mccormick


bookshelf:2021

2021  //  2020  //  2019 //  2018  //   2017  //  2016  //   2015  //   2014  //  2013

2021 reviews
(for earlier reviews please click on the title, author, or category link above)


2021: 21

review date:
9/1/2021
The Premonition by Michael Lewis

How do you describe 2020? It was a crazy year for everyone. My family and I had just moved to a new city for my new job. The next thing I know, I am working from home and my wife is homeschooling our two girls and we were running low on toilet paper.

Why was COVID different? I feel like my entire life has been defined by near disasters. Ebola. H1N1. Swine Flu. Zika. Bird Flu. Seasonal Flu. It felt like every year there was a new virus or disease that threatened our way of life. I remember hearing about this new coronavirus, and I kind of brushed it off. The news had cried “wolf” so many times, I stopped listening.

COVID was different. It’s one thing when some random guy like me brushes off medical preparedness, it’s different when people running the show ignore it.

Michael Lewis is a captivating writer. I agree with the reviewer quoted on the back page, “I would read an 800-page history of the stapler if he wrote it.”

There are a lot of characters in The Premonition, and I honestly felt lost a few times.

It is encouraging to read about passionate individuals who are dedicated to doing the right thing, no matter the costs. It is also frightening how dysfunctional and fragile our medical system is. This pandemic has shown us the flaws.

I want to believe if the United States had better leadership during the early days of the pandemic, things would not have been so bad, but I cannot make that assumption in good faith.

2021: 20

review date:
8/3/2021
Humble Pi by Matt Parker

Math is hard, there is no doubt about it. At first, math seems so understandable; numbers seem so real and concrete. But the more you dive into the pool of mathematics, you begin the notice you are swimming in a sea of concepts and abstractions.

I found math so confusing because no one could explain its relevance. Though I must admit, many of the things I learned in high school seem irrelevant now. (I’m looking at you Jane Eyre).

However, I don’t blame math. I blame math teachers. Knowing how to solve for ‘x’ is much different than understanding why we solve for ‘x’. So when you combine a teacher that cannot teach and a student that does not want to learn, education does not happen.

Over the past few years, I have picked up a few books that help shine a golden light on the fantastic world of mathematics. Humble Pi is another fantastic volume. Humble Pi focuses on (mostly) hilarious errors in the real world. Most of the errors seem to be computer-based, or better yet, Microsoft Excel-based.

From calendars to gears to bridges, the book covers a vast array of topics. Math simply describes the world we live in, the world we create, and the chaos that ensues. This book simply and enjoyable captures it for you.

2021: 19

review date:
7/28/2021
Liquid Rules by Mark Miodownik

A few months back I read Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik and I really enjoyed it. I love learning how seemingly mundane and insignificant objects impact our daily lives in a big way.

So if you love Stuff Matter, you are going to love Liquid Rules. This time around, Miodownik takes us on a journey, almost literally. We tag along as he takes a transatlantic flight, exploring the various liquids along the way including jet fuel, alcohol, water, glue, tea, and so forth.

This book was a fun, enlightening, summer poolside read. Yes, I purposefully read this book in a pool. I guess the next best spot is to read this book on a plane ride.

Read this book. You will enjoy it.

2021: 18

review date: 
7/19/2021
Sexual Citizens by Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan

“Unwanted sex felt easier than having a difficult conversation”

I have sat through my fair share of sexual harassment and assault prevention training sessions. In fact, I have even led some of these training sessions. In my humble opinion, these trainings tend to focus more on compliance than actual education or prevention.

Why are these training sessions so bad? Why are the same training sessions required every year? Why are we so terrible at this?

Sex is an extremely complicated, delicate, and awkward facet of our society. Some celebrate it while others are embarrassed by it. Simply put, we do not have a healthy, productive dialogue on sex.

And I am talking about mature adults. If most adults cannot have effective conversations on sex, how in the world do we expect college students to have a successful understanding?

