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.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Genre: Non-fiction, feminism
GoodReads rating: 4.45 / 5 (170,000 ratings)
Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Summary: “[Adichie] shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.”
Thoughts: This book is quite similar to This Book Is Anti-Racist in that it’s a comprehensive, short introduction to the subject at hand. By short, I mean literally less than 50 pages but it was a great jumping-off point for more in-depth discussions. I loved the (paraphrased) quote, “What is obvious to me may not be obvious to others.” Also, not five minutes after I finished this book while driving, I got a flat tire and changed it myself. Talk about empowering!
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Genre: Non-fiction, animal agriculture, environment,
GoodReads rating: 4.20 (nice) / 5 (65,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book and audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Warning: This book contains graphic descriptions of animal torture and animal death.
Summary: “Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill.”
Thoughts: Books about factory farming were my gateway drug to non-fiction books of all sorts. I did a lot of the essential reading (Animal Liberation, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Ethics of What We Eat, etc.) long before I started reviewing books on this blog but hope to re-read them soon. I went vegetarian in 2011 (almost nine years ago) and was strict for many years but am now more flexible usually for special occasions and when I’m being hosted for a short period of time. The fact that a single meal with meat once every few months gives me extreme eco-anxiety says a lot about the culture surrounding alternative diets.
Anyway, this book wasn’t too terribly different from the books mentioned, but I really enjoyed the testimonials from the vegetarian rancher, vegan slaughterhouse designer, etc. It’s amazing how much I still don’t know after years of interest. However, I felt like this book had some half-finished thoughts, gave PETA wankers who compared factory farming to slavery/the Holocaust a platform with no discussion on why that’s seriously messed up and didn’t talk enough of fishing vs. aquaculture (for a good explanation of the evils of aquaculture, check out Four Fish). For example, the author claims that commercial fishing is basically factory farming solely because of the scale it’s done on and I couldn’t disagree more. I work in the largest commercial fishery in North America and it’s been certified sustainable for years now, not to mention the fish live their lives as normal until they, well, die. Although the author touches on the massive amounts of bycatch in the shrimp trawling industry, the Alaska pollock trawling has a less than 1% bycatch rate, take it from someone who sees it firsthand. As a vegetarian who has slaughtered thousands of fish in the name of science, this book was really introspective.
All in all, this book was pretty good, but I had my issues. But my favorite takeaway is how I reconcile my flexitarianism: (paraphrased) “The ethics of eating meat could be compared to the ethics of lying: you can either lie all the time, or never.” Indulging myself every now and again isn’t the worst thing in the world… I think…
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Genre: Fiction, romance
GoodReads rating: 3.98 / 5 (110,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Summary: When wedding guests fall ill to the catered food, the coveted honeymoon goes to the bride’s identical twin Olive and her sworn enemy: the husband’s brother Ethan. Will they reconcile (or possibly more) in paradise?
Thoughts: This book kind of sucked. I knew it wasn’t going to be my favorite, but was hoping for something more page-turning after the disappointing Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and depressing Eating Animals. I like a good cliché, but this book was nothing but. Also what’s with all the Harry Potter references? You’re thirty-fricking-two, get a grip. This felt like the characters, mostly Olive, were two decades younger than they were written to be (the infantile bickering, the “drama,” being weirded out about seeing a guy in shorts). This might have been a good story if they were high-school age or something. Oh, and let’s not forget the part when two characters reconcile and everybody in the restaurant claps. The only reason it wasn’t a two-star is for the lovely setting of Maui, I vacationed there with my family growing up and I have a lot of fond memories. Also, running into your boss on vacation? Actually totally realistic. Just at my hotel in Maui, I ran into my classmate and met two guys who happened to be going to a high school in my district.
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Genre: Non-fiction, race relations
GoodReads rating: 4.38 / 5 (13,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Summary: “Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.”
Thoughts: Wow, this workbook was just great. If This Book is Anti-Racist is for the essential reading for the middle/high-schooler, this is essential reading for adults who have more racist experiences under their belt and a better understanding of how to combat them. No matter how “woke” you think you are, I promise you’ll discover something about yourself with this book. I highly suggest obtaining a physical copy or purchasing the e-book so you can refer to it time and time again as the author constantly reminds us, it’s called a workbook for a reason, we can never be anti-racist enough.
Have you read any of these?
Photo by Radu Marcusu.