The Anthropocene Reviewed

What I read: The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

Why I picked it up: Anne Bogel and Annie B. Jones both listened to it and loved it, so I decided to give it a try.

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x speed in a couple of drives and walks.

What it’s about: I’d never heard the word Anthropocene before and so I first thought this book was about Covid, that’s how Annie recommended it. So I was interested because I like the author’s fiction, but not excited because, well, Covid. Then I listened to a WSIRN bonus episode where Anne gives her review and it’s a book reviewing the world, essentially. It’s a series of essays, short and long, where John gives an explanation of the thing/idea/concept along with his own experience and a 1-5 star rating.

What I liked: Some were things I knew nothing about, some were things I’ve loved or hated and I agreed with his rating. It was a delightful listen.

What I disliked: I think this might be a better coffee table book where you open it and read a review or two and then leave it for another day, rather than a straight through listen.

Genre: Nonfiction, essays, star ratings.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes.

Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

What I read: Can’t Make This Stuff Up! by Susannah B. Lewis

Why I picked it up: I read her fiction work and liked it so when this title came up suggested to me I downloaded it.

How I read it: On audio today while mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and watering.

What it’s about: It’s a series of life lessons based on Scripture and her life. I imagine if you follow her online you’ll love this book. It’s a series of mini reflections and stories from the funny and mundane to the serious and profound. The Lord is in the midst of all of them.

What I liked: I love listening to people share about how the Lord was there for the ordinary times in their lives.

What I disliked: I thought this would be laugh out loud funny, but it wasn’t for me.

Genre: Spiritual memoir, nonfiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and only if you already know Susannah, I don’t think you’d like it otherwise. It’s like what I said to a friend about another book just yesterday “it’s fine, I don’t think you’ll regret reading it, but I think you’d like the other one better.”

I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet

What I read: I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet by Shauna Niequist

Why I picked it up: It was on Anne Bogel’s summer list or somewhere and looked interesting.

How I read it: On hardback over the course of some days, five essays at a time.

What it’s about: Understanding new things and finding peace in taking a new path. It’s 50 unrelated essays – only tied together by the fact that they’re about her life over the past few years.

What I liked: There were some lines about hospitality, pain, worthiness, and faith in a broken church that I wrote down and will keep with me for awhile.

What I disliked: I felt like I was missing something. There were hardships or events or incidents that led her to writing and doing some things but they were never written explicitly. So some of the book felt like nothing. I needed more substance rather than loosely connected ways of operating in faith.

Genre: Spirituality, nonfiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe it’s better if you know her story, but I don’t.

The Girls Who Went Away

What I read: The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

Why I picked it up: I read an article on America awhile back by a woman who invites people on multiple sides of an issue to come together to have a discussion. She gives them all homework prior so they can use that as a common foundation for the discussion. They’re typically articles, but if she could give them books she would. The two she recommended for a discussion on abortion are this one and What it Means to be Human, which I finished a few weeks back.

How I read it: On hardback over a few weeks because it’s heavy. I also cried often while reading it, often in public.

What it’s about: Women who got pregnant outside of marriage in the 50s and 60s who were forced to give up their children to adoption. It had over a hundred stories from women about their experience with their families, maternity homes, the adoption process, finding their children later (or being found), and the hurt they suffered throughout the entire situation.

What I liked: I appreciated the window into that era of history. This is spoken of as a great mercy but reading the stories of these women, many were forced or treated poorly and then not given the mental health support they needed.

What I disliked: I think many people’s response to this book, and even the title is alluding to it, is to be grateful for legal abortion. However, I think there are bigger lessons we should have learned and haven’t yet, including: getting rid of the social stigma of being a single or young mother, financial support for women in need, workforce support, familial support, social services. We even have much work to do about adoption and how we speak of that and work through the trauma.

Genre: Non-fiction, life issues, adoption.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes. This is a good, very hard, but very necessary read.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself

What I read: I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

Why I picked it up: It’s our June selection for book club.

How I read it: On paperback over almost a month, which is a long time for me.

What it’s about: It’s a collection of Bill’s newspaper column during his first few years back in the states after moving home from being in England for almost two decades. It’s 1997-1999 or so throughout the essays. The thing they all have in common is that they’re written by Bill, and that’s about it.

What I liked: There were plenty where I laughed out loud. They were funny.

What I disliked: There were a LOT of them. I was done with this book at 25%. If it had ended at 1/3 the length, I’d have given it five stars. But knocking off two for the two superfluous thirds.

Genre: Humorist essay, non fiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and pick it up in the bookstore and read two essays, then put it back. Congrats you’ve read enough of this book.

