Monday, October 16, 2017

The Sixth Extinction - Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction
Title: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
Publication Date: 2/11/2014
Pages: 336
Genre: Nonfiction
How I Found It: My book club is reading it.
Date Completed: 10/2/17

Summary: Scientists believe there have been five major extinctions in Earth's history. We are likely in the middle of the sixth. Kolbert explores and extrapolates this idea. 

What I Thought: As I say with basically every book I pick up for the nonfiction branch of my local book club, I never would have read this book on my own. That's what I love about participating in this part of the book club. I'm reading things that I would never consider otherwise. 

This fall squarely in that category. I'm not a science person. I have a basic grasp of general concepts because I was blessed with a liberal arts education, but I really just don't care about the details of the field. I know it impacts us all, so I'm not dismissing that element. What I'm saying is, I'm thrilled other people love this and are studying it because it is not what I want to spend my time and energy figuring out. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Last Policeman - Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman
Title: The Last Policeman
Author: Ben H. Winters
Publication Date: 7/10/2012
Pages: 288
Genre: Dystopian / Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: I heard about it on On the Media
Date Completed: 10/1/17

Summary: An asteroid is speeding toward Earth and will decimate the human race in a matter of months. So, how does law enforcement function in the increasing chaos? 

What I Thought: This is such a fascinating concept. Often, we talk about immediate disasters. The world as we know it destroyed in moments or days. We rarely think about a slow-motion disaster, as least not in this sense. 

Winters has created a unique story. Here, people know their lives will end on a specific day, at a specific time - or, at least, within months of that time if the asteroid hits on the other side of the globe. Society unravels. Not all at once, but with exponential speed. With an increase in suicide, does murder still matter? Should it still be investigated and punished?

That's the premise of this book. A detective in New England finds himself one of a shrinking group of law enforcement officers who care about enforcing the law. Or at least about investigating crimes.  So, when his gut tells him an apparent suicide isn't what it seems, he faces a lot of resistance as he looks into it further.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Let Nobody Turn Us Around - Manning Marable & Leith Mullings

Let Nobody Turn Us Around
Title: Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal
Author: Manning Marable & Leith Mullings
Publication Date: 12/15/1999
Pages: 598
How I Found It: From a list of books recommended for better understanding racial issues in America
Date Completed: 9/27/17

Summary: A collection of essays, speeches, and other writings by African Americans throughout our country's history.

What I Thought: Reading through this anthology was so powerful. We each have such a limited perspective on the world, so reading the words of Americans who had vastly different American experiences than my own is important. 

Cognitively, I know the history of the African American experience. Yet, to read the words of those who lived it adds a dimension I could never grasp on my own. We need more books like this to help us understand each other, particularly as race remains such a fraught issue in our nation.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Widow - Fiona Barton

The Widow
Title: The Widow
Author: Fiona Barton
Publication Date: 2/16/2016
Pages: 324
Genre: Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: I can't remember. A list of thrillers, maybe?
Date Completed: 9/25/17

Summary: A man dies after getting run down by a bus. His widow is left wondering how much of his story to tell. A little girl disappeared years before. How much of that story belongs to the widow as well?

What I Thought: I always get to Halloween and find myself in the mood to read something scary. In general, thrillers are not my favorite genre. However, the spooky occasion puts me in the mood. Most years, though, I totally forget about that feeling until about October 29. This year, I'm starting early. I am hoping to read several thrillers in late September and early October so I can be posting about them right around the haunted holiday.

I started off with The Widow, which got a lot of marketing time in the book world when it was released last year. I can't totally remember what made me end up putting it on my TBR list, but it landed there somehow. So, as I ended September, this seemed like as good a first pick as any to put me in the thriller mindset.

What I really want to find is another book that just scares my pants off the way Marisha Pessl's Night Film did for me a few years back. I couldn't sleep for days. It was wonderfully terrifying. I am not usually a scary book/movie person, but every once in a while, it's fun. That's what I'm looking for this year. 

This wasn't it.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Exit West - Mohsin Hamid

Exit West
Title: Exit West
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publication Date: 3/7/17
Pages: 231
Date Completed: 9/22/17

Summary: Saeed and Nadia are very different people. Yet, they are drawn to one another as their country falls apart. They make the decision to flee together, tying them together for the foreseeable future. 

What I Thought: I first heard about this book on my favorite podcast, Pantsuit Politics. They had a bookstore owner on to talk about books to read in our modern political climate. This was one of a couple fiction recommendations the guest had. It then became the Pantsuit Politics book club pick for September, so I knew I had to read it now. 

It tells the story of refugees, two specifically, but really the book is about the general emotional experience of refugees. Hamid avoids getting into specifics of a refugee's flight by placing his characters in a world of magical realism. They go from place to place through doors. Some doors are guarded, some are hidden, all seem to appear unexpectedly. At first, that mechanism feels a bit odd, but I ended up really liking it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow
Title: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Author: Michelle Alexander
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 338
Genre: Political / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I've had this recommended to me through many avenues.
Date Completed: 9/21/17

Summary: Alexander explores the ways in which mass incarceration in the modern era is serving many of the same social and racial functions as slavery and the Jim Crow laws did in their eras. 

What I Thought: Wow. This book is powerful. I've seen it recommended on countless lists in the past couple years for those who want to become more educated on race in America. I get why. It deserves to be on every one of those lists.

The general thesis of the book is that the War on Drugs has been used (both intentionally and unintentionally) as a way to weaken populations of color in America, specifically the black community. Apparently, when we started the War on Drugs, less than 2% of Americans saw drug use as the most important issue facing the country. Yet, governments charged ahead with intense crackdowns on drug users and dealers.

Monday, October 2, 2017

September 2017 Chapter

Welcome to the Read.Write.Repeat. monthly wrap-up.  Every month, I give a quick overview of what books I read, the progress made on my reading goals, a few book-related links, and general blog news.  

September News 

September has gone by so quickly. With school starting back up and Kevin traveling for work every week, I feel as though we haven't had time to catch our breath. October likely won't be much different, although we did have to cancel our trip to Puerto Rico. That was really disappointing. Granted, it's nothing in comparison to what the people of Puerto Rico are experiencing. We're planning a shorter trip to Savannah and Charleston instead, hoping to soak up a bit of autumn in the South. We also did a weekend getaway to Boston this past weekend (in conjunction with a work trip for Kevin) and we're headed to Philly at the start of November for a wedding, so I'm taking consolation in the fact we are covering the East Coast pretty well this fall.

The second half of September has been interesting. I sprained my ankle pretty badly while running (proof that exercise is ultimately bad for you, I think). So, I spent a good week on crutches and am still using a compression wrap and a small brace. It's been a pain (literally) and has totally derailed my exercise routine. It's really been more of an inconvenience than anything else, though I did have a couple very painful days when it first happened; Kevin was out of town and trying to do simple things like shower and make breakfast without putting any weight on one foot proved difficult. I'm trying to stay positive about it all and use this as a reminder of how important it is to listen to my body when it tells me to slow down.