What I Read in February & March

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Two months gone, eight books down. I haven't felt particularly compelled by fiction lately, though it seems surprising that I read only one fiction book in the last two months! I typically prefer memoirs to straight non-fiction, but lately, even that's appealing to me, as evidenced by these selections. They do take me longer to read, though, so my numbers are way down these days.

What have you been reading lately? Have any good recommendations for me?
How We Fall Apart
by Katie Zhao
Nancy and her three best friends are shocked when their former friend Jamie, the top-ranked student in their grade, is found dead. Adding to their shock are the sudden and sinister messages appearing on the school social media app from an anonymous poster calling themselves The Procter and threatening to tell their secrets. I really enjoyed this story, but the ending was so bad that by the time I finished it, it felt like a letdown. 
Eating Mindfully
 by Susan Albers
This was my second book by Dr. Albers, a Cleveland Clinic psychologist who specializes in issues related to food. I liked it a lot and found it both valuable and respectful, not shaming or pressuring people who struggle with eating issues, their weight or body image. I almost wish, though, that the book came with some sort of workbook that helped me apply the many, many practices and possibilities in it into my own life. By the time I finished it, I'd forgotten so much! 
One Life
by Megan Rapinoe 
Hoo, boy, what a great memoir. I'm not a soccer person, but I've long respected Rapinoe's vocal advocacy and activism, even at the risk of her career. It was really interesting to hear about her life story, her tireless work for equal pay for female athletes, her relationship with WNBA player Sue Bird, her refusal to visit the Trump White House after winning Olympic gold, and so much more. She's a powerhouse, a role model, and a really interesting human.
Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear
by Jinger Duggar Vuolo
No, I don't know why I read this, but after reading Vuolo's first memoir, why not? Some parts were fascinating, like her condemnation of the harmful teachings of her childhood church. But her ghostwriter works for the LA megachurch where her husband is a pastor, which has come under fire for threatening women who try to leave their abusive husbands. With that lens, this book feels a lot like propaganda for her new church, which may be just as bad as the last.
by Daniella Mestyanek Young
I love a good escape-from-a-cult memoir, and this one was better than any other I can remember reading. Young grew up in Children of God, a sex cult with truly horrifying beliefs and practices, but escaped when she was 15 and eventually joined the army... which she describes as being another kind of cult. She is brilliant, thoughtful, and incredibly articulate, and I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone with an interest in cults and cult-like thinking. 
Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar
by Alan Morinis
It's rare that you read a book you can truly call life-changing, but for me, this book was and will continue to be. Mussar is, to sum it up in a much-more-casual-than-is-appropriate way, a form of Jewish self-help practice that I look forward to implementing into my life, and I just can't say enough good things about how deep, intellectual, and emotional is book was and made me feel. 

Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon
I was told that this book was both hilarious and devastating, and that about sums it up. I flew through the audiobook, read by Shannon herself, and found it to be both very funny and very emotionally moving, touching on her mother's and sister's tragic deaths, her fraught relationship with her father, her comedic bravery and ingenuity, and much more. You don't have to be an SNL fan (I'm not!) to enjoy this book. 
Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church by Katelyn Beaty
Here's another one that doesn't seem like it should've been up my alley. But with my background in media and religion, along with my general fascination with all things evangelical, I found it super compelling. It's verrrry Jesus-heavy (as the name implies), and it was a slog for me to ignore all the "kingdom" messaging. But it was a really, really interesting and thoughtful look at how social media and evolving concepts of celebrity are impacting modern Christianity.
Follow me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past.
My "What I Read In..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

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