Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Oh, look at me finishing two books in quick succession.

I’m just going to dive right into the post. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The story follows Sophie. A Haitian girl being raised by her aunt at the age of 12 when her mother sends for her from New York. You follow her to New York to marrying to returning home to the tragedy of her mother’s suicide.

I’ve owned this book a couple of years now and knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the premise. I didn’t know the themes. The story blew me away from page one. Haiti is arguably the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you know it immediately. But as soon as you wrap your head around Sophie’s surroundings they completely change as she heads to New York to be reunited with her mother she doesn’t know. She soon realizes how difficult her mother’s life really is. This is important because of the conversations people are having TODAY. So many people in America want to paint immigrants as criminals, worthless, and illegal. But so much more often than not, they’re just like Sophie’s mother. Working multiple jobs and supporting family back home.

But the book isn’t only about being an immigrant and trying to find where we belong. Sophie suffers from bulimia and sex phobia, as it’s described in the book, and her mother suffers from severe mental illness, ultimately leading to her suicide. Sophie seeks help in multiple ways. I’m not going to say I suffer from anything, but I know how it feels to be entirely unhappy with every aspect of life, and to feel like no one is coming through that door to help.

Those are the two things I’ve taken from this book. That we should look at immigrants just as we would anyone else, and that we all have the ability to free ourselves from things we can and cannot control. Sophie begins the story as a struggling girl and ends it as a struggling woman. It’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to seek help when you need it.

An absolute gem of a book.

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A Look Into an American Nightmare: Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

I’ve been absent from here, but I’m finally ready to get back to what makes this blog what it is: BOOKS.

I’ve owned this book for a couple of years. I first started it a few months back, and finally got around to finishing it last night. What follows is my review.

So often after mass shootings we hear about “politicizing” the issue. There’s nothing political anout this book, just as there’s really nothing political about combatting gun violence. It would have been easy for this book to delve into the common topics that persist after every shooting, but it did no such thing.

Dave Cullen takes you into the minds and private lives of these two muderers. He chronicles in minute detail the days, weeks, and months leading up to April 20, 1999. He details how these two kids went from fantasizing about murder to committing a massacre. He takes you into the lives of several parties after the killing had finally stopped. Parents, students, educators, law enforcement. No life is the same after such an event, and he makes it crystal clear.

There’s a part near the end of the book in which he describes how “Columbine” had become the name of a mass shooting rather than a high school, but over the years seems to have reverted back to just the name of a high school in Colorado. I’m not sure if a community can ever really love on from something like this, but based on the book this one seems to constantly try.

An phenomenal story about an unspeakable act.

2017 Reading Challenge: The Lightning Thief

I’m probably the last person in America to have started this series. I mean, at this point Rick Riordan is writing a dozen other series he started after concluding this one. Oh well. Better late than never, right? Anyway, I have only good things to say about this one! Watch and see!

This book was the 7th book from my 2017 Reading Challenge and satisfied the requirement to read a book everyone else seems to have read already. This is also 1 of Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read. Two birds with one…book? Ha!

What did you think of this book?

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2017 Reading Challenge: Game of Shadows

I know what you’re thinking. You have never heard of this book. Not surprising. It’s about a company that provided elite athletes with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs right around the turn of the century. If there is any sports fan deep inside you, then perhaps you might find this book worth reading.

If you’re curious at all to learn more about one of the other things I’m immensely passionate about, then give this video a watch! Baseball is way more important to me than most people realize, and that’s exactly how I want it.

This was the fifth book I read for my 2017 Reading Challenge. It fulfilled the requirement to read a book about baseball.

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2017 Reading Challenge: A Wrinkle in Time

It’s Wednesday, which means today is video day!

My second read of 2017 is both a book for my 2017 Reading Challenge and also one of Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read.

This was the second time I tried reading this after it was a DNF in 2014? It was a DNF at some point. Anyway, it was the first book I’ve read that had time traveling elements. Though I do watch the TV show, Timeless. And anyone who doesn’t like Back to the Future is crazy. So I’m not exactly a time traveling virgin. Wait, what?

Moving on.

As always, tell me if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it! I bet we have differing opinions.

