MAYFLOWER HILL: A HISTORY OF COLBY COLLEGE by EARL SMITH
4/5 stars. Kind of bland at times, but interesting nonetheless and a good way to learn the basic history of Colby College if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
THROUGH THE DARKNESS: GLIMPSES INTO THE HISTORY OF WESTERN MEDICINE by MONICA-MARIA STAPELBERG
4/5 stars. I LOVED learning about the gruesome history of Western medicine! The editing job for this book wasn’t great, so there were typos and sometimes repeats of complete sentences, but otherwise I really enjoyed it. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in medicine, biology, or history…or anyone with a sense of morbid curiosity.
THE SKEPTIC’S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE: HOW TO KNOW WHAT’S REALLY REAL IN A WORLD INCREASINGLY FULL OF FAKE by STEVEN NOVELLA
3.5/5 stars. I thought this book was a valuable read because it teaches readers about different logical fallacies and gives examples of common ones, but sometimes I think the author needs to take his own advice about not blindly following certain ideas. It was boring near the end, but most of the book was entertaining.
THE PLAGUE by ALBERT CAMUS
4/5 stars. An emotional tale of a pandemic wrecking a small town. It’s a classic, and at times may feel a bit philosophical (after all, Camus was a philosopher), but I think the book hits especially hard in our post-pandemic world. There’s some great examples of emotional bonding between men. I think I even teared up at one point.
THE STRANGER by ALBERT CAMUS
3.5/5 stars. A very quick read, but a very strange one. Definitely meant for the philosophical readers out there. I actually enjoyed it and was entertained, but I was kind of confused at times. Overall, kind of weird, but I would recommend it.
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING by MILAN KUNDERA
3/5 stars. I really enjoyed parts of this novel, but was bored out of my skull for other parts. Sometimes, it just felt kind of pseudo-intellectual. Maybe I’m not old enough to understand why this novel is considered a masterpiece and modern classic, but I thought it was just okay.
I HOPE THIS FINDS YOU WELL by KATE BAER
3/5 stars. Short poems about emails Kate Baer received about her feminist blog. It was fine, not super riveting, but kept me entertained for the short time it took me to read it.
AMERICAN MELANCHOLY: POEMS by JOYCE CAROL OATES
2/5 stars. I read a short story by Oates in my junior year of high school, and barely remember it, but I can say for sure that her poems were worse. Her poetry felt clunky, and at times, just plain awful. One poem about a car falling through the ice on a lake was particularly interesting, but not interesting enough for me to recommend this collection to anyone.
HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME: MUSINGS ON BEAUTY AND COURAGE by MORGAN HARPER NICHOLS
4/5 stars. I actually, sincerely, barely remember anything about this poetry collection, but I do remember enjoying it. To be fair, I listened to the audiobook before bedtime, so I did fall asleep while listening to it a lot. It was a very calming and positive collection that I would recommend.
CLARITY AND CONNECTION by YUNG PUEBLO
1/5 stars. AWFUL. This was supposed to be a poetry collection, but I would not call it that if someone held a knife to my heart and told me to call it a poetry collection. It felt like a self-help book with terrible writing. Do not read.
CALL ME ATHENA: GIRL FROM DETROIT by COLBY CEDAR SMITH
5/5 stars. More poems, but this time they were put together to convey a narrative. I really enjoyed this one – I even fully cried at one point. A beautiful and tragic story about a girl and her immigrant family’s life in Detroit in the 1930s and the difficulties they faced.
IF I TELL YOU THE TRUTH by JASMIN KAUR
4/5 stars. Another poem collection about an immigration story and sexual assault. I enjoyed this one a lot, but it did feel like it dragged a bit near the end. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it.
THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET by BECKY CHAMBERS
4/5 stars. Maybe this is a hot take. We were required to read this before coming to Colby, and a lot of people felt that there was no plot. The plot was vague, yes, but I actually enjoyed this novel a lot. It was wacky, fun, and heartwarming. Good for sci-fi fans that want something more casual and slice-of-life-ish.
SHE GETS THE GIRL by RACHAEL LIPPINCOTT and ALYSON DERRICK
4/5 stars. I really enjoyed it! This novel was a gift from a friend, and they marked up most of the book so I could read their thoughts as I read. It was really fun. The writing felt kind of juvenile at times, but hey, it’s a YA romance, what else can you expect? Great for people looking for an enemies-to-lovers college romance!
THE NOBLEMAN’S GUIDE TO SCANDAL AND SHIPWRECKS by MACKENZI LEE
4/5 stars. The novel is the third and final book in a series, the Montague Siblings Series, about three siblings that live in London in the olden days (think regency-type vibes. I’m not very well versed in British history, so that’s my best guess for the era). There’s some magic involved, but not so much that I’d really call this a fantasy novel. This final addition to the series stood out to me in particular because of its terrifyingly realistic depiction of Generalized Anxiety Disorder – it hit way too close to home sometimes. The plot was kind of slow at points, but otherwise it was a great read for fans of the series.
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE by JOSEPH FINK and JEFFREY CRANOR
2/5 stars. This novel is based off of the podcast of the same name, but I’ve never listened to the podcast. Most of this book felt pointlessly weird and as if it were trying to be funny. The ending was actually interesting, and there’s some fun wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff. I think there were a lot of great ideas for a cosmic horror novel in here, but they were all executed badly until the last 75 pages or so. Maybe if I was a fan of the podcast I would have enjoyed this one more.
THE HOBBIT by J. R. R. TOLKIEN
4/5 stars. Tolkien is always a winner in my opinion. The Hobbit is a very fun, simple fantasy novel with a lot of childish creativity to it. I’d recommend anyone who enjoys fantasy read this one. Much better than The Hobbit movie trilogy!
THE SILMARILLION by J. R. R. TOLKIEN
3/5 stars. Incredibly confusing and dense, and took me forever to read. Once I got the hang of it, though, I really started to enjoy it! This book–I hesitate to call it that, it might be better described as a mythology collection–is great for fans of Tolkien and his lore. I wouldn’t recommend this to the average person, but anyone looking for a literary challenge (or adventure) might want to pick this one up and give it a try.