Memoir · Non-fiction

Down Among the Dead Men

Down Among the Dead Men: A Year in the Life of a Mortuary Technician

Title: Down Among the Dead Men: A Year in the Life of a Mortuary Technician

Author: Michelle Williams

Page Count: N/A

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Format: eBook

Review: The dead deserve respect, and this author says as much, and then promptly calls the body of an obese person a ‘monstrosity’ and then writes a whole chapter about all the laughs they got out of a man who died while dressed as a woman. Absolutely unacceptable. It also serves no purpose in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t teach anyone anything and it’s basically just the sticky-note version of what happens in a morgue. I couldn’t finish this book, nor do I want to, and I wouldn’t recommend to to anyone. That half star is me being generous.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

half star

Memoir · Non-fiction

Ordinary Girls

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Title: Ordinary Girls

Author: Jaquira Díaz

Page Count: 336

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 29, 2019 by Algonquin Books

Format: eBook

Review: Every so often I get in the mood to read memoirs.  I am especially interested in coming-of-age stories, so this one immediately appealed to me when I read the synopsis.  I did enjoy the book, especially the parts that took place in Puerto Rico, but I found that Díaz jumps around too much in the chronology for my personal taste.  As a reader I found myself getting frustrated by the tangents she would go on in the midst of telling a story.  I find that a lot memoirs take place in snapshots of a life; however in this case it was just too many things at once and it was difficult to get a clear picture.

At the conclusion of this book, I couldn’t help but feel that it was unfinished.  It is clear that at some point Díaz pulls herself out of the cycle of poverty and self-loathing she grew up in, but this is not really explored in this memoir.  Each time I thought she was going to make it out of the tunnel of darkness, she would throw herself back in.  Clearly she achieved her goal of becoming a writer and I just wanted to know more about that journey. I wouldn’t consider this book uplifting or particularly inspiring, but it was very real and didn’t sugarcoat anything. Díaz seems to have a lot of self-awareness in writing this memoir, so it was overall an interesting and revealing read.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Non-fiction

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

37570546

Title: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Author: Lori Gottlieb

Page Count: 432

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 2, 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Format: Hardcover

Review: This was an utterly engrossing read, and it really gave me a lot of food for thought.  I am a huge proponent of therapy (I myself have benefitted from it greatly), but this book offered me a perspective I embarrassingly have never considered – that of the therapist.  After reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder, what does my therapist think of me?  Does she like me?  Does she talk about me in therapist work groups? Has she ever needed therapy?  My therapist always seems so wise and put together, it is difficult to imagine what she might be like in the “outside world.”  Lori makes the role seem so incredibly sophisticated, and at the same time so incredibly human.  Here we get a multi-focal look at her life and work through the lens of her personal experiences, biases, and training.  It was a very smooth read that universalizes therapy and gives us an insiders look at the dangerous traps we often find ourselves cycling in.  I cannot recommend this book enough.  Even if you think you don’t need therapy, you may find out that you do!

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Non-fiction

The Financial Diet

32927009

Title: The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money

Author: Chelsea Fagan & Lauren Ver Hage

Page Count: 208

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 26, 2017 by Regan Arts

Format: Paperback

Review: Money has always been a mystery to me.  Though I understand the concept of budgeting and saving, I have always had a difficult time determining how best to save and invest my money in order to make it grow.  I decided to get my feet wet in the world of finance with this beginner’s guide and found it surprisingly enjoyable.  Fagan’s writing is relatable and humorous and Ver Hage provided adorable illustrations and an aesthetically pleasing layout.  Of course not all the information was pertinent to me, but I was able to glean a few gems to get me started on the path to financial wellness.  Overall, I really enjoyed the author’s frankness regarding finances, and it really made me wonder why we are not more transparent about it with our spouses and other loved ones.  It really changed how I think about money and made me reevaluate my financial goals.  I’ve already discussed some of these ideas with my husband, and put some of these ideas immediately into practice.  Other strategies will require further research, but I feel confident now that I am moving in the right direction.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
Title: 
The Lost City of Z

Author: David Grann

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2009/Doubleday

Format: eBook

Review: I will read anything and everything written by David Grann. He has such an amazing writing style, so it’s very easy to get caught up in his work. In the Lost City of Z, he talks about Percy Fawcet and his multiple trips into the Amazon and then goes and tries to recreate the route he was taking when he disappeared. The book alternates between both tales: the past and the present, meaning you aren’t stuck too long on one specific part of the story.

I quickly got swept up in the exploration of the Amazon and the charting of the unknown, and it’s easy to see why Grann frequently writes about people obsessed: he can get into that mindset himself and tell their stories in ways that make the reader feel it too. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever suffered from wanderlust and loves to explore.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Memoir · Non-fiction · Young Adult

Shout

40519254

Title: Shout

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Page Count: 304

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 12, 2019 by Penguin Young Readers Group

Format: Hardcover

Review: Laurie Halse Anderson has been a powerhouse in the realm of Young Adult Fiction, so it was interesting to learn a little bit more about her through this poetry memoir.  I like the format in verse because I think it will make the book seem less daunting to reluctant readers.  I was able to breeze through it in a couple hours, and despite it’s brevity, there is still a lot to unpack.

I think this is an important book because it reveals the gap in education regarding consent, and really just sex in general.  Because sex is still such a taboo topic, society is failing to educate youth about their own bodies and the importance of respecting others.

One of the most tragic aspects of sexual abuse/assault is that the victims often do not fully understand what has happened/is happening to them.  They push down their shame and internalize their trauma, which often manifests itself in destructive ways.  Because of this, it is so important that we talk through these issues with our youth, and let them know that it is ok to speak out if someone is doing something that doesn’t feel right.

I personally think this should be required reading in middle schools, because it is important to start this conversation early.  It is not graphic, but it absolutely gets it’s point across, which I think makes it appropriate for both middle school and high school students.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Non-fiction

Master Recipes from the Herbal Apothecary

38745905

Title: Master Recipes from the Herbal Apothecary: 375 Tinctures, Salves, Teas, Capsules, Oils, and Washes for Whole-Body Health and Wellness

Author: JJ Pursell

Page Count: 288

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 5, 2019 by TimberPress

Format: eBook

Review: I was so impressed with the way this book was laid out.  It satisfies my craving for order (LOVE that the recipes are alphabetical), and it is so aesthetically pleasing.  I can’t speak to how well the remedies actually work, but I feel confident that I could make any of them if I tried.  This is a great reference book for both beginners and people with more expertise on the subject.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold