Book 439: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller

Fuller, Alexandra - Don't Let's Go to the Dogs TonightI would never have selected this book to read for a few reasons: it’s nonfiction; it’s a memoir/autobiography; it’s set on the African continent; and it’s not by someone I know anything about. Now I have nothing against any of these things, they’re just not on my usual list of go-to’s for books to read and that’s why I’m glad book group chose auto/biographies and memoirs this year. We’ve already done Fun Home and Girl In A Band, and there are a few interesting ones left on the list, so we’ll see what’s next.

That being said, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It did take a little longer to read than expected, but adjusting to a new job while trying to read a piece of nonfiction wasn’t exactly the brightest idea, but that’s book group for you. I think it also didn’t help that Fuller’s story telling style would I think be better in person or as a spoken story rather than a written narrative.

It was hard to know what I was expecting from this book. Going in I didn’t know if it would be about the revolutions/civil wars that took place or if it was going to be about post-colonialism. I also had no idea where in the hierarchy of white settlers Fuller’s story would fall. Thankfully, it sort of talks about all of this but through the eyes of a child. Continue reading

Book 438: An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet #5) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet #5)It’s like L’Engle knew exactly what I was struggling with when she wrote An Acceptable Time. I had been struggling with the mundanity of the O’Keefe Family series and I’d been complaining about the short rapid endings. I’m not sure if she answered all my questions, but she wrote this one well/differently enough that it felt like she answered all of my concerns about the series.

It was also, to me at least, great that this book was the eighth book written and the eighth in the series, the only other one to happen like this is the first. But I think that probably worked to L’Engle’s advantage in that the interconnectedness of the two series is apparent throughout. The mentions of characters and happenings is excellent, but I was a little confused about how open the Murray’s were about their children’s time travel and experiences, but a little less open in this book about their granddaughters’. Perhaps it has to do with getting old, or Polly not being their permanent responsibility, but it felt a bit odd considering the first four books in the series.

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Book 437: A House Like A Lotus (O’Keefe Family #3) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - A House Like A Lotus (O'Keefe Family #3)As much as I enjoyed the other O’Keefe novels, this one just didn’t work for me. It’s still a great novel, but something about the lay out or Polly’s age, or the subject matter just didn’t work for me. It also didn’t help that I ended a job and started a new one all in the middle of reading this book, so the timing could definitely have been better.

A House Like A Lotus is the third of the O’Keefe Family Series, the sixth book published, but the seventh in chronological order in the Kairos (Murray-O’Keefe) series. It continues the themes of the O’Keefe books of humanity and what people can do to make the world a better place for everyone. Maybe that’s what I didn’t like about this one? Maybe it was too hippy-dippy for me? But considering some of the hippier-dippier books I’ve read recently I don’t think so.

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Book 436: Dragons in the Waters (O’Keefe Family #2) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - Dragons in the Water (O'Keefe Family #2)I am slowly making my way through the final books in the Kairos portion of L’Engle’s oeuvre. This is the sixth book in chronological story order and the fourth book published in the Murray-O’Keefe books (AKA Kairos). It takes place about six months after the action of The Arm of the Starfish and a few years (I think) before A House Like a Lotus which my response should be published later this week.

I’m glad I’ve expanded my L’Engle reading if only to fully finish the Murray-O’Keefe story line, which the more I dig into the less I think I have actually read because all of her works are intertwined, but I think I will be giving her a rest after I finish this Super-Series. With only A House Like a Lotus and An Acceptable Time left to go I think that would be both a reasonable and acceptable dive into L’Engle’s works.

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Book 428: Girl In A Band – Kim Gordon

Gordon, Kim - Girl In A BandFor our second book in our year of biography/autobiography/memoir books someone chose Kim Gordon’s Girl In A Band. It’s a look back on her time in the band Sonic Youth (never heard of them) and about her life as an artist. Seriously though, not my thing. I looked up a few of their most well-known songs on YouTube and was like “nope.” I just need a bit more structure in my music. It’s probably the same reason I don’t like jazz. I’m also still not quite sure what the difference is between New Wave, No Wave, Punk, and Post punk, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this book, or at least two more that we’re planning to read. It’s mostly because I know nothing about the subject matter, but it’s also because I don’t find the subject matter interesting. That being said I did find enough in this book to keep me mostly engaged.

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Book 422: Smarter Faster Better – Charles Duhigg

Duhigg, Charles - Stronger Faster BetterWhen I requested a copy of this upcoming book (released March 8, 2016) from Random House*, I was really hoping for a repeat of Duhigg’s 2012 The Power of Habit. Unfortunately, there was something missing from this one. I can’t quite figure out what it is, but I think it has to do with the first book being much easier to apply and this one overall being more theoretical.

That being said, this was incredibly readable and had a lot of great case studies that I’ve encountered in numerous settings and other books I’ve read recently about work productivity and managing up. Duhigg’s writing style is incredibly easy to read and he seamlessly ties together disparate examples to elucidate his points. Off the top of my head a few are: the development of Disney’s Frozen, General Electric (I feel like I’m an expert after Badowski’s excellent Managing Up), aviation near-crashes, the writing and staging of West Side Story, Google, Cincinnati school reform, debt collection and many others! Needless to say you will easily find at least one example that you really identify with.

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Book 386: The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3)This was one of those books that makes you feel so much that you can’t really respond to it. I lost track of the number of times I teared up because of what was happening in the story. Seriously, within the first 100 pages I’m pretty sure I teared up at least three times. Unfortunately, most of you will have to wait to read it until it’s released on October 27, but you should read it, trust me.

It’s always hard to finish a story, but when it’s written well and has great characters it’s that much harder. A small part of me wasn’t sad because I still have The Lost Abbey to explore when it’s finally released as a collection, but the rest of me is exhausted from living Maia’s story in such a short span of time. Having finished The Banished of Muirwood and The Ciphers of Muirwood rapidly and diving right into this, thanks to 47North*, I’ve been fully immersed in Muirwood for a little over a week (and longer if you count my binge of the first trilogy late last month).

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