August 2023 Books – Part 1

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

A historical fiction novel about a woman doctor in the 15th century China. It’s been awhile since I read Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls. I really liked how she handled Chinese culture, history, and female relationships in that novel. Here again, she excelled in those things. The book has nuanced portrayals of women. The protagonist is flawed and privileged, but there is character development due to her many interesting female relationships. This was also a medical drama and there was even a surprise mystery. The medical content was not too gory but it was unavoidable. I think the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) would be hard to grasp or understand for most people. I got the gist of it due to my background. I will never understand the appeal of bound feet and it makes me cringe. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like reading these Chinese historical books. This was a nicely researched historical drama that would make a great Chinese TV series.

4.25/5 stars. Read August 5, 2023.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Like many women, I liked Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. I’ve been exploring stress and anxiety research recently. I really liked the first chapter about completing the stress cycle and tips on stress management. I wish it had discussed this more. A lot of the other content I was familiar with such as gender roles. It was very feminist but any of these tips could be applied to all genders. I think it had some nice tips in the end but not as essential health reading.

3.75/5 stars. Started July 31, 2023 but I mainly read this August 6, 2023.

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

This is another book which I bought over a decade ago and didn’t read until now. It was a pristine first edition hardcover too. I’ve read two Vonnegut novels. I really liked Slaughterhouse Five but not Cat’s Cradle and don’t remember why. While they were strange and dark, I liked Vonnegut’s unique voice. He was a good writer. I liked the essays and there was good dark humour in most of them. I did find it a bit depressing after the first few essays. It was a product of its political time so it’s a bit strange to think back on the George W. Bush years and the Iraq war. He was right about a lot of things that apply now. I do think it’s for the best he didn’t see what’s happened in the last 15 years. The book left me a bit hopeless which is why I can’t give it the full 4 stars.

3.75/5 stars. Read August 6-8, 2023.

The Moth Keeper by K. O’Neill

Cute. Very Ghibli-esque. I like the Tea Dragon trilogy more but this was still a lovely cozy fantasy graphic novel. I liked the imagery and the gentle tone in O’Neill’s work. I understood and appreciated the theme of loneliness, isolation, community, and yearning.

4/5 stars. Read August 9, 2023.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

Audiobook read by the author. A lovely book of essays written by an author I’m growing to love. Intimate essays about her life, friends, family, death, illness, and books. I discovered that I had already read a couple of these essays in the New Yorker which told me that I am really a New Yorker reader and Patchett lover. These essays feel like hanging out with a friend. I have the trade paperback version, but decided to listen to the audiobook since she narrated it. I am going to keep my paper copy a little more before giving it away because I enjoyed this book so much.

4.5/5 stars. Listened July 31-Aug 9, 2023.

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