Sexual Citizens by Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan is easily the best book I have read concerning sex on a college campus. Using the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT) at Columbia University, the authors present a robust understanding of sex and sexual assault on college campuses.

The book focuses on three concepts: sexual projects, sexual citizenships, and sex geographies. I simplify this down to the why, who, and where of sex. Sexual projects are the “why” of sex. When one seeks out sex or seeks not to have sex, they are choosing that experience. One can be looking simply for pleasure or searching for intimacy. There are countless sexual projects, and one person can juggle numerous projects at once. Many students cannot articulate their sexual projects. They are well aware of the sexual clichés of college sex and often they feel imprisoned by these expectations.

Sexual citizenships are the “who” of sex. The generally accepted idea is that sex only involves the functional participants, but sex involves cultural and communal expectations. One’s family has a great impact on one’s definition of an acceptable sexual partner. Friends, especially in college, define who is sexually attainable and who is off-limits. One’s friends will assist in these pursuits (i.e. wingman, matchmaker, etc.) Furthermore, sexual scripts write certain expectations, such as heterosexual males do not need to present verbal consent to sexual encounters with heterosexual females.

Sexual geographies are the “where” of sex. This is more than simply a map and building structures of a campus. Geographies include the context, access, and ownership of these spaces. A first-year student at an off-campus party (where drinking is involved) is more vulnerable than a fourth-year student who is extremely familiar with off-campus dynamics. Geographies also include the concept of access: stay with your aggressive date or take an expensive taxi ride back to campus.

This book is a treasure trove of knowledge. In addition to the concepts of projects, citizenships, and geographies, this book discusses the concerns of bystander training, understandings of consent, Title IX investigations, and informal resolutions.

This book does not provide all the answers, but it produces a lot of great questions and superior research. It challenged my perspectives which is always a welcomed thing.

2021: 17

review date:
7/16/2021
The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

I find the history of small things quite interesting. I love seeing how history is created not by seismic events but by small rather insignificant looking items.

I came across The Design of Everyday Things after reading the excellent works of Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now and Wonderland. I assumed Don Norman’s book would be the same vein. Unfortunately, it is not.

Do not misunderstand me, The Design of Everyday Things is a good book. Instead of examining specific items, Norman really discusses the overall design of things, focusing mostly the psychology and how humans interpret the world. This is a very interesting subject; a subject that I have read about extensively. However, this just was not the book I was looking for.

So, all in all, this was a consumer error, which is funny, because a major theme in the book is that user error is usually a design problem. Therefore, I would say that the title and cover art of this book misled me. The original title of this book was The Psychology of Everyday Things. I think the original title is more appropriate. With the current title, I assumed the author would spend more time scrutinizing the design of individual objects, their history, and progression. Maybe with a little more research, I would not have made this mistake.

2021: 16

review date:
7/12/2021
Swing Kings by Jared Diamond

I was a young boy during the steroid era of baseball, so I was naïve. I was very happy turning on SportsCenter every night and watching McGwire and Sosa hit baseball likes they were swatting golf balls. It was fun. Unfortunately, I grew up, the baseball world got serious, and the curtain was pulled back. Everyone was juiced. Everyone turned a blind eye. Everyone knew it was happening and no one did anything. After Jose Canseco spilled the beans, things changed and baseball cleaned itself up. Everything was right again.

Then the homers started happening again. It seemed like every day some new hitter I have never heard of was hitting homers at an exploding rate. Jose Bautista hit 13 home runs in 2009 and then 54 home runs in 2010. JD Martinez went from a struggling outfielder to a powerhouse seemingly overnight. Even my beloved Dodgers were not immune: Justin Turner, a solid bench player for several years, suddenly became an MVP candidate.

My first thought was very skeptical: they all found a new, untraceable performing-enhancing drug. But in fact, their drug was choice was knowledge (oh yeah, that was cheesy, I own it).

