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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Book Review: Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen by Mary Norris

Mary tried to learn Latin as a child but her father opposed her learning a "dead" language. As an adult, she pursued Greek with abandon. Her job at the New Yorker would pay for continuing ed, so she was able to expense her initial classes, but when she started studying Ancient Greek, as opposed to contemproary (which are pretty completely different languages), they balked. After some help, that went through and she not only pursued the learning (complete with acting in a couple of Ancient Greek plays, in Greek), but of course had to go to Greece.

She prefers to travel alone, especially as her travel style isn't compatible with many people's. She prefers to do absolutely everything it is possible to do and see in a place. She's not good at sitting by a pretty place and just relaxing.

But she is an excellent companion for this armchair traveler! I have long aspired to visit Greece but I haven't managed it so far, and I think when I finally do, I'll have to reference this book as she has some places she really enjoys. I was thrilled to see that she visited The Parthenon in Nashville, my hometown, and she liked it! Its' hard to describe to people how a life-sized Pathernon, made of aggregate instead of marble, in the middle of a park in Tennessee, can be impressive and not kitschy. Few people believe you until they see it for themselves. She was a doubter. 

If you have any love of language, any dreams of visiting Greece, this was a delightful and fun read. I truly enjoyed it.

I bought this book at Quail Ridge Books, an independent bookstore.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Book Review: Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness by Catherine Cho

Catherine Cho never placed much credence in her parents' Korean superstitions. So when she and her husband had a baby boy and coincidentally,  just after they had the opportunity to come back from England for an extended trip around the US to introduce their son to friends and family, it made sense. Her parents were horrified as he wasn't 100 days old yet. Also she hadn't subscribed to the myths about staying in bed for the first 21 days and all that goes with that.

At first, the trip went great. They began on the West Coast and drove East. In Virginia, where Catherine is from, things started to be uncomfortable, but she thought that was due to her family who were never comfortable people to be around, in the best of times. Then at her in-law's in New Jersey, she saw the devil in her baby's eyes. Next thing she knew, she woke up in a locked ward.

The storytelling goes back and forth, explaining Catherine's childhood, an abusive relationship she was in before, and what life was like on the ward for her now. She pieced back together, from medical notes and her husband's recollections, what happened that last bad few days that caused her family to have her committed. And she had to piece things back together, if she ever wanted to put her life back together, and go back home.

Certainly there are some shadows of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Awakenings, but Catherine's story is purely her own. We've all known someone who's struggled with postpartum depression, but postpartum psychosis is something else. And she tells it so amazingly, it's shocking to realize that the person who was once so unhinged, is the same person reconstruction those events so beautifully. Insanity is such an incredibly hard thing to write from first person (although as a reader, that's the best way to understand it) and it reminded me a little of Jill McCorkle's The Cheer Leader which is my gold standard for that. Gives you an incredible amount of empathy and sympathy for people who go through this, and an understanding as to why there's such a stigma. The ending, with Catherine now suffering debilitating periods of depression, probably for the rest of her life, is melancholy, but realistic. This book reminds me why I love memoirs so much. This was a riveting story but one I would never, ever want to live through.

This book is published by Henry Holt, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Book Review: March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women by Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jane Smiley (audiobook)

This is a short book of four essays, one focusing on each of the four March sisters in Little Women, by four prominent women authors of today. 

My favorite was Jane Smiley. Some of the other essays I felt had anachronisms and were not always considering the world of the later 1800s--they were often forcing the morals and feminism of today on a different century which isn't fair. But that was rare. Ms. Smiley was the one writer who really did not do that. It also made me rethink the character of Amy somewhat, which I'd already started doing after the most recent movie adaptation. 

And the essay on Beth was interesting in pointing out that as idealized as Beth was, that's problematic in its own way. She wasn't allowed to be a three-dimensional person like her real-life counterpart, Lizzie. 

Meg was the boring sister when we all ready this book as tweens/teens, but now, I think I am a Meg. She shouldn't be dismissed so lightly as she tends to be by younger readers, as she's the stable, stalwart one who follows her heart.

