Reading wrap-up #20

After reading the Heroes of Olympus series, I’m back to my regular reading schedule. Hopefully I get to read a few more before the end of the year, but I reckon this will be the last wrap-up published this year!

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.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

imageRating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction, fantasy, horror

GoodReads rating: 4.00 / 5 (438,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: Following a suicide in their small Sussex town, strange, inter-dimensional things start happening to a young boy and he seeks out the help of the mysterious family at the end of the lane.

Thoughts: I DNF’d Trigger Warning earlier this year, but I’m not the biggest short story fan, so I thought I’d give another one of his books a try. I chose this because it was a relatively short audiobook (5 hours on normal speed) for my 9-hour drive home. It felt a bit to be desired: I wish it was more descriptive in terms of the monsters and had more purpose (I don’t know why these creatures were here in the first place). However, I liked the mystifying characters and satisfying ending.

Other adaptations: There isn’t a film or series, but there is a play on in London right now.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

91-gH+OWkILRating: ★★★

Genre: Essays, non-fiction

GoodReads rating: 3.46 / 5 (34,000 ratings)

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

Summary: A collection of whimsical essays.

Thoughts: I read another book of hers this summer and thought it was okay. I wanted to try to get into essays again and thought I’d might like another one of her books. This one was, too, okay. I feel like the author thinks her stories are more interesting than they actually are. Perhaps they translate well for friends who actually know her and her life, but I just didn’t care that much. I found some parts amusing, but the author rambled and got off topic quite a bit so that after a page of sidebar I was left thinking, “Wait, what was this story about again?” Not bad, but not great. Also, wasn’t a fan of how she said being vegetarian and being gay is basically the same thing, as if one of these groups hasn’t been oppressed for decades for something that isn’t even a choice.

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine by Thomas Morris

81Qr2U6sm0LRating: ★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, history, medicine

GoodReads rating: 3.72 / 5 (900 ratings)

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

Summary: Focused on the pre-21st century, “[t]his fascinating collection of historical curiosities explores some of the strangest cases that have perplexed doctors across the world” with whimsical commentary

Thoughts: This book title caught my eye in the bookstore and rented it immediately when I saw it was available on the library app. I enjoyed the weird cases and funny quips from the author, but perhaps wished it was more in his own words. Half the book is quoting articles and then him explaining what all the old-fashioned medical terms mean when he could have easily told the entire story in his own words. No matter, it was enlightening as well as bizarre and I can’t wait to use this material at Christmas parties.

God is Not Great: How Region Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

43369Rating: ★★

Genre: Non-fiction, religion, philosophy

GoodReads rating: 3.97 / 5 (82,000 ratings)

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

Summary: “With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.”

Thoughts: Although I got a bit of information from this book, it seemed rather convoluted and not delivered very well. The points the author was trying to make weren’t always clear and his ramblings seemed to never end. I’m not a big fan of reading history and that’s what most of this book is. I understand the need for context, but at times the author just sounded like he was right from a history textbook with few original ideas. I would like to get into more religious skepticism text but this wasn’t a great place to start. The only reason I didn’t DNF is because I was already 30% through the audiobook and decided it was far enough to decide to stick it out (spoiler alert: it just gets harder to get through after then).

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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