Short Stack Reviews: Grunt, Hidden Figures and More
I read, constantly. I write up my reviews in the way that I read my books, in short stacks of four…
1. Grunt – I was relatively traumatized after reading Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars in my last short stack, and I did not hold back my feelings in my review. What I loved, was that a friend on social media told me to keep reading Roach and that she *LOVED* her… She recommended Stiff, which I thought looked really interesting, but I had already purchased Grunt when it came out about a year ago, so I started in skeptically.
There was a line, early on, in Grunt that was an “A-HA” moment for me. She said when she set out to write a book about the army, she could have chosen any topic – from PTSD to body armor. The point is that she chose to write about all the stuff NOBODY is writing about. She said “I’m just the goober in the corner with a flashlight” – and all of a sudden she *CLICKED* for me.
In retrospect I think I was so taken aback by Packing for Mars was because from the description I was expecting the kind of armchair, everyday physics books I like to read – not an in depth, fringe account of what happens to the astronauts in space.
With that understood, I really enjoyed Grunt! I learned about IEDs & phalloplasties, diarrhea & snipers, and a ton of things I never would have thought about that are real challenges for soldiers. I have a lot of family members that have served or are serving in the military, and I have an even deeper appreciation for the challenges they face now. I learned so many random things…actually looking forward to my next Mary Roach book. #thingsIthoughtIwouldneversay
2. The Aging Brain (The Great Courses)– I am a Great Course junkie. These programs are recorded college class lectures, that you can listen to like auditing a class. When they go on sale once a year I LOAD UP.
So this one was a little more vague than I had originally hoped – but seriously, I think I was expecting to graduate from medical school. I did learn a lot about exercising the brain, the effect of nutrition and activity on mental agility, the differences between dementia, stroke related events, and Alzheimer’s, and some insight into the research that’s being done to combat the challenges of the aging brain.
I listened because this issue is personal to me. My step mother has had Alzheimer’s for (has it really been?) about 8 years now and my father in law is dealing with some recall impact from mini strokes – there hasn’t been any definitive diagnosis, just good days and bad ones.
While I was hoping for answers, I think I got what I needed – which was a better grasp on the terminology, a better knowledge of the scope of what can impact care, and tips to help keep my own brain sharp and give us a better shot at aging gracefully.
3. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Joss Whedon – Keeping this short, because I intend to write about this book in another post ***when I write up my annual October Joss Whedon ritual*** (don’t worry – I’m not setting up altars or anything like that – it’s just a tradition I’ve developed over time)
4. Hidden Figures – I saw the movie for the first time the other week and was blown away. I can see why so many of my friends raved about this compelling story! I immediately downloaded the book and was even more impressed with the full telling. I was a little surprised/pleased it was more of a non fiction work, instead of a narrative of the film. I love stories of smart, strong, empowered women. It inspired me to seek out more books about women in history… I wish this was required reading for girls toady.
A note on my short stack predictions – if you read these “next time” predictions you will notice they are subject to change. I did not end up reading a single title I thought was in my “next” pile from my last post. Hopefully I’ll do better next time…
My next short stack will include: Recipe for Murder by Esterelle Payany; Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng; Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1); and The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson.
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