November 2021–Part One

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

The Water Keeper by Charles Martin (Length: 352 pages).   I believe this is the tenth book by Charles Martin that I’ve read, and I picked this one up thanks to a friend who recommended it. He said it made him cry, and I always appreciate a good cry. Spoiler alert: I didn’t cry. This novel (the first in a two book series featuring the character Murphy Shepherd) is probably my least favorite of Martin’s, mostly because of several unbelievable coincidences that occur, and the book’s central premise is way too out there. Murphy Shepherd is a priest/federal agent or special ops solider who rescues victims of sex trafficking in the Florida Keys, and then has them transported to a secret village in Colorado to recover. There are some continuity issues in the plot that bothered me (for example, in one scene a boat mechanic is sleeping but then is standing up holding a box cutter). The writing itself is strong (Martin can write!) but I felt emotionally manipulated, and therefore, too annoyed to cry when the author was pulling at my heartstrings. I will say the plot was propulsive enough to keep me reading to see how it ends. It remains to be seen whether I’ll pick up book two. (Given that my TBR is currently over 400 books I’m going to say probably not.)

Book #2:

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (Length: 284 pages).  This book is amazing and is a must-read for those who would never even think of picking it up, unfortunately. It’s incredibly well-written, but not preachy. The author intersperses his personal experiences with several “truth bombs” about this country’s racist past and present. You do need an open mind and heart to read this, but I believe it’s worth it. I found myself tabbing several passages that made me think, and ended up filling a few pages of a Word document with these passages. Such as, “Assimilationist ideas reduce people of color to the level of children needing instruction on how to act.  Segregationist ideas cast people of color as “animals” to use Trump’s descriptor for Latinx immigrants—unteachable after a point.  Antiracist ideas are based in the truth that racial groups are equals in all the ways they are different.” And, “White racists do not want to define racial hierarchy or policies that yield racial inequities as racist.  To do so would be to define their ideas and policies as racist.  Instead they define policies not rigged for White people as racist. . .  Beleaguered White racists who can’t imagine their lives not being the focus of any movement respond to “Black Lives Matter” with All Lives Matter.  Embattled police officers who can’t imagine losing their right to racially profile and brutalize respond with “Blue Lives Matter.” Finally, “White supremacists blame non-White people for the struggles of White people when any objective analysis of their plight primarily implicates the rich White Trumps they support.” (My note: If any of these phrases bother you, you’re the intended audience who SHOULD read this book.)

Book #3:

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Length: 328 pages).  My sweet daughter bought me this psychological thriller as a gift for me going back to work as a criminal prosecutor. 🙂 Alicia Berenson shoots her husband five times in the face, killing him. Then she stops talking for years, through the trial and subsequent confinement in a state mental facility. The majority of the novel is told from the point of view of Dr Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist who tries to figure out how to get her to speak again. There is a huge twist, per usual, that is ultimately very counterintuitive factually speaking. That bothered the intellectual part of my brain, but the strong writing and the fast-paced plot kept the fun-seeking part of my brain happy so I think it’s ultimately worth a read.

Book #4:

Wake up Happy by Michael Strahan (audiobook: 5 hours 38 minutes).   This is the first audiobook I’ve “read” in years. But thanks to a daily commute and the fact that I’ve been running out of podcasts to listen to, I decided to try this memoir/inspirational read that I heard on a book podcast is a good one for those readers who don’t care for self help books but who prefer motivational reads. I agree that it’s not a typical self help book which I appreciated but it is fairly superficial in tone. This would be a good pick for someone who is a true fan of Michael Strahan (I don’t care for football and I’ve never watched GMA or Live With Kelly and Michael). I’m not but it was an easy and enjoyable audiobook to listen to. (It is narrated by Michael which makes it more meaningful in my opinion).

Book #5:

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Length: 276 pages).  This memoir by a woman in science first came on my radar when President Obama mentioned in a few years ago as a book on his book list, and then I heard Anne Bogel recommend it on her podcast What Should I Read Next? With alternating chapters about trees/leaves/botany (perfect for my nerdy heart) and chapters about the author’s life, this reminded me of Moby Dick with the whaling history chapters bookending the dramatic tale of Ahab chasing the white whale. And drama it is with the female scientist who has navigated her professional career while suffering from manic depression. Her chapters about the constant struggle to get funding as well as support her interesting lab partner Bill (who happily lives in his van or in an office) are stressful, but absolutely humanize her life as a scientist. Her anecdotes about Bill are often laugh out loud funny, which lessen the stressful accounts of her sometimes-difficult personal life. This is definitely a more esoteric and niche read, but if you’re at all scientifically-inclined, this is a worthy read.

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