At long last, I’m showing up for another Show Us Your Books link-up! Apparently the last time I did one was back in April. Life needs to settle down for a bit so I can catch up on everything! (HA! Not gonna happen.)
Here’s some of what I’ve been reading over the last several months!
This might be one of my most highlighted e-books of all time. It’s not that it was the best book ever, but so many passages felt highlight-worthy, either for being really motivational or just stated in a way that really struck me. I feel like I need to re-read it, though, because a lot of what I highlighted is less striking when I look back at it out of context even though it was apparently really resonating at the time.
Shortly after moving to NYC to follow his dream of becoming a writer, the author finds himself homeless and jobless after Hurricane Sandy struck. This life-changing turn of events causes him to examine his life and his thoughts. It’s part memoir, part self-improvement.
I was going to share some of what I highlighted, but as I said, it turns out that it has zero impact out of context. Instead, I’ll share the passage that blew my mind and that I’ve been telling people about ever since:
“If we were to take the entire light spectrum and condense it to the size of the Mississippi River , which flows 2,340 miles from the top of Minnesota into the Gulf of Mexico, the portion that would be visible to the human eye is merely eight inches. We are unable to see most— in fact, nearly all— of the light that we know to exist because it is a frequency beyond our perception. The same is true for sound, smell, taste, and touch. We only experience a small percentage of what has been proven to exist.”
(I received a complimentary review copy via Netgalley)
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
This is an odd book – it tells the story of the design and construction of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and also the story of a serial killer who was operating in the area at the same time. There’s not really much crossover between the stories, just the fact that they’re in the same time and place, so they make a kind of unusual combination.
Gotta be honest – the parts about the fair were hit and miss. Some aspects were fascinating – hearing about how it was the first time people got to try Cracker Jacks and Juciy Fruit, it was the unveiling of the first Ferris Wheel, and it was when the first zipper was introduced (I KNOW! WHAT??), were all very cool. But there was also a LOT about the design and construction and relationships between architects that drug a little. Buffalo Bill meeting and honoring Susan B. Anthony? Cool. Arguments about what kind of boats fit the aesthetic they had in mind for the lake? Meh.
Something that I found odd- My library e-book expired when I was only halfway through the book, so I checked my library for a hard copy because the e-book waiting list was pretty long. I was surprised that it was in the biography section, and cataloged under the name of the serial killer. Holmes’s story makes up…maybe 1/3 of the book? Why isn’t it just classified as nonfiction?
Workplace safety in the US has come a long way since the 1920s, y’all.
These poor girls, mostly in their teens and early 20s when they were hired, were employed painting watch dials with paint that contained radium. The job paid great and the work atmosphere was fun, and then, you know how it goes… people’s jaws started falling off. The usual.
I saw a lot of reviews of this before reading it, but somehow expected it to have more on the time before they got sick. Instead, more than half of the book takes place during the lawsuits against the radium companies when the girls tried to get compensation for their suffering and medical bills. It’s still interesting – the crap the workplace tries to pull to avoid taking responsibility is insane – just different than I expected. It’s a fascinating book, but also quite sad between the death and illness and long, drawn out fight for the courts to recognize them. I can’t imagine the terror of watching your coworkers die horrible deaths and knowing that you are probably next.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
I heard about this book on the Brain Candy Podcast and was surprised to see that my local library actually had it. The audiobook was available before the ebook, so I went with that. The author’s writing style is great, sort of poetic, and her soft, sincere voice really sells it. The book alternates between scientific info about plants and her personal life while working in labs over the years. I noticed a lot of reviews where people hated one of those aspects and hated the other. I found the science fascinating and the personal memoir hit and miss. Her research partner Bill stands out as an extraordinary character, but some of the later chapters drug a bit. Liked but didn’t love.
It seems crazy that I only have four reviews after so many months off, but life has been crazy and as usual, I’ve started a ton of books that I didn’t finish. I really need to start reviewing some of those as DNF’s instead of just leaving them on my kindle forever with plans to come back to them eventually. Would probably do wonders for my Netgalley review percentage!