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2019 Reading, Compendium #2

Trying to not get my book lists get so backed up this time. Here’s what I’ve been reading recently:

Golden State by Ben H. Winters
This one underwhelmed me a bit – interesting concept of a society where everything is logged and speaking falsehood is against the law, but execution wasn’t so interesting.

Mission Critical by Mark Greaney
Sometimes you just need a spy thriller. But maybe not this spy thriller.

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
I’ve never read Cather’s novels before, and felt some midwestern hankering for Nebraska-based writing. Now I need to get through the other two in the trilogy.

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien
Richards and O’Brien are trying to help us understand that some of the texts that we so easily read and interpret through a 21st century American framework can have some significantly different meanings when seen through the cultural framework of the original audience. Worth a read, though not quite as earth-shattering as some of the reviews had led me to believe.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman whose cells were taken as a medical sample when she was in the hospital for cancer treatment. Those cells proved remarkably resilient and have become the base cell samples for medical experiments around the world to this day. Henrietta’s story itself is a rather slim part of the book; it revolves far more around race and poverty and its impact on the family she left behind.

Talent by Juliet Lapidos
This was a random selection from the library shelf that didn’t live up to its blurbs. Claimed to be a “deliciously funny” novel grappling with the source of creative inspiration and talent. Meh.

This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza
A novel written as a first-person account of a Pakistani Muslim immigrant to Norway who went to fight with ISIS in Syria. Fiction, but based on accounts given to the author by a man currently serving time in a Norwegian prison for terrorism. Challenging to see an “enemy” through his own eyes.

A Song for Nagasaki: The Story of Takashi Nagai: Scientist, Convert, and Survivor of the Atomic Bomb by Paul Glynn
Biography, faith story, and harrowing account of surviving the Nagasaki atomic bombing all rolled into one. Really enjoyed this book. Planning to pass it along to my high school daughter to read.

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
An account of an early workplace safety issue and court case where young women worked painting radium onto watches to make the faces luminescent. It’s an unsurprising story in most ways: a workplace hazard that, once understood by the corporation, was denied and covered up in order to maintain profits. The continual and vivid descriptions of the horrible effects of radium poisoning on these women’s bodies may have felt necessary to the author to raise the stakes of the story, but they were so vivid and plentiful that I just about put the book down because I could take any more talk of rotting jawbones and gushing pus.

And just so the last words in my blog post aren’t “gushing pus”, let me note that I’m still working on Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. It’s just gonna take me a while.

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