Where do I begin after the longest break from writing this blog I've ever taken? It has been *checks calendar* 4 months since I last posted a review (and that's not just here but anywhere). Like many of you, I've been in self-isolation and I continue to work from home. As a Children's Librarian, this has been an unexpected challenge as I try to fulfill the needs of my library community while also taking care of my mental health (tenuous at the best of times I'm afraid). I've seen so many posts from other people talking about their struggles to maintain the status quo of productivity and 'getting things done' while also feeling incredibly anxious and rundown. That is exactly what has happened to me. At the beginning of this whole thing, I found it difficult to even focus on reading at all much less sitting down to put together a semi-coherent review. Luckily, I discovered that nonfiction was to be my savior through those first few difficult weeks as it acted as a sort of lifeline tethering me to the reality of the world while also taking me out of my current situation. (I really delved deep into scientific literature and was living, ya'll.)
And then it turned out that NYC was the epicenter of the pandemic and that we were going to be indoors for much longer than originally anticipated. My landlord and his family left for the remote regions of Vermont and I was left in a house alone with my thoughts and my temperamental cat. (She's not going to be pleased when I start leaving the house again by the way.) So I had to develop a routine and to my surprise (and probably anyone else who knows me) that entailed exercising 6 nights a week before bed. I won't say that I enjoy the exercising but it has made me feel in control of at least this one thing which has helped my mental health immensely (as well as my furry friend who while temperamental has been my sole companion). And I kept reading. I picked up books that had languished on my shelves, I requested ARCs (Advanced Reader's Copies) from publishers who hyped their books in webinars, and I ordered books recommended on Instagram posts and blogs promoting social justice and anti-racism. I READ A LOT. And yet I still couldn't find the energy or mental stamina to write out reviews.
Then my calendar informed me that today marks NINE YEARS of writing on this blog. For 9 years I have read and reviewed books for strangers that I have never seen. I have been a voice on the Internet advocating and sometimes deploring the written word. I have fielded countless emails from authors, publishers, and publicists asking me to read books in pre-publication. I have picked up books with interesting blurbs and beautiful covers hoping they'd be my next favorite book. I've read books that were out of my comfort zone and others that were completely in my wheelhouse. I have read books aimed at children, marketed for teens, and some that fit no definitive age bracket. I've been delighted, disappointed, and inspired. It's safe to say that for many years my blog (and the American Museum of Natural History) kept me sane. It certainly sustained me creatively and intellectually when my job was doing the exact opposite. (I know now that was the job and now I'm in the Profession.) So I don't take this blog lightly despite the fact I make $0 from it. (Not once have I gotten any money from the ads I place at the bottom of all of these posts.)
So I decided to sit down, clear my mind, and write.
I want to thank each and every one of you that have read my blog posts whether that's been for the entire 9 years or you just stumbled onto it today. I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts about books and the power of reading. I know that for me reading and putting books into the hands of others is my passion. I truly believe in the power of becoming a lifelong learner and what it can do for you and the people in your life when you share what you've learned. These last several weeks have certainly tested that belief. At this point, I view it as willful ignorance especially in the age of the Internet and social media that we all live in. If you have the capability to post about your barbecue (where I see you didn't wear masks and invited your friends so yes I'm judging) then you have the power to research our racially discriminatory criminal justice system. If you can post an Instagram story where you're doing a dance you learned on TikTok then you can find the time to learn about why people are protesting and pulling down monuments to the past. (Read this article for a quick summary.) It is the responsibility of all of us to learn about our country's past so we can examine our present and impact our future. And once you've done the research then you need to act. This could mean telling other people what you've learned and urging them to do their own research. It could mean picking up a phone and calling the policymakers in your area to demand change. Maybe you can donate to an organization fighting for racial equality or at the very least let your followers on social media know about the organization if you don't have the funds to spend yourself. We are living in an age of connectivity unlike anything our world has ever known and yet we are still so divided. We will continue to be divided as long as relegate members of our society to the margins and treat them as anything less than human beings deserving of the same respect and privileges as those who have always lived with privilege.
If you've made it this far, I commend you. I've run out of steam to write comprehensive reviews so this will only be starred reviews (for now). This is only what I've read during self-isolation. When I've gotten a few more books under my belt (and it looks like that is a distinct possibility) I'll write a follow-up post. And don't worry all of the other books I've read (I'm looking at you 2019 and early 2020) will eventually get written up into reviews sooner or later (probably later).
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge with illustrations by Chris Riddell -- 6/10
Dry Store Room No. 1 by Richard Fortey -- 8.5/10
Stuffed Animals & Pickled Heads by Stephen T. Asma -- 9/10
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow with illustrations by Jen Wang -- 8/10
Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku -- 9/10
So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson -- 10/10
How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman -- 10/10
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley -- 10/10
Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert -- 7/10
The Complete Mapp & Lucia: Vol 1 (and half of Vol 2) by E.F. Benson -- 9/10
Department of Mind-Blowing Theories by Tom Gauld -- 9/10
Excuse Me by Liana Finck -- 1/10
We Are Here Forever by Michelle Gish -- 2/10
The Fragile Earth edited by David Remnick & Henry Finder -- 7/10
Making Sense by Samuel Harris -- 5/10
Fossil Men by Kermit Pattison -- 6/10
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson -- 5/10
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang -- 6/10
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth -- 8.5/10
The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale -- 8/10
Sanctuary by V.V. James -- 6.5/10
The Last Stargazers by Emily Levesque -- 10/10
White Kids by Margaret A. Hagerman -- 9.5/10
Small Doses by Amanda Seales -- 10/10
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander -- 10/10
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin -- 10/10
Stargazing by Jen Wang -- 7/10
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy -- 10/10
Reread:The Neverending Story by Michael Ende and The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis.
What I'm Currently Reading: ????