Monday, October 21, 2019

December 2018 Mini-Reviews

You guys, this is it. I'm done with 2018 mini-reviews. Now all of the books I need to review have been read within the calendar year! I mean, sure, 2019 is close to over so this cycle is about to start itself over again, but that is very much not the point right now. I don't know why you're such a downer. I'm feeling good about this, don't rain on my parade.*

Alright, let's see what I read in December 2018.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
Things politically are...not great, to put it in the most understated of terms. Reading/listening (audiobook. Which she narrated!) to this was conflicting because there was a lot of "She's so great. Remember when there were competent people in charge?" But this is about Michelle and the focus isn't really on politics (though they obviously come up). She talks about growing up in South Side, Chicago. She talks about her time at Princeton and what it was like to be female and black in this environment. She talks about being a lawyer and meeting Barack and their troubles starting a family and the strain politics can put on a marriage and times she was proud and not-so-proud of her country.
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Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets by John Woolf and Nick Baker, narrated by Stephen Fry
An Audible Original all about the Victorians and some of the more taboo pieces of every day life, including religion, sexuality, drugs. Ya know, all the fun stuff. I can't say I know a huge amount of Victorian history but this was a fun audiobook, and Fry is a great narrator. It's a bit melodramatic, but that makes it all that much more entertaining.
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Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Food in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs, narrated (in part anyway) by Nick Offerman
I include the narrator here since that was part of the draw for this, another Audible Original. (The other draw is the free nature of these originals.) Anyway, this is a biography of Mark Twain, based around food. More specifically around certain dishes that were important to Twain at different points in his life, based on a list of meals Twain talked about missing during his year in Europe. I did zone out from time to time but overall it was an entertaining story/series of interviews about Mark Twain. And makes me think I should prob read more Twain...
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New Family Values by Andrew Solomon
Another Audible Original. Apparently I was saving them up for the end of the year. This one is a series of interviews about families, particularly about the changing nature of families from the traditional nuclear family with a mom, dad and 2.5 kids to gay families and adoptive families and child-free families and multi-parent families. I remember enjoying the book but honestly, I don't remember a huge amount about it. So good but bland, I suppose?
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*Looking at my last mini-review post, I dunno why I have cast you, the reader, in such an antagonistic role here. But I have. Go with it.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Changing Reading Habits

If it hasn't been clear by my significant decrease in posting, habits have changed over this way. Time to read and write have been reduced and my method of reading has had to change as well. I have fully embraced both audiobooks and the library, which really, is about time.

But it's not just the format that's changed, but also the genres. Or more specifically, one genre. Books that deal with parenting. Fiction. Non-fiction. Memoir. Advice. I mean, this shouldn't be too surprising given the whole reason for habits changing.
It's this fancy fella here
I didn't read much in the way of pregnancy books. And I didn't really start picking up parenting books until the last couple months. I suppose it happened when the parenting stuff started to seem more active/interesting because newborns are cute but man, can they be dull. Toddlers are far more active. Far more. The monster goes to a weekly gym class to try to burn off some energy and give him somewhere padded to run.

I haven't necessarily picked up a lot of advice books but more just wanting to read about other parents and the weirdness that is having kids. Kids are weird and parenting is simultaneously the most boring, common thing you can do and so unique and all-consuming. So what are those parenting books I've read? Well, I'm glad you asked, because otherwise this post would be very short.

Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting by Jennifer Traig
Parenting norms have changed so much over the years (people used to tie babies to boards and just sort of...prop them up in the corner and leave them there) and cultural histories are great so this was fun. I mean, also disturbing at times. As history often is.

Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster
If there is one type of parenting book I love, it's data-driven parenting and I am being sincere here. The only pregnancy book I really read was hers (Expecting Better) and as soon as I finished it I immediately looked for anything else she had written. Alas, at that time, there was nothing else and I had to deal with those first months with NO science behind why parents do the things we do. Parenting advice that is more "here's the information, make your own choices using that" is the best kind of advice.

Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenting by Drew Magary 
Parenting is weird and the thought of a 3 year old yelling something that sounds very much like "What's up, fuckface!" is hilarious. And other parts of the book are very touching or very emotional (NICU time, for instance). Listening to this as an audiobook was a great choice for all of the different emotions.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
The library is great because I can pick up a book I may have otherwise passed over, because what do I have to lose? I'm not spending any money on this. And thus when I saw Jenny Lawson say this book was funny, I figured give it a shot. It was funny and cringy and did a good job highlighting how wonderful but also isolating parenting can be.

The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting by Bunmi Laditan
I didn't necessarily intend to read two books by Laditan, let alone back to back, but such is the way things go. The premise of this book started to wear thin near the end (a toddler answers advice column about parenting toddlers from his point of view) but for the most part it was funny.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
I've watched a lot of Jim Gaffigan's standup. I like watching something to fall asleep to that I already know well (so I won't stay up watching it) that both Tom and I can agree on. Which means watching the same few standup specials on Netflix (Gaffigan, Mulaney, Oswalt, Wong are the main ones) an embarrassing amount. Like Netflix, please never tell me how many times I've watched these (or Planet Earth or Blue Planet or Great British Bake Off, which are other night time go tos). Listening to an audiobook of him talk about being a parent to 5 kids in a tiny NYC apartment was right up my alley. Even if a fair amount of the material here made its way into his standup. Or vice versa. Since I clearly don't have a problem with hearing the same jokes 1000 times, this was fine by me.

I didn't start out intending to write some (extra) mini-reviews, but there you go. A round up of recent parenting books. And I'm sure there will be more in my future.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

September Reading Wrap Up

September was a busy month, reading wise. I don't really know why, but I'll take it. Good thing audiobooks are a thing or else my reading would be zero. Plus sitting in traffic is far less painful if I'm listening to book (or a podcast, but this is about books. Focus.) Also really making use of the library. Finally. I mean seriously, about damn time, me.

Not only did I have a good reading month BUT I also THREE TIMES! Which given my writing trends, that's pretty incredible. I mean, sure, none of them were real reviews but still. Getting things done. Some things, anyway.
He's proud
Why don't we get to those stats, shall we?

Number of books read
The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenting by Drew Magary
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

Pages read
1,680 - most read in a month so far this year!

POC Authors

Female authors

US authors



Readalong/Book Club

Book Formats
audiobooks - 100%
Where'd I get the book
Library - 83%
Kindle/Audible - 17%

Decades published
1930s - 17%
1990s - 17%
2010s - 67%

Resolution books
The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson (published in 1991)
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (published 1937, by a UK author)
Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan (POC author)