My Week in Books {9/23/20}

The weather around here is still hot and decidedly not what fall should feel like (hovering around the low- to mid-90s still!). I’m ready for falling leaves that crunch below your feet and the crispier weather that invites sweaters, scarves, and afternoon cups of tea! 🍂☕️🍁

Before moving on to the reviews this week, here are some recent posts you may have missed:

What did you read (and hopefully love) this week?

Last Week’s Reads:

*** Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker

On a whim in April, my husband and I decided to stop drinking. There were a million little things that led to this decision, but five months in, it was the best decision for us as individuals, as well as for us as spouses and as a family. This memoir is about a women who had an addiction to alcohol (as well as other things) and makes the courageous decision to stop drinking. AA wasn’t the plan for her, and through her own experience she created a company, Tempest, that helps women stop drinking.

While I am not an alcoholic, this book still gave relevant and interesting information regarding drinking and our culture’s obsession with alcohol. I really enjoyed the straight-forward, no-holds-bar way that Whitaker presents her personal story and the facts surrounding addiction. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Back in January, I set a list of my Top 10 Backlist Books For 2020 that, if read by December 2020, would give me a sense of accomplishment. The Astonishing Color of After is on that list (I now only have three books to go to complete that stack), and it felt like the right time to read it.

When Leigh’s mother commits suicide, she is left with a half-written note that leaves her with more questions than she knows the answers to. She feels guilty for not noticing her mom’s slow decline and for not being home when her mom ends her life. As she navigates through her grief, a red bird appears and leaves her a box. The box leads her to her grandparents all the way in Taiwan. There, she searches for the answers she needs to come to peace with the loss of her mother.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the way Pan incorporated magical realism into this story. As a person who has lost someone close to me, there is certainly an element of magic that consistenly reveals itself after a loved one’s death. Many people refer to them as signs that their loved one is still around – for me personally, seeing dimes, feathers, and dragonflies are reminders from my mama.

While my mama didn’t die from suicide, Pan also writes the process of grief so well. The feeling of wanting to run away because the effort of dealing with others is too much felt relevant regardless of the cause of death. Also, immediately following the loss, that emptiness is the only thing one can think about. For Leigh, she needed to travel around the world to try to get some answers from her grandparents.

While I related to so much of this book, by the end, I was also left slightly underwhelmed. More than likely, this disconnect falls on me as I have been in a bit of a reading slump for some time now. I bought this book after hearing rave reviews, so it could have been that my expectations were a little high as well. Regardless, I would recommend this book for people that enjoy a duysfunctional family drama learning to cope after recent tragedy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

*** Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love by Nina Renata Aron

While focused on drug and alcohol addiction, this book also tackles the complicated topic of codependency which feels relevant to lots of people whether they love a person struggling with addiction or not. There is also a rich history about the founding and beliefs of AA and Al-Anon which I enjoyed, but not nearly as much as I did Aron’s personal reflections.

I appreciated that Aron didn’t deflect from her own negative contributions to her chaotic lifestyle; she wrote with unflinching honesty and vulnerability. There were times I wanted to reach back in time to shake her awake and to yell at her to stop destroying her own life! But I was also quickly reminded how difficult it is to leave a codependent relationship – regardless of how aware one is of it’s toxicity.

While I think Aron included the anecdotes about AA and Al-Anon, I could have done without them as it changed the style of her writing. During those sections, it felt a little too academic for my liking and I found myself losing focus. Other than that minor complaint, I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and think it could make a great book club selection! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

*** Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

I was initially drawn to the cover, but the story turned out to be just as good! #winwin

When Florence dies unexpectedly, her family makes the awkward decision to keep her death a secret in order to protect her sister, Fannie. Fannie is pregnant and on bedrest with her third child, and after tragically losing her baby just the year before, the Adler family is quick to protect her and the unborn child as best as they can. Additionally, Joseph (the patriarch of the family) has sponsored Anna, a Jew from Hungary, as a way to safeguard her from the impending persecution of the Jewish people.

Set during the 1930s in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this book is full of interesting historical facts. Just after the Great Depression, but just before Nazi Germany declares war on the world, this is a new perspective of a time in history that’s not set in Europe. As Joseph and Anna fight to get her parents passage to America, I was heartbroken at the various difficulties and setbacks they faced.

My only complaint was that I felt the book wrapped up rather quickly. Without any spoilers, I felt a major plot point was completely glossed over and it ended on a sort of cliffhanger which makes me feel a little frustrated. However, I truly enjoyed this book and read it in less than twenty-four hours. It would be the perfect book to read on vacation – bonus points if that vacation takes place on a beach! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

*** Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum

I’ve yet to see any accounts talk about this book, but when I first ran across it, it was described as the best depiction of depression ever written (I really wish I could remember who I got this recommendation from!). While I definetly don’t have clinical depression, there are times where I feel overwhelmingly sad…I mean, who doesn’t? But I’d be lying if some of my bouts of sadness and lethargy don’t concern me just a teeny, tiny bit. So I searched this book out and requested to read it.

I’m thankful to say, after reading this, my sadness doesn’t concern me. What I’m feeling are normal ups and downs attributed to living life (I honestly didn’t think it went beyond this, but my curiosity was piqued!). What I learned from this book made my heart hurt. The struggle of true depression must be such a difficult thing to navigate and understand…without a lot of options besides medication (which comes with its own set of negative side effects).

Bunny is a character that pulled at my heartstrings. I wanted her to find help so she could life a more happy life – be more appreciative of the life she had. But even Bunny realizes that she should be more content – and therein lies the whole issue with depression. Sometimes it’s hard to be accepting and appreciative of what you have…something is just off in the chemicals of one’s brain. It’s not that they don’t realize it or recognize it…they just can’t seem to find the correct combination to create the balance they need/want. Also equally frustrating it must be to love someone who struggles so deeply with depression, as Bunny’s husband, Albie, did. His devotion to her was so sweet. Though he made some poor choices, I still had a place in my heart for him and the difficulties Bunny’s depression caused for him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Current Reads:

*** Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein

If that title doesn’t sum up the last few months heading into the 2020 US Presidential Election, I don’t know what does! And precisely for that reason, I decided it was time to pick it up! I’m reading about a chapter a day (same with the book below), but I should be finished by the end of the month!

*** Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College by Jesse Wegman

When Trump won the 2016 election even though he failed to win the popular vote, there was an outcry about the downfalls of the Electoral College. This book landed in my lap at the perfect time.

Heading into this book, the argument I’m most familiar with is IN FAVOR of keeping the Electoral College because people in the flyover states (basically the Midwest) feel like abolishing it would make their votes insignificant because the coasts (California/New York/etc) are much more populous; therefore, they would control the outcomes of the election. The concern for us Midwest folk is that our concerns/morals/values would no longer matter and our voices would not be heard.

I’m curious if this book will be able to lend me some understanding to this idea. I’m not above admitting I may be wrong or that I may be understanding the issue incorrectly, so I’m excited to read this one!

Coreyography by Corey Feldman

I may or may not have fallen down a rabbit hole recently that basically implied that Hollywood is a pedophilia’s playground. Add to that the recent news headlines that mention Epstein Island and Harvey Weinstein, and it seemed like a good time to read a memoir by a Hollywood actor himself. Spoiler alert: he’s not on the side of Hollywood!

(#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.)

4 thoughts on “My Week in Books {9/23/20}

  1. The weather here has been way too hot as well. Thankfully tropical storm Beta brought some rain and cooler temperatures, so we’ll have to see if the cooler weather is here to stay.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s