Year 13, Book 51

51. The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace by Patrizia Collard

This is a short little book that contains a variety of mindfulness exercises designed to take between 5 and 10 minutes. The exercises are good and it’s a handy little compilation of them. The extra added stuff like poems and little sayings and a few short passages that are added to try and turn it more into a book don’t really add anything. Anyone steeped in mindfulness probably won’t glean much from this, and ultimately you could probably find most of these in a list on some mindfulness website, but I think it’s a handy little compilation and writing this review is reminding me I need to get back into using it. I give it a 7 out of 10.

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Year 13, Book 50

50. Why Religion?: A Personal Story by Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels is a well known writer about religion. In this book, which is in many respects a memoir, she examines her own religious life as a jumping off point to look at what purpose religion serves and why people still turn to religion. She examines her own religious experiences, her skepticism about religion, her religious research, and how she experienced religion during the traumatic loss of her son as a young child followed by the unthinkable death of her husband only a year later.

I first read Elaine Pagels during a course in college when I was questioning my own religious beliefs, so it only seems fitting that her personal story of faith resonates with me. There is very little in our lives that mirrors each other, but I can certainly identify with seeming push and pull she experiences with her intellect and all the hateful things done in the name of religion telling her one thing but her personal faith experiences telling her another. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 49

49. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Hazel is loud, brash, kind of crazy, and a lot of drama. Josh is quiet, reserved, and likes everything just so. After being thrown in each other’s paths multiple times during college under circumstances that did not engender a deeper friendship including Hazel throwing up on Josh’s shoes at a party, they never thought they would see each other again. Now 10 years later fate has caused their paths to cross once again. They finally strike up a real friendship but decide there is no way they could ever be more and set each other up on increasingly terrible blind double dates to prove it.

This was a cute little romance novel. The characters were certainly caricatures, but they were lovable characters nonetheless. I’m not big on romance novels, but I found this one endearing so I imagine people who do like romance novels would really like it. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 48

48. Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Pearl is a happiness technician. Her job is use a machine that has been created to tell people of a few things they can do in their lives that will make them happy. Yet she can’t make the one person she cares about the most, her son who struggles with an eating disorder, happy. This book seemed to have some interesting ideas, but ultimately it didn’t seem to go anywhere. It seemed like it built toward nothing. The premise was interesting, but the execution was sadly lacking. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 47

47. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper

Yet another humorous memoir from a current actress. I don’t know why I continue to read these. I sort of can’t stop, but also they’re pretty much all the same. You could probably pick up any one of them and leave out the identifying details and I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. If you’ve enjoyed all this books brethren go forth. If like me you’ve grown tired of these types of books there’s nothing that makes this one a must read. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 46

46. That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba

As the title suggests this is a biography of Wallis Simpson the American woman for whom Edward VIII abdicated the British throne. It seems like it was a very well researched book, but the author really shot herself in her own foot by insisting on throwing in wild speculations particularly one about Wallis Simpson being intersex. It really detracted from all the actual source material she had pulled together. Reading the book I realized that I didn’t really know that much about Wallis Simpson or Edward. I basically knew he had abdicated the thrown for her and always viewed it as some great love story, but this book makes it clear that both them were sort of human disasters and their relationship was its own sort of disaster. This book does provide a lot of information about them, but I feel like if you’re looking for a book on Wallis Simpson there must be one out there that provides as much information without the conspiracy theories. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 13, Book 45

45. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The kingdom of Orisha was once filled with magic wielded by the maji people until the day the king killed many of the maji and drove magic from the land. Now many years later Zelie aided by the king’s daughter discovers that she may have the keys to restore magic to Orisha.

This book has gotten a ton of good reviews, so I suspect it just wasn’t for me somehow. I really liked it at the beginning but grew bored with all the battles and the quests on the way to restore the magic. Even the forbidden love story couldn’t really hold my interest. Obviously this book is very much of the fantasy quest genre, which is not my favorite thing so I suspect I’m the one with the issue not the book. I do appreciate how this book brings some much needed diversity to that genre though and I hope that people who like this kind of thing enjoy the book even though I was bored by it. I give it a 5 out of 10.