extremely helpful, practical advice here, but most of the book was a poor fit for my goals and values.

This book included a few really helpful pieces of advice, but overall, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I thought maybe that was my own fault for not reading the cover blurb carefully enough. However, the cover blurb does actually promise a first section on figuring out what you want (which it delivered!) and a second section on finding friends and community (not so much!). Read more »

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Sci-Fi Review: Project Hail Mary

September 13, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★

Sci-Fi Review: Project Hail MaryTitle: Project Hail Mary
Author: Andy Weir
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: The plot at the heart of the story was great, but the book was too long and neither the humor nor the science was as well-executed as in The Martian.

The latest from Andy Weir has a premise very much like his much-beloved blockbuster, The Martian. Ryland Grace is stranded in space, the sole survivor of his crew. Unfortunately, he’s just woken up from a coma like that which killed his crewmates and he doesn’t even remember that he is in space. As his memory slowly returns, he realizes that his mission is truly critical. Humanity’s ability to survive an extinction level event depends on his ability to complete his mission. Now, if he can only remember his own name…

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Nonfiction Review: The Knowledge Machine

August 5, 2021 Uncategorized 2 ★★★

Nonfiction Review: The Knowledge MachineTitle: The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science
Author: Michael Strevens
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Mostly useful for scientists as a great starting point for thinking explicitly about why we do science the way we do.

This book sets out to answer two questions – why does science work? and why did it take people so long to start using the current scientific method? I wasn’t thrilled by this pick from my science nonfiction book club. I love learning new scientific information and this meta approach to the topic didn’t appeal to me. Although I still certainly don’t agree with everything the author had to say, I ended up enjoying the book a lot. As a scientist, I found it a useful prompt to evaluate how I approach my work.

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Nonfiction About Amazon in Review: Fulfillment

July 27, 2021 Uncategorized 13 ★★★★★

Nonfiction About Amazon in Review: FulfillmentTitle: Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America
Author: Alec MacGillis, Stefan Alexander MacGillis
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: An incredibly timely, relevant read that manages to be both infuriating and engaging.

This story isn’t a look at Amazon itself, but a sweeping exploration of the people and places impacted by that company’s expansion. The author talks to an incredible variety of people. They live across the United States and their lives have intersected with Amazon in countless ways. The author also talks to older people and sprinkles in some history himself, showing how we reached the current state of the country. He particularly focuses on the way Amazon has exacerbated national, regional, and local inequality. Read more »

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Popular Literary Criticism in Review

July 21, 2021 Uncategorized 5 ★★★★★

Popular Literary Criticism in ReviewTitle: Lolita in the Afterlife
Author: Jenny Minton Quigley
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

I read this collection of essays about Lolita at the prompting of Rennie of What’s Nonfiction and it was a great choice! As with most collections by multiple authors, some worked for me more than others, but there were a very few duds in this one. The editor did an incredible job selecting an array of essays that were diverse along many axes, yet all worked together. The authors are of different races, genders, sexualities, and nationalities. They bring perspectives from a variety of careers too – mostly authors, but also professors, activists, a fashion journalist, and more. The authors represent a great variety of experiences with Lolita. Some of the essay writers have loved Lolita forever; others struggled to get through the book. Several female authors read the book as teens. Hearing about their different responses to the book at that age was particularly fascinating. Read more »

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