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« November, 2021 »

Whereabouts   book icon  
by Jhumpa Lahiri (2021)

read: 29 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I like Lahiri’s work generally. I did not enjoy this as much as her short stories, but I think that is because this is all about the inside of one woman’s head and that woman is cool-seeming on the outside but deeply melancholy. So you go back and forth seeing these little scenarios that she enters into but then is unsatisfied by. Over and over. The writing is great but the story doesn’t really go anywhere. No real plot, a very moody book.

Way Station   book icon  
by Clifford Simak (1963)

read: 28 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

A classic novel, but one I hadn’t read. I didn’t know quite how old it was when I picked it up, so some of the archaic phrasing and worldviews seemed off to me but made sense in hindsight. An isolated man who seems to not age lives up in the hills and people mostly leave him alone. Until they don’t. A really enjoyable story, well told.

The Apollo Murders   book icon  
by Chris Hadfield (2021)

read: 26 November 2021
rating: [0]
category: fiction

I’m a big Hadfield fan, but this was not the book for me. A mystery set in space, kind of. With astronauts, kind of. During the Cold War when the big enemies were the Russians. Too much engineering detail, like way too much. And not enough women, they’re mostly used as set dressing (and as comfort to have the book wrap up nice at the end) which I didn’t appreciate. The book is based on some real-life stuff and some totally made up stuff, and I wish I’d known more about what was real and what was made up before I’d read it, might have been more interesting. Skip it unless space data minutia is your thing.

Covid Chronicles   book icon  
by Kendra Boileau (2021)

read: 22 November 2021
rating: [+]
categories: collection, graphic novel

This was a graphic novel compilation with different artists responding to the pandemic. The time it covers was from early 2020 til October, so taking place during some of the bleaker pre-vax times. It’s not an easy read, but has a lot of different takes on a collective public health disaster and people’s personal responses to it. I really enjoyed the overview it gave me of people’s individual struggles and the interactions they had with people experiencing a thing that was kind of the same but also kind of different.

Newton’s Madness   book icon  
by Harold Klawans (1990)

read: 20 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

This was another score from my mom’s house and a better read than the other older light-science book. It’s a bunch of shortish essays on various neurology conundrums, some from the present day & some more historical (and some fanciful - like one on Sherlock Holmes). I love this type of medical mystery and Klawans does a good job recounting patient stories with empathy and curiosity even when his patients are difficult or terminal.

The Man Who Died Twice   book icon  
by Richard Osman (2021)

read: 20 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This is the next installment of the Thursday Murder Club books. It’s a nice cozy mystery with a bunch of elderly friends who like to look into unsolved crimes and find themselves in the middle of them more often than not. This one concerns a man from Elizabeth’s past who is maybe dead, and maybe a bad man, or maybe not. Not too fluffy, nice wrap-ups, not too many cops.

Constance   book icon  
by Matthew Fitzsimmons (2021)

read: 16 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

A freaky near-future thriller about a clone attempting to solve the murder (she thinks) of her “original.” Goes a lot of interesting places with some neat twists and has a bunch of useful/strong female characters. Seems to be set up for a sequel which is almost too bad because this was a pretty great story (with a decent ending) in and of itself. I’ll definitely pick up book #2.

Himawari House   book icon  
by Harmony Becker (2021)

read: 16 November 2021
rating: [+]
categories: fiction, graphic novel

I had a slow day subbing at the library, this was on the NEW shelf so I read it all at once. A story about feeling “not at home” in different ways, seen through the eyes of a Japanese-born young woman who moved to the US when she was small and spends a year in Japan in a group living situation with a few other young women and men from other Asian countries. There are some flashbacks to her earlier life and some to the lives of the people she lives with. It’s definitely got one of those summer vibes to it even though it takes place over an entire year.

The Man with No Endorphons   book icon  
by James Gorman (1990)

read: 12 November 2021
rating: [0]
category: non-fiction

This was a book I rescued from my mom’s house as I was getting rid of boxes and boxes of books. I thought it was going to be a medical curiosities book, one of my faves, but it turned out to be a “humorous” science column which was okay not great and also from the late 80s so a little dated. You sort of marvel at the things this guy could get paid to travel to and write about but his insights weren’t that novel to me and he just wasn’t as funny as he thought he was. Funny cover though!

Far From the Light of Heaven   book icon  
by Tade Thompson (2021)

read: 12 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

An exceptional spacer mystery thriller about a colony ship in which something goes wrong but it’s not entirely clear what. And the person sent to investigate it is a curious choice. It just kept getting better and better with weird little aspects and additional characters, though it did end what seemed like a little abruptly. I’m really hoping for a sequel. Afrofuturism from an author I hadn’t read before.

The Cabinet   book icon  
by Un-Su Kim (2021)

read: 8 November 2021
rating: [0]
category: uncategorized

This book was 95% totally magical & really interesting, very reminiscent of Strange Beast of China (but takes place in S Korea) but a late-book gruesome torture scene kind of ruined it for me. If that kind of thing won’t wreck a book for you, you’d love this, but man did I feel betrayed after getting so far in this book and having it wrap up like that.

Grave Reservations   book icon  
by Cherie Priest (2021)

read: 5 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Can’t even remember how I found this, a fun almost goofy book about a psychic (kinda) travel agent, her best friend, and the cop they help with a cold-ish case. The story takes place in Seattle which may have been why I had a sweet spot for it. A lot of familiar scenes and while the protagonist isn’t entirely likable--I wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be kind of annoying or if that was just my take on her--it’s also a tale of friendship and a lot of imperfect people who more or less get along which I did appreciate.

Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness   book icon  
by John Hull (1990)

read: 2 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

A first-person account of going from partially-sighted to completely blind and the author’s gradual adaptations. Hull mixes in his own personal observations, thoughts, and dreams with his experiences as a person of faith and how those intermingled. I was less interested in his accounting of his dreams and a lot more interested in his talking about his experience of interacting with his family, particularly since he had one child before he began to lose his sight and one after he was mostly blind. The nuance involved between “Can see a little bit” and “Can see nothing at all” is really a lot and I appreciated how detailed Hull’s story is.

The Last Astronaut   book icon  
by David Wellington (2019)

read: 1 November 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

A very Watts-ian outer space first contact story that also had good/interesting characters including one who was a woman about my age. The author is usually known for his horror writing and it shows. Creepy and thriller-y--there’s a lot of non stop scary stuff happening--while also talking about space politics and tough decisions in tougher times. Not a super deep book but an interesting look at what aliens might be like.

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