Reading wrap-up #50

I’m going to make this my last reading wrap-up for the year so I have time to make my 2020 in Books post and attribute my last few reviews of the year to next year.

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.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot: Moriarty, Liane: 9780425247440: BooksRating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction, contemporary

GoodReads rating:  4.08 / 5 (361,000 ratings)

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

Summary: Alice is twenty-nine, totally in love with her husband and excited for her first child… until one day, she’s not. She hits her head and has somehow lost a decade of her life. Now with three children, a pending divorce and a life she doesn’t recognize, she must try to remember what she forgot.

Warning: This book contains mention of miscarriage.

Thoughts: Meh. The first third tricked me into thinking this was going to be an interesting book but unfortunately it fell flat. It didn’t have the same impact as Big Little Lies despite its fascinating premise. Also, I still hate those “years later” epilogues which this had. Ugh.

Other adaptations: Rights to a lot of this author’s books, including this one, have been bought but no solid news in  a number of years.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want to Talk About Race | IndieBound.orgRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, race

GoodReads rating:  4.52 / 5 (67,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.”

Warning: This book contains mention of racial violence.

Thoughts: I don’t give five stars out very often but this earned every single one of them. One of the most accessible and helpful race books I’ve read this year answering questions we all have no matter how “woke” we think we are. I listened to this as I was driving up to Seattle (where this author is from) so I really enjoyed them talking about their lived experiences and tying into a broader lesson we can all take away from.

Similar reads: How to Be an Anti-Racist is another good book about race with a strong personal narrative.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer: McNamara, Michelle, Flynn, Gillian, Oswalt, Patton: 9780062319784: BooksRating: ★★★★

Genre: True crime

GoodReads rating:  4.12 / 5 (161,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.”

Warning: This book contains graphic descriptions of rape and murder.

Thoughts: I know I add warnings for a lot of my books, but this book is extremely graphic and not for everyone. I wouldn’t suggest reading it all in one go (like I did) or binge-watching the HBO show (also like I did). Anyway, this book was good but not “wow” to me, especially since they didn’t catch the guy while this was published and there was no afterword on the topic (not a spoiler because you can see the year this book was published vs. when he was caught). I didn’t care too much for the wandering off-topic of how the author got into true crime and there is still something about people being obsessed with serial killers that doesn’t sit right with me, but this book was still engrossing (emphasis on “gross”).

Other adaptations: I actually watched this series it’s pretty good. Not to speak ill of the dead, but I wish the series focused less on Michelle and more about the case. I think the series was more impactful with interviews of the actual victims and closure now that the scumbag is caught.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything: Bryson, Bill: 8601410908072: BooksRating: ★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, science

GoodReads rating:  4.20 (nice) / 5 (305,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “In Bryson’s biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps.”

Thoughts: I liked this a lot! Although it would probably be a tad dry reading it, I listened to the audiobook on a long drive. This book is basically the history of the most important scientific discoveries that help us understand our place in the universe. The physics and cosmology things pretty much went right over my head, but I loved the bits on taxonomy and nature. I love a book that gives me little known information (check out the Manson Crater and thank me later for blowing all your friends’ minds) and reminds me of my own life experiences: like the backstage tour of the London Natural History Museum and several mentions of Arizona (Meteor Crater, landmark studies from the University of Arizona and discoveries at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff).

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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