These new home run kings started looking at the data. Well, actually, these independent hitting coaches started to look at the data. They threw away old-school advice and techniques such as “swinging down to the ball” and “squishing the bug.” They watched video on noticed the best hitters in baseball did not practice what they preached; when they hit the ball far they actually swung up to the ball.

Fortunately, a few talented players who were on their last resort looked for something new. Desperation searched for inspiration, and now the game has changed. Balls are flying out of the park constantly. Some people say it’s ruining the game. I understand this critique, but I bet when your team wins the World Series you won’t be complaining.

This is a great book about the home run revolution. It gets a little scattered at times, but it’s still interesting. I highly recommend it for all baseball fans.

2021: 15

review date:
7/9/2021
The Body by Bill Bryson

Going into college, I was planning on being a physical therapist. So my first year, I powered through a bunch of general education courses. When my second rolled around, I was hyped to start my major courses. That semester I took chemistry and human anatomy.

Now, when I took these courses in high school, I breezed through them. I found the courses interesting and challenging enough. I was excited for the college-level courses. Fast forward to the end of that semester. I stared at my computer screen in bewilderment. I had a C- in chemistry and a D in human anatomy. This wasn’t good.

Long story short, six years later I graduated with my master’s degree in counseling and student development, nothing to do with chemistry or human anatomy.

Nevertheless, I find the human body to be a fascinating complex structure. Our bodies are extremely resilient yet the slightest imbalance can have a catastrophic impact. In the past century, we have learned so much about the human body, yet there is still so much we don’t know.

Bill Bryson is the great explainer. He gives you history. He gives you unique stories. He gives you inspiration. Perhaps, if I had a professor like Bill Bryson then I would have been a physical therapist.

Probably not though.

2021: 14

review date:
5/26/2021
You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

Any book in which the title is an insult is going to draw my interest.

Over the past few years, I have been fascinated by behavioral economics. I have read many books either by Kahneman and Tversky and I have read many books that dive into studies on human behavior inspired by Kahneman and Tversky. Almost all the books I have read have been fascinating and McRaney’s book is no exception.

I would consider this book a great introduction to human behavior studies. Each chapter is short and to the point. Each chapter gives clear examples of how our bias and blind spots impact our everyday life.

If you are looking for something more in depth find books by Kahneman or Thaler.

2021: 13

review date:
5/12/2021
What is Life Worth? by Kenneth Feinberg

Everyone has a story from that day. I was a sophomore in high school. Old enough to know something historic was happening, yet too juvenile to understand its impact. Things changed after September 11, 200, but I was maturing alongside those changes. I am on the cusps of two generations. The older generation can see and feel how the world changed after that day. The younger generation simply sees 9/11 as a matter of fact, inevitable part of history. For better or for worst I get to see both sides.

Pain is a funny thing. I have tried studying it psychologically, physically, medically, and theologically. We all experience it and respond to it differently. Collective grief can be even worse.

The nation grieved on September 11. We were the most advanced country in the world and our greatest city was attacked by a few radicalized men. It was a gut punch to our psyche.

As a country, we needed to act fast. Not just in defending our borders and interests, we needed to bounce back emotionally. Suddenly our cities, local governments, infrastructure, transportation industry, and more were vulnerable. To save these entities, Congress needed to act. In a nutshell, Congress decided to provide limitations on litigations against certain industries. In order not to upset potential claimants, Congress provided billions of dollars to be bestowed to victim’s families.

In their rush, Congress did not set a lot of restrictions on the money. Enter Kenneth Feinberg. He was appointed special master of the fund by the Attorney General. This book is about Feinberg’s journey.

This is book is a quick read. I was hoping to learn more about the process of allotting the funds but instead, I learned more about the tumultuous journey of Feinberg. While a nation grieved and victim’s families wailed, he had a find a dollar amount. That’s not easy. Obviously, no dollar amount can bring back a human life, but helping the victim’s legacy move forward through their family was the goal.

Feinberg was in a lose-lose situation and somehow he won.

