My Week in Books {7/29/20}

Holy smokes…we’re already at the end of July!

My kids start back to school in a few weeks and high school sports start next week so I feel like I’m cramming last minute summer reading in anywhere I can! My kids have been home for a full four months now and I’m not totally sure if I even know how to function alone in my house anymore! (I bet I adjust just fine! 😂)

Anyway, before moving onto some #minibookreviews, here are some recent posts:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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📱 *** Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

After reading this book, Gyasi’s sophomore novel, there’s no doubt that she is a gifted writer. Gyasi’s talent shines in her ability to explore large-scale themes in an accessible way to the reader. She creates deep emotional attachments, not only to her characters, but to the themes of the book as well. She is subtle in her style, but the punch it packs by the end of her book is rarely found by other authors.

Homegoing, Gyasi’s debut novel, will be one of my all-time favorite books for the rest of my life. When I realized she had a new book coming out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. And while Transcendent Kingdom was a great reading experience, it lacked the stickiness (or stay-with-you-ness) that Homegoing possessed.

Having said that, Transcendent Kingdom is a phenomenal book that explores themes of addiction, depression, and spirituality. My favorite part of this book was how Gyasi seamlessly explored the intersection of faith and science. After Gifty’s brother, Nana, dies from drug addiction, the dynamics of her family are changed forever. Her mother slips into a deep depression, and Gifty felt like the only way she could gain her mother’s attention back was to be the “perfect” child; therefore, she sets her life’s course to explore reward-seeking behavior as a neuroscientist at Stanford. She’s ultimately trying to figure out how her brother, who was a rising athletic star with his life seemingly laid out in front of him, could fall into the throes of addiction so quickly and so devestatingly. As she conducts experiments on mice, the tragic events of her life have made it hard to forge any real relationships – romantic or otherwise – and she escapes into her research.

Thankfully, I’ve never lost a family member to drug addiction so I could only imagine how it would alter one’s life in the aftermath. My heart broke for Gifty as she tried to navigate through a world without her beloved brother. As she watched him change from an all-star to a mindless druggie, she struggled to reconcile her own feeling about God and faith. This book was a slow burn, very much a character-driven book, that grants the readers a huge reward at the end.

It’s been a few days since I finished and I still find my mind wandering to Gifty and her story. That is a mark of an everlasting book! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📱 Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

I know it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it always catches me off guard when I read a backlist book that feels like it could have been written concurrently to real life events. In this book, Cha fictionalizes a real-life event and explores the racial tension between Blacks and Koreans that gave rise to the LA riots in 1992. Much of the book felt reminicent of what’s happening across the United States right now in light of the murder of George Floyd. As an #ownvoices author, I appreciated Cha’s insight into the racial tension that is so prevalent right now. Mostly, I found this book compelling enough to finish, but I was hoping for a little more nuance and insight. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📖 The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a teacher. But now I’m an adult and my dream job is to be an emergency room doctor. I’m not sure where this idea comes from – I have zero medical background – but there’s something there that fascinates me. I love the idea of making a difference every single day, of the highly charged energy that must be prevalent in an emergency department, and the anticipation of what may come through the door next.

For all of those reasons, this book could not have been more interesting to me. I loved Harper’s insights into her daily life as an ER doctor, and more specifically, how she used a patient’s case for each chapter to emphasize a point. While it felt very personal, there was also the professional side that showed how perfectly Harper was matched to her profession. My experiences in an ER haven’t always contained the compassion, empathy, or patience that Harper demonstrates, and I feel a huge amount of respect for her.

Overall, I did enjoy this memoir, though it did drag at times and I found myself skimming some parts. I appreciated getting an insight into a career I’ve only dreamed about doing (and honestly, after reading this book, I know I’m not cut out for it). It was absolutely a fascinating read for me and if your medical in any sort of way and enjoy insightful memoirs, I’d recommend you giving this one a try! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Currently Reading:

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📖 *** The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I LOVED The Flatshare last year and couldn’t wait to read this one! Just started so not a whole lot to report just yet…

📖 Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

I’m in the home stretch! And while I’m waaay behind in my scheduled reading, I’m hoping to finish this by tomorrow (Friday at the latest)! I’m finding some of these later chapters to be easier to get through because I’m more familiar with the history (those early years were kind of a slog…) I’m curious to see how this one wraps up…it’s been quite the journey!

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

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📱 *** Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

I’m throwing in the towel at 10%. I don’t know…I loved Sullivan’s first book (A Saint for All Occasions), but this one feels like it’s throwing a lot of issues in and just touches on them before moving on. Sure, it could all come together by the end, but I’m just not feeling it. (I’m getting All Adults Here vibes and I’m just too worried of investing all the time and energy into finishing this one to just feel meh at the end of it.) I’ll watch reviews from my trusted sources and if they come in mostly positive, I may give this another shot down the road.

📖 *** Weird But Normal: Essays on the Awkward, Uncomfortable, Surprisingly Regular Parts of Being Human by Mia Mercado

Eh. I’ve read the first few essays and they haven’t really left an impression. I feel like some of the writing is trying to be funny, but they’re not landing for me. Unfortunately, I just don’t care enough to continue.

(#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.)

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