Year 14, Book 91

91. To Be Your Girl by Rae Kennedy

After transferring schools late in her college career Haley moves in with her older brother and his roommate Cade. Haley and Cade are immediately drawn to each other, but he’s a well known player and is under strict instructions from Haley’s brother to leave her alone. If you’re into romance novels with a lot of sex then this is a good book for you. I thought the story was okay. There’s less of the romantic build-up in this book than romances I prefer because it’s more focused on the erotic. Also I did not buy the college part of this story at all. It’s obviously been a very long time since this author has been in college. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 90

90. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

12 year old Edward is the only survivor of a plane crash that also killed his older brother and his parents. The book switches every other chapter between his life trying to adjust after the crash with information about some of the other passengers on the plane and the events that finally led up to the crash. It was an okay book. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 89

89. Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan Metzl

Physician and sociologist Jonathan Metzl explores how long held ideologies based on both overt and covert racism cause people to create policies that are detrimental to their own lives. Using focus groups and lots of comparative data analysis looking at states both before and after they passed certain laws and comparing them to states with similar demographics with opposite laws. He looks at gun laws in Missouri and how they have led to a huge increase in gun based suicide by white men. In Tennessee he examines the decision to not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act causing significantly worse health outcomes compared to people in Kentucky where the Medicaid expansion was passed. Finally, he looks at tax cuts passed in Kansas particularly focusing on the effects on education.

It’s a really good book that somewhat helps me understand why people vote against their own interests, but is also maddening for the same reason. It does not give me much hope for the future. I mean what are you supposed to do with someone who literally says I would rather die than have any of my money go to Mexicans or welfare queens. Since it’s based on actual long-term research it’s one of the better books I’ve read about this sort of topic. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 88

88. Space Between: Explorations of Love, Sex, and Fluidity by Nico Tortorella

Space Between is Younger star Nico Tortorella’s memoir that focuses on his gender non-binariness and his thoughts on queerness and love. He also goes into his addictions. As long as you’re not hurting anyone I don’t really care how you live your life, but for me personally he’s a little out there. I feel like he’s probably a lot to deal with in person. I also feel like based on what he says he’s maybe not in as healthy of a place mentally at this point as he claims he is. But it’s not my life, and I don’t know him personally so hopefully he’s actually doing as well as he says he is. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 87

87. The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe

This is an enjoyable little collection of stories. Each chapter starts with a little mystery where Mike Rowe tells you a story about someone famous containing details about them you probably didn’t know and you have to guess who they are. He then uses that as a springboard to tell a story about his own life. It’s an interesting twist on a typical celebrity memoir and I enjoyed reading it. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 86

86. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I  read this book with my Smallgroup and I really don’t understand why it’s such a classic in Christian circles. At this point much of it is just dated. I also found a lot of his philosophical arguments and analogies to fall apart fairly easily. Someone in my group pointed out that it probably is more meaningful to someone at the beginning of their faith journey rather than someone well into it. That may in fact be the case, but I certainly didn’t get much out of it. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 85

85. Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison

An excellent book that looks at the issues of race that plague the Christian church just as they do our country as a whole. Morrison provides historical context, her own personal experiences and perspective, along with Biblical context to talk about what Christians and the church need to do to really create real racial reconciliation. It includes lots of excellent questions for reflection and exercises to begin building bridges across the racial divides. It is an excellent book and one I think everyone who professes to be a Christian should read. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 84

84. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

‘In a small town in Virginia a hyperbaric chamber being used to treat a variety of conditions blows up. It is apparent that the fire that caused the explosion was purposefully set. Now a mother of one of the children being treated there is on trial for the murder of her son and another mother whose child was in treatment. As the trial progresses we learn more about all the people in the hyperbaric chamber that day as well as the family who runs it and it becomes apparent that there is more to the story and the person who is on trial may not in fact be the one who set the fire. The way that the book is written does keep you guessing and make you feel like it really could have been any of the people who set the fire. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 83

83. Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh writes about her childhood growing up poor in rural Kansas. It has some interesting pieces, but overall I didn’t love it. The book is written as if it’s to her never born daughter. I didn’t really buy into that literary device that seemed mostly unnecessary. There was one poignant insight at the end that tied back to it, but I feel like that could have been shared without framing the entire book as it was. She also kept alluding to policies and larger societal issues that affected the way people in the rural heartland lived, but she never took it anywhere which kind of annoyed me. If she was going to keep bringing it up I wanted her to get into it. The book was also very confusing to follow as there were lots of family members included and she kept moving back and forth in time. It was one of those books that at the end of it I felt like I could have gotten the salient message from a New Yorker article rather than an entire book. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 14, Book 82

82. Coaching Copyright by Erin Ellis and Kevin Smith

This was a useful book on thinking through providing copyright education to faculty, staff, and students on an individual basis at the university level. It had a lot of good information that covered topics in a slightly different way than other books aimed at librarians who deal with copyright issues for their institutions. I give it an 8 out of 10.