January 2021 Reads
It Devours! | Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor | 2017 | Ebook | *****
Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Humor
While I still haven’t listened to the Welcome to Nightvale podcast (I know, I know, I need to), I have loved all of the books I’ve read from them so far, including this one. The prose is absurd, comical, and engaging. I love the worldbuilding—a weird desert town where all conspiracies are true—and I love how relatable the characters are, despite their bizarre setting. If you like dark, existential humor and mysterious paranormal events, you’d probably like any of the books these two have written. I really enjoyed the book poking fun at the limits of both religion and science—it’s done in equal measure and with a levity that added to the narrative. Some may be critical of the assertions made in the book, but I think it easily matched Nightvale’s uncanny tone.
How to Heal Your Metabolism | Kate Deering | 2015 | Paperback | *****
A family member let me borrow this and it isn’t normally the sort of book I review so bear with me! Also, I’m NOT giving nutritional advice, just reviewing this book. Kate Deering walks the reader through the science of the way food breaks down in our body and why some foods have more bioavailable vitamins and nutrients than others, offering an alternative to mainstream nutritional wisdom. My favorite takeaway from the book is that food is synergistic. Fats, proteins, and carbs/sugars are meant to be eaten together for maximum benefits. Sugar by itself can cause insulin to spike, but fats can slow down the blood sugar response. Caffeine stimulates the metabolism and is more beneficial when consumed with calories like honey and milk. While I found a lot of valuable information within the book and my partner and I have felt better while eating the way Deering recommends (my lactose intolerant partner has had no issues with the high quality milk we now buy), it’s best to take all nutritional advice with a grain of salt and listen to how to your body feels first and foremost.
I’m giving the book three stars simply because I don’t think enough editing was done on the book. There is so much research in the back of the book and I think it has a great message, but there are still glaring spelling errors and awkward wording that makes it feel less professional.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century | Yuval Noah Harari |2018 | Audiobook | *****
Nonfiction, History, Philosophy, Science, Politics
I’d never read Harari before, but I’ve heard a lot of great things about his book Sapiens. It is clear from listening to this audiobook that the author has a masterful grasp of history and how stories have motivated and influenced humankind for thousands of years. Harari quickly runs through all of the stories that have given us meaning throughout history and wonders aloud what will change about human stories and the human condition with the rise of AI and algorithms. He presents lots of hypothetical situations and potential problems that could happen in the future, attempting to tackle some of the dire global issues that are beginning to emerge now.
Even though the author is clearly brilliant and articulate, this book is too ambitious and seeks to cover too much—each chapter could be expanded into its own book easily. There is also the matter of the title, which I think is inherently misleading. I support Harari’s decision to not make explicit claims toward solutions to complex, multi-faceted issues, but why frame the chapters as lessons when they aren’t? Sure, the chapters provide more historical context, but they really offer no concrete instruction. I really enjoyed the book, but I wish that it had a better title and had a narrower focus.
Have a suggestion for what I should read next? Join the conversation with me and let me know what you think: