My Year of Reading Dangerously – April

The books in this month’s list include a couple I’ve been waiting on for a while. As I mentioned last month, my MBA studies put the kibosh on my free reading, but I’m trying to make up for it now!

Booked – Josh Turner: This book…I wanted to like it. The focus was on building the digital funnel utilizing social media tools. But it was poorly written and came off as a huge sales spiel for the author’s marketing business. There were nuggets of interest and importance buried in it, but overall it was a train wreck. A pretty inauspicious start to the month.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – Travis Bradbury and Jean Greaves: I had heard about this book in an MBA class and had put it on the “things-I’ll-get-to-read-once-this-is-over” list for post-MBA life. One review I read probably puts it best: “we should have more books like this as required high school reading.” And it’s true. The lessons this book teaches about relating to and interacting with others are timeless, but seem especially relevant in an increasingly disconnected world. As kids (and adults!) interact more with their screens, they lose their ability to interaction with actual people. And that makes things more difficult for us all.

Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance: If you want to understand the divide between the rich and the poor, read this book. If you want to understand the divide between the educated and the uneducated, read this book. If you want to understand the divide between the rural and the urban, read this book. If you wanted to understand the current state of our union, read this book. Even if you think you have a good handle on those things, you should still READ.THIS.BOOK.

Lily and the Octopus – Steven Rowley: This was a complete whim – a featured book set apart in a display at the library that I thought looked interesting. I enjoy a good dog book, and this one WRECKED me. Rowley uses magical realism (which gets a little crazy in the middle of the book – hang with it!!) to explore the semi-autobiographical battle his beloved dog had with cancer, and in doing so, laid bare the devastating effect the death of a pet can have on its human companion. I’ll admit it – I was teary-eyed at the end.

Too Much Happiness – Alice Munro: Munro won the Nobel Prize during my MBA studies, and I remembered thinking I needed to pick up a volume of her renowned short stories. Now’s the time, and I’m so happy I did. This volume was published in 2009, the year she won the Man Booker prize for her collected body of works. Munro’s known for putting a depth of detail into her short stories, and crafting characters that are incredibly well-drawn despite the brevity of the medium. I loved nearly all of the stories in this volume, and will be grabbing more Munro in the future. Plus, need to try writing a few short stories – what a craft!

The Buried Book – D.M. Pulley: There are times when an author paints a time or a place or a region so perfectly that it becomes another character in the story. Rural Michigan becomes this shadowy character in this sophomore novel by Pulley. The protagonist, Jasper, faces trauma and tumult in 1950s rural Michigan, and reminds you of how big the world seems when you’re small. But the story of drugs and junkies, Indians and gangsters, all flooding into a rural farming community is particularly relevant in today’s world of heroin overdoses and Narcan stocking.

Salt: A World History – Mark Kurlansky: If you liked “How the Irish Saved Civilization” or any other finely focused history books, this is definitely one to explore. I can’t event remember why or when this one came on my radar, but I’m happy it did. Kurlansky’s a James Beard Award-winning food writer, and it shows in the nuances of this book. The excerpts from centuries-old cookbooks are a highlight of this book, but any business major should be able to appreciate the macroeconomic and globalizing impacts of salt throughout the millennia.

Seven books this month puts me at 38 for the year, well ahead of the pace and on my way to the goal! Check out previous installments for January, February, and March, and find out how I got started on this crazy trip!