The Finished Stack Mocks Me

When I finish a book that I think I want to write about on my blog, I put it on top of my desktop computer tower (yes, Fogey McOldster has a desktop computer and it works fine, thank you very much!) I don’t write my posts at the computer anymore, I write them on my iPad, but I’ll finish them up on the desktop which is easier than the iPad (putting in the pictures, setting up links, things like that.) Anyway, when the finished stack gets to be four books tall it starts to make me anxious. At that point, I either say, FORGET IT I DON’T WANT TO WRITE ABOUT THESE DUMB BOOKS ANYWAY or I say, okay, it’s time for some mini-reviews.

It’s time for some mini-reviews!

img_5291Anti-Diet:Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison

I have avoided writing about this book for weeks now because I don’t feel like I’ll do it justice. Christy Harrison is an Anti-Diet registered dietitian nutritionist and certified intuitive eating counselor with a background in food and nutrition journalism. She knows her stuff, and she has done her research. She shreds Diet Culture here, showing how its roots lie in historical ideas steeped in sexism, racism, and classism. She details how Diet Culture (which she calls The Life Thief) steals our time, money, well-being, and happiness, and ultimately it doesn’t even give us the lasting weight loss we so desperately crave. She then gives us strategies to resist diet culture and deprogram ourselves from years of steeping in its toxic messages. This is an excellent book if you aren’t familiar with the Anti-Diet movement or the concept of Health At Every Size. If you are familiar and just want more information, it’s still an excellent book! It’s well-researched and a fast- paced read. I loved it and highly recommend it if you’re someone who has let the Life Thief steal your joy over the years, or if you’re interested in social justice. Make no mistake, how we treat people in larger bodies IS a social justice issue.            ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (Another good book to check out, more of a memoir on the topic, is Caroline Dooner’s The F*ck It Diet: Eating Should Be Easy.)

Piecing Me Together by a Renée Watson

This contemporary YA novel took me by surprise. It drew me in from the start and kept me engaged with its fully-realized and heartfelt portrayal of an African American high school junior in Portland, Oregon. Jade is a talented artist and uses the medium of collage to express her feelings and process things. She is also looking forward to hopefully getting nominated to go on a spring break service learning trip that deserving juniors get to participate in. Instead, her Principal gives her an “opportunity” for African American students, to participate in a Mentor program for the year. Jade is angry and disappointed because she wants to be the one who gives for a change, instead of being the poor girl at the private school who receives all the time. Plus, her mentor isn’t doing that great a job, flaking out on her from the get-go. I loved how Watson explores class and race but also gives us a set of wonderful characters in Jade, her mother, cousin, and her two best friends. If you’re the kind of reader who has had bad luck with YA novels in the past, I highly recommend this one. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

I loved this novel set in Los Angeles, which references the racial tensions and violence of the Rodney King era but mostly takes place today. Two families, one Korean and one African American, are brought together by an act of violence that seemingly comes out of nowhere but has roots in L.A.’s explosive recent past. I thought the characters grappled with some very complex contradictions and questions, and there were no easy answers anywhere. It’s a fast-paced novel of forgiveness, justice, secrets, and family bonds. The characters felt real to me and I appreciated the care with which they were written. Apparently Cha has written a crime trilogy and I think I’ll have to check it out. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Atmosphere for days! Brooding, gothic, intense, psychological. I love it when a novel feels as immersive as this one did. Frances has recently buried her mother, a rather mean woman whom Frances had to nurse for years. She has gotten a summer position at Lynton’s, an abandoned English estate recently purchased by an American (who hired her to report on the condition of the grounds and gardens.) She is joined by a couple who is also working for the American, cataloguing the rooms of the house, Peter and Cara. Cara is volatile and moody, Peter handsome and flirtatious. Frances is dazzled by the couple, and they draw her into their web with warmth and a freedom that she has never before experienced. She is very socially awkward, and as the book progresses we come to realize that she is not as trustworthy a narrator as we might initially think. There are spooky touches in the abandoned house, strange noises, unexplained faces in windows, wild animals turning up unexpectedly, adding to the tension. This captivated me and I will have to read another book by Fuller – perhaps Swimming Lessons next. Thanks to Anne of I’ve Read This and Rebecca of Bookish Beck for putting this on my radar.    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Have you read any of these? Anything appeal to you?