This book fulfilled the requirement to read a book about time travel. Two down, 23 to go!

2017 Reading Challenge: The Sun Also Rises

Would you look at that?! Look who’s off to a fine start to their 2017 reading! *raises hand*

Okay. I’m going to be completely honest. I read this book because it’s one of Amazon’s 100 books everyone should read, which y’all know by now that I’ve been slowly working my way through the list since it first came out almost three years ago. It was my first foray into the world that is Ernest Hemingway. I was so excited to read the book that I didn’t even bother to read the back of it before I started.

I could not have been more disappointed. I considered splitting my review in half between this post and the video, but I just couldn’t do it. When I went back and edited the video it was so obvious how frustrated and disgusted I became with parts of this book. I didn’t want to fail to convey those feelings through the written word. So, all of my thoughts are in the video.

I imagine many of you have already read this book, so I do want to tell you some of the things I discuss in the video.

  • The objectification of women in the book
  • The drinking habits of the characters
  • Bullfighting
  • The Jewish character
  • The overall writing style

ALL are discussed. I have extremely strong thoughts about every aspect of this book. As always, I encourage you to take a quick look at my reaction to my first Hemingway read. This book fulfilled the requirement to read a 20th century classic for my 2017 Reading Challenge.

Have you read The Sun Also Rises? What did you think of it?

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2016 Reading Challenge: The Martian

WOWZA.

Guys, THIS BOOK!

By now everyone knows the story of this book. And I imagine most people also know that it was originally self published. I know just about every person alive has an opinion on this book. This will be mine.

I cannot praise this book enough. I don’t know if the science is 100% accurate, but it doesn’t matter. He made me believe every single word of it. It’s odd because this is both one of the funniest books I’ve read while also being one of the most hopeless.

I admit that I’d seen the movie beforehand, but as great as the movie and Matt Damon were, they don’t come close to the original.

  • The writing style
  • The humor
  • The SCIENCE

I loved every one of those things in this book. I talked about the language used in my book as being unnecessary and forced. This book showed me the difference between a true professional and an amateur. He used cussing throughout the book, but you know what? IT WORKED PERFECTLY. I’m not sure why people criticize authors sometimes for using language that we use every single day of our lives. I don’t think it makes any sense. So I imagine there would be individuals who’d say they’re turned off by the language in the book. My response would be that THEY LEFT HIM ON MARS. IT ISN’T GOING TO BE SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS.

Whew. Moving on.

I enjoyed the interaction between all of the characters because I felt that it most represented how people actually interact instead of how characters typically interact in books and on TV shows. It never feels natural to me.

I have nothing negative to say about the book. How often does that happen with me!? But I can’t write this post without talking about Mark Watney. He’s very likely the funniest character I’ve ever read. Which is crazy because he was left for dead on Mars! I enjoyed all of his scientific explanations for the crazy things he was doing to stay alive, though I understand why they were largely left out of the movie.

There is one other part of this book I want to talk about. Rarely does all of humanity get behind something. Actually, it doesn’t happen. But in this book that’s exactly what happened. Billions of people were behind Watney. They were working to get him food. They were praying for him. They were coming up with rescue plans. It comes down to something Bill Nye said throughout Unstoppable. He said earth is our only home for now, but I’d take it a step further. Earth is our only home but every one of us is human. We spend enormous amounts of resources, money, time, and human capital just trying to tear each other apart. We kill mercilessly and needlessly. And we view our own brothers and sisters as enemies. I think our possibilities as humans are limitless, if only we could recognize the potential that we’d have simply by working together. We could go to Mars faster than we anticipate. We could cure disease for everyone, not just the West. We could end military conflicts that go on and on with no end in sight. We could raise the quality of life for every person on earth. And we could live in a more prosperous and peaceful world. If only we could recognize that there’s a common ground between every one of us.

Thanks, Andy Weir. For writing a book that shows us exactly what humanity is capable of if we simply work together. Now let’s get to moving closer to that vision.

This satisfied the requirement to read a book set in a foreign country. I mean, Mars is another planet! Ha!

Have you read The Martian!? What did you think?