Friday, November 20, 2015

November Minis: Lisbeth Salander & Nonfiction!

Hi, friends!  I know that November is not over, but I don't really want to include more than 3 mini-reviews in one post, so here's a little recap of what I've read so far this month.

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
Knopf, 2015
borrowed from the library

You've heard of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson, yes?  One of my FAVORITE series in the history of all series.  When I got to the end of the 3rd book and realized that Larsson had died before he could continue Salander and Blomkvists's stories, I was devastated.  However, David Lagercrantz got permission from Larsson's family to continue the series on his own, and now we have this 4th installment of Larsson's brainchild.

Here's the deal: if you're a devout Salander/Blomkvist fan, you have to go into this book knowing that Lagercrantz can't resurrect the dead.  He can't write in EXACTLY the same tone and style that Larsson did.  But you know what?  He does a damn good job trying.  I found myself being very critical and picky at the beginning (how could I not?).  Some of the new characters introduced were basically walking stereotypes, the overall tone didn't feel dark enough, etc.  But suddenly I was 300 pages in and realized I was completely sucked into the story, differences be damned.  Lagercrantz has still managed to create an excellent mystery full of espionage and seedy doings, and the spirit of the originals is certainly there.  I will say that the ending was a bit kitschy (full of too many sudden romantic successes, presumably for a "happy" ending?).  But otherwise, I was happy to have Lisbeth Salander back in my life, and would welcome more of her besides.

Run Like A Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2010
borrowed from the library

I run!  And I'm a mother!  So I felt like I definitely had to check this book out.  This is a nonfiction guide to running specifically for busy moms who are juggling husbands, kids, jobs, etc. with their love of getting on the road (or the trail).  The introduction and first chapter had me completely HOOKED.  I felt like McDowell and Shea were totally speaking my mother-runner language.  It was great to read stories about how other moms manage to balance running with all of the other priorities in their lives.  However, after that first chapter, I did realize that this book is primarily geared towards beginner runners--a lot of the next sections covered things like choosing the proper running attire, how to do speed/track workouts, etc...things that more seasoned runners are already quite familiar with, though I did appreciate the reminders here and there.  Towards the end, they get more into the balance of family and running life, which was more of what I was looking for.

I didn't love the repetitively cheesy humor used by the authors, but it was manageable.  I DO like that Shea and McDowell are two very different runners, and as such, provided two very different perspectives on the sport.  McDowell, like me, is more of a laid-back runner who does not always push herself to the max, whereas Shea is more driven, always going for the PR and leaving everything out on the road.  So there's something for every momma here.  Overall, this was a fun read with a great angle, but may be better for beginning mother runners, rather than veterans of the road.

On Immunity by Eula Biss
Graywolf Press, 2014
borrowed from the library

Yes, I managed to read 2 nonfictions for Nonfiction November!  Amazing!  On Immunity has been on my radar since it first came out, because if you know me, you know that I don't stand on many soapboxes, but VACCINATING YOUR DAMN KIDS is one of them.  I was mighty interested in what Biss had to say here, and I am 100% open about the fact that I went into this with a biased POV--so you've been warned.  :)

This book was actually quite a bit different than what I anticipated.  I think I was expecting a straightforward, research-driven discussion of the immunization debate.  That is certainly the basis of her essays--Biss has done her research, and (unsurprisingly!) it throws in favor of vaccinations--but as the tone of the title suggests, this book is also a good bit of musing on her part, regarding the fears she faced as a parent when her son was born, and how that translated into the immunization issue as a whole.  I'm torn on how I feel about this approach.  I am partially thankful for the humanizing touch that this gave the topic, but at the same time, I was kind of hoping for a stronger, more hard-hitting book that could really be used to shut down the anti-vaccine stance.  This book wanders too much down the road of an academic waxing philosophical for it to be seen as that.

Overall, this one will certainly get the immunization discussion going, and it is a unique angle in the debate.  And while she never comes out and definitively says it, all of Biss's research points towards the need to vaccinate, which I appreciate.  However, this is not a focused discussion of the issues, so if you're looking for that, go elsewhere.

What did you read so far this month?


  1. I felt the same way about The Girl in the Spider's Web. Lagercrantz did a darn good job and by the end, I wanted more books in the series. And for running (or working out) and being a parent - albeit of a teen and pre-teen - I had to learn to let go of some things that I did at the house and prioritize myself. So yeah - the house is MESSY!!!

    Tanya Patrice

    1. I want more of them too! I know it feels slightly ingenuine, but I am totally okay with how he is continuing their storylines.
      And yes about reworking the priorities. You can always tell when I have a big race coming up around here. (Hint, please no unannounced visits. Haha)

  2. I've been fearful about the new Salander too, but I keep hearing that it's a pleasant surprise despite the different author! I honestly don't feel like I'd be super nitpicky about it having the same tone that the other books had, but that's only b/c I read them so long ago and my book memory is horrible. As long as it's just as good!
    And - I'm a mommy runner too. And - I'm with Tanya about house would probably be considered messy and I never clean out the kids toys for donating like I should, but I always get my workout in!

    1. Yes, I finished the third book in 2010, so part of me wonders how I may have compared them if I had read this one closer to the other three!

  3. I just can't do it. I know it wasn't what he intended, but I just want the Millennium trilogy to stay as-is in my mind.

    (Though, that might just be me rationalizing not adding another book to my TBR, now that my reading time is so limited. I'm still working on my FIRST book of the month! Ugh...)

    1. Oh goodness, I feel your pain. I remember way back when you first announced you were pregnant, and writing about your future plans for the blog, and I was thinking "Oh girrrrrrrl, you gotta have that baby first, and then that baby will tell you how much reading time you get!!" haha! It does return, albeit slowly! :)

  4. I'm excited you did some fun nonfiction reading this month! I'm excited to pick up On Immunity so I can get an idea of where anti-vaccers are coming from, largely in hopes of having a better chance of bringing them around to the side of sanity, so I think this book might be what I'm looking for. I would really like to see a more science-focused book on this topic too though!

    1. After having many heated debates with people on this issue, I will tell you that the chances of bringing an anti-vaxxer around are very low. Sad but true. And the misinformation that informs the movement is maddening. More research-focused books on the topic could certainly help.

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