Finally, Jo. Beloved Jo. Frustrating Jo. Jo who stands in for the author. Jo who most young girls identify with initially. I don't want to say too much about her, but the essay rings very true.

This was super enjoyable, a short read (or listen) and if you're at all a fan, you will love it.

I downloaded this digital audiobook from my local library via Libby/Overdrive.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Book Review: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

It's 1991. Cassie has just graduated from high school. She missed the beginning of the summer due to an aggressive bout of mono, but now she's ready to tackle her fun summer job at a cookie store at the mall with her perfect boyfriend before heading off to college in NYC with him. What could be better?

Well it turns out that while she was sick, he was cheating on her. And she gets fired for never showing up at work. What looked like the ideal summer is now the worst! She can't bear the humiliation of telling her parents (plus she does need a job) so after spending a couple of fruitless days at the mall applying for "Dylan" and "Brandon" jobs (she has a hilarious Beverly Hills 90210-based ranking system of mall jobs), she ends up with the worst job possible: working in the slutty dress shop owned by the mother of her former best friend. And yes, former best friend still works there too. While avoiding her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend and figuring out where her life is going, she runs across a treasure map of sorts based around old Cabbage Patch dolls, and ends up having the summer of her life!

1991 is also the summer I graduated from high school. This book SO spoke to me! I know it's classified as YA, but I think anyone who grew up then will love it. In fact I think today's teens will miss a lot of the cultural references and not enjoy the nostalgia as much. It's a light, fun read, perfect for summer.

This book is published by Wednesday Books, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Book Review: Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller

NPR reporter Lulu Miller felt she'd made a mess of her life. Ever since she was a kid and asked her dad what was the meaning of life, and he'd answered "Nothing!" she'd felt unmoored, pointless, depressed. Her father had seen it as freedom, but she found it terrifying. She ran across a story of a man, David Starr Jordan, which inspired her, and she set out to find out more about him, hoping it would bring order to her chaotic life.
David Jordan was the first president of Stanford. He also was a taxinomist, identifying and naming a quarter of all the known species of fish in the world. By many counts, he'd been incredibly successful. But he'd also suffered many losses: his first wife, a beloved daughter, and his entire fish collection. The 1906 earthquake sent his fish collection crashing to the floor in a sea of broken glass, with the names of the fish floating unattached. It also set fires on campus and destroyed buildings, even unironically crashing a statue of Jordan's mentor headfirst into the ground. Yet he picked himself up and set right back to setting things straight. He not only saved a lot of his collection, he came up with a clever solution of sewing the name tags directly onto the fish, so they could never be separated again. How could someone face devastating losses and keep going, with cheer and energy, knowing it could happen again? This is what Lulu wanted to figure out.
But maybe that's not all that was going on with Mr. Jordan? In fact, maybe he wasn't someone to put on a pedestal at all. Maybe his way of thinking is just as flawed and problematic as all of us. And maybe, along the way, Lulu will find out more about herself. And maybe she'll figure out she doesn't need this man to emulate, this crutch, after all.
I bought this book from an independent bookstore.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Book Review: A Royal Affair by Allison Montclair

In book 2 of this series, Gwen and Iris's fledgling matchmaking business is picking up, so much so that they are eyeing the office next door, complete with two enormous, extravagant desks, for expansion. Their dreams will be helped by a nice paycheck when a friend of Gwen's titled family arrives, who works for the Queen (unofficially. But officially. She'll deny it if you ask. But she totally works for the Queen.) It seems that young Princess Elizabeth is enamored of a minor Greek Prince who might be of dubious background, and now a cryptic note has arrived, threatening scandal. Gwen and Iris seem like just the young women to look into this sort of thing. And of course, they are.

Yes, we all know Elizabeth married Phillip, but that doesn't rule out the suspense of secrets and lies and royal machinations. And someone sure seems to want Gwen and Iris to stop their investigating! Is it Iris's old boss? An enemy of the royal family? I for one really appreciate that their investigations so far all make sense, for women who aren't in fact private investigators. The secrets kept me guessing, and there was a great twist I didn't see coming in the denouement. I can't wait for the next Sparks and Bainbridge mystery!

