Reading wrap-up #28

Who else is getting a lot of reading done during lockdown? I know I am!

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

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Liked it enough
  • (★★): Didn’t care for 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. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

Letter to a Christian Nation: Harris, Sam: 9780307278777: Amazon ...Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, religion

GoodReads rating: 4.01 / 5 (33,000 ratings)

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

Summary: In response to his first book, the author comes out with additional arguments against Christianity in the United States in the context of abortion, terrorism, science, politics and more.

Thoughts: I rarely give out five-star reviews but this was well worth it. It had succinct and well-thought out arguments against religion. I read a similar book last year (God is Not Great) and even as an already non-believer, I hated it. The writing was a challenge and even this author critiques the contents of the book. This book on the other hand gave me what I longed for in the previous book. I look forward to reading more from this author, I ordered his other book as a birthday present.

American Prison by Shane Bauer

American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business ...Rating: ★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, history, social justice

GoodReads rating: 4.22 / 5 (7,000 ratings)

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

Summary: Journalist goes undercover to Louisiana’s oldest prison to understand the cruelty of mass incarceration from the deprived lives individual prisoners to the corporate bodies enabling it.

Thoughts: Throughout the book, I wasn’t 100% sure what the author was trying to accomplish. They mostly just observed and reported rather than asking questions to co-workers and bosses, which is only getting half the job done. Also, their narratives about prison history lost me at parts. I was hoping for a more generic overview; names, dates, locations and more were lost on me. There are some interesting pieces of information, but this book didn’t engage me like I wish it did. I really enjoyed the 13th documentary on Netflix but am struggling to find good books about prison reform (I also tried to read Are Prisons Obsolete? and barely made it through).

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien The Hobbit (9780547928227): J. R. R. Tolkien: BooksRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fantasy, classics

GoodReads rating: 4.27 / 5 (2,732,000 ratings)

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

Summary: Unassuming hobbit Bilbo Baggins is recruited as a “burglar” for a quest for a pack of dwarves to reclaim their homeland and the treasure that lies within it from the treacherous dragon Smaug.

Thoughts: I liked this book a lot! I’m not a big fan of fantasy books (too many hard names to remember and my imagination is stunted, so I like seeing the movies first in these types of situations) but this was a fun read. I will say that it was a bit too short and felt like some parts were missing. Perhaps the gaps are filled in the original trilogy.

Other adaptations: It’s no secret that this movie trilogy wasn’t as well received as the original. I mean for God’s sake, the book is about 300 pages and the movies have a total running time just shy of nine hours. I think I now know what Bilbo was talking about when he made the metaphor of “butter scraped over too much bread.” Regardless, not all the additions were completely unforgivable. The movies should have stuck only to storylines that were set out in the book and trilogy rather than trying to force plots. The inclusion of Legolas and creation of the Tauriel character pretty much the sole purpose of being in a love triangle was the thing I absolutely hated most. Tauriel “loved” Kili… but didn’t exchange more than a few minutes of conversation with him? She could have become friends with Kili and still mourned for his death all the same and the relationship between Legolas and Tauriel could have been platonic badass battle partners… but no. I did love the music, special effects and battle scenes of the movies.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Everyday Sexism: The Project that Inspired a Worldwide Movement ...Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, feminism

GoodReads rating:  4.29 / 5 (7,000 ratings)

Medium used: Paperback book I got as a Christmas gift

Warning: This book contains strong themes of sexual assault throughout.

Summary: Women report stories of sexual harassment to the Twitter account @EverydaySexism and the author compiles and analyzes these incidents and what they say about our society.

Thoughts: How on Earth does this book only have 7,000 ratings on GoodReads? Everyone needs to read this book like every white person needs to read White Fragility. Critics claim that every woman should read this book, but I know stories of sexual harassment all too well; on the contrary, every man also needs to read this book to understand what happens in a woman’s world, how to identify it and stop it.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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