2021: 12

review date:
5/5/2021
What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro

Let’s make this clear from the start: there is no action or word that positively identifies someone as lying. Shifting in your seat. Fidgeting your hands. Touching your nose. Looking up and to the left. None of these actions are indicating you are lying.

However, body language can communicate a lot.

Navarro is a former FBI special agent that specialized in nonverbal communication. In this book, he takes you through the entire human body – toe to head – explaining what certain movements may signify. Someone’s movements can express discomfort. Maybe they are discomforted by the question, or the evidence against them, or they simply need to use the restroom. Knowing what to look for can aid you in your communication.

Obviously, an investigation is a great situation to examine body language but this is something you can use every day. Is the person you are talking to happy? Do they want to leave? Do they feel anxious or threatened?

We all say a lot without using words, but we fail to listen with our eyes successfully.

2021: 11

review date:
5/3/2021
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

"That experiment has failed. If safety and protection were all we sought in life, perhaps we could conclude differently. But because we seek a life of worth and purpose, and yet are routinely denied the conditions that might make it possible, there is no other way to see what modern society has done." 

A few years back a member of my family was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors did not give him a good prognosis. In fact, the doctors were not recommending treatment. He was almost eighty years old and the chances for survival were rather slim – even for a younger person. He, however, has always been a fighter and he wasn’t going to give up so easily. Fast forward nearly four years later and he is cancer-free.

I am glad he fought on and took the chemotherapy and the experimental treatments. I’m glad he won, but during this time I worried. I was worried about what his life would look like on the other side of these treatments if successful. I didn’t want him to endure years of painful chemotherapy to simply add another few years of existing. I wanted him to live and live the way he wants.

And so far he has. It has been amazing to see.

But it seemed like no one in my family wanted to talk about the quality of his life. They simply saw a problem named cancer and they wanted to beat it. But what if he beats it and can’t drive a car anymore? What if the chemotherapy works yet he can’t chew his own food? Doctors (and everyone else) are good at solving problems but not viewing the big picture.

Here’s the reality: death wins. It always has and always will. Yes, we have done a superb job delaying the inevitable, but what is the cost? Do I want to spend the last ten years of my life in a facility where I can’t eat without help? Does anyone want that?

Being Mortal provides a practical perspective on these questions. This is not out-of-touch philosophy but practical questions from a regard surgeon. I really enjoyed this book. It makes you think about the tough things in life.

Here are the questions we need to ask: What are your biggest fears and concerns? What goals are important? What trade-offs are you willing to make?

2021: 10

review date:
4/20/2021
Power Ball by Rob Neyer

So I’m a Dodger fan. Been so since I was born. Thus, as of 2017, anything related to the Houston Astros has earned my disdain. So let’s just get this part out of the way: In 2017, the Houston Astros cheated by stealing signs via a camera in centerfield. No players received any type of punishment for their involvement. Vacating their 2017 championship is a moot point, their legacy is tainted. I don’t know why they cheated, the 2017 club was stacked with immense talent.

I bring up the Astros cheating scandal, because the narrative of this book, Powerball by Rob Neyer, follows a seemingly insignificant game between the eventual champions and a lowly Oakland Athletics. From moments in the game, Neyer veers onto different subjects concerning the history of baseball and the modern approaches to the game.

So having the privilege of hindsight, it’s frustrating to read this book and listen to the author gush over the Astros players. Again, the Astros were good because of their talent, and in this book, they were the visiting team so they probably didn’t use their illegal sign-stealing system (as far as we know). Spoiler alert: the Astros lose the game in the book in the bottom of ninth.

Additionally, I have grown tired of the baseball game narrative; this approach is stale and clunky now. Neyer usually starts a chapter discussing the pitcher and hitting match-ups then he veers off onto a thoroughly interesting aspect of a baseball. Then, abruptly, he has to switch back and finish the inning, and by this time, I have forgotten what is going on in the game (because ultimately I didn’t care about this insignificant game).

