March 2020 Books in Review

Does anyone else feel like March was three years ago? Also, did anyone else notice how light my reading list was last month?

You would think that with all the extra time at home that I would have read a ton more books. Turns out that eliminating commute time (and thus audiobook time) cuts my book “reading” down by about 2-4 books per month. And turns out that solitary and stressful times are not actually conducive to me being able to read. Lately, I have not been able to focus at all when I read. I’ll read the same page several times and still not be into it or I just don’t even feel like picking up a book. This is SO unlike me, and obviously I don’t like it. But we are making do and hoping that soon I can enjoy reading as much as before.

So. The books.

  • The Gene: An Intimate History*
  • The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West *
  • Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow
  • Front Desk
  • Summerlost

*Audiobooks

Non-fiction

The Gene: An Intimate History

By: Siddhartha Mukherjee

Audiobook reader: Great

This book is basically a history book about our understanding of the gene and genetics. And it is brilliant and well-written and I really enjoyed it. It covers the span of the earliest things we know of people discovering genetic traits to the rise of eugenics and other complicated discussions around genetically-inherited traits and genetic enhancements today. It was fascinating to learn of a time before people even knew about how children inherited traits from both a mother and a father–there is so much we know now!

I highly recommend this book.

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

By: David McCullough

Audiobook reader: average (not my fave)

This book is NOT about the “Mormon” pioneers. Rather it is about another set of pioneers who settled the Ohio Territory in the 1780s. It follows the journey of the Reverend Manasseh Cutler who sought to create a model society in Ohio for veterans of the Revolutionary War. It was to be a non-slave-holding state. There were to be free schools and freedom of religion. Yet this inhabiting meant the dispossession of the land from the original inhabitants–the Native American tribes.

In typical McCullough style, this book is extremely well-documented and detailed. I struggle a bit with the dryness of his style of writing + there was increased distraction on my part so I tuned out for some of this. Nevertheless, overall this is an interesting account of history I knew nothing about.

Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow

By: Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson

I have long been an admirer of the life and faith of Eliza R. Snow. This is an interesting take on Eliza’s life. The book tells her story, almost through the lens of, or based around her poetry–of which there is an abundant amount. She often wrote her poems to describe her feelings and her situation and the book gave context to those poems and in turn context to her life. It was interesting, but not the most compelling read.

Fiction

Recently I’ve been reading some children’s/YA chapter books to get a feel for what’s good in the market as I practice more of my writing.

Front Desk

By: Kelly Yang

I quite enjoyed this quick read. Mia is Chinese American. She and her family manage a hotel and 10-year-old Mia chooses to help run the front desk. This is a fun account of her adventures and misadventures with some semi-autobiographical experiences. It is also an exploration of immigrant life, racism, and hardship from a child’s perspective. Definitely recommended.

Summerlost

By: Ally Condie

This delightful book is by a Utah author (woohoo) and is loosely based on the Utah Shakespeare Festival. After Cedar’s father and brother pass away, her family moves to her mom’s hometown for the summer: the hometown that hosts a Theatre Festival. Cedar meets a new friend, finds a summer job, and moves through the feelings of grief and life after loss. I thought it was a beautiful and fun book. It hits the younger end of the YA reading range.

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