Book Reviews Jan-June 2021

Ooof. The times I’ve thought about writing and the times I actually have written in 2021 are vastly different-but I am here! I cannot believe we’re in summer! Reentry into the world with a vaccine has been great! Yet exhausting. So exhausting.

So little things, like going to get my new library card, are monumental tasks right now. So my reading list is kind of at a standstill. I’m feeling brave today though and may finally head to my new (to me) local library and get that pretty new card! My old one expired at the end of May so I’ve been bookless for about a month. L

Here’s what I have accomplished so far, in 2021. I definitely started January through March at some point but lost the document. My reading goal (I believe) was set at 50, but I’m going to be happy to reach 30 this year. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up having to travel (drive around the state) for work later on this year and I’ll still make 50 happen!

1. Open Book, Jessica Simpson (autobiography)- I never really listened to Simpson’s music much but I did watch her reality show with Nick Lachey (yes, it’s true. I dabble in reality t.v. from time to time) when it was out and found her to be charming and hilarious. This book is no different and gives depth to Simpson’s life story that many of us didn’t know. It was well written and pulled at the heart and reminded me to never judge someone’s life based on their ‘highlight reel’. A

2. How to be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide, Crystal Marie Fleming (non-fiction, social science)- This was a great read to uncover how embedded everyday life is with racism. Dr. Fleming talks about critical race theory in a direct way that I appreciated. I definitely recommend this book. A+

3.  Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema, Lindy West (non-fiction, humor)-I love West’s other books that focus on social issues, so I was sure that a book where she rates moves against The Fugitive (her belief is that this is the best movie ever) was going to be a hoot. It was, and it was full of laughs but also moments of examining how socially ‘ew’ some of these greatest works of art really are. A

4. Eat a Peach, David Chang and Gabe Ulla (autobiography)- My first autobiography about a chef of 2021! Chang’s Netflix docu-series “Ugly Delicious” is one of the many things I watched in 2020, and I loved his story-telling. I’ve been aware of Chang as a chef for a long time but never really took the time to learn much more than he started Momofuko in New York City. This book was a great, honest look at his life, success, and failures. Loved it. I loved it so much in fact I want to share with you a line from this book that I’m effectively living my life by now:

… (on food but I think it applies to everything) I give credit wherever I can. My advice to chef’s (anyone) is to be honest about your ignorance and always honor the source material.


5. American and Paneer Pie, Supriya Kellar (fiction, young adult)- This book really should be a must read for pre-teens. There is the salient point to learn regarding acceptance, but how to accept someone else, too. These lessons are  wrapped in a beautiful story about a young girl trying to do the same for herself. A+

6. You’ve Been Volunteered, Laurie Gelman (fiction, mom humor)- This books takes back up a little while after her first book Class Mom and carries the same story line, basically.  It was funny enough. B

7. Didn’t See That Coming, Rachel Hollis (non-fiction, ‘self-help’, autobiography?)- I know. I KNOW. But I don’t know why I keep hate-reading her books! If I am objective as I can physically be and focus on just this book I can say, it’s probably the most ‘original thought’ from Hollis I’ve ever read. Still problematic in many different ways, but it has glimpses of benefit for a very specific audience and less plagiarism (but can you really say that when she’s gotten to this book because of all the things she’s lifted in the past??  I held my objectivity as long as I could). C

8. Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America,  Ijeoma Oluo (fiction, social issues)- EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK SO WE CAN RAGE TOGETHER. Oluo’s writing always has me near screaming at the pages in agreement/frustration/shock. A++

9. Parachutes, Kelly Yang (non-fiction, young adult)- I had never heard the term ‘parachute’ before this book and…woah, I had no idea that education around the world led to such extreme options prior to college (but I suppose I should have). A

10. Broken (In the Best Possible Way), Jenny Lawson (non-fiction, humor, memoir)- SQUEE!!! Lawson’s highly-anticipated third book came out!! I even attended the virtual book tour (moderated by Samantha Irby) and it was a hoot. I have been looking forward to this book for years so I am happy to report that it did not disappoint. The theme is very aligned with Lawson’s other books and takes the stigma and stories of mental health and normalizes them…in the best possible way. A++

Crappy picture or it didn’t happen.

11. The People We Meet on Vacation, Emily Henry (fiction, romance)- a cute story about how the best things when traveling aren’t always what we see, do, and eat, but who we spend our time with making memories. Probably a great ‘beach/pool read’. B