This book is published by Minotaur, an imprint of Macmillan, my employer.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Book Review: Dung for Dinner: A Stomach-Churning Look at the Animal Poop, Pee, Vomit, and Secretions that People Have Eaten (and Often Still Do!) by Christine Virnig, illustrated by Korwin Briggs

If you have any kids in your life who like gross stuff, here's the perfect book for them! They'll learn interesting and fascinating things and not even realize it. Not useful things--but it's still learning. It's especially great for reluctant readers. Do you want to know why the Egyptians ate poop? All the many times pee has been used as something useful? Why people might eat other super gross things from your body. Yuck. But can't put it down. NOT for reading at or near mealtime.

This book is published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Book Review: This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Medical Resident by Adam Kay (audiobook)

Adam became a doctor. He picked it when he was 16 and in the UK, there's not a lot of room for looking back or changing course from there on out. Some terminology is different (I was surprised by the fact that once a doctor finishes up all of what we call the internship and residency, he or she stops going by Dr. Kay and goes back to Mr. Kay which is somehow better.)

He quickly settles on ob/gyn as his specialty through process of elimination, and he's quite good at it. But it takes a real toll. The hours are brutal, babies are unexpected, complications are myriad, and there's no room left for emotions or a personal life. Luckily Mr. Kay kept both a journal and his sense of humor.

You can't be especially squeamish to read (or listen) to this book as the number and variety of bizarre things people will stuff up inside themselves is astounding. Along the way, though, you do hear numerous stories that will make you smile, laugh, occasionally be sad, and will give a great deal of appreciation for all of your physicians from here on out. They are human. And this is a tough job. Thankfully, parts of it are funny. Although the other parts are why Mr. Kay isn't a doctor anymore. But he's also a good writer!

I borrowed this digital audiobook from my local library via Libby/Overdrive.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Book Review: Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels by Rachel Cohen

Just after Rachel had her first baby, her beloved father's illness returned and he died. She found throughout the period in which she had two children and lost her father, she could read nothing else but Jane Austen. She returned over and over and over again to her five novels (not Northanger Abbey which is a farce of a Gothic novel.) At different times, different novels spoke to her. She could pick them up anywhere and just read a few pages and put them down. Reading them was more of a form of meditating, rather than novel reading. She wasn't reading for content or critique, but for comfort and reassurance. Much like H is for Hawk, this novel is about how grief renders one utterly shocked and unable to cope in their usual ways--therefore glomming on to a talisman that seems to make some sense of the new world.

At times the book made me sad. Rachel's father sounds delightful. I have a professor father myself, but we never go on walks (unless you count golf in which case on vacations we often go on walks.) It's a fascinating idea, for one who hasn't reread a book in years, to consider rereading and rereading and rereading. What new insights would one get on the 20th rereading? The 50th? Would I one day grow to like, or at least appreciate, Mansfield Park? Unlike other readers I've always liked Emma--would I perhaps grow frustrated with her? Anne is so passive and so sad, but has been my favorite heroine--would she stay that way? And the silly Marianne, would I perhaps appreciate her emotionality more?

Alas, I don't see me finding out, but I do, in my own way, revisit Austen's novels over and over, through pastiches, retellings, biographies, hagiographies, and other variations on this theme. This likely will be a lifelong pastime.

And it it calming to read this quiet meditation on Austen, on her life and her heroines, during a difficult time in someone else's life, and how Austen provided solace and comfort. Each of us will deal with grief in our own time and our own way, and I hope I can do it with as much grace and thoughtfulness as Ms. Cohen.

This book is published by Farrar Straus & Giroux, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Book Review: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

I hadn't read a book club book in a while and I'd heard really good things about this one so I was excited to read it. But it was nothing like I expected.

