The Argonauts

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson is her memoir about her relationship with Harry and her journey into motherhood. This book examines theories on gender and social identity that stem from Nelson’s personal experiences.

While I enjoyed the theoretical part of this book, it felt like Nelson was constantly quoting other authors and people. This strengthened her arguments and assertions, but it made the book slightly inaccessible. To me, it felt like the target audience was the intelligentsia. I completely support trusting your readers, but it made Nelson’s story more removed from the common sphere, something that it needed no help doing.

Overall, I loved listening to this book. It was utterly absorbing. I just wish that it didn’t have such an academic tone.

3/5

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

After seeing this book on the New York Times Bestseller List for weeks, I added it to my holds list on Overdrive. It took me several months to receive it and the wait was worth it. The author reads his own book about his life and he was an excellent narrator.

This memoir is the story of a man who grew up in a Appalachian “white trash” family. They are crude, loud, and dysfunctional. But they are fiercely loyal and overprotective of their own blood, even against one another. Vance focuses a lot on the relationships he had with his mother and father. But the more influential pair in his life is his MaMaw and PaPaw. They are the ones that really raised him and helped him get through his childhood. At the end of high school, Vance joined the military and that totally changed his life. After that he went on to earn his law degree.

This memoir is Vance’s attempt to use his personal experience to explain the perspectives of those living in poverty in Middle America. He states that he can’t explain for everyone, but he can at least give people a peak into the lives of the modern Republican and why they act the way they do. In a world where everything feels like its being taken from you, there is an us vs them mentality through and through. I liked this memoir and I recommend it to anyone interested in the politics of modern America.

4/5

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Sebastian Junger’s Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging discusses PTSD and why it is so difficult for veterans to reintegrate into society. He asserts that because of the tribe mentality and structure of the military, veterans have trouble readjusting to the chaotic nature of modern society. HE cites both research and personal narratives to defend his claim.

I listened to this book is audio CD format and I loved reading it that way. It was extremely short and well written. Junger was concise in his writing, but still very engaging.

The section I enjoyed the most was when Junger talked about Indians (he makes a point of using that term specifically) and early Americans. He cites historical notes that lament that early Americans would leave their new communities to join the Indians. People would join the native society by choice, but Indians would fight to return to their society. Even Benjamin Franklin discussed this and was baffled by it. Junger argues that it is because of the tribal structure of the society and the sense of purpose that comes with it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was read at a good pace and covered the topic. I just would have liked more information and a more in-depth look at the subject.

3/5

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

There are few reading experiences that I’ve enjoyed more than listening to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. The audio book I listened to was read by the author, who sadly passed away in 2014. This was my first experience with Maya Angelou and it felt deeply personal.

This book is a memoir of Angelou’s childhood. She lived a tumultuous childhood, filled with negligent parents, being raised by your grandparents, and teenage pregnancy. Angelou remembers a time of both love and abuse, happiness and pain, and freedom and captivity.

As I listened to this memoir, I understood why schools have it on reading lists and why it is a banned book. Growing up in a suburban Southern town, I can’t imagine that I would have read this book in high school, even though I took advanced English. This book is the type that people in high school should be reading- one that resounds with truth and they can connect to in a personal way.

Even though I enjoyed this book, I don’t know if I ever want to read it again. It was sad and true. Nevertheless, I recommend it to everyone.

5/5

We Should All Be Feminists

This book is the transcript from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s TED talk of the same name. It is very short and I read it in a single lunch hour.

“We Should All Be Feminists” is Adiche’s argument for how Feminism will not only help women, but will help and advance all of society. She does this through personal examples and acedotes. She tells of one of her childhood best friends who was the first to call her a feminist and he didn’t mean it as a compliment.

A part that struck me was Adichie trying to call herself a feminist without offending anyone. She eventually says that she called herself a “happy African feminist who does not hate men and who likes lip gloss and who wears high heels for herself but not for men. Adichie might be exaggerating, but she hits the heart of it. When people call themselves feminists, they feel the need to qualify it because it is looked down on. I know I’ve personally qualified my feminism by saying that I don’t want to burn my bras and I don’t hate men.

The video for this TED talk is only around 30 minutes and available online here. I highly recommend it to everyone. And if you would rather read it like I did, the transcript is also available on the TED website. I feel like a lot of people are feminists without realizing that they are one. Adichie’s talk tries to make what a feminist is clear and how feminism would make society better for everyone.

4/5

Hamilton: The Revolution

I loved listening to this audiobook. I am unashamed of my obsession with Hamilton. I first heard the musical when NPR put the tracks on their website. One of my best friends lives in NYC and heard the buzz about the show. He knows about my love of musical theatre and history, and Hamilton is the perfect blend of both.

This book follows the show song by song and gives background information about the show that relates to each song. The book version also has the lyrics of the show accompanied by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Genius annotations.

This book was a great behind the scenes look at Hamilton that any fan won’t want to miss.

4/5

Milk and Honey

I don’t give many 5-star reviews. I give a fair amount of 4s and some 3s, but it takes a lot for me to give a book 5 stars. It has to move me personally, as well as being extremely well-written. I am more familiar with prose over poetry, so I don’t know how much I can judge the writing of this book. But I do know that Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur touched me.

This collection of Kaur’s poetry is divided into four sections meant to move one through the stages of heartbreak. Kaur first gained fame as an Instagram poet. Her poetry is frequently accompanied by hand-drawn minimalist/line-art pictures. Sometimes they just match the poem, but they always heighten it.

When I first went through these poems, I read some of them with my boyfriend. I expressed to him that I would love my own copy so I could write in the book and share it with other people. Ever the amazing man that he is, he bought be a copy for our anniversary and even marked a few of our favorites. This is, by far, the best gift I’ve ever received.

Overall, I don’t have anything negative to say about this collection. I love the structure, illustrations, and the poetry itself. I would recommend this book to anyone and I can’t wait to pass my copy around to everyone I know.

5/5