Monday, November 21, 2016

What I'm reading this week (11/21/16)

Happy Thanksgiving week! Although it seems to have been a tough year for the world, there's still so much to be thankful for--not the least of which: good reading!

What I finished last week:

I really enjoyed my time with Roger Housden's anthology Dancing with Joy. I've read several poetry collections edited by Housden, and I think this is my favorite. It's a nice mix of poems, and it's nice to have a whole book of poems about joy. So many poetry collections skew toward the dark and dramatic; this one was refreshingly upbeat. You really can't go wrong with a Housden collection if you want to read good poetry that's a nice mix between new, old, and ancient and of well-known and lesser-known provenance. My rating: 4.5 stars. 

I also finished Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures last week, and it was a struggle. On the one hand, the writing is excellent, but on the other, I just wasn't terribly interested. Several times last week I contemplated abandoning the book, but then it would get interesting again, and I'd keep going. I finally just decided to finish it because I'd gotten so far. This is destined to be a movie (release date: Jan. 17), and I wanted to finish the book before seeing the movie. It's the story of how black women mathematicians at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia ushered the country into the space age. I enjoyed reading the women's stories and the swell of patriotism a book like this evokes. Where I think the book failed is in letting an interesting story be interesting. There was a sense of detachment for me, like the author couldn't decide if this was a biography or a treatise on racial tensions of the 1940s and beyond or a science book. It's an important story, and I was frustrated that I didn't like it more, especially given the excellent writing. Maybe I should have read the young reader's version (by the same name). For the record, I'm prepared to admit that my frustrations with this book are all me. If you enjoy books about race, mathematics, and the space program, no doubt you'll enjoy this book. My rating: 3.5 stars.
I started this last week:

This year I'd meant to read a young reader's edition of a book I'd read the adult version of, and with time running out, I chose The Boys on the Boat. I recently gave the adult version to my mother who really liked it, and I kind of wanted to read the story again. Forever interested in how a story is put together, I've been interested for some time in how the two versions would differ, and I'm about to find out.
This week I continue with:

Still loving How to Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey has been and interesting read. I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first, but I'm listening right now to the account of World War I, and I'm finding that fascinating. I didn't really realize how many areas of the world was engaged in the fighting now how dismal it looked all along for the British and French.
Next up:

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