September 2023 Books – Part 3

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Ann Bogel

Narrated by the author. This was fine. It was short and I related to the author’s musings about being a bibliophile. It was amusing.

3.25/5 stars. Mostly 1.5x. September 16-18, 2023.

The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson

I became interested in Dr Benson’s work after the Gregg D Jacobs CBT-I programme. I have been using the Relaxation Response meditations from that course. While I have meditated on and off for decades, these meditations are some of the best I’ve encountered. I do find them useful for my anxiety, depression, and likely my sleep. This book was first written in 1975 and updated in 2000. Dr Benson has a foreword which surmised that only two things are needed to elicit the response: something to direct the attention such as a word or phrase and a passive attitude. The book focused more on stress and hypertension. Like a lot of self-help or science books from the 1970s and 1980s, it was very fast paced. It was also surprisingly spiritual and religious in a good way as it discussed how the relaxation response is an ancient practice among humans. I do wish there was more science on what is actually happening to the body when you use it. I have a couple of other Benson books which I look forward to exploring.

4/5 stars. September 23-24, 2023.

The Night Eaters, Vol. 1: She Eats the Night by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (Illustrator)

The amazing duo from Monstress. I was happy to hear that they have another series. It’s more urban fantasy than high fantasy with a heavy dose of horror. It’s set in a world similar to ours and it has themes of family and migration. It’s funny and compelling. Looking forward to the next installment.

4.25/5 stars. September 24, 2023.

DNF: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

I should have given up on this years ago after I finished Power of Now. I bought the two Tolle books in 2009 from Waterstones Piccadilly. I didn’t want to waste them, but I had give up on this one. I got the audiobook narrated by the author via Libby. I barely made it through the first chapter. I don’t dislike Tolle or have much of an opinion on it other than finding him boring. I don’t like the writing style and I didn’t like his audiobook narration either. I do think on spiritual matters and do read books about it sometimes. I am more particular and critical now about it though. I flipped through the copy of the book that I had. I knew this would be harder to read than Power of Now. Off it goes to the neighborhood Little Library.

DNF both audiobook and print book. September 24, 2023.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Gramus

I have been seeing this book around on the internet and in real life for the past couple years. I expected something better since I had heard it was fun. I didn’t love it. This is a debut novel and you can tell. There are a lot tropes including orphans, precocious children, bad childhoods, sudden pregnancy, sudden death of a lead, sexual assault, and lots of others which I won’t spoil. It felt like fantasy and not the kind fantasy I like to read. It seemed like the author wanted to change the past but did it through this odd alternate history. Most of the characters were excessively horrible or mean to the main characters. Thankfully, there are a couple friendly and good characters but they don’t get enough development and depth. Even Elizabeth the protagonist whom I do like is missing some in depth. Still, I couldn’t help like some of these characters. The dog was cute. I did find the ending predictable and abrupt. It was easy to read at least. A lot people liked this book because it’s probably cathartic so I’m glad for that and not some other hackneyed novel at least. I do think it’ll adapt well because visuals could add onto this story and I do like Brie Larson. I may check out the adaptation.

3/5. September 24-25, 2023.

Edible Economics: A Hungry Economist Explains the World by Ha-Joon Chang

Narrated by Homer Todiwala. This was an odd book and the author even acknowledged it in the conclusion. It’s strange in that he took foods and used them as a launching pad to discuss political economics and development studies. The author is a professor at SOAS in London and has lived in the UK since the late 80s. I enjoyed his stories about moving to the UK and discovering all these foods. The economics was a bit random and haphazard but I understood all of it because I have a background in this field. I do not think a lot of other people could dive in as easily. He explained his thoughts well but the book was all over the place. In any case, I liked the narration and I think the author had a few good thoughts.

3.25/5 stars. 1.4x. Sept 19-26, 2023.

The Book of Sleep: 75 Strategies to Relieve Insomnia by Nicole Moshfegh

I was decluttering my Calibre library and skimmed through this one quickly. All of this is based on CBT-I so I was familiar with all the techniques. The book format was good as a reference.

3.75/5 stars. Read on computer. September 28, 2023.

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