Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books While 40: Starting with a Bang

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I was hoping that the wild swings between intense joy and crushing despair would be a memory of 2015. No such luck. My dad has been in the ICU for the last four weeks in Cleveland after having what I will nickname a heart tune-up. This has resulted in a series of flights, airports, and gracious humans letting me surf their couches and crash their guest rooms.

I feel as though Frontier and I have an intimate relationship, and like a good john I have come up with cash to deepen our connection. The travel and schedule inconsistencies have done their worst on my physical and emotional health, but have given me ample time to tear into the new book list. Powered by sleepless nights and lots of hours spent bedside, I sped through four books in a matter of a week and a half.

I put down Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. by Judy Blume (1970), A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ismael Beah (2007), A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition by Lemony Snicket (1999), and Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall (2009). In the interests of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good I am going to breeze through my thoughts of these books. Never fear, I am reading 1984. That book will require a novella blog entry and should be coming up in the next week or so.

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. was among the best tween books I’ve read. As regular readers will know, I rage that most books aimed at little girls put the search for a boyfriend at the center of the plot. While this book has a minor subplot regarding a special boy, the two main plot lines tackle religion and the commencement of lady parts doing as they do to create babies. I can’t say I enjoyed the book in the sense that I am long past twelve. But I appreciate the challenging topics explored.

Lest I forget that I am a whiny rich white person, reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier reminded me. This book is devastating. It at once makes me feel disgust at the things that I take for granted, and our incredibly myopic foreign policy. The book is about boys 11, 12, and 13 who are taught to kill and maim their fellow villiagers. But more broadly, the book describes how easily we can cease to see each other as people. Empathy and kindness are at any given moment and in any country just a few unfortunate events away from annihilation.

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition was at a disadvantage coming on the heels of tween boys learning to burn their countrymen alive. The characters are cute. The plot is cute. Read this to your kids or some such. Do not read this as an adult.

Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen had loads of interesting information in it. It almost makes up for the extremely long book vacillating between a jocular Maxim article and science journal in terms of tone. Almost.

The book is about running. The focus is on our misconceptions about the sport from proper footware to evolutionary history suggesting us all natural marathon contenders. Specifically, running shoes create injuries, and we beat out the stronger, perhaps smarter neanderthals thanks to our wheels. Since I trained for The Flying Pig Marathon barefoot, I found most of the book relevant to my own experiences even while wincing at the acrobatics needed to keep a Maxim reader reading beyond one sentence.

Whew. 1984 here I come.

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