Reading as an Occupation: What I read in September

With reading, September was a month where my horizons were expanded. September was also a month where I let my book clubs lead the way with my reading choices. I have been trying to consistently expand the genres I read to learn new things that I can apply to occupational therapy practice and in general. This month’s reads allowed me to get one step closer to that goal. Here are my reviews of what I read in September.

Targeted: My Inside Story of Cambridge Analytica and How Trump and Facebook Broke Democracy by Brittany Kaiser

Publisher: Harper; Illustrated Edition (October 22, 2019)

Targeted is a book that will forever change the way you use the internet! This novel was a book club choice that we decided upon due to the upcoming election. However, the information, to me, went beyond politics and more on the amount of data that is collected from the internet! Yikes. Each click collects data. Each search collects data. Each “fun” test that tells your personality type or your love language collects data.

In the end, the data is used to form a profile that affects the messages, ads, and news stories that show up on webpages when you are on the internet. You basically have a different webpage than another individual based on the profile compiled from your data. This makes sense if you think about it. We all get the “cookies are being used to learn more about your internet use” message, which many times, I honestly, click and move on. But, mysteriously, those shoes that I searched for to see if they are on sale always end up on a webpage that I am reading, taunting me!

This book provides you with food for thought on the impact of searching on the internet, your privacy, and how to process the news and ads that graze your computer screen. This novel is not a light read, but it is eye-opening and needed to understand the degree of hyper-connection in today’s world and how data can be used to shape the way you think.

Rating: 3/4

The Nature of the Beast  by Louise Penny

Publisher: Minotaur Books (August 25, 2015)

My book club members were in excitement mode for the latest Louise Penny book: All the devils are here.  Apparently, so were other library patrons because the book is on a hold that is 132-people deep! With that following, I decided to give Louise Penny a second try. I had tried to read her books before, starting with Still life a couple of years ago. I was not hooked and thought it was me. So, I decided to listen to what was available to borrow in Overdrive; and The nature of the beast was available for download.

Before going into the story, Louise Penny readers all say the same thing. Her books bring you into this quintessential village of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada, where you get swept away by the imagery of the village, the people, the food, and the French accents. Now that the stage is set, on to the story. This story is about one of the villagers’ untimely death after finding an enormous weapon with a lengthy history. The hunt for the killer of this villager leads down quite a path of discovery that includes families, friends, and of course, other villagers.

I am not sure if the scenery (or description of the food or the French accents) is so beautiful that I could not feel the novel’s suspense. There are many characters and if you do not start reading from the first Louise Penny series, the sheer number of people can be overwhelming.   On the positive side, this book is well-researched, and the characters are likable, except for Ruth, who is a bit of a curmudgeon. I will file this book under an easy read (or listen) if you want a piece of literature that will help you unwind after a long day or week of work!

Rating: 2.75/4

A Great Reckoning  by Louise Penny

Publisher: Minotaur Books (August 30, 2016)

While The nature of the beast had some elements that prevented me from fully getting into the story, I was captivated by A great reckoning from the start. This is the story of Inspector Gamache on a mission to solve a murder at the Surete Academy. This story has many plot twists that leave the reader guessing throughout the story. The same elements of the Louise Penny novel are there, that “lightens” the fact that someone was murdered. There are other layers to the story besides solving the murder that was also intriguing, which would be a spoiler if I went further. So, I will leave it to the reader to learn and appreciate the layers of intrigue!  

Is Louise Penny growing on me? I am not sure. I like to listen to these types of novels during the day for levity, and her stories have elements that make them easy to listen to and follow. Overall, they are not gripping mysteries to me, but they are an easy read. Many have recommended listening to her books are a special treat because of the descriptions and the accent of the reader; I agree with that recommendation as well.

Rating: 2.75/4

Caste: The origins of our discontent  by Isabel Wilkerson

Publisher: Random House (August 4, 2020

Have you ever read a book that has led to a paradigm shift of how you think about a concept or how you approach understanding a concept in the context of your life? This book will cause seismic changes in how you think about race and culture. Wilkerson presents to you the caste system and how it is instituted in the United States with race. Many are familiar with the caste system in other parts of the world, but it has never been presented in mainstream America to explain race relations until now.

Wilkerson’s presentation of the caste system is entrenched in research that is hundreds of years old. Therefore, though her presentation of this point of view is relatively new in mainstream America, this theory has been documented and researched for years by others. Wilkerson posits that slavery was not a system that impacted Blacks only. She notes that Whites were also laborers next to Blacks. However, the caste system allowed for the progression of Whites in society because of the color of their skin, among other attributes.

Wilkerson’s reframing of slavery as part of a caste system provides a different view of the plight of Blacks throughout history. The rigid caste system allowed for the denigration of Blacks to lower class citizens based on the color of their skin. Looking back on history, this makes sense. In the 1900s in the United States, certain cultures such as Italians and Irish were initially shunned. Over time, those cultures rose, and the prejudices against those cultures were reduced and eventually ceased. However, this was not the case with other races.

Wilkerson also presents other races when discussing the caste system and the rise of those races within the caste system and what measures allowed for the advancement and limits of the same races in society because of the caste’s structure system. Caste provides essential points of conversations with the history of race, culture, and religion, allowing for opportunities to positively acknowledge the past to impact the future of race relations.

The guest list  by Lucy Foley

Publisher:  William Morrow (June 2, 2020)

This. Book. Yes. You know a book is good when you cannot formulate complete sentences. This novel was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, and I was getting nervous that it would be a meh pick. But it was securely in the 80% corner of good Reese Witherspoon book club picks. This is the story of a wedding that occurs on an island in Ireland. At this wedding, a body surfaces, and the story unfolds to reveal the killer. The characters in this book make for a great read. Each character has a past that unravels to solve the mystery. There is some difficulty with following the temporal context of the book. There are shifts back and forth during the wedding time frame. Therefore, it is important to keep track of the times provided in each chapter’s introduction to follow the story. Other than that, a great read.

Rating: 3.75/4

On my TBR pile so far for October:

The day the world came from away  (affiliate link)

Between the world and me   (affiliate link) (I did not get to finish this because my book club picks kind of took over. But I have started this book and thoroughly enjoying it so far).

Thanks for reading! Unfortunately, this month I did not read books that can be used to impact occupational therapy practice. I am keeping my eyes open for such a book for my October book list.  

What books are you reading? What is in your TBR pile?  Are you looking to expand genres as well? Any recommendations that are great for occupational therapy or occupational balance?

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