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The Month of Incomplete Books

I love to read. I also don’t have to, outside of required reading for grad school. Anything I read, I do so because it entertains me or has information that I want to learn about. Normally, I finish books, but this month, I have a couple that didn’t quite make it to the finish line. I do plan on continuing them next month, but they were long and I didn’t read quite as much as I typically do this month.

The thing about reading, once you’re an adult and are not required to for a class or a job, you don’t have to read if you don’t want to. If the reading does not bring you joy, centers you, or entertains you the way television, video games, or some other activity could, then what’s the motivator if reading isn’t something you’re interested in doing? That being said, as much as I love reading if a book does not engage me in a meaningful way from the start or isn’t about a topic I’m interested in learning more about, I have no qualms with putting it aside for another. Reading is my chill-out activity and if it feels like work, I’m just as inclined to stop as a disinterested middle schooler. There’s too much out there that I want to read to wallow in something that I’m struggling to get into. I can find the will and endure to read anything, even if it’s dry, but I need adequate motivation.

My November reading list began with A People’s History of the United States of America by Howard Zinn. It’s more of a textbook than a historical narrative. What is interesting about the book is its organizational structure. It’s divided not so much by chronology as by perspective. For instance, the early days of the United States were written from the perspective of Native Americans. The series of treaties that were agreed upon and then voided, again and again, every couple of decades between Native Americans and the early American government woefully reminded me of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, again and again. Other sections included the perspective of African slaves, women of various classes, immigrants from an assortment of European and Asian countries, and so forth. Perhaps my biggest takeaway thus far was the mirroring of language towards the immigrant group of the day. Whether it was Irish, Chinese, Italian, Greek, and now today, Central Americans, the same language of rejection and bigotry permeates the political immigration conversation, then and now. Regardless of where they came from, the major immigrant groups of the day were always considered an unwanted other and it’s until a few generations of cultural integration that their descendent were considered (by a greater majority) American. At least that’s what I’ve got so far. It’s a massively long text and I’ve read about 40% of it so far. It’s a lot to take in, so I’ll put continuing this one on the back burner with a month or two break.

For sheer entertainment, I read the last book of the Kevin Kwan Crazy Rich Asian trilogy: Rich People Problems. In it, the matriarch of the Young family passes away, leading to a rousing dramatic family reunion and crazy antics of several side characters. It’s a silly funny series that I enjoyed. I also continued with the second and third books of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I may be in my late 30’s and no longer teach middle school, but some young adult series like the Percy Jackson books, Hunger Games, Divergent, Harry Potter, and so on have engaging storylines and complex characters. You don’t have to be 12 to enjoy them.

Finally, I’m halfway through Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. A year or two ago, HBO released a miniseries about the Chernobyl accident. It’s a five-episode miniseries that goes into great detail about what happened during the nuclear accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Station in the USSR on April 26th, 1984, including the people involved in both the accident, the cleanup, and the aftermath. I watched it compulsively, beginning to end. Then I watched it again. I watched it over and over trying to understand why I was so fascinated by the story. I think what I found most interesting was how the screenwriters told the story. The creators took artistic license in a few areas in the interest of moving the story forward. For example, the character of Ulana Khomyuk is not a real person; she is a composite character based on the many actual scientists. To include the number of real-life scientists involved in the recovery effort of the accident would be too many to develop on the small screen. Numerous books were used as research for the story. Midnight in Chernobyl was one of them and it is a page-turner.

I believe in reading and I share my reading habits on my blog because I can. I want to encourage others to pick up books and read them. Learn about new topics. Read something because it’s fun and entertaining. Read to learn something. I will always advocate reading and I think that it doesn’t matter what you read, just that you make it a habit.

Happy Reading!


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