4: What I read in September + October

I am doing NaBloPoMo this month. 30 blog posts in 30 days. Come join me. #nablopomo2021

I am not sure if anyone noticed that I skipped an update about my reading progress at the beginning of October. Truth is, my reading was all over the place. I only read one book in September, hadn’t finished the second book that I had started, and then basically decided to just wait until I had more reviews to offer. Now I have one leftover book from September (because my library loan ended and I am back on the waiting list) and one that I haven’t finished in October to catch up on. But hey, here are two books that I did finish in the last 8 weeks.

The Rosie Project (Don Tillmann #1) by Graeme Simsion (★★★☆☆)

This book was a quirky, fun read, although I am always a little wary of books that use mental illness – here, Don’s Asperger syndrome, which he doesn’t realize he has – as the central point for a story, missing the opportunity to do a little bit of advocate work in the process. Yes, while people on the Asperger spectrum do exhibit some of the same behaviors and character traits that are outside of what people consider ‘normal’ (define normal!), this only perpetuates stigma and stereotypical thinking.

Don’s character – endearing and likeable as he is – is painted with a very stereotypical brush. He is socially awkward, doesn’t understand sarcarsm, lives by a strict schedule, and has very high expectations of a potential partner. He embarks on The Wife Project, trying to find a life partner by passing out a questionaire to potential dates, as to not waste time with someone who isn’t a “perfect” match. But love does not adhere to science like that.

You can see where this is going. Despite my reservations, I found the book entertaining and heart-warming, and I did appreciate that the author showed that the Don’s of the world, despite their short-comings, have value and worth and a lot to offer. Also, the insights on what society accepts of human behavior depending on who you are, where you are, and what situation you find yourself in, were astounding and, come to think of it, after all, relatable. Maybe we just have to accept that there is no “normal” and we all fall somewhere on that large spectrum of humanity.

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (★★★★★)

This is a MUST-READ. It’s not an easy read, but absolutely eye-opening (and shocking) at the same time. And sadly, it all makes so much sense. If you haven’t thought about slavery and racism in the sense of a perpetuated caste system, think again!

Wilkerson draws comparisons to the old caste system of India and the caste system established during WWII in Nazi Germany. This book is very well-written, well-argued, and compellingly provocative in its presentation. If it doesn’t make you feel embarrassed to be a white person, I don’t know what will. It also clearly communicates a sad truth: that despite all the blunt facts, change is really slow and hard to come by.

While India’s caste system exists to this day, as a German, I was particularly intrigued by the comparison to Nazi Germany and the very different way in which Germany has dealt with its gruesome past. It only confirms: humans, especially in this country, have so much work to do. Read this and recommend this to your friends.

What did you read lately? Anything you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment, and then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.

  1. I haven’t even heart of Caste! I’ve been off my reading game lately (ramping up with some career things and just not enough time to do everything), but this is great to add to my “Want/Need to read list” for once I get my life back together and start prioritizing reading again. Sounds like a hard read, but very worthwhile – those are the ones I find the most satisfying!

    1. Oh, tell me about it… not enough time to do everything. I can relate (and I don’t even have kids! LOL) But definitely put Caste on your to read list! It’s worthwhile!

  2. Well, I’m having an existential reading crisis right now (which coincidentally I’m talking about in tomorrow’s blog post.). Both these books sound great- i have a couple family members with Aspergers, and I’ve heard of The Rosie project and have wanted to read it. Caste sounds… eye opening. I’m sure it would be a good read, because I already feel embarrassed to be a white person and don’t know what to do about it. I’ll add these both to my (ever expanding) TBR list.

    1. I’d be curious to know what you think of the Rosie Project, if you get around to reading it. And Caste is definitely worth everyone’s time. I also just wish things were easier to fix.

  3. Two books I haven’t read. But I might have come across the Rosie project it rings a bell. I do like to get into heavier stuff – and Caste sure does sound like it – but I really need to be in the right mood. I remember in my youth I read a couple books based in India and learning about the caste system there. It made a deep imprint. But I have never read anything scientific about it. Thanks for the recommendations.

    1. Yeah, I do like heavier stuff, too, but I need to be in the right mindset.

  4. I have read the Rosie project and the two books that came after that – I think they are the Rosie Result and Rosie Effect – and I can tell you that they get better with each book. I liked the Rosie Project just fine, but I found the subsequent books to be much better.

    Caste was one of the best, most thought-provoking, informative books I have ever read. In Canada, we have a very bad history with our treatment of Indigenous people, and I found that this book showed parallel experiences with trauma and supremacy. It’s hard to believe that people can treat other people as sub-human, but it’s so important for me as a white woman to learn about this and discover my own society-ingrained feelings. We know better, we do better.

    1. Oh, right, there are sequels to the Rosie Project. I might have to check them out. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Caste was so very good! Such an eye-opening book and I am astounded by the amount of research that went into this book. It will definitely be one of my best reads of the year.

    1. Yes, I feel the same way.

  6. I am reading Caste right now! It’s my book club’s December pick. I’m slowly reading it – just 2 chapters/day to give myself time to digest the material. I also attended an author talk via zoom that was put on by my city’s public radio station. She’s an excellent speaker! I have her first book, too (The Warmth of Other Suns) and plan to read that, maybe in 2022.

    1. I am super-curious to hear what you think of Caste. I also want to read her first book sometime (probably in 2022).

  7. Caste should absolutely be required reading!

  8. Caste is going on my list, thanks! Your recommendations are always spot-on for me. I zipped through “Love Lives Here” based on your recommendation of it, and loved it more than I can say. So thanks! :)

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