It's set on this obscure peninsula in far, far Western Russia, past Siberia. Two young girls go missing and are missing for a long time. The story is told from multiple points of view, never returning to the same narrator again, some directly involved in the crime, and some only tangential. It takes quite a ways into the story before you start seeing overlaps and connections between the characters. The story is described as a mystery, but it's really not. In that there's no detective who solves anything, and there are no real clues until one at the very end. It's more just the story of a region which is affected by a terrible crime and how that plays out. Oh, and there was another girl, an Indigenous teenager, who went missing a couple of years ago, but the police assume she ran away (impossible in this remote area--no one can get in our out without leaving a trace as you'd have to go through a checkpoint, an airport, or a port.) so they don't look for her. Did she not run away? Is it related?

The book is a fascinating look at cultures we're very unfamiliar with, and yet in other ways it seems like exactly what we know. It's a mash-up of cultures in a way we often don't see in the United States. The various Indigenous peoples and the way they do or don't mesh with the surrounding Russians, provided an extra layer of intrigue and interest.

It was slow going at first, and at middle, and it read like a series of short stories (which I personally don't like) but in the end, I'm glad I read it.

I bought this book from Bookmarks, an independent bookstore in Winston-Salem, NC.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Book Review: Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars: Space, Exploration, and Life on Earth by Kate Greene

Kate majored in Chemistry and got a Master's in Physics. She applied to NASA and got turned down, so she became a science journalist instead. Years later, she saw a notice about this experiment that needed volunteers, applied, and was selected. She became one of five "astronauts" who went to Hawaii for five months and lived in a geodesic dome.

Their primary goal was to study food and eating. It's a big problem in space. On the International Space Station, after the first month, most astronauts basically stop eating. The most coveted item on the ISS is hot sauce. This is troublesome in and of itself as it has a serious impact on the health of our astronauts and needs to be solved if we truly want to have long-term space programs. And speaking of long-term space programs, food is also an issue there because if you think about something like a mission to Mars, food will be the biggest weight, biggest mass, and biggest expense for the trip. Can we let astronauts cook? On the ISS they actually grow a few foods--can that be improved on?

In addition to this study, each of the "astronauts" have their own studies they're responsible for and Kate's is about sleep. Others are studying things like isolation and group dynamics and leadership. Even though she never left the planet (except presumably to fly to Hawaii but she was still within the atmosphere), she will greatly help the future of space travel.

Interestingly, this experience also changed her life. She was not the same woman coming out of this experiment as she was going in. She writes about everything so beautifully, so poetically, you forget you're reading about science. And it's styled as individual essays so even though they certainly come together into a cohesive whole, you don't have to read it all through at once.

It's a fascinating, thoughtful, and unexpectedly lovely essay collection covering Ms. Greene's experience as a pretend astronaut, performing scientific experiments for the future of the space program.

This book is published by St. Martin's Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Book Review: Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr.

This book gives a surprising angle on where we are today with black incarceration and police relationships. It focuses on DC where there's no surrounding state to sway statistics, but where the neighboring other-state counties can provide contrast, and also it's a majority-black city so issues tend to stand out in relief.

And in going back to the beginning, to the 1930s when police forces really started being a thing and when Jim Crow was in full force, and when illegal drugs first popped up, Mr. Forman finds something utterly fascinating: initially, African-Americans were on board with more police presence and actually argued for harsher drug laws.

Obviously you need to understand the full context for this, but before this time there was essentially NO police presence in black neighborhoods, as they were only protecting whites, and no one was responding to any crimes that happened to black people. Separately, when drugs started to really affect black neighborhoods, black leaders often thought (mistakenly but they had no way of knowing it at the time) that harsher drug laws would prevent black youths from getting involved with drugs, and therefore would protect black families and black neighborhoods. Obviously, that drastically backfired. The book then follows these policies up through now, showing the consequences. Very important read today. Oh also, this book won the Pulitzer Prize.

This book is published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Book Review: The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

I worried about writing a review for a book later in a series without giving away spoilers. Luckily this book runs parallel to Book 2, The Fated Sky, so it's not as spoilery as I had worried. (That said, you should read them in order as a couple of major twists in Book 2 are necessarily revealed in Book 3.)

