12 Books In January 2020
- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century -Yuval Noah Harari
I enjoyed this read, but I do feel that the title is a bit misleading, since the lessons are a bit vague. Harari attempts to tackle some big issues (globalization, climate change, technological advances, nuclear war) in this singular work. The premise of the book is to examine the biggest issues that we’re facing in the world today, but this is more a philosophical and contextual presentation, because there weren’t that many concrete potential suggestions. This makes sense. Any change requires the cooperation of the entire society as a whole and since our populations are bigger and more connected than ever, it becomes more difficult and more complex to bridge all of our differences to solve these issues. I personally think that this one is his weakest work where Sapiens is my favorite from what he’s written.
2. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow -Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus is another book that I thought was more philosophical than prescriptive. This one focuses on the potential future(s) of humankind and I must admit that I’m a person that enjoys Harari’s writing style, which probably contributes to why I like this work so much. It’s thought-provoking while being written in accessible language and each possible future is contextually framed.
3. The Nightingale -Kristin Hannah
I saw a lot about this book before I picked it up and it revolves around two sisters in France who are subjected to the ups and downs of the scope of World War II. I felt quite neutral about this book, though I enjoyed it, I didn’t think that it was extraordinary. I did enjoy this perspective from two women who have different stances and perspectives on what should happen during the war and what they want and expect for their own lives.
4. The Cactus -Sarah Haywood
This was an interesting little love story. It’s about Susan, who is used to having things a certain way and holds everyone at a distance emotionally. However, the death of her mother prompts her to learn more about her past to object to her mother’s will. I’ve seen a lot of comparison of the plot to Eleanor Oliphant, but I deeply loved Eleanor’s character, and Susan just never grew to that level.
5. It’s Always The Husband -Michele Campbell
This is marketed as a thriller and I did enjoy getting to the end to see what and how things happened. However, you basically don’t want to root for anyone in this book, it felt like all the characters were unlikeable.
6. Manhattan Beach -Jennifer Egan
I thought this book has an interesting premise, set during WWII, told from three different perspectives, and focusing on one woman’s will to defy all conventions of the time period. I did enjoy this and I thought Jennifer Egan did a wonderful job crafting this since I didn’t think too deeply about many of the holes that other reviewers picked out, so there is that, but upon reading all those reviews… there’s quite a bit that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
7. We Cast A Shadow -Maurice Carlos Ruffin
I remember enjoying this book though it is a haunting read. It’s set in a future South where racism is normalized and it focuses on a Black father who is setting out to turn his own son white so that he’ll be protected from the dangers of the society that they live in. This satire proved to be very creepy and haunts me to this day.
8. The Water Dancer -Ta-Nehisi Coates
I’m a huge fan of Coates’ writing style and this one is no exception. It follows Hiram, an enslaved Black man, who discovers a talent for Conduction (which has a spiritual, magical description, almost like teleportation) and decides to use his gifts to assist with the Underground Railroad. This is a beautiful novel of hope, joy, desperation, and faith.
9. Vendetta In Death -J.D. Robb
I’m a sucker for J.D. Robb’s In Death series, because I’ve known and loved these characters since I was 12. The premise of this book is there’s a madwoman vigilante warrior, Lady Justice, who has taken it upon herself to kill men who have wronged women and Eve Dallas and the force have to put a stop to her dispensing justice. I feel like my favorite part of these books is the relationship of the recurring characters.
10. Dragon Pearl -Yoon Ha Lee
This is promoted by the author of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan, where they’re attempting to promote and uplift the myths and stories from different cultures but set it in a kind of society that kids today can recognize. I thoroughly enjoyed this storyline though it may be unexpected if you’re going from Percy Jackson straight to this one, because this one is set on a different planet completely from Earth with very different rules. Dragon Pearl pulls from Korean myths.
11. Nothing To See Here -Kevin Wilson
I picked this book up on a whim and Kevin Wilson’s writing style was so captivating and interesting as he writes from the perspective of Lillian, the main character. Lillian is asked to take care of twins that have the ability to literally catch on fire and a lot of shenanigans ensue, but I liked that the twins catch on fire as a response to specific emotional things, which I think is something that is difficult to explain about mental health. With the children catching on fire, it reveals how real those feelings and that pain can be. I thoroughly enjoyed Lillian and Mary as characters.
12. And Then There Were None -Agatha Christie
If you’re looking for something on the short, but intriguing side, I highly recommend this one. I was very taken aback by where this ended up ending, the twist really got me.