Data and privilege and reexamining life
Another month, another round of book reviews! I finished ten books in August and am getting caught up with my 2020 reading goal (120 books).
I read lots of really great books this month—and admit that I’m also getting better about abandoning books I’m not really into using the 50-page rule (don’t give up on a book until you’re at least 50 pages in . . . until you’re 50 years old, and then you can lower that number by a page a year).
August brought lots of data-heavy titles and some heavy big life stuff (acknowledging privilege, breaking away from overwork, saying yes more, reexamining this country’s beginnings), but this year seems like a good time to dig into those things.
Hope you’re surviving—or, better yet, thriving—and staying healthy!
Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker
This was such an interesting and delightful read about the subjectivity and trickiness of math on a large scale. I admit I didn’t really grasp all the logic—“I’m an English major; you do the math!”—but I loved it anyway.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
This book was worth the hype! Flawed protagonists, complex themes like gender and race and privilege, a surprising plot, exceptional writing.
Pretty. Damned. Fast. by Will Buntin
I highly recommend having a friend who’s a screenwriter! Loved this one—a story of hot rodders and ghosts and going home to face your past. It’s a perfect read for late summer.
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch
I started this pre-COVID and then lost the thread while I watched the world start to fall apart, but I came back to it in August and zoomed through it. A really fascinating exploration of language and how it’s changed rapidly over the last couple of decades in an internet world.
Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan
My church recently held a white privilege discussion group that was guided by this book. It was a much-needed perspective on American Christianity, and the ELCA church in particular, and an important read for white congregations.
Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee
I love reading books that encourage a break from our hyperconnected worlds—this year especially. A much-needed reminder that work is not the end-all be-all when it comes to how we measure self-worth, happiness, and even success.
Yes Man by Danny Wallace
What if you said yes to every question or suggestion presented to you? This was a fun read about turning your routines on their head, leaning into a personal experiment, and staying open to new and unexpected opportunities.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
This book shook. me. up. It was no surprise, of course, to learn that there are data gaps when it comes to women. But it was stunning to read about the breadth and depth of those gaps; women have been willfully ignored (or carelessly forgotten) when it comes to anything from seatbelt design and pharmaceutical studies to city planning and how we expect people to work.
I strongly recommend this read to anyone who is convinced women have achieved equality with men and to anyone working in planning and leadership roles.
You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe
I’ve never read a Washington biography because a 700-page love letter to a founding father has never really piqued my interest. But I loved this short and conversational look at his life—and the myths that we’ve accepted about the first president.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
A unique and surprising story about friendship and resentment and parenting and visibility. A friend recommended this and I’m so glad she did!
What summer reads have you loved? What are you looking forward to this fall?