What I read this week (for two weeks!): February 8-21

I got busy last week and forgot to write about what I read.  So this will be for the last two weeks.  I'm sure you've just been anxious to see this.

  • Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.  I talked a bunch about this book in this post.  I loved it.  You should read it.  

 

  • Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa.  This novel is a fictionalized account of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle.  I really enjoyed the author's use of multiple points of view and the way the points of view alternated.  The novel asks questions about the kind of world we want and the kinds of things we are willing to do to get that kind of world.  It also explores hope, optimism and a sincere desire to affect change but doesn't really delve in to what happens when those things get out of control.  I really liked it as a novel but I think it left a bunch of unanswered questions.

 

  • The Expatriates by Janice YK Lee.  I really wanted to like this because of how much I enjoyed Lee's debut novel, The Piano Teacher.  The Expatriates, though, felt a little flat.  I didn't really buy what Lee seemed to be saying, which is that motherhood itself requires a woman to become a kind of expatriate.  I still enjoyed her writing and the way she expresses herself, I just didn't really connect with the characters or the situations the book explores.  I definitely suggest you read The Piano Teacher, if you want to experience this author's best work.

 

  • The Run of His Life: The People Versus OJ Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin.  Like many people, I have been captivated by The People vs. OJ Simpson on Fx.  It's kind of a moth to the flame effect, I can't look away.  I was in high school when the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman took place and in college when the verdict was finally reached.  I remember the day of the verdict vividly but, honestly, I don't remember much about the details of the trial and such.  I think I was busy doing other things.  So, because I've found the TV show so interesting, I wanted to go back and read the book it is based (loosely) on.  

First, I think it should be said that any book Jeffrey Toobin writes is an education.  I especially recommend The Nine, which is about the Supreme Court and Too Close to Call, which is about the 2000 election. (Also, this piece in the New Yorker about Scalia is amazing, if you are looking for a current event think piece from him.)  But, really, anything he writes is worth reading.  The Run of His Life is really eye opening.  I always had a kind of vague belief that OJ was likely guilty of the murders but Toobin's very thoughtful, step by step look at the investigation, evidence and trial strategies (both of the prosecution and the defense) laid it out in such an incontrovertible way that I genuinely can't see how the not guilty verdict was reached.  Except, at the same time, I can see it.  You have to give OJ's defense team credit because their work in getting a vicious killer off Scot-free was really remarkable.  In the end, I really just felt sorry for the majority of people who were involved, especially for the jurors who were really faced with an impossible task and for the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.  I could not put the book down and highly recommend it to anyone interested at all in pop culture/ the law/ true crime/ politics/ good writing.

 

That's all for the last couple of weeks.  I'm currently reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, and Dietland by Sarai Walker.  I'm sure there will be others by the time next week rolls around.  Stay tuned.