My Week in Books {3/11/20}

I love this time of year and last week’s weather was incredible!

I got to read outdoors a little bit and enjoy the sun and basically it just made me impatient for constant warm weather to arrive!

In case you missed them, here are some links to my recent posts:

What have you been reading (and loving) this week?

Last Week’s Reads:

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📖 Severance by: Ling Ma

I’ve had this book on my shelf since 2018, so I find it a little wierd that I decided to pick it up NOW…in the midst of a very similar situation with the current Coronavirus outbreak. 😳 However, I will say it was quite interesting to read about a fictional situation that seemingly runs parallel to current events (if you’re a sensitive reader, I wouldn’t suggest reading this one right now). 😷

It took me awhile to get into, but once I did, Severance took off and I couldn’t put it down. Satirical in its take on American culture, I found Ma making pretty accurate correlations which equally humored me and made me incredibly sad. As Americans, we’re highly immersed in capitalism and our lives seemingly revolve around work. But when a pandemic hits, is that work or materialism going to save you (spoiler alert: no). While Ma lent a kind of joking tone to some of the questions she raised in this book, it also had such an element of truth to it that it quickly became quite profound and forced me to do some introspective work.

If you enjoyed Station Eleven, you’d enjoy this as those vibes are quite strong throughout. I personally preferred Severance to Station Eleven, but again, it’s not a good fit if the current health crisis freaks you out!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Farrar, Straus, and Giroux | Pub Date: August 14, 2018 | 291 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** Running With Sherman: The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero by: Christopher McDougall

SHERMAN! I LOVED this story of a donkey that changed a community – bringing them all together to participate in a challenging burro race in the mountains of Colorado.

I initially dismissed this one because my thought was, “An entire book about a donkey? Really?!” But then another reader meantioned that it was the same author as Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen and I knew I needed to read it ASAP.

I’m a HUGE fan of McDougall’s book, Born To Run, and this one is just as good. I love the way McDougall weaves a story together – not only telling the story behind the title of the book, but also taking a deep dive into many other smaller, related, and just as important stories. Not only do I learn about training for grueling foot races, but I learned some fascinating information about the Amish community, tidbits about health, and lots of interesting details about animals and their contribution to our lives.

If you’re a runner (and even if you’re not), this book is sure to be a favorite! READ IT! I listened to this one on audio – McDougall narrates himself – and it’s fantastic!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Knopf | Pub Date: October 15, 2019 | 341 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** You Are Not Alone by: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This is my first book by this dynamic duo of authors and they did not disappoint! I loved this thrilling ride through ups and downs, twists and turns. While I’m not well-versed in the thriller genre and I NEVER guess the correct villian, I found myself thinking I knew where this story was headed, only for my theory to be upended…again and again…and again! This is what made the book so fun and unputdownable for me! I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the backlist of Hendricks and Pekkanen, but I’ll definetly keep my eye out for future books!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | St. Martin’s Press | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 343 Pages | E-Book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by: J.D. Vance

I have very mixed feelings about this book. One the one hand, I related to so much of the book (though I’m not from the geographical locations mentioned in the book, I do come from a lower socioeconomic town – more lower class than middle), and felt it resonated with a lot of the population of my town. Though I think my idea of what a “hillbilly” is differs greatly from what Vance relays, my town is blanketed with this term, mostly because of the political views of the majority of the town (rightwing, conservative, proud gun-toting people). I see the same struggles where I live – children living in extreme poverty, with little interaction from their drug-addicted parents (legalizing marijuana didn’t help), and little hope of rising above their circumstances. However, I believe that’s where the similarities end.

I felt like Vance took ownership of a lifestyle and term he didn’t properly own. To me it seemed as if he was more from Middletown than Kentucky. And while he stressed his love of Kentucky and his “hillbilly” upbringing, he also seemed quite condescending to the culture. It felt like he was capitalizing on an opportunity to speak for a group of people, yet he totally lacked the true immersion of the culture to be their spokesman. I also think I was expecting more from the book because I kept hearing how it was an accurate representation of the people who put Trump in the White House. Speaking from a place where people love Trump, I don’t feel like my friends, neighbors, or acquaintances resemble the people of Vance’s book at all.

While many people feel this is a great book on the social commentary it presents, I found it much more compelling as a simple memoir of a determined, self-motivated man who rose from his abusive childhood to earn a law degree from one of the most prestigious law schools, Yale. Having said that, I do think this would be an exceptional book club selection as there is so much to dissect and discuss here!

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | Harper | Pub Date: June 28, 2016 | 257 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** Make It Scream, Make It Burn by: Leslie Jamison

As with any essay collection, some of these were more interesting to me than others. But listening to Jamison on audio was what really made this book stand out for me. There’s something about her voice and the way she read each of her essays that captured me and made me connect to her words that I’m not sure would have worked as well for me in print.

Essays that particularly stood out to me were: We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live Again; Sim Life; Daughter of a Ghost; Museum of Broken Hearts; and The Quickening.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Little, Brown and Company | Pub Date: September 24, 2019 | 272 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

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📖 Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren

I’m halfway through Part I, and though it gets a little science heavy at times, I’m enjoying Jahren’s writing and knowledge. So far, this is reading more like a memoir (which I wasn’t really expecting), but it’s good!

This is also the #HWRbooks selection for March (discussion post will go live on March 21); I hope you’ll join the conversation!

Knopf | Pub Date: March 1, 2016 | 290 Pages | Paperback | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West

I’m currently on the third chapter and so far, I’m totally enjoying it!

Hachette Books | Pub Date: November 5, 2019 | 260 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

DNF (aka: Not For Me and/or Skipping For Now):

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📱 *** America Was Hard To Find by: Kathleen Alcott

Maybe this would have made sense to me on another day, but I wasn’t getting it.

ECCO | Pub Date: May 14, 2019 | 432 Pages | E-Book | Purchase via Bookstore Link



(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

6 thoughts on “My Week in Books {3/11/20}

  1. I really enjoyed the sections of Severance that were about working in the US and related to bits of it. I liked the parts after our protagonist left the city a lot less and didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Station Eleven, but I thought the comparison was a good one 🙂

    As with you and Running With Sherman, there are definitely nonfiction authors I’d pick up no matter what topic they chose to write about.

    I just got a copy of You Are Not Alone and you’re the second person I’ve heard say good things about it recently, so I might pick it up soon for some escapist reading.

    I’ll be joining in for your Lab Girl conversation. I really enjoyed that!


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