Down the TBR Hole #5

Down the TBR Hole is a (very) bookish meme, originally created by Lia @ Lost In A Story. She has since combed through all of her TBR (very impressive) and diminished it by quite a bit, but the meme is still open to others! How to participate:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

Now that I’m doing this once a month, it’s a sort of bibliophile housecleaning. Granted, I’m eliminating books I don’t actually own, but mental housecleaning is good too! Since my TBR list on Goodreads is currently just over 800, clearly I need some editing.

On to today’s candidates!

#1 – The Raging Quiet, by Sherryl Jordan

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A newcomer to the tiny village of Tocurra befriends a young man whose deafness has left him isolated from his fellow villagers.

Marnie and Raver learn to communicate through a series of hand gestures, but when a death shakes the village, their special, silent bond causes the two to fall under suspicion of witchcraft.

A compelling, romantic, and revealing story for young readers, Sherryl Jordan’s The Raging Quiet is an ideal kids’ feature for a month of romance.

I found this on a list of books with deaf/HoH characters, and it sounded interesting, so it went on the TBR. A while later, when I was picking out titles for a Thriftbooks order, I bought it. So it stays. I intend to get to it soon.

#2 – Blue is the Warmest Color, by Julie Maroh

17465574Blue is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel about growing up, falling in love, and coming out. Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.

 

The movie adaptation came to my attention through Netflix, but I didn’t quite get around to watching it–I’m prey to binge-watching television episodes because I feel like “oh, just one more, it’s only 45 minutes” while committing to a movie seems harder.

But when the original graphic novel showed up on a queer recommendation list (I really do pay attention to rec lists!) it immediately went on my TBR. And I do want to read more graphic novels anyway, they’re a nice change of pace from standard novels. It stays.

#3 – The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Empower, and Enhance the Mind, by Michio Kaku

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The New York Times best-selling author of Physics of the Impossible, Physics of the Future and Hyperspace tackles the most fascinating and complex object in the known universe: the human brain.

For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.

The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics. One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net”; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.

Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about “consciousness” and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness.

With Dr. Kaku’s deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force–an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

That’s a doozy of a blurb, am I right? This originally went on the list because Dr. Kaku was a semi-frequent guest on either The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, or possibly both–his appearance for this particular book was several years ago, and I honestly don’t remember on which show I saw him and exactly when. But he’s an engaging and charismatic speaker/interviewee, and I was intrigued enough to ping this title.

However, looking through the reviews, it appears to have two major points against it–broad, nonspecific appeal to laypeople (which is a negative in my case for hard science I’ve already studied–my degree is in biology) and hand-waving futurism. When I read about science, I want facts and diagrams and research avenues, not wild speculation. So this goes, with the caveat that I’ll look into Kaku’s other works to see if he doesn’t have something to offer I’ll find more appealing.

#4 – The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

23301545A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

An illustrated, reimagined fairy tale by one of my all-time favorite authors? The question isn’t should I take this off my TBRit absolutely stays–the question is why haven’t I read this already?

#5 – We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

22738563What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

I already consider myself a feminist, but I’m at times painfully aware of just how Standard White Feminist the views I’ve grown up with are. I’m slowly unlearning the harmful parts of that mindset and searching out more intersectional feminism sources. So this stays.

And a bonus book because I only axed one so far today–

#6 – Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson

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It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.

Marcus Samuelsson was only three years old when he, his mother, and his sister—all battling tuberculosis—walked seventy-five miles to a hospital in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Adaba. Tragically, his mother succumbed to the disease shortly after she arrived, but Marcus and his sister recovered, and one year later they were welcomed into a loving middle-class white family in Göteborg, Sweden. It was there that Marcus’s new grandmother, Helga, sparked in him a lifelong passion for food and cooking with her pan-fried herring, her freshly baked bread, and her signature roast chicken. From a very early age, there was little question what Marcus was going to be when he grew up.

Yes, Chef chronicles Marcus Samuelsson’s remarkable journey from Helga’s humble kitchen to some of the most demanding and cutthroat restaurants in Switzerland and France, from his grueling stints on cruise ships to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a coveted New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. But Samuelsson’s career of  “chasing flavors,” as he calls it, had only just begun—in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs and, most important, the opening of the beloved Red Rooster in Harlem. At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fufilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents and prime ministers rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, bus drivers, and nurses. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home.

With disarming honesty and intimacy, Samuelsson also opens up about his failures—the price of ambition, in human terms—and recounts his emotional journey, as a grown man, to meet the father he never knew. Yes, Chef is a tale of personal discovery, unshakable determination, and the passionate, playful pursuit of flavors—one man’s struggle to find a place for himself in the kitchen, and in the world.

I’ve seen Samuelsson as a guest on any number of cooking/travel shows, and I know he’s a big name. I added this in my flurry of interest in food memoirs, but having read quite a number of them now, almost all of which were lather-rinse-repeat disappointments, I’m soured on the genre as a whole.

Plus, skimming reviews, this seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it book, and the negative reviews are particularly scathing. I think the time when I truly wanted to read this has come and gone, so it goes.


Have you read any of these and have an opinion you want to share? Let me know in the comments if you think I’ve made a mistake!

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