This is coming at ya a little late because I was on vacation and actually decided to leave my computer at home for once.
June was filled with reads that sit very high in the LB ranking system (for those new here I rate books on a scale of 1 to 5 Lindsey Buckingham’s – obvi). You’ll find some history, political science, dystopian fiction, great beach reads and more.
Now for the books…
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
I’m fascinated by Henry VIII (Thanks Tudors and Six: The Musical!) and his 6 wives. This thoroughly researched and expertly written book by Alison Weir is the gold standard when it comes to literature on Henry VIII. Yes, some portions are tedious, but she manages to tell a story while displaying an impressive level of transparency when it comes to explaining historical disputes on certain people/events/etc. It’s an accessible book for the history and non-history buffs alike.
Rating: 4.5 Lindsey Buckingham’s
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGee
I truly believe this book should be required reading for all high school seniors/college students. Heather McGee does the important work outlining how racism effects everyone in her book, The Sum of Us. As an economist, she uses the framework of the zero-sum game – the idea that more for you means less for me – we’ve been fed against the Solidarity Dividend which, when practiced, delivers gains to everyone across all races. It’s a well-researched book filled with stories of McGee’s travels around the U.S. finding moments where the Solidarity Dividend has been put to practice. It’s another frustrating look at the way in which white America would rather hurt itself than allow minorities to have any gains, but it’s also filled with examples that’ll give you hope. It’s a fantastic, timely book for all Americans.
Rating: 5 Lindsey Buckingham’s
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
I thought I knew a good amount about Mormonism – I grew up around Mormons and watched a ton of Sister Wives on TLC (yes I understand that is fundamentalism) – but Under the Banner of Heaven really exposed how little I understood about the history of the religion (I incorrectly thought Mormonism was more a sect of Christianity). The running thread of the book is the murders of a mother and daughter by brother-in-laws – fundamentalists who believed God commanded their killings. Through this tragedy the history of Mormonism is spun as well as the splintering effect the LDS’ rejection of polygamy had on the new religion. What I found compelling about this book is when it was written – 2004. Warren Jeffs had only recently come to power in his fundamentalist sect, so a lot of the public attention and fall out surrounding his arrest hadn’t happened yet. I wonder how Krakauer’s story might have changed if it had been written a few years later. I’m sure there’s an article somewhere that would provide more insight.
Overall a disturbing, but compelling read about a modern religion. If you love a cult documentary on Netflix, you’ll like this book.
Rating: 4.5 Lindsey Buckingham’s
The Altar Within by Juliet Diaz
Off the bat I think it’s important to acknowledge that this book really isn’t intended for me. I want to be careful reviewing it because I do believe it’s a critical book to healing and liberating the Divine Self while challenging the wellness industry that profits off of selling “healing” to people. Diaz has made healing accessible to everyone and that is revolutionary. I love that she included a QR code for free resources and tons of prompts for journaling, affirmations and the like.
I honestly couldn’t get over the writing. For someone who writes somewhat informally, I don’t always enjoy it in others’ work. The use of bestie/bff/badie/honie and hashtags at the end of each chapter really took me out of the book. But, the more informal writing does make it more accessible, so for that I am thankful. The book reminded me that a lot of the skills she is teaching are tools that I already have in my toolbox, I just haven’t utilized them in a while. I’m definitely going to take lessons from the book and apply them to my own life. Not my favorite book of the month, but I can see how it would be impactful to others.
Rating: 3 Lindsey Buckingham’s
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass Book 2) by Sarah J. Maas
Like every other Maas series I’ve read, the 1st book ends with a “WTF” and the second book starts off realllll slow. Crown of Midnight is no exception, but of course, the last 50 or so pages were so good that I immediately requested the next book in the series from my local library. I can’t say much without ruining the book, but you can find my short review of how I liked the first book in the Throne of Glass series here.
Rating: 3.5 Lindsey Buckingham’s
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
You know when you want just a really well-written book with compelling characters that you can get lost in on vacation? Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson is that book. When Eleanor Bennett dies she leaves behind a tape recording for her children to listen to that brings them all on a journey spanning decades; from a small island community in the Caribbean, to London, all the way to California. Siblings Benny and Byron uncover their mother’s secret past, all stemming and wrapped up in her infamous Black Cake recipe. Such a good read that will stay with you.
Rating: 5 Lindsey Buckingham’s
The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
The School For Good Mothers is the debut novel Jessamine Chan that considers a dystopian overreach by the government into child welfare services, which we experience through the eyes of Frida, a mother of a toddler who had one “very bad day” that results in her losing custody of her daughter – Harriet – and entering a year long “rehabilitation program” which will determine if she can get Harriet back or lose her parental rights forever and end up on a registry for bad parents. The book is an – at times – uncomfortable look at parenting. The infractions for some of the women in this school are so minor, one wonders how they themselves would fare in this regulated world of parenting.
Can good parenting be quantified? Measured? Tested? These are all questions grappled with in a book that is uncomfortable and compelling.
I would give the book 5 LB’s but it does lose some steam near the end and sort of glosses over the big moment when Frida learns her fate as a mom. But I’m also wondering if that could have been intentional.
Rating: 4 Lindsey Buckingham’s
That’s it for June. See you in Aug for the July reading roundup!
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