If you include the books I’ve read to Forest this year, I am well over my goal of 50 books. I have not logged all of his books into Goodreads so the total is even higher than what is listed there. Plus you have to take into account how many books I read over and over and over. We average 2-3 books a night. Without all of his books I’m definitely on the lower end of where I would want to be to have read 50 books. I’m at about 32 books. I expect I can get to 40 books, maybe 42-43 books, by the end of the year. If I listened to more audio books instead of podcasts I could easily make this number higher but I definitely choose podcasts over audio books.
I’m skipping the round up of Forest’s books this time around. Alright, let’s go!
Fascism: A Warning by Madeline K. Albright: Despite the heaviness of this book in terms of content, the writing was easy to digest and flowed well throughout the book. As a former Secretary of State and someone who was a refugee from fascist dictators during WWII, Albright outlines a series of various dictators throughout the last century and how they relate to each other and of course how they relate to our current situation. I was struck by how much Mussolini resembled 45, particularly in Mussolini’s early days. It’s a book worth reading and was certainly eye opening to certain facets of history I didn’t know much about.
Fannye Cook: Mississippi’s Pioneering Conservationist by Dorothy Shawhan: I received this book via Net Galley and truth be told I didn’t quite finish it. Net Galley offers two methods for downloading, a protected PDF which you have to read on something that can open those files, or through a Kindle. I’ve found that when a publisher archives a book that the protected PDF will disappear from your reader. Whereas when a Kindle gets archived, it is still available for you to read. My lesson is to pick the Kindle option if it is available, and sometimes it isn’t, such as this instance. I just didn’t manage to read fast enough between the other books I was reading and there wasn’t an archive date set and then one day it was archived.
Born in the late 1800s, Fannye was interested in the natural history of her home state of Mississippi. The book covers her early years working for various entities and getting to know other pioneering natural history writers and scientists before forming the Mississippi Association for the Conservation of Wildlife before lobbying to form the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission. I picked the book to read because I like reading about regional historical figures that may not be widely known but have had an impact to their locale. I wish I’d gotten to finish it!
Butterflies of North America by Jim P. Brock: I finally picked up a butterfly book that I could easily use that works in our region. One thing I noticed while flipping through this book was that there isn’t a lot of diversity in butterflies right here in SE Texas. Head towards central Texas and it increases to include western and Mexican species and head east and you get a bit of a different mix. Of course this doesn’t include moths, which I have a separate book for but haven’t finished flipping through it. One downside is that I wish the drawings were photographs instead.
Evie and Jack by Glenn Haybittle: Another Net Galley book…this one reminded me a bit of Code Name Verity that I wrote about in May 2017. It involves the WAAF of WWII, spying, and a similar incognito female character trying to infiltrate German occupied France. Switching back and forth between a male character in the RAF and the female WAAF/spy perspective, there are some time jumps that create confusion at times. A little slow to take off, the story picked up mid-way through the book and flowed easily from there. I enjoyed learning more about WAAF and RAF once again and other aspect of WWII we just don’t get taught here in the US. If you are looking for historical fiction of the WWII genre, check this book out!
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen Sarah Bird: Another Netgalley book—this one I really enjoyed! A fictionalized account based on true facts about Cathy Williams, the only female Buffalo Soldier, this book traces Cathy’s life from slave on a plantation to traveling as a liberated person with the US Army during the Civil War, to eventually how she went incognito as a man to enlist as a Buffalo Soldier. A lot of the first quarter to half of the book seems to track fairly well with what is known about Cathy but the author seems to have taken liberties with a lot of what happened to her as a Buffalo Soldier. From what I can tell Cathy actually ended up in New Mexico with her regiment and not Texas, where the book takes place for the majority of the latter part of the story. The author is from Texas so I figure that’s why she did that.
I found the plot to be well-paced and captivating the entire time. A few times I wanted to throw the book because of the scenarios she was in but otherwise it was a great book!
Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide Rosemary Gladstar: I picked this up at the library and flipped through it while we were camping. It is a great beginners guide to herbs, the majority of the herbs mentioned in the book are common herbs you can grow or find and aren’t abstract. I’ve been thinking about using more herbs for general health and such and am trying to read more about them. Getting into things like tinctures kind of confuses me and is a bit overwhelming so I wanted to get a bit of the basics before I delved into things more.
Mary B: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice by Katherine J. Chen: Another Net Galley pick—I chose this one before I read the reviews or I might have been scared off from reading it. Mary Bennett gets the short end of the stick in P&P and we really don’t know much about her other than she’s a bookworm and awkward. We begin the book in P&P scenes that we are familiar with but from Mary’s perspective, getting some backstory to her life as well. It’s hard to be bookended by the two older, beautiful sisters and the two younger, outlandish sisters. Attention doesn’t fall on her easily. But then we see a potential romance with her and Mr. Collins and he still comes out as an ass. After we breeze past that and the weddings of Jane and Elizabeth, we see Mary being invited to Pemberley to hang out with Elizabeth while she’s pregnant and it is presumed to become the child’s governess. Because who is Mary going to marry?
But then Mary kind of starts coming out of her shell. She begins writing a book, has encounters with one of the well-to-do P&P characters, lots of catastrophes befall the family and well, you have to read it. I will give you the heads up that everything you know and love about P&P will be turned on its head. This isn’t a retelling in the sense of what we’ve seen recently in other books, but this is a re-imagining. And I’m ok with that. A lot of the reviews seemed to be riled up about imagining a different storyline after the weddings but honestly, I’m tired of the same old attempts as re-visioning the story. I was here for all of the gooey, gossipy changes.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer: This one I started as an audio book in the spring of 2017. I had only an hour and a half left to listen to it and I finally decided to buckle down and listen. Read by the author, I highly recommend listening to this peaceful audio book if you are looking for a balm to your soul in these troubled times. She references the Iraq War a few times so you get a sense of time as she’s writing but so much of it is not tied to any timeline and you can easily apply what she writes to life today. I have the paper copy of this book and plan to flip through it as the need arises to refresh myself on her writing. This is a must read for anyone interested in natural history or plants.
What are you reading?