Year 16, Book 63

63. Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott

I haven’t particularly cared for Anne Lamott’s previous couple of books even though I loved some of her earlier works. This book felt more like a return to form for me with lots of good relatable essays about life, faith, and hope that can be applied to everyone’s lives even when the specific situations she’s writing about may be far removed from one’s personal experience. If you’ve read any of Lamott’s previous works you know what you’re getting here. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 62

62. How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang

The only reason I even finished this book was for book club. There were some interesting twists in the book, but that’s about all I can say for it. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and I definitely didn’t get into the story such as it was. I do feel like there was a lot of symbolism that I just don’t know enough about Chinese culture to have picked up on what it meant. We agreed in my book club that it would be a good book to dissect for a literature class, but I did not find it particularly compelling to read for pleasure. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 61

61. The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America by Lawrence T. Brown

I expected to like this book more than I did. I think part of it was that at this point the book didn’t have a whole lot to tell me. I’m already well versed in the history of Baltimore’s racist, segregating housing and other policies that have led to some of the myriad of issues that the city now faces. I also didn’t care for the writing style. It felt a little jumpy to me. I do appreciate that Brown offered up suggested solutions to the problems he writes about in the book. I don’t know that any of them will come to fruition and some of them seem very much pie in the sky, but I did like that he is at least trying to offer ways to move the city forward. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 60

60. Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Libertie is a young black girl living in Reconstruction era Brooklyn along with her mother, a physician, who dreams of the same destiny for her daughter. The book examines various facets of freedom from Libertie’s mother’s ability to pass as a white woman while Libertie is judged for her dark skin, freedom from the expectations of family, and freedom from the oppression of men. I wish I had liked this book more than I did. I just found it sort of a slog to get through. I’m not sure why. It just read really slow to me and I kept wanting to be done with it. I read it for a book club and I do think we can have a good discussion about its themes though. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 59

59. Comeback Season: My Unlikely Story of Friendship with the Greatest Living Negro League Baseball Players by Cam Perron

As a young boy Cam Perron got super into collecting and eventually became obsessed with collecting autographs from Negro League baseball players. By the time he was in middle school his attempts at obtaining autographs through letters and phone calls resulted in friendships with some of the players and other collectors and researchers. Ultimately it led to this young white boy from Massachusetts becoming deeply involved in working to get Negro League players pensions from the MLB, helping create reunions to bring the players back together, and establishing a Negro League museum in Birmingham. It was a very sweet story about friendships forged in the most unlikeliest of places. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 58

58. How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith

Clint Smith visits various monuments, memorials, plantations, prisons, and cemeteries around the United States as well as Gorée Island in Senegal to examine how these historical places are used to tell the story of slavery or how the history of slavery intertwined with them is ignored or given an alternate history than the actual truth about slavery. It’s a really excellent look at how important the stories we tell ourselves are to how history is told. It’s a book that everyone should read. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 57

57. No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox

This book continues Michael J. Fox’s memoir tradition of writing about his Parkinson’s disease and how he tries to continue to have a positive outlook on life despite the challenges he faces. At first this book seemed like a rehash of some of his earlier books, but he eventually got past that and talked about some of the additional physical challenges he has faced over the last decade due to a growth on his spinal cord unrelated to his Parkinson’s. As is obviously evidenced by the title he also focuses on how he continues to be an optimist but how that optimism was challenged. If you’ve enjoyed his previous books you’ll enjoy this one too. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 56

56. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner, the singer and guitarist from the band Japanese Breakfast, writes a memoir about losing her mother to cancer in her mid-twenties. She delves into her difficult relationship with her parents while also discussing the painful, messy, and difficult experience of watching her mother die. As a child of a Korean mother and white American father she addresses feeling like she’s lost the Korean half of her herself and how she reconnects with it through food. It’s a wonderful memoir that doesn’t really pull any punches about the messiness of familial relationships and the devastating and unpleasant nature of dying from cancer. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 55

55. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Linus is a caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Part of his job is to check in on the children living in orphanages where magical children are housed. He usually leads a very boring, solitary life alone with his cat until he is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and sent to investigate an orphanage on a remote island that holds some of the most worrying magical children he has ever encountered along with Arthur their care taker. He soon develops a relationship with the inhabitants of the island that makes him have to choose between what his job is requiring him to do and the people he’s come to care for.

This was a clever book for people who like magical worlds. I liked the characters and they didn’t seem like rehashes of other magical characters in other books. That being said there was something about this book that I just couldn’t get into. I don’t know why. Maybe it was just where I was mentally when I read it, but I just kept waiting for it to be over. Don’t really go by my feelings about it though because it has lots of good reviews and I can see why people enjoyed it. I give it a 6 out of 10.