Year 14, Book 76

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real World Problems by Randall Monroe

Monroe, who is the author of the web comic XKCD, creates a how-to manual for real world problems, except that the solutions he comes up with for them are all absurd and impractical. He then uses science, math, and physics to explain how his solutions would work. The absurdity makes it a very humorous book. I very much enjoyed reading it even though I admit I greatly skimmed the parts where he explains the formulas for solving the problems. I think this book would be a great supplement for teaching kids in high school and college physics. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 75

75. The Furies by Katie Lowe

16-year old Violet is a new student at Elm Hollow Academy, a private school built on old grounds where witch trials took place. She finds herself becoming friends with a mysterious group of girls who have secret classes after school with one of their professors related to the history of witch craft in their town. The girls start to try and play with magic and events lead Violet to wonder who she can trust.

I don’t know why I continued reading this book. I didn’t really care for it. I vaguely wondered what happened, but not in a way that I feel like I was compelled to continue just to find out. I probably should have quit this book because I didn’t really care for it while I was reading it and the end didn’t make me glad I finished it. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 74

74. Boys Will Be Boys: Power, Patriarchy, and the Toxic Bonds of Mateship by Clementine Ford

I quit this book about a 1/3 of the way through for the exact reason that I quit Twitter. This book felt like reading a book length Twitter thread with someone ranting about toxic masculinity. Even though I agreed with what she was saying and understand the importance of changing it, I don’t know who this book is for based on the way it was written. It’s what made me tired of Twitter. It’s a bunch of people patting themselves on the back for the evolved consciousness and calling out other people, but not in any way that would create a meaningful dialogue. This book, which actually includes copies of some of the author’s Twitter threads on the topic, is exactly that. It may make the people reading it who already agree with the author feel good about themselves, but it’s not doing any good. The people who actually need to be educated and engaged with the ideas in the book wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. If anything it would push them farther into their existing beliefs. I give this book a 2 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 73

73. How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender by Mike Chase

The author of this book runs a Twitter account called @crimeaday in which he posts about odd federal crimes. He expands on that in this book. It’s a series of vignettes about various federal crimes and how you can become a criminal often without knowing it. It’s a very amusing book, while also being informative about federal crimes. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 72

72. Circe by Madeline Miller

A retelling of the story of Circe from Greek mythology. One of my book clubs is reading this book, which is the only reason why I read it. I have never been a fan of Greek mythology. Given that I liked this book better than I thought I would, but it’s still not my cup of tea. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 71

71. What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in American City by Mona Hanna-Atisha

A book about the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan by a pediatrician who fought to get the city and state to actually acknowledge that there was a problem with the water while they were just trying to ignore that there were any issues or sweep them under the rug. It’s a good look inside of the crisis and all the horrible things that happened and how terrible people are when they want to pretend they haven’t done anything wrong. I enjoyed those parts of it, but the author often goes off on side tangents about her personal life making the book more of a memoir than I wanted it to be. Some of those tangents seem very unrelated to the topic at hand, which is what I think made it more of an issue for me. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 70

70. Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

In the 1970s a teenage couple went on a killing spree before they both died in a fire. Now a podcaster who has a personal connection to the murder is investigating what happened all those years ago in an attempt to gain closure. In the process of his investigation he begins to suspect that the teenage girl never died and has been living as someone else for decades. He connects with the woman’s daughter, which begins a series of new crimes and now he’s trying to figure out how everything fits together.

This was an okay book. I didn’t really care for how it all came together at the end. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 69

69. Notes from the Field by Anna Deveare Smith

This is the text from Deveare Smith’s one woman play wherein she embodies a series of people who she interviewed and essentially recreates what they said. The theme for this particular series of interviews is the school to prison pipleline. It’s an amazing performance, and it was interesting to read the play in written form to see the notes on how it was created and should be performed. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 68

68. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Red at the Bone is a short novel about one seminal event  and the times surrounding it told from many points of view. Melody is 16 and being presented at a coming of age party wearing the dress her mother never wore because she was pregnant with Melody. Written in beautiful prose the people touched by Melody’s existence and birth to her teenage parents, her parents, grandparents, and Melody herself tell their piece of the story. It’s a gorgeously written book. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 67

67. Brush Strokes by E. S. Karlquist

Todd is trying to make it through college while working at a beloved art gallery that is struggling to keep its doors open. When his best friend invites him to a party he hits it off with Daniel and feels like something good is finally starting to happen until he finds out that Daniel is planning to take over the gallery space when it closes.

This is possibly the first book I’ve ever read with a major character who is hard of hearing or at least it’s the first one where it has been so intricately written into the story. The book can sometimes be a little frustrating to read because the characters repeat themselves so much, but it’s really illustrating how Daniel would actually be processing the world and needing to ask people to repeat themselves or not being able to understand things when he is in a loud situation or when people turn away from him while speaking. The book does a good job of putting you in his shoes. I give it a 6 out of 10.