Nicole Wargin is the main character here. She was another of the original Astronettes alongside Elma York. She's a former debutante and the wife of the Governor of Kansas (remember, Kansas City is now the capitol of the U.S.) A lot of people don't know that in WWII she was also a spy. Luckily, her time at a Swiss Finishing School helped in that, as it did later as the First Lady of Kansas. And she has no idea how helpful it will be in her next trip to the moon. As the Earth Firsters are gaining in strength, confidence, and destructiveness. And it seems there is a saboteur on the moon. The latter 75% of the book reads like a mystery or a spy novel with lots of twists and turns, clues, and investigation. It's impressive how Kowal can shift between genres effortlessly.

I didn’t want it to end. I was reading it for a week which is incredibly long for me and completely threw off my book count for the year, and I didn't care. Kowal is amazing. Her characters are so real, and what happens to them is so real—including injuring and occasionally even killing important people who in the course of humanity would probably die, but who other authors wouldn’t have the guts to kill. This one didn’t make me cry like Book 2 did. But I just want to live in this world forever. If there were 10 more books of 700  pages, I would read them all. Waiting so hard for Book 4.

This book is published by Tor, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Book Review: Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World by Noah Strycker

I love stunt memoirs. You know, like Julie & Julia or The Year of Living Biblically--those people who'd go off and do a nutty thing for a year. It's a memoir, my favorite genre, and you know nothing can go too horribly wrong or else they wouldn't have gotten through the year and there'd be no book. So it's memoir with a purpose and it's emotionally on the lighter side, sometimes even funny. Perfect. And yet, there are almost none of these left. I read all the decent ones back in their heyday in the mid-2000s. But we've run out of crazy-thing-for-a-year ideas. All the good ones are done. So alas, my absolute favorite subgenre has been moribund for a decade or so.

But then I found this book! Several years ago I read The Big Year and I watched the movie, which I recently rewatched (it's decent. Not amazing, but a good watch and moderately entertaining with nothing offensive.) I looked the book up on Goodreads to see when I read it and Goodreads suggested this book to me--which was recent and has an even better rating! Woo hoo! This rocketed to the top of my TBR list.

Noah is a big birder. He even works at Birding magazine. And he decides to take his 29th year and do an International Big Year. Most big years are geographically limited which means if you do a Big Year for your state or for North America, when a bird has gotten off track and is in the wrong place, you have to jump in your car or on a plane and race off, otherwise you're limited by the birds native to your area, and that isn't the way to make a record. But Noah's year was different. If he was in one place and there was a sighting of an unusual bird halfway across the country, he didn't care. He'd probably go to that bird's natural habitat and see it there. Instead, his goal in each stop was to see the birds endemic to that place--the ones never seen elsewhere at all. So it's the opposite theory--he really wants to see all the native Sri Lankan birds when he's there and all the Costa Rican birds while in that country. He's able to become more immersed in the local habitats and environments, because his focus is much more on what's supposed to be there, not on the outliers.

He does spend the entire year on the road except for a few days in May when he does hit his home of Oregon, on the US part of his trip. He starts in Antarctica, hitting all seven continents, a few of them twice. There are over 10,000 known species of birds (according to the guidebook he uses. There's a different one that has a larger number, and recently scientists have way upped the number to over 14K using genetics.) A few years ago a couple got over 4500 birds on a world Big Year.  Noah plans to pass them and his goal is 5000--to see half the known species. Along the way he meets loads of people. While he's traveling alone, he never is alone--he meets up with locals he finds through a birding app and occasionally friends meet up with him for brief stints. The birds seem fascinating--I did have to look up a couple of them that are just bizarre. I keep being tempted to start birding and yet, I can't possibly keep even 1000 birds straight, let alone ten times that, so I'm content to just observe the ones in my own backyard.

Meanwhile, I was so grateful, in this time of uncertainty and weirdness, to find one last stunt memoir, to lighten my days.

I bought this book from Quail Ridge Books, an independent bookstore.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Stuck Inside Recommendations 81-90: Graphic Novels and Sci Fi!

