Because Internet – Gretchen McCulloch

Rating: 3.5/5

I first heard about this book from an episode of the Ezra Klein show, but it wasn’t quite the book I expected going in – I thought it’d be more educational and that I’d learn more about how internet slang and memes and such developed, but it was more nostalgic and entertaining than anything else.

The book did a great job at putting into words things that an internet user already innately knows, but not so much at providing new information. For example, being a Full Internet Person, I already know the “anatomy” of a keysmash – usually starts with “a” or “asdf”, made up of the middle row of keys on a keyboard, doesn’t usually have the same letter repeated, if it doesn’t look genuine enough then people will often delete and do it again (that made me laugh, so real) – but I didn’t necessarily want to read about it. And the book is filled with instances like this. It was entertaining as a recap of things I totally do on the internet, but not as informative as hoped.

Most Anticipated Book Releases of Early 2020

It was SO HARD to pick just three upcoming books I’m excited about! I’ve been browsing through lists and opening a tab for every book that has sounded interesting and now I have like…40 extra tabs open and each one is so small I can barely click on it 😂 I finally went through and managed to winnow it down to three four, despite this being called Top 3 Tuesday, because I just couldn’t not include one of these.

My first two picks are both about technology and its ever-encroaching role in our lives (and where it can go so wrong), and my second two picks have to do with what I call “the unattainable, ideal Manhattan woman” – the one who’s a power professional (law, finance, consulting, etc), works out 5x a week and is perfectly toned, drinks green smoothies for breakfast, etc. I didn’t know I was so interested in these topics until now!

SO, these are the four books I’m most excited about in the first half of 2020:

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Bad Blood – John Carreyrou

Rating: 4/5

I devoured this a few weeks ago but am still reeling at just how corrupt Theranos was. Back around 2012-2014 I remember marveling at this new Elizabeth Holmes figure that every media outlet was mythologizing, and thinking how incredible it must be to be so brilliant and wishing I’d been born so talented too. When the truth came out, I was scandalized and shocked alongside everyone else, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I realized just how fraudulent the company really was.

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Top 5 Reads of 2019

This was a weird reading year for me. For most of the year, books fell off my priority list as I got caught up in work, relationships, travel, and video games, and so from January through October I read a grand whopping total of 3 books. 3!!! I must’ve started at least a dozen others, but those 3 were the only ones I managed to finish in their entirety.

And then mid-November rolled around and I realized – damn, I haven’t read in a while and really miss it, and this is the least reading I’ve done in years! Suddenly the bug came rushing back and before you know it, here we are a month later and I’ve read 11 books in the past four weeks. Motivation is such an amazing force. I feel a little abashed calling myself a reader and book blogger when I’ve read just 14 books this year, but everyone has their down years so here’s one of mine.

I thought about it some more though and also realized that a big part of why I wasn’t reading anymore was that I was being really selective with what I did read, which was basically only literature and classics. And while I love the classics, I was getting really burned out on them, so this past month has been me loosening up with my book choices and learning that “fun”, easy reads aren’t any less valuable – in fact, it’s probably what I need the most after years of working my way through lists of the classics. I’m not sure when I became such a book snob but I’m definitely out to correct it, and I’m glad I became aware of it and can start enjoying more types of books out there.

Anyway, the best 5 books I read this year!

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Books I Hope to Find under My Tree

I love reading other people’s Top Ten Tuesday posts (started by That Artsy Reader Girl) and thought I’d start adding mine too! I find 10 to be a lot though, and I want to be more selective, so I’m modifying mine to be Top 3 instead – and maybe occasionally Top 5 if I’ve got a lot of opinions that week 🙂

This week, a hugely popular cookbook, an /r/books favorite, and a beautiful memoir by a cancer patient…

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Save Me the Plums – Ruth Reichl

Rating: 2/5

Big yikes. I really wanted to like this book because some of my favorite book bloggers said it was one of their favorite books of the entire year, which is glowing praise, but I couldn’t get past the cultural insensitivity. Most of it wasn’t bad, but I got to one page that had a recipe for “spicy Chinese noodles” and I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. You’re telling me that Ruth Reichl – former NY Times food critic, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, and generally beloved food personality – is so culturally unaware as to call a Chinese noodle dish…literally “spicy Chinese noodles”?

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The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

Rating: 4/5

I feel like I need to reread this one three more times until I finally understand everything! This is definitely one of most imaginative books I’ve ever read, even though it came at the cost of my comprehension, ha. I chipped away at it for months because it’s just so wacky and nonsensical and dense that I kept having to put it down every few chapters to process what I’d read. The experience I had while reading it was very similar to my read of Neuromancer – I was really confused all throughout, but once I finished I was vaguely happy to have read it, lol.

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Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris

Rating: 3.5

This was my first David Sedaris and I liked it. His sense of humor is a strange mix of weird and goofy and British and dry as bone, with a tinge of creepy and “omg you did NOT just say that”. I just love how irreverent he is, and his chapters from the perspective of various homophobic/ultraconservative/paranoid people were really funny and original, even if he does tend to get rambly and sometimes even boring when writing about his own experiences.

This anthology also had the famous (to me) colonoscopy piece and having heard about it so much from others didn’t dilute the 5-minute pleasure of reading it for myself. I’ve heard this book is a far cry from his best writing – but if that’s the case, I look forward to reading more of his works.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 4.5/5

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read this book when I’ve heard about it nonstop since it came out! It definitely didn’t disappoint, and like everyone else, I thought it was incredible. Usually when it comes to fantasy I’m pretty hesitant because a lot of authors aren’t convincing enough with their world-building. Oftentimes the magic systems or individual powers or the worlds themselves aren’t fleshed out enough to make you suspend your disbelief; other times, they’re way too complicated and/or farfetched and it turns into a chore to remember all the details while you read.

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