Books I read in January, 2021

The books and my thoughts

Books, books, books, books. They are all I think about now that I have the podcast. What podcast you say? Oh just The Nano Bookcast – a small podcast about books!

Enough about that! Keeping with my monthly tradition, here are my reviews on the books I have “read” in January!

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This is a collection of Justice Ginsburg’s writings discussing a variety of topics ranging from gender equality, the workings of the Supreme Court, being Jewish, to lawyers in opera.

While some of the readings were a bit dense to get through (I am not a lwyer so reading through some of the Court opinions was difficult), being able to spend some time uunderstanding Justice Ginsburg’s process was incredibly rewarding. It made me miss having her as an active alive role model to look up even more than I already did!

There was one sentence that I highlighted that has sat with me since then:

We may be anxious to reduce crime, but we should remember that in our system of justice, the presumption of innocence is prime, and the law cannot apply one rule to Joe who is a good man, and another to John, who is a hardened criminal.

I have always been an advocate for prisons as a way of keeping serial offenders away from the population. But it’s this sentence that prompted me to think more about the lack of nuance that this opinion presents. I started reading about how racial inequality means the people imprisoned aren’t serial criminals but instead people who shoplifted to feed their child. That the US prison system creates more serial criminals than it holds.

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

I unfortunately don’t have much to say here – I listened to it as an audio book while doing errands. As a result I don’t remember much. :/

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

Until last year I didn’t even know that Margarent Atwood wrote poetry and then I quickly learned that she hsn’t written published an anthology in ages. Till she came out with Dearly last year that is. Margaret Atwood’s first collection of poetry in over a decade, Atwood addresses themes such as love, loss, the passage of time.

My favoutire lines from the anthology are from the poem titled “Feather”:

A high flyer once,
as we all were.
Every life is a failure

at the last hour,
the hour of dried blood.
But nothing, we like to think,

is wasted, so I picked up one plume from the slaughter
sharpened and split the quill,
hunted for ink,

and drew this poem
with you, dead bird.
With your spent flight,

with your fading panic,
with your eye spiraling down,
with your night.

Quick aside: I have also made highlights/notes in the Kindle books I read and never looked them up till now. If you too like me have never looked up your notes, you can access them at https://read.amazon.com/notebook 🙂

The Cure At Troy A Version of Sophocles’ Philoctetes by Seamus Heanney

Like most other people I too got swept in the Inauguration fever and this poem is apparently one of Joe Biden’s favourites to quote. Not a big fan of the man but I am going to just comment on the fact that having a president who reads more than a KFC menu is delightful.
The fact that the poem and the play that encompasses it is an adaptation of a incidet in Greek mythology had me convinced! 🙂

Given the last few years, this rang a bit too close to home:

The gods do grant immunity, you see, 
To everybody except the true and the just. 
The more of a plague you are, and the crueller, 
The better your chances of being turned away 
From the doors of death. 
Whose side are gods on? 
What are human beings to make of them? 
How am I to keep on praising gods 
If they keep disappointing me, and never 
Match the good on my side with their good? 

It’s a relatively short easy to understand read so I would recommend it for a quiet afternoon. Or few…

My 2021 reading goals?

  • Continue to read more poetry!
  • Read more about the space of health, be it nutrition, mental health, physical health, etc.
  • Try to get into audio books. I don’t think I will but it’s worth a shot. I strongly believe that listening to audio books is useless as you don’t capture or understand the content fully.
  • Continue reading books by diverse authors.
  • See my wider reading goals here.

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