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Monika's books

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2022 Reading Goal

5% complete! Monika has read 3 of 52 books.

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The Remains of the Day (Paperback, 1999, Faber and Faber) 4 stars

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a …

Review of 'The Remains of the Day' on 'Storygraph'

3 stars

I didn't start getting into the story until around the 40% mark and even then, I felt like I had to make myself read it. If it hadn't been a book club pick, it'd probably be a DNF. I'm glad I stuck with it until the end. It was worth it from a literary and historical standpoint. But that ending felt incredibly depressing to me and I'm not sure it was meant to be? Was there meant to be little to no growth of the main character? Did he grow, but my own views are just so vastly different I can't see it? I have a lot of feelings to think about before my book club's discussion. 

Novecento (Spanish language, 2009) 4 stars

Review of 'Novecento' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

This novella about an ocean liner pianist was the first time in 30 years that I've read adult fiction in Italian (usually I stick with middle grade). It took me forever to read, but I liked the story and it was a good challenge for me. Loved its clever humor!

The Snow Child (2012, Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company) 4 stars

Review of 'The Snow Child' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

Wow, what a mysterious, magical, poignant, stunning novel. Set in 1920s Alaska. Themes of grief, nature/the elements, found family, connecting with others while still respecting their autonomy, and community. A 5-star read for me.

Falling Upward (Paperback, 2020, ReadHowYouWant) 3 stars

Review of 'Falling Upward' on 'Storygraph'

3 stars

I love Richard Rohr but oof, his privilege as a well-off cis man came through often enough that sometimes this felt condescending. Still contained some wonderful takeaways and food for thought, but overall this one was just "meh" for me.

Pachinko (2018, Quaterni) 4 stars

Review of 'Pachinko' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

A bit of a slow start, but once I settled in I was captivated to the very end. Beautiful book. Racism was handled with nuance and care.

Some good quotes, too:

"In the end, your belly was your emperor."

"Life is shitty, but not all the time."

Flesh & Blood (Hardcover, 2021, Algonquin Books) 5 stars

"A healing balm, this inviting memoir lights a path through grief and illness." -- Kirkus …

Review of 'Flesh & Blood' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

This medical memoir is as delicate as it is powerful. N. West Moss perfectly captures the heartache of infertility and chronic illness – and the fears, hopes, and frustrations that come with major surgery and its recovery – all with a gentle sense of humor and a lovely way of looking at the world, even the smallest little details. Moss has written this book in very short chapters consisting of beautifully engaging prose, making it difficult to put the book down once you pick it up. I grew to love the people she loves (and a praying mantis!), and felt like I was right there with her each step of the way. What a stunning memoir, and with so many unexpected moments of joy.

Wwhen Algonquin Books sent me a copy of Flesh & Blood for the Instagram tour, they included a little notebook, recipes by @PickYourPotions for basil …

Book of Pride (2019, HarperCollins Publishers) No rating

Review of 'Book of Pride' on 'Storygraph'

No rating

It's good, and I love that the "LGBTQ heroes" part of the title truly covers all those letters! But I've been feeling drawn to other books recently and have been neglecting this, so decided to set it aside for now. 

Everything Belongs (2003, Crossroad Pub.) 5 stars

This popular and bestselling book of the renowned Franciscan challenges people to move beyond the …

Review of 'Everything Belongs' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

I’ve only ever read Fr. Richard Rohr’s work in audiobook format, but honestly, I need to be buying his books in print so I can underline and put sticky notes everywhere. In Everything Belongs, he explores the radical freedom that comes through believing “that we have no real access to who we really are except in God.”

He discusses how civil religion and cultural Christianity miss a sense of the whole. They’re perfunctory. “The great commandment is not ‘thou shall be right,’ it is ‘be in love.'” When he reminds us that God receives all, he means literally all. Our ego is constantly comparing and dividing. It’s responsible for our dualistic thinking. Our true self—our soul—gives space for all.

I found his thoughts on avoiding groupthink and getting caught up in religious dogma especially inspiring and hopeful. The way our group experiences and knows God it not the …

Laziness Does Not Exist (2021, Atria Books) 4 stars

From social psychologist Dr. Devon Price, a conversational, stirring call to “a better, more human …

Review of 'Laziness Does Not Exist' on 'Storygraph'

3 stars

When I picked up Laziness Does Not Exist, I was expecting a book that counters capitalistic thinking—maybe along the lines of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs. The opening of the book got my hopes up and I was excited to dig in deep. Instead, this ended up feeling more like a self-help book for people who have economic and class privilege. It focused on fairly privileged people in traditional workplace environments, with suggestions on setting boundaries, having realistic expectations, and avoiding burnout. That’s important stuff for people who are in those environments, but there are so many people working jobs where there is no HR to talk to or negotiate with, where working from home isn’t possible at all, and who can’t afford to turn down work/independent contractor gigs. If you are in any of those categories, especially if you live at or close to the subsistence level, I …