Amanda Reads – January 2017

I can tell you one thing about 2017 so far—I’ve been serious about my reading. The reasons are simple—it’s easy to pull out a book or a kindle while traveling. And boy, have I been traveling. Have you noticed that based on the lack of blog posts? It’s been a busy first month of the year, but I’m hoping things have quieted down a bit. Unfortunately, the rest of February is basically a wash, since I’ve been so inconsistent. So I’ll be starting up with regular posts again the last week of February/the first week of March. Until then, you’ll get some sporadic content, but then I promise I’m back!

Here’s a reminder of the funny new rating system that I put in place last month:

  • 0 dogs petted: DNF. I couldn’t get through the book. It’s not a good day.
  • 1 dog petted: It was an okay day. I mean, I got to pet a dog. But it could have been better.
  • 2 dogs petted: A solid effort. May recommend.
  • 3 dogs petted: A really good day, tbh. Would recommend willingly to friends and family.
  • 4 or more dogs petted: Best day. Will be recommending to all the people. Pet all the dogs.

Now, let’s talk about some books!


You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson

I wrote an extensive review of this book on the Diverse/Lady Book Project, so you can find that here, or on Niume. But here’s the basic rundown: Phoebe Robinson wrote a fantastic book of essays about what it’s like to be a black woman, what it’s like to be a lady comedian, and why race relations are still very flawed in the U.S. And it was so good, you guys. SO GOOD. Her voice is just funny enough to tackle such difficult topics with relative ease, and she’d be a good jumping-off point for people with no experience with the kind of racism she faces to start to get it. I learned so much from this book. Seriously, SO GOOD.

Rating: 4 dogs petted. Have I mentioned that it’s SO GOOD?

Bossypants, by Tina Fey

Aside from the Diverse/Lady Book Project, I also started incorporating books into my running routine. How, you ask? Audiobooks! When I was working at the state university where I first started this here blog, I started listening to audiobooks on my walks to and from my car, a good 20 minutes either way. But once I switched jobs, my use of audiobooks in life dropped off significantly, and I switched to podcasts. But I can’t run while I listen to podcasts—the change in pace and tone messes with my running. Books by a single narrator are better. So! I listen to podcasts while I work and audiobooks while I run. And it’s been glorious.

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh right. Bossypants.

Tina Fey published this book back when 30 Rock was still going, several years ago now. It’s still pretty relevant, although I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the wording she used relating to LGBTQ+ individuals. But that’s a sign of the times changing, I think. It was good, very funny, and I laughed aloud while running more than once. Personally, I liked listening to Fey read her own words, but my EIC (who you can find over at Girl vs. City) said the opposite—she hated listening to Fey read her own words. So I guess it’s a difference in opinion. My only complaint? I wanted less about Alec Baldwin (ugh) and more about Mean Girls! Come on, Fey, that’s always going to be your shining moment, to me.

Rating: 3 dogs petted. Funny, but not the best book I’ve ever read in the genre.

Jerkbait, by Mia Siegert

Here’s another that I reviewed on the Diverse/Lady Book Project (links here and here), so you can find more information there. The basics of this one is that twins Robbie and Tristan are nothing alike—Robbie is a hockey star, a promising NHL draft pick, and Tristan has always lived in his brother’s shadow while wanting to me in musical theater. That all changes when Robbie tries to kill himself. The story is narrated by Tristan, but it’s really about Robbie. I chatted a bit about Tristan in last month’s Man Crush post, so you should check that out, too. This was an important book, and it was an easy one to read. And a bonus? I interviewed Mia Siegert for the Diverse/Lady Book Project—you can find that here!

Rating: 4 dogs petted.

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult

I didn’t know how much I wanted this book until I was reading it. I was uncomfortable throughout the entire thing—Picoult knows how to keep readers on their toes. Again, full reviews can be found here and here. The quick rundown—Ruth is a black labor and delivery nurse who is on call during a routine procedure for the baby of Turk and Brittany Bauer. But Turk, a white supremacist, has made the completely racist demand that Ruth not touch his child. So when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, Ruth is trapped in a moral dilemma—go against the clear orders of her supervisor, or go against the oath she took after nursing school. I really shouldn’t have to say much else—this is classic JP to the core, and I loved it. It’s a great book for white people to read if they want to really start understanding what it’s like to be a person of color in the world these days. I felt like I learned a ton from reading it, and I really thought I was pretty woke to begin with. Race relations are always more complicated than you think they are. This is proof.

Rating: 4 dogs petted (although, like, trigger warnings for white supremacy, racially-motivated violence, and related horrible things). This is so well-executed.

Dreadnought, by April Daniels

Here’s another that I reviewed on the Diverse/Lady Book Project (links here and here). I have to say, this is one of the awesomest and most eye-opening books I’ve ever read. How have I gone so far in my life without reading a book with a trans MC? Ugh, I just loved it so much. And superheroes! And flying! And fighting crime! And a kickass female friendship! There is just so much to love. Have I intrigued you enough? No? Here’s the general plot—Danny Tozer witnesses the death of the superhero Dreadnought and is gifted Dreadnought’s powers before he dies. She becomes her true self—a girl—and also must come to terms with her family, her new powers, the change in the dynamics of her friendships, and more. All while fighting crime! Lots of love for this book.

Rating: 4 dogs petted. It’s just so good.

We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read 6 books in January? Wow, I was on a roll. This was a short and sweet writing of a TedTalk by Adichie several years ago, and it’s fire. FIRE, I TELL YOU. You can find my review here and here. I have five pages of quotes on my kindle from this book alone, and I’ve never felt so moved to join a cause before. I want to be the change. I want to make a difference. I want to buy this for every single person I know and make them read it and then make them talk to me about it. If this book isn’t already making a difference, it will down the line. Fire. It’s straight fire.

Rating: 5+ dogs petted. Everyone needs to read this book.

The only conclusion that I can really draw is that I’m reading really good books, and reading is taking up a lot of my time. But I’m totally okay with it. I’m halfway through February and have already finished another three books, so this year should be fun. If you want full reviews, check out all the links in the different parts of the post!

Happy reading!


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