Reading wrap-up #16

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. My dates may not be completely accurate as I have limited Internet access to update my progress.

Hunger by Roxane Gay

FE23HUNGER.jpgRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir, feminism

GoodReads rating: 4.19 / 5 (59,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Warning: This book (and this review) talks about sexual assault.

Summary: Famed feminist writer opens up about her relationship with food and self-image and how is has shaped her opportunities, relationships and mental health.

Thoughts: I read Bad Feminist a while ago and can’t quite remember if I particularly liked it or not, all I remember about the book is her talking for what seemed like volumes about her Scrabble games. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. As someone who has been slim to average their whole life, it was eye-opening to learn about what fat people go through both within themselves and physical barriers.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

51e0ngIgQ8LRating: ★★★★

Genre: Historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.36 / 5 (96,500 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: Lives of four individuals cross paths when they seek refuge on the Wilhelm Gustloff. When a Russian submarine threatens to sink the ship of over nine thousand people, they all must fight for survival.

Thoughts: I love a good historical fiction book and although The Storyteller still takes the cake for WWII-era, this book was pretty damn good. I also really enjoy multiple-perspective books and this author does a great job of portraying four totally different universes while remaining relevant to one another. As someone who works at sea, I am very ashamed to admit that I have never even heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff: the greatest loss of human life from a single ship sinking in history. I hope I’m not the only one!

Other adaptations: In development at Universal Studios with accredited directors Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

jonronson-soyouvebeenpubliclyshamedRating: ★★★★½

Genre: Non-fiction, psychology, sociology

GoodReads rating: 3.94 / 5 (41,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: The extreme taboo of shame is explored in light of a new age of social media where seemingly everyone has a say in transgressions of total strangers. In an age where someone can be fired before they land at their destination over a tweet they sent before they boarded their flight, its important to be mindful about online mob mentality.

Thoughts: This book was really interesting. As someone who has been using some form of social media most everyday since I was in my early teens, I haven’t thought much about its larger implications. I’ve been watching a lot of commentary YouTube channels who seemingly pick and prod at everything other, usually more famous social media stars, do, which 95% of the time won’t matter by the end of the week, but we “cancel” them anyway. The way the Internet delivers justice is becoming more and more absurd and this book offers a good commentary about this strange phenomenon.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

817VE4lKPzLRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, race

GoodReads rating:  4.51 / 5 (12,900 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.”

Thoughts: If you’ve been following this blog for a minute, you’d know I don’t give out five stars generously. In fact, this is maybe the 5th book out of about 70 that I’ve read so far this year, so kind of a big deal. Every white person needs to read this book, especially if you were offended in any way by the title or description. Save the foreword, the language is easy to understand, often using bullet points at the end of the chapter to sum up. I know I’m far from perfect and always learning, but I consider myself slightly more aware than the average person on race relations and yet, this book still blew my mind with new perspectives. Not only is it important not to be shitty towards people of color, but it’s also important to know how to take criticism and how to tell your coworker Chad that his racist joke wasn’t cool.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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