On Facebook I started recommending a book a day for those stuck inside and looking for something good to read. I'm trying to alternate between books published by Macmillan (my employer) and not. (Simply, because the vast majority of my reading is Macmillan books, it's really hard for me to not have this unbalance in any list I put together.) And I thought I'd pull together those recommendations every 10 days here, for people who I'm not Facebook friends with. These 10 books are all mysteries, as requested!

Please buy books from independent bookstores! You can find your nearby indies here, or you can buy from bookshop.org or you can get audiobooks from Libro.fm. Those last two you either can get to through the website of an indie, and have part of your purchase go to that indie directly, or if you really don't know of one, any purchases made on those sites, even unaffiliated ones, will indirectly support independent bookstores. Bookstores are really struggling right now, from chains on down to the little guys, and right now, you have a lot of time to read! Seems like two great things that go great together.

Now, on with the list! While these are numbered, they are not ranked. I've starred the non-Macmillan books, and if I reviewed them, I'll link to the review. Every one of these books got a 5-star rating from me! 

81. Thornhill by Pam Smy

82. Best Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

83. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, translated by Mattias Ripa

84. Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable, illustrated by Ellen T. Crenshaw

85. The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry by David L. Carlson, illustrated by Landis Blair

86. The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

87. The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

88. Mort(e) by Robert Repino*

89. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargy*

90. The Martian by Andy Weir*




Thursday, July 2, 2020

Book Review: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

I read two of Ms. Center's recent books, Things You Save in a Fire and How to Walk Away, and really enjoyed them, so when I saw this book will be reissued later this year, I figured I'd give it a read too, and see if her recent success means her writing has changed or improved. I'm happy to report I liked this one as much as those!

Now Ms. Center's books tend to be more solidly commercial women's fiction than I usually read, but I do think they're a step above the average in that category. And I do find them to be compelling reads.

Helen got divorced last year, after her husband became an alcoholic and didn't want to fix that. She's 32, an elementary school teacher, and feels like her life is stagnant. In an effort to rediscover herself, she signs up to do a strenuous 3-week hiking/camping course. While attempting (and failing) to drop off her dog with her 10-year-younger brother, she finds out to her dismay that his roommate, Jake, is going on the same trip. She'd really wanted to go alone. (Of course there are others on the trip, but without anyone she knows.) She agrees to drive him from Boston to Wyoming but then they're going to pretend like they don't know each other. Which becomes infinitely more difficult when he confesses he's been in love with her since the minute he saw her (awkwardly, at her wedding).

Now, she's not outdoorsy. She's only been car camping. She's about 10 years older than everyone else on the trip, bright young college students, and the leader looks to be 15 (he's obviously not but it doesn't help her confidence.) She's one of the slowest hikers. But she's bound and determined that she's going to get one of the 3 coveted certificates awarded at the end to the three best participants (measured more by effort). But Jake is so distracting, especially as he flirts with the beautiful, kind, and smart Windy (not a typo.) On this trip, Helen will reach deep inside herself to discover her own limits and depths, and she will come out the other side a changed woman.

This book reminded me a lot of Wild, albeit with a less crazy background, if it had mixed with a book club book. It didn't make we want to go camping or hiking, but it did serve as a great reminder that we are each of us in control of our own happiness, especially in our reaction to others. And it's a good idea every day to think of at least 3 good things that happened that day. And to address blisters as soon as you feel a hot spot forming--don't wait!

This book is published by St. Martin's Press, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

My Month in Review: June

The Month in Review meme is hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

I note the non-Macmillan books in this post with a star.

Books completed this month:
Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women by Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jane Smiley (audiobook)*
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene*
Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World by Noah Strycker*
This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Medical Resident by Adam Kay (audio)*
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr.

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Becoming by Michelle Obama (audio)*
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams
Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen by Mary Norris
Check, Please!, Book 2: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu
Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits: A 4-Week Stretching Plan to Achieve Amazing Health by Eiko*

Books I gave up on:
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson*

What I acquired this month (non-work books):
None. I preordered Isabel Wilkerson's new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, from Loyalty Books, an independent bookstore in DC and MD.