What I’m Reading | Fall 2015 Reviews

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and PostponingThe Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing by John R. Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars4-stars

Genre: Non-fiction, Productivity, Humor

This book is funny and short and useful. If you procrastinate, read this instead of doing something more important. I have read a lot on the subject of procrastination, most of which just made me feel worse about the procrastinating that I was… yep, still doing. Instead of shaming our laziness or giving us bite-the-bullet (AKA Eat That Frog) strategies, Perry urges his readers to just acknowledge procrastination as a style and use it to your advantage. He calls this structured procrastination: get shit done while you’re avoiding shit you want to do even less. I wish Perry would write more books, because this was literally THE most useful book on productivity I have ever read. But he’s probably busy procrastinating and I love him the more for it.

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 2 of 5 stars2-stars

Genre: Historical Fiction

I tried to read this book several times, but was so put off by the narrator’s condescending, self-righteous tone regarding her younger sister I could not continue. From what I did read, the writing isn’t particularly noteworthy.

The Memory Keeper's DaughterThe Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

My rating: 3 of 5 stars3-stars

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It’s an interesting premise, and there were parts of the story that touched me, but they were few and far between. The plot is artful, clever, but ultimately lacked force. The writing was less than persuasive. And although the story contained a wealth of warmth and sadness, I didn’t care enough about the characters to empathize significantly.
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and KnowInside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars4-stars

Genre: Non-fiction, Animal Science, Psychology

A fascinating and essential read for dog-lovers [who also happen to love reading]. Much of what is presented here is intuitively available, but Horowitz presents scientific reasons for these phenomena. Why do dogs love to lick your face? How do thunder blankets work? Why do they smell EVERYthing? Read this if you are curious about your dog’s point of view.

The Winter Sea (Slains, #1)The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars3-stars

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

While I’m not one to pass by a story set on the cliffs of Scottish sea, I found this book disappointing in character development and complexity. It’s romantic in a childish kind of way; a lot like Outlander but with a less intimate relationship to the protagonist (Sophia is also a less annoying protagonist than Claire, but then that doesn’t say a lot). I loved the imagery. The romance that blossoms between the narrator (a female writer in present day) is palatable, but the historical romance is is fraught with all the sexism and male-savior desperation of its time, meh.

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on DrugsChasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari

My rating: 4 of 5 stars4-stars

Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Psychology, Politics

Hari spends the first half of this book humanizing the victims of the drug war, which I found tedious and anecdotal. The second half of this book is very interesting, and more grounded in science. I found myself questioning a lot of my assumptions about addiction, addicts, drugs, and legalization. I recommend skipping the book and watching Johann Hari’s TED talk “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong.”

A God in RuinsA God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars5-stars-smallbest-of-favorite

Genre: Historical Fiction

I loved this book as much as I loved Life After Life, which is to say: A LOT. Kate Atkinson’s writing is perpetually beautiful and her characters rise off the page. She makes the steadiness of normal life feel exquisite and the extraordinary feel mundane. Historical fiction, English puddings, and emotional depth: what else could one ask for in a book? This is a companion book to Life After Life, not a sequel; and it stand on its own two feet.

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