Read This, Not That: Nine Books in Two Months
Hey, book nerds!
Let’s be honest. We don’t always get as much reading in as we wish we could. But that’s fine; life happens.
Here’s my advice, to you and to myself: Create time to read, even on the busiest of days. Put it on your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone (I do this!). Choose to read while you’re waiting for the water to boil, or while dinner’s in the oven. Decide to read instead of scrolling on your phone during your lunch break, or while you’re on the bus or in a waiting room. The point is that you don’t have to commit hours at a time – just a few minutes here and there.
That said, I didn’t get a whole lot of reading done in May, because some other things took priority (including a bit of a career shift). But I’m happy to report that I’ve sufficiently made up for May’s lack of reading with a load of finished books in June, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself and all of my grand accomplishments. [Commence back-patting.]
Let me catch you up though, because there were some doozies…
What I Read in May
Matt Haig, 4/5 Stars
Reasons to Stay Alive was brilliant, and it could be a great help to anyone currently experiencing depression or anxiety, or mental illness on any level. It’s also one to read if you’re a bit uninformed and have loved ones, friends, or colleagues who are depressives or anxious people, to better learn how to love and support them.
The author says a few times in the book–and he’s right–that the experience of depression or anxiety or whatever-it-may-be is different for everyone. There’s not only one way it looks or feels.
As I read, I had some moments of oof, I remember that feeling, but I wasn’t really ready to remember that feeling, oh, we’re talking about that again, okay, here we go. At times it was hard to read because I felt like I was being dragged back through some hard stuff that I had already come out of, and I wasn’t ready to revisit it. Talking openly about mental health is important though, so it is a healthy read, but here’s your trigger warning.
Elizabeth Wagele, 4/5 Stars
The Enneagram of Parenting: The 9 Types of Children and How to Raise Them Successfully. What a mouthful! I think this is the first parenting book I’ve ever read. I found it interesting, and the stories the author shares about each type are very insightful.
I really appreciated the author’s approach to the book. It wasn’t instructional, like do this, not that, or you’re doing it all wrong, what a terrible parent you are. Wagele obviously took great care to be sensitive in that regard. The book was surprisingly relevant too, for one that was written over twenty years ago. Enneagram-enthusiast parents, put this one on your list.
What I Read in June
Rachel Kushner, 3/5 Stars
This was the selection for the next Mistyping Podcast episode. I wasn’t expecting to be completely enthralled, but even with only average expectations, the story still fell short. Overall, I think the best word to describe the book is unmoving.
The Mars Room was an easy read, and sometimes it was interesting. It wasn’t awful. If you’re someone who can plow through a book even when it’s not gripping, then this one will make a good “filler book.” That is, there’s not a lot of substance, so it’d be a good one to read in between books of greater depth. #sorrynotsorry
Hannah Paasch, 2/5 Stars
[groan. eye roll.]
Millenneagram: The Enneagram Guide for Discovering Your Truest, Baddest Self. [another eye roll.] If you want the most general idea of what the Enneagram is, I guess read this book. But actually, no, don’t. And especially do not take the Enneagram test the author’s stuck in the early pages. (If you must take an Enneagram test, take this test for $12, or this one for free.)
If you’re a five, you’ll be happy to know you’re the author’s favorite type. If you’re a six, you’re also the author’s favorite! In fact–congrats!–each type is the author’s favorite type!
Somehow though, every type–even with wings and subtypes taken into consideration–is made to sound annoying and high-maintenance. We’ve all got issues, of course, but the author seemed to find it necessary to describe the worst, struggling-est versions of ourselves, trying her best to make it sound relatable and relevant, but instead just making me want to throw the book into a fire and never interact with anyone, ever again (I’m a five, for reference).
Even though there was the occasional good line or punch to the gut, it was hard to navigate between the complete trucker-mouth writing style. I mean, I don’t get as offended by profanities as some people (for shame!), and I’ve been known to use choice words now and again [gasp!], but this was next level. The author was swearing just for the sake of swearing, as if she were trying to prove a point. Or, maybe there was a word quota she was trying to meet!? Not a paragraph went by without the mention of b****, f***, or another colorful word, not to mention the over-usage of boo and honey, and sweet baby ones, sweet baby twos, sweet baby threes, etc., which just makes me gag. This book is armchair psychology at its worst.
