In My Library Tote: November Book Reviews and Recommendations

I am so glad to be back to blogging, normal life, and talking about books! I mentioned last week that I caught a bug, well the "bug" ended up being strep throat and let me tell you, it knocked me out! I haven't had that since I was a little kid, but getting it as an adult was not fun. Thankfully I am healthy now and crossing my fingers that no one else gets it. Anyway, here's what I read last month. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed almost everything I read, only one dud in the bunch!

{November books}

{The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin} I can't believe it took me so long to read this backlist title. A book about a bookstore owner, and a slightly curmudgeonly one at that, what's not to love? And love it I did, this one definitely gave me all the feels. I have a soft spot for a grumpy protagonist with a good heart (think A Man Called Ove) and an even softer spot for a story that's painted with literary references throughout. Everything about this book made my heart so happy, and I was sad to leave it when I finished. My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

{Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou} I heard about Bad Blood on a few reading podcasts I listen to, and at least one recommended the audio version specifically. I did end up listening to the audio, and it's another one that to me, lived up to the hype. It's the story of the company Theranos, started by young Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes. She claimed that her company created a device that could run hundreds of life-saving blood tests with just a drop of blood. However, as John Carreyrou informs the world, first through his articles in the Wall Street Journal, Theranos doesn't actually do what they claim to do. The story of the company, and of Elizabeth Holmes, was riveting, and it blew my mind how many people went along with her empty promises. Such a crazy book. My rating: 4/5 stars.

{Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue} I don't listen to a lot of fiction on audio, but I was on a bit of a non-fiction kick with my regular reading, so I needed something to break it up. I'm so glad I listened to this one though, because the narrator was fantastic! Now I don't know what an authentic Cameroonian accent sounds like, but to me it was very well done. Behold the Dreamers tells the story of Jende and Neni, who have left their native Cameroon for the United States. Jende gets a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, who is an executive at Lehman Brothers. It's a steady job with great pay, so Jende is determined to do his work to perfection. There is so much woven into this complex story; the implications of the financial crash in 2008, the shaky marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Edwards and how it affects Jende's job, as well as the immigration status of Jende and his family. Overall, a touching, and in many ways heartbreaking read. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard} This was my Amazon First Reads pick for November, and it did feel very fitting for the month. I'm becoming more and more of a seasonal reader, and lately I've been in the mood for books that are a bit dark to match the cold, dreary weather we've had. In Winter Loon, we're introduced to fifteen-year-old Wes Ballot, who is with his mother when she falls through the ice of a frozen Minnesota lake and drowns. His father leaves him with his grandparents, practically strangers to him, and promises to return. Months go by, however, and Wes hears nothing from his father. Wes eventually tries to make a fresh start, and meets a girl whose life has also been affected by the loss of her mother. While it definitely had a sad, dark feel throughout, it also had characters to root for and an overall message of hope. My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

{The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile} I remember taking the Enneagram test several years ago, but it wasn't until I read Anne Bogel's Reading People that I really wanted to retake the test and find out my Enneagram personality type. Based on my memory of the test I took, plus brief descriptions of all the types, I had suspected that I was a one, and reading The Road Back to You confirmed my suspicion. I am definitely a one. The true test of my type though was when I read several of the "you may be a one if..." check points as well as an anecdote showcasing the type aloud to my husband and he laughed out loud at the accuracy of the statements. Anyway, if you're interested in learning more about the Enneagram types and possibly figuring out which you belong to, I recommend this book. The only thing I didn't love about it was that at times the author (technically authors, but it was written from just one point of view) gave off a bit of a haughty air. Not consistently enough for me to dislike the overall tone, but enough that I remember a few times thinking, "well, aren't you special," with an accompanying eye roll. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle} This was my "better late than never" read to go along with my October goal of mindfulness. Honestly, I went into this book not expecting to like it at all. I thought it would be dry and out of touch with my own spiritual beliefs. However, I was pleased to find out that it was easy to read as well as relevant to what I believe as a Christian. Of course, Tolle doesn't identify as a Christian, but I think a lot of what he says goes hand in hand with Christianity, as well as other religions. The question and answer format was a little odd, and since he wrote it himself, the argumentative questions (to himself) were a bit laughable. Overall though, I feel like The Power of Now challenged me to think about life and the present in a new way, and I still find myself going back to some of the concepts I learned from it. My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

{The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do by Sarah Knight} This was our book club pick for last month, and I think we both went in hoping for entertainment and maybe a few life hacks. I haven't read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, although I don't think that is at all necessary to read this parody. There were a few parts that made me laugh, a few that made me stop and think, but mostly I just wanted it to be over. Not too surprisingly, there were a TON of f-bombs, and while cussing as a whole doesn't offend me, it did seem overly gratuitous. Also, to me I got the sense that her target audience was men, which struck me as odd since the author is a woman and while I know I'm over-generalizing here, women seem to have more trouble giving fewer f*cks than men do. I just got the impression that she wanted to come off as "just one of the guys" and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like this one really, but I do think we'll have a good time discussing it. If you want to read a book with the same premise of only focusing on what matters, read Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Better writing, less cussing. My rating: 2.5/5 stars. 

Have you read anything good lately? 

Linking with Show Us Your Books

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made via these links not only supports me, but also supports an independent bookstore. Thanks! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I really appreciate hearing from you!