What I’m Reading, June 2015

I know, I know, I’m super late at posting this. If you’re lucky you’ll get July’s book reviews by the end of the month. Don’t hold your breath, though. Enough intro, on to the books.

Manga! I read several manga volumes over Memorial Day weekend. I’m not going to rate them here.

Baby-Sitters Club: I’m on a quest to read the whole series (which will get its own post eventually), and I read a few of these books over the last couple of months. I’m not assigning ratings to them either because most of them are just okay, but they hold a lot of nostalgia value for me.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel: I listened to this one. While there were some parts of this book that I disagree with, Peter Thiel does a good job of explaining everything he discusses. It’s not perfect, and some parts could be fleshed out more, but if you want a good guide to building something totally new, this is your book. (4/5)

Redwall by Brian Jacques: I didn’t grow up with much fantasy, which is why I’m trying to catch up now. This book is part of those efforts. And honestly? I couldn’t keep myself focused on the story. It wasn’t a bad story, but there was a lot going on all the time and I had a hard time telling everything apart. I probably would have liked this as a kid, though. (3/5)

The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World by Chris Guillebeau: I loved The $100 Startup, so I had high hopes for this one. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, my main complaint was that I already knew a lot of the stuff in the book, but that’s the point of self-help-esque books: they tell you things you already know and then you forget to act on them later. (4/5)

American Gods by Neil Gaiman: I tried so hard to like this book, knowing that lots of my Goodreads friends love it. But in the end… I didn’t like this story. Almost nothing grabbed my interest in the first couple of hundred pages and the gods aspect of the story felt flat and boring. There are about a hundred pages later in the book where things actually happen, but for the most part this book was pretty dull. (3/5)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: A mom disappears and her kid pieces emails, bank statements, and more together to figure out where she went. This book was delightfully messed up and more than it seems on the surface, but I can’t say more without spoilers. If you like messed up characters and semireliable narrators, you’ll like this one. (4/5)

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: Remember my love of messed-up characters? This book fits the bill perfectly. A reporter goes back to her small hometown to investigate a murder and gets tangled up in lots of things. The main character was complex and flawed. The story kept moving at a steady clip, and boy was I not ready for the twist at the end. Zooming through this book in an afternoon was totally worth it. (5/5)

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I tried to like this book, but in the end so many of the characters were alike. Interesting premise (though come on, polyamory has been a thing for years!) but didn’t grab my attention enough to grab the second book. (3/5)

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace by Nikil Saval: I listened to this book. While it took awhile to get into, I finally found myself enjoying the history and other tales of the workplace. (4/5)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: I tried to like this book, but in the end it came off as preachy to me and honestly I don’t see why so many people have called this book lifechanging. Most of the lessons were obvious, the characters were boring, and this could have been told much better. (2/5)

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxanne Gay: I wasn’t sure what to make of this book. Some of the essays had me screaming “Yes! YES!” out loud (which gets you weird looks when you’re out running, by the way). Others rambled without settling on a central point. Still, it was interesting to hear bite-sized perspectives on feminism. (3/5)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: Another one I wasn’t sure about at first. It took some time, but in the end the story and its lovely prose grabbed me enough to forgive some of the flaws. (4/5)

Crusher by Niall Leonard: This book was kind of boring to me. The prose was clunky, the characters were dull and one-sided, and a lot of the story left me asking why… but not in the “what’s happening next” way, more like the “why is this happening because it makes no sense” way. (2/5)

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh: The CEO of Zappos wrote this book, and it’s often cited as an excellent guide to company culture and service. It’s one part memoir, one part company culture guide. What this book does well, it does very well–explaining how Zappos got to where it did. However, a lot of this book also left me annoyed at the characters in this story. Still, I didn’t actively dislike it, and the book does enough well for me to get something out of it. (3/5)

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