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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June Reading

The Operator by Gretchen Berg
      I read this for my Book Hive Book Club. I thought I would really like it, but was a little disappointed in the end. There were a lot of women whose roles seemed to be putting others in their place, either by trampling on them or by judging them. It all was just too petty for me. In this story, Vivian works as a telephone operator. She overhears a secret about herself that threatens to cause humiliation- and to make it worse, it was told to the gossipy "Queen Bee" type. She tries to save the situation, but that of course leads to other consequences. This book was alright but I was annoyed by the characters and I wasn't really curious about what would happen next.
 "Don't Look Behind You and Other True Cases" by Ann Rule.   I think this was the last true crime book on my bookshelf. I used it to fulfill my Keyword Reading Challenge. One of the words this month was "and," so here it is. (Sometimes I'm really surprised to see that I only have 1 or 2 titles with any of the words they've picked to be one of the keywords. Thank goodness I don't have to go buy one every month!) This book was alright. I like how the cases were told as objective stories. This book included a few cases.
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Good White Racist by Kerry Connelly- Ironically, I had gotten this book from NetGalley a few months back- before George Floyd and all of the reactions to his murder. Quite a while ago, I was reading an article about something and it said something like, "If you're one of those 'I try to be colorblind people,' you're part of the problem."  It made me stop, feel a little uncomfortable, argue in my head a little bit, then go back to the article. I am a person who tries to value all people. As an educator, I try to be fair and equitable. I have always loved learning about different cultures and have not always lived in places that were culturally diverse. So, at the risk of being a little offended, I continued to read the article. It basically went on to say that when you attempt to completely ignore race, you're not really taking the whole person into perspective- their history, their culture, their learned values, perhaps some life experience. Ah, yes, I can see that and understand. I thought about it for a while and when I saw this book on NetGalley, I thought it would be healthy to check myself.
       This book was a good read for me. It basically challenged well-intentioned white people, who are against racism to try to do something about it, rather than be complicit. It tells ways of how we will unknowingly perpetuate the system through our actions and words. I will admit that there were a few things that I thought, "Eek, have I ever done that?" At the end of every chapter, there are action items, which can be a good next step. This is a good book to introduce racial injustice.

Never Die Alone by Lisa Jackson- I always enjoy Lisa Jackson as an author of thrillers. This book felt a little "all over the place," but I would still say I enjoyed it.
"The Little Paris Bookshop" by Nina George.     This is a book I'm reading for my book club in the town that I live in.  I suggested this book based on an article I read recommending more positive books during this time where there are so many heavy things going on in our world. 
      This book was just okay for me. The writing style was a little flowery for me and I felt that the plot moved a bit slow for my liking. There were some sections of the book that held my attention for longer, but I didn't feel 100% invested in the characters.  It felt like a coming of age book for a middle aged man. I know that sounds weird. "A journey of self discovery?" I think I was roped in by he word "bookshop."  I'll be curious to hear what the women in my book club say. I'm guessing 2 will like it and at least 1 will hate it. Maybe a few "did not finish."
     "The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters" nu Balli Kaur Jaswal.   This is my Book Hive Book Club book for July. I'm a little ahead. Oops. This book is about a Sikh woman, named Sita, who gives her 3 daughters a letter asking them to take a pilgrimage to India to complete multiple requests she has asked them to do as well as to spread her ashes. These 3 sisters are very different from one another. Raija, the oldest daughter, is dealing with some family issues with her 18 year old son. Jezmeen, the middle daughter, is a struggling actress who is dealing with some image issues. Shirina, the youngest, lives in Australia with her husband (through an arranged marriage) and his mother. Going on this trip means different sacrifices for each and learning how to live with one another, despite their different personalities and lifestyles. 
     I liked this book a lot. The woman who chose this book for the book club also came up with some interesting discussion questions for us to think about- like how we would feel about visiting a country where women's rights are different from here in the US? I'm still contemplating some of the answers to her questions before I finish journaling.
 "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr- I had heard great things about this book and apparently I acquired it at some point and stashed it on my never-ending "To Read" bookshelf.  I'm so sad that it sat on my self for so long because I loved it. The story revolves around 2 characters- Marie-Laure, daughter of a the locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Marie- Laure went blind as a child. She is living happily in Paris with her dad until WWII, when she has to flee to another city and ends up moving in with her great-uncle. 
      Werner is the second character. He is a German orphan who is growing up in a place where it is expected that he will go to work as a coal miner when he turns 15. After discovering a radio with his sister, he learns that he is a whiz at figuring out how to build and fix these devices. In fact, he is so good at it that people in the neighborhood come to find him when they need help with repairing them. Eventually, he is recruited by the Nazis and offered an elite education. 
       These two stories eventually intersect of course. This book had some heartbreaking moments for me. It reminded me of some of the best and worst traits of humanity. The ending was a bit different than what I was expecting (and maybe wanted), but it still worked.  I kept finding myself wandering back to the book and I ended up finishing it in 2 days. This was beautifully written.

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