An Open Book: What I Read in May

Now that we’re full-on spring / summer mode, I never miss an opportunity to get outside for an afternoon walk. As a result, I “read” more. This hour I spend walking and listening to my current audio book is absolutely one of the highlights of my day. It’s a win-win with the bonus of skipping out on more “productive” work at the same time.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the “beach book” lately. Are there certain kinds of books you’re more likely to gravitate toward in the summer?

I don’t necessarily have a personal “beach book” genre, though I’ll have access to an actual library this summer. To say I’m beyond thrilled is an understatement. I already made a list of books that can only properly be enjoyed with a real, live book in hand — picture books, coffee table books, and the like.

The list is <ahem> 83 books long, but a girl can dream, right?

book review

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan (4/5 stars)

Three-line review: This book came up in our book club queue just as Denver began discussing the legalization of psilocybin, so it was a very timely read. Pollan thoroughly dissects the history (sometimes to a fault) and brain science of the drug, and complements this with lots of interviews and his own experiences. In addition to getting a bit too scholarly at times, my only other complaint is he seemed to color some of his investigation and observations with a strangely masked bias.

Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity by Alison Flowers (3/5 stars)

Three-line review: This book features the stories of four people who have been wrongly convicted and incarcerated. While I found the concept of the book interesting, it wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped. I think there was a missed opportunity to talk more about the societal, political, and cultural conditions that lead to wrongful incarceration and, occasionally, exoneration.

Love Me by Garrison Keillor (3/5 stars)

Three-line review: This story follows a one-time wonder best-selling author, his rise to fame, and his jarring crash back to reality. I love Keillor’s cadence and writing style, especially when mixed with wit and cultural and geographical touch points with which I relate. Unfortunately, the main character is fairly unlikable though quite realistic, I am afraid.

book reviews

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (5/5 stars)

Three-line review: I adored Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story, and I liked this one just as much but for different reasons. Though written around the theme of the 1996 fire of Venice’s famous Fenice opera house, this book is really a much deeper ethnographic dive into the curious characters, complex history, and mysterious vibe of Venice, Italy. I was sucked in from the very first page and remained engaged and interested throughout the entire book.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit (3/5 stars)

Three-line review: This book is a rambling, introspective selection of essays dancing around the theme of getting (and being) lost and different interpretations of discovery (and re-discovery). Solnit’s use of language is lovely, though occasionally her train of thought gets (appropriately) lost. A good book to pick up if you have 20 extra minutes here or there to immerse yourself in someone else’s stream of consciousness.

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus (4/5 stars)

Three-line review: Part memoir, part case study, part philosophical thesis, this book is an admirable imagining of a world that could be. Yunus has successfully developed several companies built on the social business model, but the sad truth is a lot of powerful people in the world don’t want to eradicate poverty, so even though there’s a blueprint to develop other similar businesses, this carefully considered model will never take off on a global scale (yes, that’s the realist in me speaking). I appreciated the introduction to this new way of thinking about economics, business, and capitalism, however, and Yunus’ story is certainly an inspiring one.

There but for the by Ali Smith (3/5 stars)

Three-line review: Quirky and creative, There but for the is an innovative story told with intriguing literary devices. Told in four parts, I particularly liked the first two and fourth parts, though I failed to understand how the third part fit in with the rest of the story. Though this book piqued my interest, I listened to the audiobook version of this story; reading reviews, I think I would have enjoyed it better if I’d actually read the book instead.

One Response to “An Open Book: What I Read in May”

  1. Jill

    I’m adding The City of Falling Angels to my reading list for sure! Always interesting to find what your opinions are.

    Reply

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