Sunday, 22 January 2017

Men Explain Things to Me

Book 8 of 2017 is Men Explains Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

I have to stop reading similar books one after the other. This is good writing. This is relevant to what is happening in the world at the moment and certainly to my work.

The only complaint I have about this book is that it seems to lack purpose. It is a bunch of very well written essays that are not pulled together to draw a conclusion or make a point. That is thoroughly disappointing.

Four mansplainers out of five.

Should I read this? I wish I could have every man I know read this but in reality, it will be the women. Read it and know you are not alone. Find your confidence and don't let anyone shake it.
What did I learn? You should carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white male :P

All the Single Ladies - Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

Book 7 of 2017 is All the Single Ladies - Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister.

I am a feminist. That's not new news to anyone who knows me. This book isn't about being single and justifying that. It is about research backed data that explores the idea that western women are now in control of their own lives and choose how men will participate in.

My concern when starting this was that it would be bitter but it was kind, respectful to all and hopeful.

Five strong women out of five.

Should I read this? For sure. It is not just for single women.
What did I learn? So much that I would need a post all about this. The data she presents is solid and then accompanied by anecdotes too which made it more human. I now like that kind of non-fiction.

Friday, 20 January 2017

How To Train Your Dragon

Book 6 of 2017 is How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell.

For a book that is aimed at children, this transcends all those boundaries. My friend Katie chose this as an audio book for a road trip we did last weekend and it was perfect. Light, well read by Dr. Who (David Tennant) and an enjoyable story with characters I wanted to love and hate. This is wonderful on every level.

This is the kind of book that you should read no matter your age.

Five toothless heroes out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. No buts about it. Just read it already.
What did I learn? Scholars are heroes.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Book 5 of 2017 is Illuminae by Amie Kaufman.

Continuing with consciously reading female authors in 2017 sees me read my fifth in five books. I'm sure I can't ignore male authors but this gives me a good incentive to read books I may have decided to top with something higher up the pile written by a man. It is changing my reading style.

This book is very interesting. It is written in the style of a hacked dossier so fits the whole wikileaks theme of the moment. The AI character is very HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey but extends that in a Young Adult book way. I won't say too much about that so as not to spoil it for anyone.

This is book one of a series and I'm not sure I will continue with it but this was enjoyable because it was original but safely predictable.

Three space walks out of five.

Should I read this? This is another YA book that will appeal to someone who wants an easy read with a few twists.
What did I learn? You never know when your entire world will fall apart so live life like this is your last day on Earth... or the moon.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A Man of Some Repute

Book 4 of 2017 is A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson.

This has been described as a very British mystery and boy, is that true? I could hear the accents as a read it. With that in mind, the story is very much like a BBC weekly crime show and I love those. In keeping with this genre, the twists were mostly predictable so this was more about the characters. The Brits often appear mild and reserved but there is often more to a person than that. This is what I enjoyed thoroughly about this book.

This is not the best murder mystery book out there but it keeps with the theme and is a satisfying read.

Four men fainting at the sight of blood out of five.

Should I read this? Yes, if you like BBC murder mysteries.
What did I learn? Some authors write accents really well.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

If Someone Says "You Complete Me," RUN!

Book 3 of 2017 is If  Someone Says "You Complete Me," RUN! by Whoopi Goldberg.

I consumed this as an audio book. This is the third book I've read this year and so far they are all by female authors. My goal for this year is to have at least 50% of the authors of the books I read be women. So far, so good. Last year, 10 of the 30 books I read were by women. Very disappointing.

This is my kind of relationship book. When I picked it up, I didn't consider it a relationship book but more comedy. Interestingly, it was both.

My life is not quite a conventional one and although my friends and family respect how I choose to live for myself, I've not oft heard this touted as by someone famous in a book. This took me from always loving Whoopi to feeling quite connected to her.

Some people are not meant for relationships but society seems to keep forcing us to reassess what is wrong with us and why we choose to be alone like we are broken. It is so nice to hear someone say that it's a different way to live but it isn't wrong.

Four drive-bys out of five.

Should I read this? In this case, it is a 4 hour listen so not too long. I think that it would be helpful for most people single or otherwise to read it.
What did I learn? I am not alone in how I choose to live my life.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Talking As Fast As I Can

Book 2 of 2017 is Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham.

I am so glad that I read this within weeks of watching the revival of Gilmore Girls. Graham had me in fits of laughter, tears and finally with my heart broken for the third time as I say goodbye to Lorelai again.

The thing I loved the most about this was that she writes like she seems in Gilmore Girls and that did not disappoint me.

There are spoilers towards the end so don't read it until you have watched every episode ever made including the revival.

The writing is free and honest. I consumed this is just under 6 hours.

Five cups of mother and daughter banter out of five.

Should I read this? If you are a Gilmore Girls fan then absolutely. Not sure it will mean as much if you aren't. But who isn't a fan?
What did I learn? I learnt that the last four words of a TV show are very important.


Book 1 of 2017 is Grunt by Mary Roach.

This is a book I was trying to get through before the end of 2016 but December was disrupted and so this ends on the second day of the new year. Last year, I missed completing my 2016 Good Reads Reading Challenge with 30 or the 36 books finished. For 2017, I've set the challenge to 30 books which does not feel daunting.

Having never read Mary Roach before, I was expecting this to be a boring text book with some good statistics. Boy, was I wrong. She is a very entertaining writer and had regularly laughing between IEDs destroying penile function, disinterested sharks and polar bears obsessed with tampons.

I can't say I enjoyed every section. This was about war and that means that there are hard truths to read. Some chapters saw me put down the book and walk away for a few days to read fantasy in order to process the horrors of war. Roach does talk about everything with respect and an appropriate sense of humour. She had my respect on that.

This is both disturbing and enlightening. It is not for everyone.

Four special ops goldfish in a submarine out of five.

Should I read this? This is a hard one to answer. It may trigger people who have been in similar situations. It may be a bit to gory and detailed for some. I very much approached it as science and still cringed regularly. I'd say only read it if you can compartmentalise well.
What did I learn? Where to start: so much. That's why I would recommend reading this book. It made me look at war science in a very different way. It's not just nuclear science or signals processing. There is the people part. I guess I learnt that... these are real people dying for... something.