Besides poor language choice and missing the mark on what “writing with voice” actually means, there were some other offensive bits here and there. One in particular was a joke (?) which referenced a type eight possibly being shot at in traffic. That’s not funny.
Please do not read this book if you’re actually trying to use the Enneagram as a tool for growth or whatever.
Again, #sorrynotsorry. Only honest reviews, here.
George R R Martin, 4/5 Stars
What a relief. A good book!
The fourth in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Feast for Crows focuses on only half of the series’ characters. I wondered where some of the characters were, and figured they’d show up at some point, but they never did. There was mention of them, but they weren’t really featured in the story. At the end of the book, Martin explains that the transcript or draft was too long for just one book, so instead of too-heavy editing and cuts, he split it into two books.
This means that books four and five of the series are technically Book Four Part One and Book Four Part Two. If you watched the series on television, it’s actually quite different at this point in the story, which is probably because of how in-depth Martin goes in books four and five, and I don’t really know how I feel about that. The show was incredible, no doubt, but the books (as usual) are better.
Harold Schechter, 4/5 Stars
I started reading Bloodlands, a true crime collection by Harold Schechter, as filler – that is, easy reading to take a break after finishing A Feast for Crows. I was pleasantly surprised by how well put-together each of the Bloodlands stories are! The author clearly did his homework.
Rampage tells the true story of Howard Unruh, the “Father of Modern Mass Murder.” It’s a disturbing story, to say the least, but also really fascinating. (What goes on in some people’s minds!?) Basically, Unruh is mad at everyone for being mean to him, so he decides the best course of action is to go around shooting anyone who bothers him. Some questions are brought up about PTSD and gun control – it’s a really interesting read; even though it’s sad, it’s a thinker. Read it.
Harold Schechter, 3/5 Stars
Another story from the Bloodlands collection, The Pirate tells the true story of Albert W Hicks, a stand up guy who made a hobby of killing people and getting away with it. He joined the crew of a ship, they all sailed out to do some crabbing or whatever, then at night, Hicks murdered the crew on board and stole their stuff. He got rid of the bodies by throwing them into the sea, and the bodies were never recovered. No bodies equals no murder, right? So, he was tried as a pirate instead, and was found guilty.
The most exciting part is that some people thought his hanging was a conspiracy for some reason, and swore up and down about having seen Hicks–in a sort of Frankenstein fashion–after he’d supposedly died.
Harold Schechter, 4/5 Stars
The Brick Slayer tells the true story of Robert Nixon, a teenager in Chicago who was found guilty of going around and bashing women’s heads with a brick. But was he guilty, really? There was quite a bit of debate on that. Nixon, an African American kid, was beaten and tortured by the officers who arrested him, and was convicted by an all-white jury. Racial tensions and disgusting slurs ran amuck, especially in the press.
The story ends by noting that once Nixon was arrested, the murders stopped, so maybe he did it, after all.
Harold Schechter, 4/5 Stars
Is it weird to say that this was fun to read? The book tells the true story of the Bender family, who happened to be neighbors to the Laura Ingalls Wilder bunch. The Bender family were a group of creeps though (think the Sawyer family of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre saga, maybe minus the cannibalism). Basically, the Benders set up their crappy little cabin as an inn and grocery store, and almost everyone who stopped there got bopped over the head and had their throats slit.
The family was sick, to put it simply, but at least they had something to bond over. Some versions of the story say the Benders got away in the end, but other versions say the two women–the mother and daughter–were found, but never convicted.
What I’m Reading Now
George R R Martin
Great so far!
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Doug Calhoun, Clare Loughrige, Scott Loughrige
Also great so far!
What are you reading now?
ICYMI: The Mistyping Podcast (For Book Nerds and Enneagram Nuts)
Mistyping: Breaking the Rules of the Enneagram is a podcast for book nerds and Enneagram nuts. Using my knowledge of the Enneagram–which is enthusiastic at best–and my general book-nerdiness, I’m attempting to type fictional characters from my current reads. Listen here and check out the new blog.