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but I just couldn’t tell what the book was trying to say. At times, it felt like an old-school baseball manifesto, and other times it seemed like a sabermetric proselytizer. It’s like the book lacked cohesion in thought.

So, a good not a great book.

2021: 9

review date:
4/9/2021
Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

After reading a couple of emotionally demanding books, it was fun to pick up Stuff Matters and read such a light and well-written book.

I really enjoy these types of books: learning the fascinating history and interesting journeys behind life’s most seemingly mundane and insignificant objects.

In this book, Miodownik takes a rather ordinary photograph of himself sitting on the roof of his building. From this photo, he identifies all the materials we interact with on a daily basis. He dives into their history. Some materials are obscure yet seemingly everywhere.

You will learn about the power of concrete, the importance of paper, the delicacy of chocolate, the applications of foam, and show much more.

You walk away with a Ph.D. in material science, but you should leave with a better appreciation of the world you live in. This is a very fun read.

2021: 8

review date:
3/26/2021
Know My Name by Chanel Miller

“During the trial, the jury was forced to pick; is he wholesome or monstrous. But I never questioned that any of what they said about him was true... One person can be capable of both. Society often fails to wrap its head around the fact these truths often coexist, they are not mutually exclusive. Bad qualities can hide inside a good person. That’s the terrifying part.”

When sexual assault allegations become known, people feel like they have to take sides. They either believe the complainant or they stand with the respondent. To many, these are the only two options available. If you are not standing with them, then you are standing against them. There is right and there is wrong.

Chanel Miller demolishes this fallacy. There are no sides to a sexual assault allegation. There are no winners or losers. Everyone gets caught up in choosing sides that they forget the humanity involved.

Miller’s life was turned upside down. She went from unassuming, anonymous young lady to the victim in a court case the captivated the nation. The actual assault by Brock Turner was just the beginning. The pain and suffering that followed was horrendous. The pain has many sources from emotional trauma to hurtful internet trolls. And though Brock Turner was found guilty (and given a lenient sentence), the pain Miller experienced didn’t simply vanish. The suffering of a victim does not stop when the assault is over, it does not stop when the jury finds the accused guilty. The suffering endures.

And then there is the accused. Turner’s life was turned upside down. The jury found him guilty, and though he was given a ridiculously lenient sentence, he still must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. But, let’s say he was sentenced to life in prison without parole (which wouldn’t be possible in this specific case, but this is just a rhetorical scenario). Who wins? Yes, Miller would have received justice but there would be no winner.

Sexual assault allegations are not fights. There are no winners or losers. Don’t get me wrong, Turner was found guilty for doing something horrible and he needs to face the consequences. Miller should be celebrated as a survivor and an inspiration to many. But let’s stop thinking one side won and the other lost.

There is the truth. There is justice. There are people. I loved this book by Chanel Miller because it forces you to think about the humanity of the process.

2021: 7

review date:
3/15/2021
The Girls by Abigail Pesta

The Olympics are fun to watch, there is no denying that. Every two years, my wife and I grab disgusting fast food and watch elite athletes parade through the opening ceremonies. Some of these athletes become household names overnight.

We relish blissful smiles of achievement and victory. We celebrate the tears of joys and the awarding of medals. But what we don’t see is the long, difficult journey to the Olympics. We don’t see the grueling training sessions. The early mornings. The late nights. The non-existent weekends. The broken bones and torn ligaments.

We don’t see the pain or the suffering. And at times, the pain and suffering of elite athleticism are not simply bruised bones or muscle aches. The pain is something more.

This book is about unimaginable pain. Pain that was unnecessary and inflicted not just by one man, or two men, but a culture that failed to protect.

John Geddert, Larry Nassar, and the system are the three main antagonists in this book. Neither one could have existed without the other.

