What I Read: August 2017

Oh, August. I was so looking forward to reading the books on my list, but three out of the four were disappointing. I have high hopes for September reading-wise and am already flying through a one with two more on deck. Do you ever have those months where nothing you read is as good as you were hoping?

The quick round-up:

  • Favorite: Black Man in a White Coat
  • Least favorite: Finnikin of the Rock
  • Most likely to recommend: Black Man in a White Coat
  • Most thought-provoking: Black Man in a White Coat

Based on the above list, I think you can guess which of the four books I did enjoy…

Books are listed in the order I read them.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders / I don’t have much experience with sci-fi, and this was a sci-fi/fantasy crossover chosen by my book club. It follows two characters, Patricia (a witch) and Laurence (a computer genius). We meet them in childhood and follow them through adolescence and early-adulthood. The story is set-up as a clash between nature and science/technology, but it never truly delivered. The concept was fascinating, the writing was fine, but the character development was lacking, which made it hard to feel invested in the outcome. This was one of those books that seemed right up my alley, but fell flat.

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have the Answer to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco and Lauren Oyler / Mastromonaco worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign and then as a staffer for Obama when he was a senator, candidate, and president. Her resume is impressive–deputy chief of staff before the age of 35!–and I loved hearing how she got to where she was, especially since politics is so often the domain of white men not young women. I have two complaints: (1) I did not think she was able to pull the stories together into a cohesive narrative, and (2) I did not love the tone. Partway through the book I discovered that the intended demographic was 15-25 year old women, which explained the tone, even if it didn’t make me like it. Even so, I enjoyed hearing her story and her commitment to public service. Also, Obama-era nostalgia.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta / This series came highly recommended to me by multiple friends. Sadly, something about it did not work for me. I found myself avoiding reading because I didn’t want to continue, then feeling annoyed when I picked it up again because I forgot some of the details and was confused. I wanted to like it, but just couldn’t. The premise is that that someone invaded Lumatere and killed the royal family. A curse was then placed on the kingdom so no one could go in or out. Finnikin is outside of Lumatere and trying to determine the next steps for either getting back in or creating a new homeland with other exiles. Then add in romance + magic. Most everyone I know that has read it loves it, so if you are into YA fantasy you should probably ignore my review and give it a try.

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy / Without a doubt, this memoir was the best book I read in August. Memoirs are often hit or miss for me but Tweedy’s was spot on. He tells stories from medical school, residency, and as a practicing physician. He beautifully interweaves his own experiences, the stories of his patients, and larger discussions about race and medicine. It made me think about both healthcare and race differently. There was so much there, I know I will be thinking about this book for months to come.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading!