Tag Archive: social-science



The Five WoundsThe Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Libby, the library app, recommended this book as a social read for all. My friends and I all got the notification for it simultaneously. Since we all saw it, we ordered and tried to read it at the same time so we could discuss it later.

It was a challenging read. The writing was okay. But the topic was complex. So how is it I give it four stars?

The book gives five characters a chance to share their point of view. Each has damage to overcome. But, we’ve all seen people that refuse to grow up and accept responsibility. It seems, sometimes, that the pregnant teen is more mature than the rest of the cast. It is through her eyes I could tolerate this story. She gets it and is working hard. Ugh. Until she doesn’t. But she’s human. Right?

The author portrays the story through the LatinX culture in New Mexico. It is also slanted Catholic. Being raised in Southern California, I knew and loved friends of Mexican or Spanish heritage. And though I was raised protestant, many of my friends were Catholic, so I had a bit of an understanding. If you didn’t have a religious background or never participated, this might lose the reader.

If the book doesn’t get you culturally or religiously next, it might generationally. It centers on a family led by the matriarch, soon-to-be great Abuela, two offspring, a granddaughter, and finally, the new baby. I think the author does a good job stepping into each character. They are full of faults and virtues. And each is conflicted due to their past and family.

I must say, some might give up. I almost did several times as it is too real. But stick with it, and you will be rewarded in the end.

Gary Tiedemann (Narrator) did a flawless job. What I mean is that he read females and males with equal grace. I never felt the narrator mocking any of the characters in his voice. Yet, there was a change in characters, so you never feel lost about who is telling their story.

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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great MigrationThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book and the narrator, Robin Miles, were excellent. It is a biography of a few people told like a novel and captivating from the beginning. Ms. Miles was able to act out all the characters so one could identify who was who.

I have two hours left in the book, but I took a break to write this. I spent today with Pandora playing ‘classical study music’ quietly in the background so I could use the whole day to listen to this book without distractions. I wouldn’t have been able to handle it if it were boring. ADD would have sent me away from the book and into other ventures. That gives you a clue of how good this book is.

The other reason I spent the day reading (listening) to this book is that it is a Libby library copy that is due soon, and I have a lineup of books to read that I have already checked out. You know how that is. With some books, I would let it go. Return the book unfinished. But I want to know how it ends. Besides, I have never heard so many facts and insights before, and I feel I am somewhat ‘woke.’ This is a history not told in history classes when I was a student. I hope this book is used in the classroom now.

I highly recommend this and Isabel Wilkerson’s other book, Caste.

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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You ThinkFactfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love books that make you think. This one certainly does that! It took a while to get through it. As you probably know, my reading is done at bedtime. This was not that kind of book. Though it was nonfiction, a lot of it kept me up at night.

There were eye-opening statistics that one might not have thought of before. Predictive statistics that the book talked about were even more eye-opening. One of the most striking was made clear to me, showed that like the chart of a newborn baby can’t predict with the same growth later in life. We don’t expect a baby to continue to grow as much or as fast as a school child as the newborn. If a person kept that same growth rate we’d all be giants. So predictive charts need to look at other aspects during different times, incomes, health and wealth influences. I know I’m not saying this the way the author did. But the points he made similar to the example I tried to put forth, were equally stunning.

My friend recommended this book and I am glad I followed through. On the other hand, I must admit that I would have gotten a lot more out of the book had I had the paper book. Since I have trouble reading tree-books for the eye-sight and font issue, I listen to the text-to-speech. The problem was that I didn’t take the moment to read the charts and graphs presented to help the reader understand how things really are as opposed to how we think they are.

Even so, I found this a super interesting book that in the future I might just try to find the paper book just for the illustrations. Maybe I don’t agree with all his perspectives, it seems I have read somewhere that statistics are rarely pure. Most are bent to reflect the person’s paid position to research to the paid end. Still closing one’s eyes to the possibilities presented in this book are so much more destructive than paying attention and learning what we can from it all.

Give it a try. I picked my copy from the local e-library.

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A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over a decade ago, I met an online friend that would change or at least, modify my life. I met Judith on LiveJournal, you remember that old site, better than MySpace but not quite as social as FaceBook. Judith was chatting in her journal about Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo scene (Which resulted in my first novel being written between the Ides of March and the Ides of April. I didn’t finish the novel then as we had to move to a new city and I just couldn’t stay with it. But I added more than enough wordage to that novel in November 2002 to “win”. (First of 10 or 11 novels since.)

The other thing Judith introduced me to was BookCrossing.com. The concept that grabbed me with BC was how my read book could be recycled to others and then the new reader and the old could discuss this story. The book could travel even when I couldn’t, so it felt like a message in a bottle thrown out to sea. It is fun to see where your book could end up and the friendships that develop over said book. I still belong but since my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I am happy for the invention of Kindle and other e-readers. So I release far fewer books nowadays.

Besides Judith, what do the above paragraphs have in common, and what do they have to do with ‘A Tale for the Time Being’? The art of writing and the art of reading. Both concepts play strong in this story. Rather than a message in a bottle, this message floats ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox in layers of freezer bags. The writer was in Tokyo, the reader/finder in Canada. Years separate the two. Yet a bond is formed. Oh, yeah, Judith read and reviewed this and hooked me in. I think she didn’t like the Zen parts of the book. I found that part delightful. I have to admit that most of the book is believable whereas the Zen bits are a little more ‘magical’. But the title twinkles with that magic. If you read it right.

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I actually read it one and a third times. I borrowed the Kindle version from the library. Between reading it on my Kindle app on my Tablet and listening on my old Kindle text-to-speech, I managed to get to about 36% in. Then I found that my library also had the OverDrive version. So I restarted reading the book with the author’s voice. That pumped up my ratings for this wonderful tale. Each layer of depth into the story has its own built-in amazements. Level one, tree book, and the Kindle version, there are many footnotes and definitions to help with a deeper understanding of that time in history or that country, language. But the narration includes minor helps. Hearing a voice say the Japanese names or words adds to the believability of the whole story. Ms. Ruth Ozeki has an impeccable voice and narration, her variations of voices for each character supreme! I enjoyed rereading the first third with her help. I felt I gained deeper understanding just by hearing her. Please, if you get the chance to pair both versions, go for it!

By the way, I want to thank Jonelle Patrick and her Mysteries and website: http://jonellepatrick.me/ for introducing me to many contemporary Japanese subjects presented in A Tale for the Time Being. At least I was forewarned.

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