An Open Book: What I Read in October

Another month, another interesting batch of books read.

I’m getting used to reading on an e-reader now, though the library check-out app is still a bit mystifying at times. I am a voracious consumer of any book that intrigues me and is available through my library in digital format because there are so few, and so far I’ve found enough to keep me going.

When I was writing about the latest thing I knocked off my Life List the other day, I took a look through my ever-growing list again and discovered there is a reading-related accomplishment I’d like to achieve. Though I already set an annual goal of reading 30 books, one of the things I want to do is read at least one fiction and one non-fiction book every month for a year. I tend to get on kicks where I read fiction or non-fiction exclusively for several weeks at a time, so I’m going to make it a point to start diversifying my reading habits on a more frequent basis.

And, I figure October was as good as any to start tackling this particular Life List achievement. To kick it off, this month I present the two non-fiction books and one fiction book I read. (Oh, I can’t wait until next month to tell you about the amazing work of fiction I’m reading right now!)

good books october

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

Three-line review: Diamond’s fact-heavy book provides a thorough – though sometimes dry – account about why some societies succumb to collapse (such as those found on Easter Island and Greenland) while others thrive. While these detailed evaluations are interesting in theory, I was more intrigued by his discussion of how people around the world – particularly those in privileged societies – have to view our living situations in order to avoid future collapses. This issue, which deeply concerns overpopulation (something we don’t talk about nearly enough), is one everyone should be versed in, and this section of the book, at least, should be required reading.

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Three-line review: I don’t remember being stressed out over my college applications, but this story about an admissions officer at Princeton was an engrossing read about a fascinating, complicated and imperfect process that is clearly stress-inducing for a lot of people. I enjoyed Korelitz’s writing style, though sometimes felt she got a bit bogged down in her main character’s personal struggles. Nonetheless, this was a very readable book, and I’m especially happy that it left me feeling satisfied without needing a tidy bow to tie it all up.

Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael S. Kimmel

Three-line review: This was a particularly pertinent book to read right now, given the current state of news in the United States, especially Donald Trump’s misogynistic remarks and the easy brush-off for young men accused of assaulting women. Kimmel, a gender studies scholar, offers insight on how American culture has come to create a safe and culturally acceptable environment for young men balancing between childhood and adulthood who participate in disgusting, dangerous and dehumanizing behavior. The author provides ample examples of these behaviors, explains how they’ve become acceptable and even normal, and, perhaps most importantly, what can be done to help turn the tide on this trend that not only hurts those who are at the brunt of guys’ actions in general but also young men themselves.

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