In Medias Read (Weekly Reading Update #2)

This post is part of a weekly series.

Book 1: Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (paperback)

Book 2: Bored and Brilliant, by Manoush Zomorodi (hardback)

Book 3: With Love From the Inside, by Angela Pisel (audiobook)

Book 1: Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Normally, when I finish a book I love, I stay away from that genre for a while, but for some reason, Seveneves, the massive, sprawling world-is-ending-flee-to-space science fiction novel that I finished on Sunday (and definitively ranked as the best book of the year for me), left me wanting even more. I almost reached for another Neal Stephenson novel (I own The Diamond Age), but then I remembered Children of Time. I bought this novel months ago, after hearing someone say that the villains of the book are giant sentient spiders. The premise sounded different enough from that of Seveneves (where the only “villains” are bureaucracy and pride) that I figured they wouldn’t overlap or get confused in my mind.

So far– I’m 100 pages in– I’m enjoying it, although it’s no Seveneves. The sections from the spiders’ points of view are my favorite so far.

Book 2: Bored and Brilliant, by Manoush Zomorodi

Manoush Zomorodi is the host of NPR’s Note to Self podcast, which covers stories related to the human side of technology. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self is the much-expanded result of an experiment she did on that podcast: Zomorodi asked listeners to use their digital technology more mindfully, rather than turning to it every time they felt boredom creeping in. She lays out practical exercises for readers to try, like going a day without taking any photos. Zomorodi’s theory is that boredom, which is essential to creativity, is zapped by our constant connectedness to our devices. Putting our phones and laptops away may feel painful at first, but she believes that our self-restraint will eventually lead to a more creative brain.

This book is relevant to my work with undergraduates: so many of my students have confessed that they feel addicted to their devices and would like to find ways to disconnect. I’m not sure if I’ll find any readings to include in the syllabus, but I think I might look for ways to incorporate her “Bored and Brilliant Seven-Step Program” into my class.

Book 3: With Love from the Inside, by Angela Pisel

I’m still making my way through Tana French’s In the Woods on audio, but over Thanksgiving break, I found myself wishing for something more lighthearted– murdered children and mulled cider just don’t mix. I listened to all of Practical Magic (about 9 hours) on audio this weekend while I was cooking and running errands, but I found myself on Sunday night with about 2 hours of bullet journaling to do and no audiobook to listen to. After digging through my Audible library (these sales are killing me), I started With Love from the Inside. I’ve had great success in the past listening to emotionally compelling books (like One in a Million Boy and The Graveyard Book), so this novel, in which a woman on death row for killing her infant son tries to reconnect with her adult daughter (who is convinced of her guilt), seemed like a guaranteed easy listen.

To be honest, I’m not sure I’m gonna make it through this one. There’s a strong element of religion, which I wasn’t expecting in a book categorized as a thriller. Religion in a novel doesn’t necessarily bother me, but I struggle with sentimentality. Much of the mother Grace’s story is told through her journal, which she’s writing to her daughter in the hope that it will make its way to her after Grace dies. The daughter herself spends her time volunteering with hospitalized kids, especially one abandoned boy. You can call me jaded, but that sounds like a breeding ground for saccharine platitudes.

The book has good reviews on Litsy and Goodreads, so I’m going to keep at it– for a while, anyway.

That’s it for me this week. Let me know if you’ve read any of the books I talked about here– especially With Love from the Inside.

Happy reading, friends!

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