August Reviews

For some reason I typed out "May Reviews"- am I living in the past or the future? Who knows. While I'm trying to get my life together, here's a quick rundown on the books I read in August:

The Incendiares by R.O. Kwon
224 pages
This is the story of two college students, Phoebe and Will, who end up dating, despite sort of consistently being strained. Phoebe ends up joining a cult (which of course not called that), which Will resists but still tries to keep tabs on to protect the girl he loves. Phoebe's troubles come to light as we learn more about her childhood and relationship with her mom. The cult is ultimately involved in some horrific violence and the audience sees what happens to Phoebe and Will in the aftermath.

Verdict: There is a reason this book is receiving so much hype. The writing itself is poignant and precise, and the story possesses a great amount of depth thematically and in terms of the character relationship. There is quite a bit of shifting around in perspective, though, so if you prefer a straightforward narrative this might not be for you. 

The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir
336 pages
Essie is a teenager and is pregnant. She is also the daughter of a mega-church pastor and a member of a family that has been the subject of a reality show since she was tiny. Her situation is not ideal. She manages to pull some of the strings her mother believes that she is in fact charge of and ends up engaged to a young man at school. She actually doesn't really know him at all, but is confident that he will go with the plan due to the financial benefits it includes for him and his family. As their fabricated romance plays out, the reader is made privy to a much darker, traumatic side of the scheme.

Verdict: This book was very readable, but  also quitepredictable and often felt like more of a well-done YA novel (not my thing). It isn't poorly written or a bad book, just definitely an easier read best for slots between tougher reads.

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
240 pages
We all know this one, right? I wrote about it a little more earlier in the month here

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Mara 
384 pages
This connected short story collection focuses on painted landscape in the former USSR, each story playing a part in it's formation, change, or reclamation. The stories focus on such characters as a censor who must paint over enemies of the state, whom he replaces with his brother's, two soldiers taken captive, an older woman who had sold out her mother, and many others, all with ties to others. 

Verdict: I am pretty confident that this book will be on my best of 2018 list, for many reasons. First of all, Mara's writing is witty, yet subtle, philosophic, yet accessible, succinct, yet rich. The stories are equally fascinating, and the links he creates between the stories and characters are deliberate yet natural. 

The End of Alzheimer's by Dale Bredsen
320 pages
This book talks about the disease in general, different causes, different theories, and the author's approach for controlling and preventing it. 

Verdict: If you follow this man's plan you will have a joyless life and must basically survive on water and supplements... but you will remember things. Fine, fine, it's not that bad, but it's pretty tough. I think more than anything this was a good reminder to take care of my mind and body and to be mindful of what I do and consume.

1,294 pages 

1 comment:

  1. For someone who is not a medical student, I have done an insane amount of reading and study about dementia (I have good reasons - family history, and a MIL who is currently in the middle stage of the disease). In everything I've learnt, there is one thing that the experts agree on - social connections. The people who are socially active, are at less risk of dementia. I could harp on about this all day but it seems the very best thing you can do is to go for a walk with chatty friends (physical, social, uses your brain).

    If you are really keen, there is a free open learning course about dementia available here: (people participate from all over the world). I found it to be the most comprehensive and useful source of information compared to all the other books etc that I've read.