The Body Keeps the Score

What I read: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Why I picked it up: I’ve heard about this book for years and thick non-fiction isn’t the first thing I tend to pick up so when I saw the audio available I downloaded it for a listen.

How I read it: On audio over a week or so.

What it’s about: The effects of trauma, how we live with it and through it, and ways to recover. It was super interesting!

What I liked: I appreciated the thorough research, explanations, and frankness of the author about trauma and also his own experience.

What I disliked: I was as irritated as the author at the hoops he had to jump through to get diagnosis of PTSD. Then the many more they found would benefit their patients, but were never put into the DSM.

Genre: Non-fiction, mental health.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, if you know someone who’s been through trauma, experience PTSD or ADHD, or want to help children who have lived through traumatic lives.

What It Means to Be Human

What I read: What It Means to Be Human by O. Carter Snead

Why I picked it up: I read an article on America last week by someone who invites people from both sides of an issue to come debate and talk in their home. She shared that she asks everyone to do some homework before and gives them a few articles, but if she could give them a book, this would be one of them.

How I read it: On audio because it’s all the library had, but this would be a good physical copy to own, mark up, and refer back to often.

What it’s about: The philosophy and bioethics the laws is the US are based on. It shows the holes where we haven’t considered a different perspective. The foundation the author proposes is “expressive individualism” whereby one can pursue the life plan of its own authentic design. He dives into three issues: Abortion, assisted reproductive technology, assistance to end one’s life. Published in October 2020, it provides a solid foundation of the past fifty or so years.

What I liked: I appreciated the perspective, not convincing one way or the other. Rather a new foundation is proposed. The basic theme of the book is summed up in the final sentence: “More wise, just, humane and fully human public bioethics that begins by remembering the body.”

What I disliked: I needed to read it on paper so I could go back, but that’s an issue I have with me not really the book.

Genre: Non-fiction, life issues, bioethics.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes. I’d love to have it as a common foundation with someone I discuss the upcoming SCOTUS decision for Mississippi v. Dobbs.

The Comfort Book

Find it on Goodreads

I downloaded this to read in my long trip to see my parents later this week but started it yesterday on a trip across town and finished this morning. It’s so good. It’s delightful on audio but I recommend getting the physical book so you can take it in slowly and pick it up on the regular and read a part that intrigues you.

It’s basically his journal of things that provide comfort. A windows into his journal that he’d go back to when he needed some comfort. I wanted to write tons of quotes down, but I was listening.

Highly Recommend!!

“You have no control over who people think you are. So don’t worry. If they want to hate a fictional version of you that lives in their minds, let them. Don’t drain yourself trying to be understood by people who insist on misunderstanding you. Keep your cup full. Go to the kindness.”


The Art of Gathering

Find it on Goodreads

Wow!! If you organize gatherings of any sort then this book is for you. My SIL recommended it and an episode of Unlocking Us where Brenè Brown interviews the author. The podcast episode is inspiring and the book is a blueprint.

I started it thinking I’d reimagine my housewarming party for later this year, but I found myself completely reimagining a work event I’m in the process of planning.

How do we make this virtual event different than the thousands of virtual meetings we’ve all been part of this past year? I’m hoping to create something that’s meaningful and helpful! We shall see.

While we’ve all been pausing from in person gatherings this is a great read to prepare for our future gatherings. Let’s do things differently, more intentionally.

“Gatherings crackle and flourish when real thought goes into them, when (often invisible) structure is baked into them, and when a host has the curiosity, willingness, and generosity of spirit to try.”


The Day the World Came to Town

Find it on Goodreads

This book came as surprise this week after I saw it or heard of it from someone online. 9/11 was a tragic day in many respects but a group I never consider are those who were in the air as the attacks were happening. Hundreds of planes were diverted to Canada when American airspace was closed.

Gander and surrounding towns took in more then 6,000 passengers. The hospitality they showed them is quite impressive. 6,000 people far from home who weren’t sure what came next. Parents on their way home from adopting their children. Families on their way to Disney to celebrate a few kid birthdays. A mom who’s son was trapped in the towers. Friends who were on their way home from a fun trip. A family relocating to the US. Men and women displaced for six days with only their carry on bags.

Welcomed with open arms and hospitality to revival anything. They had all they needed and more!

“‘We’re all Americans tonight,’ replied McKeage. […] The Newfoundlanders had provided a caring haven for hundreds of people at a moment when they were scared and far from home. They were made to feel safe and secure when the world around them seemed anything but.”