An Open Book: What I Read in October

October was a whirlwind of work, travel, and recovery from all the work and travel. I worked my way through a few books and took time to reflect specifically on The Nature Fix, but I also caught up on all the articles I’ve been tucking away to read “later.”

The new year is sneaking up on us … what books are you hoping to read before the year is over?

book review

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams (4/5 stars)

Three-line review: This book provides scientific evidence for what I already knew to be true: Being in nature is good for our health. I appreciated the in-depth review of experiments, studies, and cultural norms illustrating what it is about nature that elevates our happiness, physical and mental health, peace of mind, creativity, problem-solving skills, and more. The only thing I could have done without is the author’s attempt at being cheeky and clever, which just came off as obnoxious and distracting.

Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir by Donna M. Johnson (5/5 stars)

Three-line review: Wow. This eye-opening memoir lays open everything you might want to know about the tent revival circuit and the people — and neglect, abuse, deception, inequality, fear, confusion, and money — tied up with David Terrell, who was once one of America’s most famous holy roller tent revivalists. Johnson is honest and raw, sharing her experience as she knows it — positive, negative, and everything in between.

Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin (3/5 stars)

Three-line review: I’m intrigued by the concept behind this book — decoding Orwell’s inspiration as a writer from his experiences of living and working in Burma (now known as Myanmar) — but it fell a bit flat for me. I learned a bit about Orwell, a bit about Burma, and a bit about the connection between the two, but I didn’t feel invested in the author’s journey. Three stars for a promising premise with occasional interesting moments padded by lackluster personal commentary.

The Justice Game by Randy Singer (2/5 stars)

Three-line review: Don’t bother comparing anyone to John Grisham; it just sets the book up for disappointment. This crime novel (centered around gun violence) starts a bit slow, picks up a decent cadence midway through, and then wraps up so quickly I didn’t even follow what the ending was. Also, there were some strange tangential bits that didn’t add anything to the story and just muddled the already convoluted plot.

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