july 2018 books

After running out of Kelly Corrigan books, I finally branched out a bit this month. Both were pretty quick reads (one I read in a single day at the beach). See my thoughts on each below:

Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy

I don’t often wander into the young adult section these days, but I’m glad I did for this book. Dumplin’ is in fact a Texas high-schooler with a beauty pageant-obsessed mom who doesn’t really understand her and a best friend who has what I desperately wanted at that age–a steady boyfriend. The protagonist is described as being overweight, which doesn’t exactly make the teenage years a breeze. Even though I was at the opposite end of the weight spectrum in high school, I related to this character so much; I had very similar insecurities at that age. I found her romantic endeavors a bit unrealistic, but maybe I’m just saying that because I’m jealous. I liked this book well enough to consider reading more books by this author.

4.5/5 stars.

Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich

I read Nickel & Dimed as part of an after-school book club in eighth grade, and even though I probably didn’t grasp a lot of Ehrenreich’s message in that book, I do remember her crisp descriptions and precise writing style. So when I saw this latest book written up in a recent NYT piece, I decided to add it to my library list. As the subtitle of the book suggests, the topic is (sort of) the lengths we as humans go to in order to prevent the inevitable (i.e., death). The first several chapters really held my attention, as they focused on health science research about the utility (or futility) of certain healthy screenings and how the medical profession evolved to what it is today. The latter half of the book meandered into how we interpret and deal with the idea of death, which was far too philosophical for me; I want facts and figures dangit! The book also seemed a bit disjointed at times, as if the author wrote the book as several longer articles which she then stapled together as a book. She repeated examples, which perhaps is supposed to add cohesion, but to me it was just annoying. Ehrenreich also mentioned about 20 times that she has a PhD in cellular immunology. One final gripe is that she makes a lot of seemingly blanket statements about the state of the science. For example, at one point she claims that there are no  modifiable, lifestyle-related risk factors for breast cancer. Um, that’s just wrong. Breast cancer is one of the 13 “obesity-related cancers,” and last time I checked body weight is usually modifiable. Harumph.

3/5 stars.

What did you read in July?

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