Some of the books I read in 2019 included:

While I overall enjoyed this book, I was rather disappointed there wasn’t much of any information on the actual science behind the incubators, neonatology, or the history of preemies. Ms. Raffel is one of those non-fiction writers who insists on writing herself into her book as an important character, and jumps back and forth between wildly disparate years instead of holding one thought for more than 2-3 pages at a time (if that).

A number of subjects covered didn’t directly relate to the supposed main subject, like how Pres. McKinley was assassinated at a fair where Couney’s babies were on display. Other subjects sounded fascinating, but were dropped so Ms. Raffel could quickly jump to her next fleeting vignette.

Non-fiction writers, please learn from your predecessors! People read your books to learn about the purported subject, not your personal quest to track down and befriend interview subjects, or anything else you did in your exciting research journey. We also like linear narratives followed from Point A to Point Point Z, not Point A, Point G, Point C, Point Q, Point H, Point D, Point J, Point E, Point W, Point K, Point Z!

I saw this in the new books section at the library and figured ’twas worth a read, though I was never a huge Friends fanatic. I watched quite a few episodes, but almost always when someone else put it on, not because I sought it out myself. It was a fun, quick read, though many hardcore fans have castigated Mr. Austerlitz for getting a lot of plot synopses wrong. Plus, who wants to read blow-by-blow accounts of episodes most readers are well familiar with?

Additionally, Mr. Austerlitz must be only about a year older than I am, yet he tries to paint himself as this Woke™ Millennial instead of the late Gen Xer he truly is. It was so cringey to read through his SJW nonsense, esp. when it had nothing directly to do with the show or anything pertinent behind the scenes.

Of course Friends doesn’t have Woke™ 21st century sensibilities! It aired from 1994–2004! When I look at some of the things I wrote during that era, I’m shocked at how poorly they’ve aged already. We all exist in the context of our own time, even those most against the grain.

Mr. Austerlitz is also one of those TRAs insisting Chandler’s drag queen dad was really a transwoman, and that all storylines related to him are horribly transphobic and cruel. Dude, you don’t get to decide how someone else’s character identifies! Also, NO ONE used the word “transwoman” in that era! I never heard that word till 2015!

I heard so many great things about this book, yet was ultimately disappointed by it. Ms. Skloot is another of that breed of modern non-fiction writers who’s convinced she MUST be a main character in her own book. I would’ve appreciated more science and history about the family, not her adventures in securing meetings with the Lackses and gaining their trust.

I was uncomfortable at how much dirty laundry Ms. Skloot saw fit to splash all over the pages, revealing such deeply personal, private, painful things about this family. As many other readers noticed, she also comes off as rather white savior-y. Finally, she also jumps around between wildly separated years instead of going straight from Point A to Point Z.

Just about the only thing going for this book with me is the beautiful prose. Everything else is so dull and disappointing, yet another book with massive amounts of hype that does nothing for me. How can I get emotionally drawn into a story that’s little more than “This happened. Then that happened. Name said this. Name did that. This happened three months ago. Backstory infodump. Infodumpy dialogue. Tell tell telly lots of telling!”?

I may do a full review of this book in 2020. I wanted to like it, but was immediately turned off by the slow pace, lack of action (even within a character-based story), and confusing nonlinear narrative.

Also greatly disappointed in this book so far, and I’m told it only gets worse. Why can no one write a decent sequel, spin-off, or prequel to GWTW? I love the idea of the story told from the slaves’ POV, esp. with a slave who’s Scarlett’s halfsister, but the execution is just dreadful. So much jumping back and forth instead of telling a linear story, and way too much telling!

Look for a full review of this in 2020!

One thought on “2019 in review (Reading)

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