I've started tracking the books I've read again. Here's a link to the entire years books. If you'd like to see what I've read previously, here's a link to Reading List 2015 and Reading List 2014, the last time I kept track.
I read a lot more fiction this month than I have in the past. I'm still healing from the last spine surgery and am interested in lighter, more fun reads. This month, I found my way through a few fun cozy mystery series. I'm in a book club which brings me to more serious fiction.
Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye, Victoria Laurie
This book is a cross between a cozy mystery and a chick lit book. The story is about a psychic intuitive who gets involved in solving murders. The story is interesting but Abby is kind of an idiot. She over trusts her intuition which puts her friends and others in danger. I was looking for a fun, easy book. It's a fun, easy story. Part of the problem with this book was that I read Maisie Dobbs right after it -- and so loved Maisie Dobbs that everything else paled in comparison.
This is the sequel to Kingdom Come, which I'd read last year. The series follows a young police detective, Elizabeth Harris, who leaves New York City after the brutal murder of her husband. She moves to a small rural police department in rural Pennsylvania. In the first book, she runs head long into a murder involving an Amish girl and her "English" friend. Detective Harris falls for an Amish man who she is living with in the second book. The mystery in this book revolves around tainted cow milk. The cow milk kills entire families in a brutal fashion. Detective Harris's boyfriend serves as our guide to the Amish as he explains Amish families dependence on cow's milk. The book is well written and interesting, even if the killer is fairy obvious in a last man standing kind of way.
Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear
This is the best book I've read in a long time. The story begins right after World War I. We meet Maisie when she's setting up her private investigation and psychologist office. We learn almost right away that she is smart, asks great questions, and really cares about helping people. After the first part of the mystery is resolved, we float back to Maisie's early life where we learn about her rise from a downstairs maid to an upper class family to taking her studies at Oxford. Maisie is a lovely, good hearted person who is a good friend and daughter. The mystery picks back up and Maisie unravels a strategy to bilk war veterans from their money. The book touches on serious issues of post traumatic life specific to World War I. I learned a tremendous amount about the experience of living at this time. I'm looking forward to listening to more of these books.
These books are simply fun. The books revolve around a young woman, Siobhán O’Sullivan, who is bravely raising her younger siblings after their parents were killed in a car accident. Siobhán is as plunky as it comes. I grew up in an American-Irish family where my Aunts said "igh-ut" instead of "idiot," practiced lent, and made "brown bread." I often thought of my aunts as I laughed out loud to some of the things that happened. The mysteries are solid and interesting. The setting, Kilbane, County Cork, is lovely. (My paternal grandmother was from Cork.) These books are great escape. If you're like me and grew up in an Irish family, you'll love these books.
Parable of Talents, Octavia Butler
The Parable of Talents should have been called Claudia's Deepest and Worst Fears Come to Life. Page after page, I found myself marching into my own personal book of horrors. I could have written this book myself -- that is if I were capable of writing about my deepest fears. The basic story is that the United States have deteriorated into a chaotic country with roving bands of armed bruts and thugs who rape, torture, murder, and steal at will. The main character, Lauren Olimina, is 18 when her family is killed in front of her. Somehow, she manages to escape and make her way to Northern California where she sets up a camp. Over the time, she develops her own religion which she puts down into books. When we meet her, she is living in a peaceful community based in her religion, Earthseed. I found the book deeply disturbing and upsetting particularly given the rise of white supremacy and hate crimes. I have no idea how Ms. Butler was able to develop a world that so closely mimics my fears. It was shocking to read them laid out on the page.
I tried to stick to my schedule of at least two Blinks a week this month.
Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra, is about (of all things) the Enlightenment and what the author perceives as the "failure of liberal capitalism." The author makes an oddly fascinating argument that globalism and liberal capitalism has set up the world for our current conflict. I'm not sure that agree with this idea.
The Anatomy of Peace, Arbinger Institute, is probably the best book I blinked this month. It has real tools to help you create peace in your life. I purchased the audio book to listen to the book in depth.
Anything You Want, Derek Sivers, was the usual mix of "make a plan, stick to the plan" and "you can do anything." It didn't mention the rising inequity in the current economy or give strategies to work your way out of your fixed social setting. In that way, the book is a tome to the patriarchy and the lie of the "American Dream."
Find Your Way, Simon Sinek, David Meadows, is about finding your WHY. The idea is that when you know your personal "why" you will know what to spend your life doing. While there is a lot of good stuff here, it continues to press the tired ideas that anyone can have anything without addressing the larger global issues of inequity.
Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger, is a book straight out of the Middle Child Manual. I have tweeted the author to find out how he got permission to share from this secretive tome. He hasn't gotten back with me. Yet. I'll let you know.
The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright. I'm not sure what I expected when I read this book -- not this. The book reviews the history of al Queda including the West's political, social, and cultural humiliation which led to the attacks on 9/11. There were a few things left out -- the rise of suicide bombers and their connection to the Ayatollah's in Iran, for example. Otherwise, I found it to be a great review of what happened.
Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harir. I wanted to like this book, but found that I already knew much of the information and some of what he relates has already been proven wrong. I love this kind of information so I tend to keep right on the edge of discovery.
Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan, has actionable advice on how to improve yourself by taking the time to listen to your mind and body. The book relates how to do body scans as a way of uncovering what's going on with you. Interesting, but not groundbreaking information.
Why the West Rules -- For Now, Ian Morris. I didn't like the snotty tone of this book. I also don't agree with the idea that anyone rules anyone. Cultures get assimilated. That's just how things work.