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« November, 2019 »

Await Your Reply   book icon  
by Dan Chaon (2009)

read: 27 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This was fun and complicated, a lot to take in regarding mental health, identity and what it means to be “who you are.” Psychological semi-mystery that leaves you looking for clues and retracing steps at the end. You’re never sure how the various characters are going to intersect and once you find out, it’s surprising. Compelling.

Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption   book icon  
by Ben Mezrich (2019)

read: 24 November 2019
rating: [-]
category: unfinished

Did not like this. This is the guy who wrote the Social Network and also the book about the MIT kids who made a ton of money playing blackjack. This is about the unlikable Winklevoss twins and unlikeble bitcoin and I did not care for it.

Red Moon   book icon  
by Kim Stanley Robinson (2018)

read: 24 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I like how Robinson can write stories with science angles that aren’t all nitpicky details about made-up machines and actually looks at human relationships as part of these systems. He’s hit or miss with me sometimes, but this one was terrific. A lot of palace intrigue type stuff but a heroine who is female and pregnant and not menaced which was itself a grand achievement.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek   book icon  
by Kim Michelle Richardson (2019)

read: 19 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This book combined two of my interests: packhorse librarians, and the Blue Fugates of Kentucky. Good. Stressful. Lots of rural small mindedness. A little too much of a foreshadowed romance which I felt sort of brought the whole thing into a less-interesting place. Best part was the author’s notes at the end where you can learn about why she chose these particular topics. Of particular note, the cover (which was how I decided to pick up this book) features a white woman’s hands; the main character in this book isn’t really white (which is part of the whole point). I found that one single bit obnoxious, but blame the marketers and not the author.

Glastenbury, the history of a Vermont ghost town   book icon  
by Tyler Resch (2008)

read: 19 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Glastenbury is one of the five unincorporated towns in Vermont but it used to have people living in it, and a railcar that went there. Resch does some excellent digging to come up with photos and stories and histories of the people who live(d) in the town and what made it work for them and what happened to the structures and stories that made the place up. A great little history.

The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery   book icon  
by D. T. Max (2007)

read: 17 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I really like medical mysteries and stories of medical deduction and this one was great. The general topic is the history of how we learned about prion diseases but it goes over a lot of different stories including a family in Italy who seems to have a bizarre hereditary disease and tribespeople in New Guinea who were thought to be cannibals and have gotten a mysterious disease from that practice. And then the author has his own disease that he briefly mentions in the course of talking about this disease which humanizes the whole thing. I really enjoyed this book, even with its creepy cover.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union   book icon  
by Michael Chabon (2007)

read: 14 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This book has been on my to-read list for along time and I’m not sure what took me so long. This slightly complex alternate history which winds up with a Jewish enclave in Sitka Alaska made me realize just now non-Jewish so much of my reading is. There’s a lot of tossed-in Yiddishisms and a lot of recognizable characters in this gorgeously-written tale which is a little bit of a mystery but mostly just a story about chess and family and making up for regrets.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine   book icon  
by Gail Honeyman (2017)

read: 6 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Eleanor is weird and you don’t know why. She has a job and an apartment and a life but just barely. She has a sense of humor. This book follows her as she gets a little less weird and learns things about the world. I really enjoyed the narrator’s voice in this one, appreciated some of her routine-based rigidity and her matter of fact way of talking about a lot of it. Didn’t much care for the big reveal at the end and was super curious about the author’s personal backstory. Very good for a book I’d just randomly picked off of the library shelves.

Murder on Lexington Avenue   book icon  
by Victoria Thompson (2011)

read: 3 November 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This was a period piece mystery that a friend handed to me. It was clearly partway along in a series because there were a lot of “knowing looks” passing between a few of the characters. I enjoyed seeing a slice of NYC right in the cusp of cars and electricity where, again, a lot of your life’s situation depended on your status. This book had the added commentary of the status of Deaf people in the world, were they learning ASL or lip reading? Not something I’ll probably go back to but a competent mystery if a little overwrought at times.

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