25 thoughts on “The Finished Stack Mocks Me

  1. Glad to see Your House Will Pay got 5 stars since I’ll be reading it very soon! I wasn’t a fan of Bitter Orange – I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really love it either. You do know I’m always going to think of you as Fogey McOldster from now on, don’t you? 😉 😂

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  2. I also keep my finished but not written about books in a stack next to our old desktop computer! It’s not connected to the Internet, so that’s where I do most of my composing, and then when I get up to my office computer I check any facts I highlighted and add the links and images before posting. There have been times when I’ve told myself “I can’t write” and have let that pile get 10-15 books high. But usually I try to write up 2-3 books at a time so the stack stays manageable.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Claire Fuller novel. I think Swimming Lessons is her best, but I’ve enjoyed all three, and she has a new one coming out in 2021. I’m very interested in reading the Steph Cha book.

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    1. Desktop stack buddies! If mine gets higher than 4 books it usually means I just want to move on or write 5-sentence “reviews.”

      So glad to hear that Swimming Lessons is your favorite. I’m going to try and read that in the next couple of months.


  3. I can completely relate to the stack of To Be Reviewed books intimidating me. I love that you dove straight in with mini-reviews! This is a practical way to check something off the list. Personally, I find writing reviews for books I loved SO HARD. You have two 5-star ratings in here; I wonder if that also made it difficult to start writing?

    After reading both your review and Melanie’s about Anti-Diet, I might need to check it out. Diet culture is so weird. I haven’t heard of Piecing Me Together, but color me intrigued. I’m always looking for more/better YA books for my Kids Lit Book Club.

    You did a great job with these mini-reviews. Just enough information to get me interested and want to look into these more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jackie, I think you would really like Piecing Me Together. And thank you! I write the mini-reviews when I want to clear the decks and start fresh. And yes, five-star books sometimes do really intimidate me when it comes time to write about them.

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  4. Your intro paragraph was so funny, Laila. You made me smile at work (and it’s been a weird day, so thank you for that). I also have Piecing Me Together on my list to read, but I had a string of really crappy, petty YA novels and took it off the list. I’m glad you noted that this is a good YA book for those who have been struggling with the genre.

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    1. You’re welcome! I struggle with YA too, Melanie, and this was one I really enjoyed. Sometime the “drama” of YA books is just not interesting to me, which is fine – I’m not a teenager! I tend prefer YA books with a social justice angle and also realistic feeling characters.


      1. Good question. There are a few authors our male teen patrons like (James Dashner, Rick Riordan, Neil Gaiman) but I kind of assume he’ll just start reading books for adults. That’s what I did, but back then there *weren’t* really much in the way of YA books (besides Judy Blume and Paula Danziger.)


  5. Your House Will Pay is on my list!! I have it checked out from the library and am hoping to get to it soon, as I’ve heard wonderful things about it from you and others. Meanwhile I am like totally unable to remember what writing a review is even like. I read this wonderful YA novel called Butterfly Yellow this weekend, though, and I want everyone else to read it, so I am going to have to remember how to write reviews, goddammit. I must do this book justice!

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  6. I’m so glad you opted for the mini-review solution instead of the “ForgeddaboutIt” option: all four of these sound really good (and Fuller’s is actually already on my TBR list – I quite enjoyed her first book and have wanted to “catch up” ever since).

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  7. Oh boy, do I hear you on the Finished Stack! With e-books, it’s become less visible but no less annoying. At some point, I start forgetting enough to write a review because I don’t have the disciple to write immediately after finishing.

    I read Bitter Orange, but nothing Fuller has done compares to her debut, Our Endless Numbered Days. If you haven’t read that, you should.

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  8. I’m with you… I have a stack of about 8 books – all of them good. And I want to write about them! I just put up a post of 3 of them yesterday, and it felt good. One of them I read before Christmas!

    I’ve read Fuller’s first two books and really liked them. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to read this one as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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