Geddert was the coach. He was abusive and cruel. His supporters probably would have labeled him strict or a perfectionist; a coach that demanded only the best from his gymnasts. But he was dangerous, he forced gymnasts to perform with horrible injuries. When they failed he hurled equipment and disgusting insults with ease. To Geddert, these gymnasts were not humans but objects for winning.

Nassar was the doctor. He was kind and caring. He was the complete complement to Geddert. Gymnasts, at first, were glad to be with Nassar. He provided kindness and compassion these gymnasts so desperately needed. But that is how Nassar gained their trust. For decades, Nassar sexually assaulted hundreds of girls under the guise of a medical procedure. To Nassar, these gymnasts were not humans but objects for his pleasure.

Some gymnasts were not silent about Geddert and Nassar. They reported their coach and doctor to parents, police, and governing bodies, but nothing happened. In some cases, the gymnasts were not believed (even by their parents). In other cases, the police didn’t do their due diligence or the governing bodies did not want to tarnish their reputation. The system failed.

I know there are numerous documentaries, television news magazine episodes, and articles written about the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal. And I would say, the ones I have watched have been well produced and informative. This book focuses on the stories of the survivors. It doesn’t attempt to sensationalize the narrative. It doesn’t try to humanize Geddert or Nassar. It simply wants to tell you the stories of the survivors. What they experienced and how they survived.

It’s definitely gut-wrenching. But I think books like this help. We cannot undo the past, but what we can do is provide a better tomorrow, by creating a better system. A system that allows athletes to thrive and prevents Gedderts and Nassars from existing.

2021: 6

review date:
3/9/2021
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

I love this book.

I have read a number of books on racism and diversity issues. Most have been spectacular works on the underlying, complex realities that infiltrate our broken society. But what makes this book stand out above the rest is its simplicity. You don’t need an advanced degree to approach this book. You don’t need a deep understanding of race relations to engage in this conversation.

All you need is the willingness to listen and learn.

Emmanuel Acho makes these “uncomfortable” conversations engaging and accessible.

When I was younger, I was definitely more close-minded. Younger me certainly would have jumped on the “all lives matter” bandwagon. Luckily, I have learned. I have listened. I have asked questions. And today, I am a more informed person. I still have a lot to learn, but that’s the point. Learning is about the journey.

Coming in at around 200 pages, this book clearly only scratches the surface of some difficult topics but it is a great book. I highly suggest it to anyon

2021: 5

review date: 
3/3/2021
How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett

“Your experiences are not a window into reality.”

One of the first things people learn about me is that I am colorblind. Once someone knows this, without fail, they point to their shirt or nearest object and demand to know what color I see. It’s funny and a little annoying. I’m not going to go into specifics here, but I can see color, I simply have difficulty distinguishing a few colors.

But it’s when you get philosophical about color that people’s minds start to melt. Color only exists in your mind. It must be observed to be a color. That’s why when you turn off the lights, you don’t see color. Now, I know someone can counter with a more scientific response, but essentially, that’s the nature of color. It needs to be observed to exist.

In fact, that’s everything. Everything transpires in our minds, not in reality. When I see something, the light strikes my eyes, which through a combination of electrical and chemical reactions, make an image in my mind. That is the only reality that exists.

I know, this sounds a bit farfetched and new-agey but it’s logical.

In How Emotions Are Made, I learned how our emotions are not simple, innate reactions to the world around us. They are actually constructed individually, socially, and culturally. Furthermore, how emotions. In fact, emotions are our reality.

This is a book backed by some comprehensive scientific research and great read. It definitely felt long and a little inaccessible for me. I didn’t start getting into the book until halfway.

2021: 4

review date:
2/11/21
The Psychology of Baseball by Mike Stadler

One reason I was a poor baseball player (aside from an obvious lack of talent and nonexistent athletic ability), was my inability to cope with failure. Though I was a decent hitter in high school (which was a small school in a small school athletic conference), I could not tolerate striking out. In fact, I absolutely hated it. I used to go berserk. I could not understand how, after countless hours of practice, would miss three times during a single at-bat. Luckily by my senior season, I found some Zen. I no longer screamed my lungs out after striking out. My teammates (and equipment) no longer had to fear my explosions.

