What I’m reading, March 2016

Another month, another post on what I’m reading. I probably won’t finish another book by the end of the month based on my schedule right now, but we’ll see. For now, have some reviews.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: I tried to like this book. I really did. But the story just didn’t grab me, and this was partly due to the writing style of the book. Six points of view, lots of blocks of dialogue without indicators to let me know who’s speaking, and confusion between what was happening in the past versus the present. I remember having the confusion problems while reading Bardugo’s last series as well, so I know it’s not just this book. Still, I’ll be skipping the rest of this series. (3 out of 5 heists)

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: I listened to this book, and I’m glad I did. Ansari is really funny and acknowledged that yes, I was listening to the book when he described the occasional chart. While this book was well-researched and explained many of the aspects of finding love in the digital age, the funny snippets were sometimes too much. Just tell me more about the research already! Still, it was a solid read and gave me a lot of things to think about re: seeking love, especially with the “ooh shiny” period of a relationship ending and turning into a companionate love. I’m gonna go reflect on that now. (4 out of 5 minutes before replying to that text)

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: Someone on Twitter told me this book was terrible, and I went into the book with this knowledge. Sure, they’re only one person, but I found myself disliking this book immediately. While I love Rowell’s YA work, this book read like the first draft of a knockoff HP fanfic. The book also suffered from “is something going to actually happen?” syndrome. Despite all this, I managed dto finish the book and was very relieved after hitting The End. (2 out of 5 Humdrums)

The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet by Justin Peters: I listened to this book, an autobiography of activist Aaron Swartz, who killed himself in his NYC apartment a few years ago. For those who don’t know, this was the guy who was going to trial for downloading a zillion JSTOR academic articles. The story itself spans much more than Swartz’s life; several chapters are devoted to the history of copyright law in the United States. (Did you know copyright law once dictated that copyrights were good for only 14 years? I didn’t.) This format made for an interesting listen, one that didn’t just tell Swartz’s life story but also provided context for his role and actions regarding copyright history. (4 out of 5 copyright laws)

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander: Here’s a conversation I had multiple times while reading this book on my Kindle.

Someone notices me reading. “So what’s the book about?”
Me: “How the entire system around the war on drugs is disproportionately targeting black men.”

Definitely not the answer they were expecting. This book was very well researched and written, providing historical context while making a convincing argument and providing solutions. It’s a dense book, but if you’re at all interested in social issues, go read this. (5 out of 5 drug charges)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: This book stars 26-year-old Louisa Clark, who has never really explored the world beyond her hometown. The economy is terrible, she’s still living with her struggling family, and everything seems okay until the cafe she works at closes. Louisa gets a new job working with a quadriplegic, which changes the way she sees the world forever. I meant for this book to be a nice fluffy book to read after the mass incarceration book, and while most of the book made for light reading, there were some parts that were definitely not light and fluffy. Not perfect, and the plot was pretty predictable, but still an engaging read with relatable characters. (4 out of 5 jobs)

The Ex by Alafair Burke: I am terrible at picking out light fluffy books. This book has been described in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, which isn’t completely off. But this novel concentrates more on the legal parts of the case investigation, as the lawyer, an ex of the main suspect, narrates the whole story. While there are some predictable parts, the twists along the way made this book a one-day read. (4 out of 5 pieces of evidence)

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin: Suzy’s best friend died right before seventh grade, leaving Suzy to put together the pieces of what happened while grieving. Suzy becomes convinced that it must have been a jellyfish sting (things don’t happen for no reason, after all) and goes on a journey to figure out what really happened. This book captures the mind of a middle schooler really well, making me think to how I would have reacted to such a thing as a preteen, while showing a whole world of wonder in the process. (4 out of 5 jellyfish)

Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto: I listened to this book. This book started out dull and remained so for much of the book, then turned more interesting when he started talking about the 20th century. To be honest, I wish he could have told the older history of Amsterdam as well as he narrated the 20th century. A little more info on how Amsterdam and the world influenced each other would have been useful as well. (3 out of 5 tulips)

Rising Strong by Brene Brown: I listened to this book. While the first half of the book was really interesting and made many excellent points on rising strong after a struggle, the last half read more like a memoir, and a rambling one without not much of a point. Sure, the author is a professor of social work, but a lot of the qualitative research seemed to stem from her own experiences, and we all know one person is just one data point. Next time, I’d rather skip the personal stories and get to the point. (3 out of 5 rumbles)

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z Packer: I read this book for my library’s monthly book club. The collection itself features people of color (mostly female) as the main characters. As with many short story collections, the story quality is inconsistent. While the prose itself is good, the stories felt incomplete. Most of the stories ended abruptly, leaving me with a sense of dissatisfaction at the end of each tale, but not enough to want more. It was like reading a chapter from several novel ideas and seeing what would stick. (3 out of 5 cups of coffee)

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