Matt’s Weekly Reads, September 17, 2022


Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson (2019),

This is a stunning multigenerational family novella that takes the reader from the trauma of the Tulsa Race Riots to the trauma of 9/11, and all the love, loss, struggle and triumph in the decades in between. Told in brief snapshots from different family members across the decades, it’s a story of fierce love in the face of tragedies big and small, and the difficult choices that go into living and being family. I’ll also add that while 9/11 was not a major theme of the book, it offered what was by far for me the most chilling and poignant telling of that day’s events I’ve yet to encounter in literature.

Read this if you’re interested in :

  • African American Voices
  • American History
  • Teenage Pregnancy
  • 9/11

My Rating: 10/10

Reads in honour of Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30):

  • Native Wisdom, Carol Kelly-Gangi, ed. (2021), 7/10: This is a compendium of quotations from famous Indigenous figures. The content is good for what it is, but don’t expect more than a collection of generically themed quotes. (Quotes, Indigenous Perspectives)
  • Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance Through Alliance, Heidi Bohaker (2020), 8/10: This is a very detailed look at traditional Anishinaabe governance structures. I highly recommend it, but probably only for those with a significant amount of familiarity with the topic, or specific interest in Indigenous models of governance. The fact that this was published by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History should tell you everything you need to know about the intended audience. (Indigenous Perspectives, Law, Governance, Anishinaabe Culture)
  • Making Love with the Land, Joshua Whitehead (2022), 8/10: This is a book of essays reflecting on the author’s experiences as someone who is both Indigenous and queer (or, as he prefers, ‘Indigiqueer’, to highlight the intersectional nature of his identity). As with most collections of essays, individual mileage may vary for the individual essay. Overall I found it challenging in hard but useful ways, but also at times a little caught up in itself (especially in the parts focusing on literary theory). (Indigenous Perspectives, LGBTQ2S+, Own Voices, Cree Culture)
  • Blanket Toss under Midnight Sun, Paul Seesequasis (2019), 9/10. This is a fascinating collection of photos taken of various Indigenous communities in the North, from ca. 1930-1980. The accompanying text provides helpful contextualizing for the themes of each essay. (Indigenous Perspectives, Photography, North, Canadian History)

Weekly Roundup

  • Less is Lost, Andrew Sean Greer (2022 – NEW RELEASE September 20, 2022), 7.5/10: I had an opportunity to read and advanced review copy of this follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize winning Less. It once again follows its thoroughly mediocre hero through a series of bumbling misadventures, this time as he crosses the United States on an unexpected series of speaking events in a last-ditch effort to save his home. This didn’t work super well for me, but I think it will play well to those who enjoy fish-out-of-water stories, comedies of errors, and road trips. (LGBTQ2S+, Americana, Road Trips, Comedy of Errors, Fish out of Water)
  • Lucy by the Sea, Elizabeth Strout (2022 – NEW RELEASE! September 20, 2022), 7.5/10: Elizabeth Strout is a fantastic writer and I have come to love Lucy and her family over the course of these books. It was very smart to explore the world-shaking year of 2020 through the eyes of these beloved characters. I appreciated that while all of these big events were happening in the background and profoundly impacting the characters’ lives, the book was still primarily focused on the small stories of their health, relationships, and ideals: life goes on even when the world feels like it’s coming apart. That said, this book felt a little too close to the events it describes for me: It reads like historical fiction, but two years does not provide enough time for perspective to overcome the rawness that 2020 involved for everyone. Content warning for anyone still processing 2020 and its aftermaths. (Also content warnings for marital infidelity, eating disorders, and fertility issues). (COVID-19, Family, Marriage, Infidelity, Fertility, Americana)
  • The Geek Who Saved Christmas, Annabeth Albert (2021), 7/10: This is a charming, gay, opposites-attract, holiday romance, featuring two 40-something protagonists. The age of the characters adds a nice twist from the ‘new adult’ crowd that we normally find in the genre. (LGBTQ2S+, Romance, Christmas, Opposites Attract)
  • Women Who Run with Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés (1992), 7/10: This is a modern classic of depth psychology that explores the motif of ‘wild women’ throughout world mythology and fairy tales. It’s well done and Pinkola Estés is a master storyteller, but I found the content to be a bit banal. My guess is that what was of value has been largely absorbed into our social awareness now and that, therefore, the book’s ultimate success is why it didn’t ‘hit’ as hard for me as I’d expected. (Feminism, Mythology, Legends, Depth Psychology, Jung)
  • The Siege of Mackindaw, John Flanagan (2006), 10/10: This sixth book in the Rangers Apprentice series might be my favorite yet! It picks up directly after the events of The Sorcerer in the North (see my August 20 post), as Will and his new allies try to take back the castle at Mackindaw, saving the kingdom from enemy invasion and rescuing Alyss in the process. (Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy, Teenagers Doing Espionage)
  • The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Sangu Manadanna (2022), 6.5/10: This recent release follows a young woman who is asked to tutor a household of three girls in the ways of witchcraft. It is a charming story of found family and belonging, but despite its rave early reviews (currently about 4.5/5 on both Goodreads and StoryGraph), it just didn’t do much beyond fulfilling the basic ‘promise of the premise’, and I couldn’t really connect to the (unnecessarily) large cast of characters. It’s cute and a nice way to spent a lazy Saturday afternoon, but I wanted more. (Found Family, Belonging Porn, Romance, Witches, Precocious Children)
  • Leadership Worthy, Bill Dellecker (2022), 7/10: This recent release is a decent introduction to business leadership. Dellecker first goes over what he calls the ‘three pillars’ of leadership, before exploring some essential leadership skills. The content of the book is very good, but I don’t think it contributes anything new to this field that is already oversaturated. (Business, Leadership, Communication)

2 responses to “Matt’s Weekly Reads, September 17, 2022”

  1. […] book particularly insightful. Whereas Elizabeth Strout’s pandemic book, Lucy by the Sea (see my September 17 post for my review) felt like it was wallowing in the discomfort of 2020, like being stuck in a stuffy […]


  2. […] comes to mind), books that speak powerfully to a present moment (such as Elizabeth Strout’s, Lucy by the Sea, which offers an almost suffocatingly vivid psychological portrayal of the experience of 2020 in […]


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