One of my New Years resolutions this year (actually, for about the past ten years, probably) has been to read 52 books. A book a week. Some years I hit it, some years I don't. This year I'm actually on track to beat it -- I'm about 9 books ahead now.
Since there's little I love more than talking about books, I thought I'd do some quick-and-dirty book reviews at the end of each month. So here's what I read in July.
I thought this was alright. It was a sort of mystery / thriller / horror and does a pretty good job of creating a tense and atmospheric set-up. Unfortunately, I guessed the twist about a third of the way through, but I think it would have been a more fun read if you'd only figured out 'whodunnit' at the end. Also, a lot of reviewers said the violence / crime scenes were too graphic, but if you happen to have watched all seven seasons of Criminal Minds over the past three months, you'd probably be pretty immune to it. Not that I've done that, cough cough.
Stephen King is sort of comfort reading for me. Is that morbid? I guess it's because I've been reading his books since I was about 12. The stories all go about the same way too -- there's some inherent evil in the world. It possesses something -- a thing, a place, a person. A normal hero has to defeat it. He (or she) is always terrified but acts bravely. The evil is always defeated, or at least contained. Same thing in this story -- haunted Florida key. Tortured painter. Saves day. I enjoyed it quite a bit, for what it was.
I can't remember now why I picked this up. I read a reference to it somewhere and thought it sounded cute, like it might be sort of a hipster version of Bird by Bird. Which I guess it sort of was, but which turned out to not really be cute at all, but kind of grating.
Little Face - Sophie Hannah
The premise of this book hooked me right away -- a new mother leaves her infant for the first time to run an errand, and when she gets home, she swears the baby in the crib isn't her daughter. That's the start of a good story right there. What happened? Is she just crazy? Post-partum depression? What about her husband? The other thing I liked about it was that I read it soon after Bloodman, which was a very gruesome mystery, and this was, by comparison, such a simple and civil mystery. No blood, no outright violence, not even any real murder -- and yet the scenes between the woman and her husband were SO CHILLING AND SCARY. Way better, in my opinion.
Do yourself a favour and read this book. If you can't afford to buy it, then at least go back and read all the archives of Dear Sugar. Dear Sugar is an advice column, and this book is a compendium of those columns and oh my goodness. This book makes you glad to be alive. It makes you want to wrap your arms every single person you know. The introduction refers to her advice style as "radical empathy" and I think this is the truest thing ever. I teared up AT LEAST 10 times reading this book, and I did the full on UGLY CRY three times. So so so so good.
This book kind of blew my mind. There's a better summary of it here, but in short, Taubes argues that the 'eat less, move more' paradigm is faulty, and that it's not calories that cause us to gain weight. Say what?! His argument is that we eat more calories BECAUSE out fat cells are already misfiring and sucking up all the energy we eat and storing it, instead of allowing it to naturally supply our whole body with energy. The real cause of weight gain, he says, is sugar and carbohydrates, which are what cause our fat cells to misfire in the first place. There's more to it, but that's the gist. The book was very meticulously researched, and since I read it in the middle of my Whole30, it was great motivation to stay away from eating too many carbs -- though I still feel he may have gone too far in the opposite direction. I mean, he actually says at one point that calories will not make you fat. As in, you could eat 6000 calories a day and not gain weight, as long as your carbs were low. I don't know, even with all the research he's included, I think we see anecdotal evidence all the time of people who start gaining weight while eating low carb. None the less, very interesting read.
Have you read anything good lately?