The Psychology of Baseball by Mike Stadler is a book about baseball written by a psychologist. When I picked this book up I was hoping to learn more about the players handle or mishandle the game of baseball.

Though there are some interesting bits here and there, this book was a swing and miss for me. The first chapter is about the audacity of hitting a baseball. Hitting a baseball is very hard, almost impossible. You can fail seven times out of ten and be considered a hall of fame hitter. In this first chapter, you learn a lot about the physics of pitching and hitting and the biology of a hitter’s reaction, however, you get very little psychology.

In fact, it seemed like the book didn’t dive into deep psychology until the middle of the book. Furthermore, baseball and psychology were disconnected at times. Baseball is simply used as a vehicle to discuss psychology. There would be multiple pages describing a Yankees/Red Sox game with useless statistics and unnecessary anecdotes.

This book was fine, it’s just a swing and a miss for me.

2021: 3

review date: 
1/28/21
The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

I have always considered myself a supporter of women’s rights. But like many men, my support was probably more indifferent than empathetic. I assumed my goal was to simply treat everyone equally, and everything will work itself out.

It wasn’t until I started dating the woman who would later become my wife did I start seeing sexism up close. It seemed like every day, my co-workers would treat me with respect while those same co-workers would treat my wife with contempt. In short, I was treated like an adult while she was treated like a kid. It was and is disgusting.

Now, being treated differently in the workplace is just the tip of the iceberg of issues women face every day throughout the world. In this book, Melinda Gates not only shows these issues, she demonstrates how to approach them and why it is absolutely essential that we fight for equality and equity for women.

It is heartbreaking to read these stories. Women are dying needlessly because they lack simple things like clean water, birth control options, and basic healthcare. I take these things for granted every minute of my life. These are not grand, mysterious, unsolvable issues; these are simple, easily fixable problems. And if we don’t recognize the problems, we will never try to rectify them.

This is a wonderful yet upsetting read. You can walk away with a dual sense of hope and despair. Yes, the problems are big but the solutions are many.

I want my state, country, and world to be a better place for my daughters. It is happening but there is a lot of work to be done.

2021: 2

review date:
1/11/21
The Book of Why by Judea Pearl

I don’t know where to start with this book. This is definitely not the book I expected. I don’t know how I came across this book, I believe it was referenced in another book I read and after reading the description, it seemed fascinating.

To me, the presentation of the book was quite dull and way too mathematical. The book started fairly interesting by describing human brains as very powerful and very complicated engines. Thus, creating an artificial intelligence that requires a large capacity to learn and adopt causal concepts is extremely. The rest of the book was mostly lifeless with diagrams and mathematical equations. Every so often, the author would discuss some real life situations that were very thought-provoking but it was not enough to save this book for me.

Now I don’t want to through this book in the garbage. I am well aware that my small brain may not have grasped the concepts discussed, and just because I did not like the subject, does not mean the subject is useless. It just was not for me.

2021: 1

review date:
1/8/2021
Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld

I was thrilled when I saw that Jerry Seinfeld was writing a book. I have followed his career for a while and I just love his simple take on life. When I discovered his book was just a compilation of jokes, I was not enthused. One, I have read plenty of books by comedians, and for the most part, standup routines do not translate to the written word very well. Two, why would I want to buy a book of old jokes I have already heard? Thus when I got the book as a gift, I was excited yet apprehensive.

So, how do I describe Seinfeld’s book succinctly? This is the funniest book I have read. Ever.

I have never had to pause reading a book before because I was laughing too hard until I read this book.

I don’t know what it is about Seinfeld’s humor that I find hilarious, but I do. It may be the mundane subjects or his casual cadence, but in the end, it is just funny. Yes, there were a lot of jokes I have already heard, but I still laughed my head off.

Reading this book was a great way to start off a new year.

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