No Sit Book Club – September 2021

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It’s suddenly October! I have mixed feelings. I miss the long days of summer – it’s getting harder to find daylight hours to do things outside, whether that’s bike rides or kayaking or gardening or whatever. The sun either isn’t up when I am, or it’s going to bed. There’s still so much I want to do while the weather is nice. But I am also looking forward to FALL STUFF. Like apple orchards (and cider) and pumpkins and corn mazes and cooler weather and realizing I only have a few days to plan a Halloween costume… Things are getting spooky. I put lights on my bike and charged up my headlamp so I can walk around in the dark, but have yet to talk myself into nighttime yardwork! I listened to (mostly) adult audiobooks this month and one teen title. Here are a couple:

The Companion, by Katie Alender – You might be familiar with Katie’s writing from her “Bad Girls Don’t Die” series, which is gently spooky. This new book is a suspenseful standalone novel that starts out pretty normal, but gets more and more uncomfortably creepy as it continues. The main character is orphaned after her family dies in a car crash and is taken in by a wealthy family that knew her father. She’s initially grateful, but things get weird when she learns her place is contingent on her being a companion to their teenage daughter, who has…issues. Her foster/adoptive mom is NOT TO BE TRUSTED. You can read my review of this here. (teen fiction)

The Ice Pick Surgeon, by Sam Kean – This explores some very questionable scientists, doctors, and their research/practices, which sometimes produced some really interesting or valuable results, but the methods used were ethically specious/immoral. You’ve probably heard about the historical popularity of grave robbing to further anatomic knowledge, but some “robbers” extended that to actual murder. There’s a chapter on the guy who practiced lobotomies using ice picks (sometimes double-fisted ice picking at people’s brains), and much, much more. Another creepy title. The last chapter talks about what kinds of science/research could be problematic in the future. (adult nonfiction)

I just started listening to The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien, which is a collection of stories/history that underpins the Lord of the Rings trilogy and adds detail to Middle Earth. I tried reading this when I was in middle school and it was DENSE. Lots of names that I couldn’t keep track of and references to people and places I was not familiar with and did not get. Attempting to keep track of all of that in an audiobook, where it’s not so easy to just turn back the pages to refresh my memory or check some detail, is challenging. The production is nice, though – voicing is appropriately LOTR/historical, and there are sound effects and music that complement the reading. I just feel like it’s going in one ear and out the other. I had a similar experience recently listening to a couple of other books with more complicated plots – The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, lost me in places, and Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi was going well until the end when I got a couple of the major players confused (wait, who did what now?). Sometimes I will relisten to sections if I feel a need to actively figure out what’s going on. Sometimes I just keep going and hope it will all become clear!

What have you been reading/listening to this month? Submit your books and activities here: No Sit Book Club

See you in October!

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