Book Reviews: January 2022

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are deep dive book reviews. I have never been a fan of those because they ultimately tell me too much and then I feel like I don’t need to read the book. I like the adventure of figuring it out myself, but on the other hand, it is hard to branch out and find new authors and types of things to read if you don’t know just a smidge. And before anyone gets super excited and thinks I’m a freakishly fast reader, some of this months books were started last month and some are audiobooks. Enjoy my 2 cents.

All Around Cowboy by Scot D. Young (Spartan Press, 2021) is a collection of poems that spans this man’s life living in the heart of Missouri. Scot has a way of showing us hard topics with a soft hand. He is a storyteller. The way the book unfolds allows for traveling from a time long forgotten to the present. It’s like riding a train where one only catches some things in sharp focus, just enough to let the mind wander in that space and find a connection, on some level, to our own lives.

Memorial by Bryan Washington (Riverhead Books, 2020) is about the struggles in love of two homosexual men from widely different cultural backgrounds living in Texas. But, it’s more than that. It’s a book about family, about choices, about doing the right thing, about finding your way in the world. I listened to the audiobook which features Bryan Washington reading one of the parts himself. It had a different sort of life listening to the book instead of reading it as it is split into sections based on the perspective of each lover. I started out reading it and then switched to listening to it.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Simon and Schuster, 2020) is noted as a horror book which I didn’t find exactly scary. I used to read horror as a teenager and young adult, and I don’t think this book fits in that category. This book takes place on and off the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana and is loosely about four Native American friends who go against tribal law and hunt on grounds they are not allowed to. To avoid prosecution, they have to waste all the elk they have killed and are banned from hunting on the rez. But one of the elk was special, one was pregnant. This book dives into dark fantasy and allegory. It didn’t scare me, but it definitely had me on edge. This was a book that I knew nothing of the author or the story before hand but loved the cover. It did not disappoint.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Random House, 2020). I had this book on my list from the previous year and my kid had given it to me for Christmas. I finally worked my way through the book stack to get to it. This book is full of snapshots of Doyle’s transition out of heterosexual married life where she was miserable into a same sex marriage that changed her life. It is a collection of stories about self integrity, about knowing who you are and going forward with that, and about the joy and the struggles of having a non-traditional family. This book really spoke to me about breaking down the barriers of tradition from times that are no longer relevant. How many times to I approach a situation with my mother’s or my grandmother’s voice in my head instead of my own? It is a book about letting your wild come to the surface.

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron (Broadway Books, 1997). Every now and then I like to throw a non-fiction book in the mix to spice up my life…yes, that was comedy. I feel like non-fiction uses a different side of my brain than fiction or poetry and I like to active all the parts. My mother used to make fun of me and say I was “so sensitive” and it turns out that she wasn’t wrong. Some of the tenants of this book are a bit outdated for 1997 and not all together politically correct, but it did help me to understand some parts of my personality and how to help them heal from things I’ve experienced in my life.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Knopf, 2020). This was another book plucked from a list of books to read from 2020. I have been taking great effort to read authors I don’t know and genres that aren’t in my wheelhouse. Basically, I’m swimming outside my comfort zone. I listened to this one on audiobook because my library had it available and I wasn’t disappointed. The book follows a woman through her young adult life to almost middle age in vignettes of conversations she has with other women. There is a rawness to her perspective of herself, of other women, and of the environments she’s in. It is a book full of unapologetic inside talk that women have but don’t like to admit they have. There is a lot of alcohol featured in this book so if you are triggered by that or into sober living, it might raise some hackles, but I think it was true to the reality of life today.

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