Hellow fellow Bloggers and beautiful people the world around. I hope y’all’re doing well and thriving today.
I already posted these reviews on Goodreads. If y’all’re interested in reading any of the synopses, just click the linked title below the image of each cover. And if you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you think in my Comments section. Y’know, way down yonder at the bottom.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb. I rated it 3 of 5 stars, “liked it”, on Goodreads and shelved it there as memoir, mental health, nonfiction, & psychology.
After reading the advance praise for Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, I bought a copy to give my Mom for Mother’s Day because it sounded right up her alley and mine as well, and I knew she’d pass it to me when she was finished with it. I guess my enthusiasm for reading it must’ve been apparent to Mom, to whom I’ve always been quite transparent, because when I presented it to her, she said, with characteristic sweetness and generosity, “It’ll be a while before I get to it, son, why don’t you go ahead and read it?”
Isn’t my Mom glorious?
Anyway, I quite enjoyed the book. Gottlieb’s writing style is lucid, engaging, sincere, and entertaining. She’s frank about her own personal and professional challenges, struggles, failures, and triumphs. She excels at bringing her patients to life, clearly differentiating them from one another while preserving their anonymity. She has a fine sense of humor and sprinkles plenty of witty, comedic anecdotes throughout the narrative. She’s also a passionate advocate for her profession and clearly believes, as I do, that almost everyone in our messy, muddled, absurd modern world would benefit from rigorous, routine therapy.
If you’re curious about therapy and want to know more about how it helps others and might help you or if you just enjoy reading humorous, poignant stories of other people’s struggles, I believe you’ll enjoy Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.
Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein. I rated it 2 of 5 stars, “it was o.k.”, on Goodreads and shelved it there as 21st-century, American, Christianity, cultural studies, memoir, & nonfiction.
As an American Southerner who has long lived in the buckle of the Bible Belt and attended a variety of conservative evangelical Baptist churches, I am well aware of and highly sympathetic to the victims of the purity culture that Linda Kay Klein seeks to expose in Pure, so I wanted to like this book more than I ultimately did.
While I appreciate Klein’s efforts to educate readers about the nasty emotional, spiritual, psychological, and even physical abuse inflicted on the myriad victims of purity culture, I was disappointed by her execution. There are quite a few errors in punctuation, spelling, usage, and mechanics in the book, and such errors always put me off.
Klein presents a parade of victims in order to showcase the alarming range of abuses they’ve suffered. While she does a fine job of preserving their anonymity, she fails to differentiate them sufficiently, so several victims often seem very similar to others. She also struggles to impart credibility to some of her subjects, largely through her failure to deploy creative, engaging dialogue.
What bothers me most about Pure, though, is that Klein takes pains early on and several times throughout the book to state that she is not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or even a licensed clinical social worker; however, she often misrepresents herself as such by speculating about a victim’s mental state or possible diagnosis. Lacking the appropriate professional credentials, she should have left those parts out.
I appreciate what Klein is trying to do in Pure and her ongoing efforts in the field both to help the victims of Purity Culture recover and to continue educating the public about the issue. I think the things I found disagreeable about the book are, more than anything, the results of being a first-time author. I expect that, if she continues to write, she’ll improve, and I certainly won’t rule out reading any of her future books based on my complaints about this one.
Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan, audiobook read by Therese Plummer. I rated it 3 of 5 stars, “liked it”, on Goodreads and shelved it there as 21st-Century, American, fiction, novel, & Magical Realism
I had not previously heard of or read anything by Robin Sloan, so I was intrigued when Goodreads incorporated Sourdough into my “Recommendations” feed. Not yet having my next e-audiobook queued up in my Kindle, I decided to give it a whirl, and I’m glad I did.
I’ve enjoyed Magical Realism since first reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings in a high school English class, but it’s not too often these days I stumble across a good, contemporary example of the genre. Whether that’s because there’s a dearth of accomplished practitioners, or modern life is simply so absurd that I’ve become inured to recognizing it in my reading is debatable.
In any case, I enjoyed Sourdough. The story is offbeat, interesting, often hilarious, occasionally poignant, and always engaging. Sloan does a good job of introducing us to likable, sympathetic, colorful characters while building a world like enough to our own that most of the magical elements are subtle enough to be credible. Throughout, Sloan does a fine job of evoking the struggles and angst of 21st-century Americans trying to carve out a meaningful, fulfilling existence in a brutally, often crushingly, competitive economic environment. I’ll certainly be reading or auditing more of his work.
A narrator can make or break a good book, and while it would take a truly bad one to mess up Sourdough, Therese Plummer’s quirky, impish, idiosyncratic style makes the story that much more enjoyable. Listening to her bring Sloan’s unlikely tale about a living culture of sourdough to life made me want to become a baker myself. Maybe, someday, when the kids have grown & flown, I’ve retired, and my life is once again my own, and of course provided I live that long, I’ll try to take it up.
Have y’all read any of the above or other books by these authors? If so, what did you think?
Take care, be well, and happy reading!