Reading wrap-up #53

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.

The Little Prince by Antione de Saint-Exupery The Little Prince (8580001044842): Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Richard Howard: BooksRating: ★★★

Genre: Children’s

GoodReads rating: 4.31 / 5 (1,415,000 ratings)

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

Summary: After travelling through the cosmos to meet a universe of narrow-minded adults, the little prince lands on earth and meets a narrator to share his adventures and realizations with.

Thoughts: With the insanely high ratings this has, I expected a lot more. This is absolutely appropriate adults as well (in fact, I think adults would get more out of it than children), but I didn’t feel as inspired or anything really, and I cry at chewing gum commercials.

Other adaptations: There is a 2015 movie that critics liked, but not so much viewers.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark eBook by Alvin Schwartz - 9780062682840 | Rakuten Kobo United StatesRating: ★★★

Genre: Young adult, horror

GoodReads rating: 4.04 / 5 (57,000 ratings)

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

Summary: “This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz’s popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.”

Warning: This book contains images that may frighten some readers.

Thoughts: I picked this up because I thought it had a story that disturbed me as a child by the same author (about a woman whose ribbon around her neck holds her head to the rest of her body… if you know, you know), but I was mistaken. These stories are quite short and while that’s effective from some stories, the other ones weren’t fleshed out enough to leave me in much suspense. However, I did like The Viper and The Thing a lot and the illustrations are amazing.

Other adaptations: The 2019 movie fared okay with critics, less so with viewers. I’ll read any kind of horror book but I don’t watch any horror movies, I’m too much of a baby (full disclosure, I even had to mute the trailer I watched halfway through).

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Know My Name: A Memoir: Miller, Chanel: 9780735223707: BooksRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Memoir, social justice

GoodReads rating: 4.71 / 5 (65,000 ratings)

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

PopSugar prompt: A book about art or an artist

Summary: “She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus… Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.”

Warning: This book contains graphic descriptions of rape throughout and mention of suicide and violence.

Thoughts: I’m sure this case has been on your radar at some point or another. I wanted to hear about her struggles in her own words after it came strongly suggested by Cindy. The story is so beautifully written, it’s clear that Chanel is a writer which sets this apart from a lot of other memoirs I’ve read. She brings real nuance to rape culture with on point metaphors and vulnerability. This book is everything. One of my new favorite book passages of all time: “I do know that when I was four years old I could not lift a gallon of milk, could not believe how heavy it was, that white sloshing boulder. I’d pull up a wooden chair to stand over the counter, pouring the milk with two shaking arms, wetting the cereal, spilling. Looking back I don’t remember the day I lifted it with ease. All I do know is now I do it without thinking, can do it one-handed, on the phone, in a rush. I believe the same rules apply, that one day I’ll be able to tell this story without shaking my foundation. Each time will not require an entire production, a spilling, a sweating forehead, a mess to clean up, sopping paper towels. It will be a part of my lift, every day easier to lift.”

Similar reads: Missoula by Jon Krakauer also details rape in a college town.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (Mark Manson Collection Book 1) - Kindle edition by Manson, Mark. Self-Help Kindle eBooks @ ★★

Genre: Non-fiction, self-help

GoodReads rating: 3.93 / 5 (566,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

PopSugar prompt: A book you have seen on someone’s bookshelf (my roommates’)

Summary: “In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.”

Thoughts: God, this was so bad. Where do I begin? I had low expectations going into this book but as I already DNF’d two audiobooks (Trust Exercise and Travels in Alaska) before this one, I had no choice but to stick it out. Like Christmas movies, for every one good self-help book, there are about 200 bad ones. It’s clear book was made for a certain demographic (the one who looks up The Wolf of Wall Street a.k.a. Jordan Belfort: cis, white, straight, middle-to-upper class men) as it completely ignores privilege and  chocks up all your shortcomings to personal responsibility. At one point, he even says the rich have problems because they’re rich… absolutely not. That’s the exact opposite of a problem. I’m not saying rich people don’t have problems, but money is not one of them (if you have too much, give it away). In fact, mostly all the stories of both hardship and success are about men. The excessive swearing gets old (and this is coming from someone who swears like a sailor), it just seems like a cheap way to look “edgy.” Also, using this man’s own philosophy against him, he says people who have to tell themselves they’re happy probably aren’t, so I guess if you have to keep telling yourself you don’t give a fuck, you probably do. He is also contradictory in the book a few times, most notably when he’s talking about how 25-year-olds who haven’t lived should be dishing out advice when he was 32 when this book was published and probably years younger when he started writing it. I also hated the part about “victimhood chic,” as the author knows nothing about systemic oppression never having experienced it himself. However, there are some good bits such as the onion chapter and agree with the central message of emphasizing and reprioritizing what adds value to your life. I can see where some of his ideas were going, but they were just so poorly executed. For example, one chapter is about how we’re not special, when his points were more along the line of “whatever you’re going through, other people have probably gone through it too,” which is a lot less aggressive and more constructive. But as soon as you think this book is making an okay point, the author goes and shoots himself in the foot.

Have you read any of these? 

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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