Time Travel Thursday is hosted by Budget Tales Book Blog. This is where I take a look back at what I was reading this time last year (or the year before or the year before that…) and compare it to what I am reading now.
Books I was Reading on This Day in 2022:
Title: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Audiobook Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology, Self-Help, Sociology, Science, Business, Language, Communication
Read Start Date: February 9, 2022
Read Finish Date: February 11, 2022
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?
While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you’ll hear the voices of people he interviewed–scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There’s even a theme song – Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.”
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.
My Review: I listened to the audiobook version of this book and I have to say it was awesome. The audiobook is read by the author and also includes some bonus material e.g. recordings of the statements / incidents quoted in the book.
The book opens with the tragic story of Sandra Bland, a black woman, who commits suicide in jail after being arrested by an over zealous cop. She was originally pulled over for “failure to signal” after she changed lanes for the said cop without signaling, as he came up behind her. When the officer asks how she is, Bland responds that she is upset. The officer then asks her if she “is done”. Although the officer says that it was not meant in a sarcastic way, Bland takes it as such, escalating the traffic stop. When Bland lights a cigarette to calm her nerves, the officer asks her to put it out. She refuses. Escalating the traffic stop further, the officer tells her to get out of the car, because she had failed to follow his direction. Bland initially refuses. The incident was caught on the officer’s vest cam, and with the audiobook you can hear the actual tape.
The book dives into the potential reasons why this tragedy occurred. The author posits, for example, that when talking with strangers, people “default to truth”, in other words that we initially believe what a stranger is telling us, even if it is a lie. For most of us, the instinct is to believe, not distrust. Another example is “transparency”. Sometimes people are transparent and strangers can infer state of mind by actions, other times, people do not act as we think they should and so we misunderstand them. This is what happened in the case of Sandra Bland.
I really liked listening to the different stories that that author gave as support for his theory. Even if you don’t like, or agree with, the author’s theory, the stories were really interesting e.g. a cuban spy who no one suspected, the interrogation of KSM after 9/11, and the Amanda Knox story. What made it more interesting was the format. I can’t imagine reading this book in paper format. The quotes would have less impact when only read and not listened to.
I definitely recommend this book, but I think that it should be read as an audiobook.
What I’m Reading Now:
Your First Novel by Anne Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb
Your Expert Guide to Writing and Publishing a Novel
In this revised and expanded edition of Your First Novel, novelist Laura Whitcomb, seasoned literary agent Ann Rittenberg, and her knowledgeable assistant, Camille Goldin, team up to provide you with the essential skills needed to craft the best novel you can–and the savvy business know-how to get it published. Complete with updated references, analysis of new best-selling novels, and the same detailed instruction, Whitcomb will show you how to:
– Practice the craft of writing, using both your right- and left-brain
– Develop a flexible card system for organizing and outlining plot
– Create dynamic characters that readers love–and love to hate
– Study classic novels and story structure to adapt with your ideas
Featuring two new chapters on choosing your path as an author and understanding the world of self-publishing, Rittenberg and Goldin dive into the business side of publishing, including:
– What agents can–and should–do for your future
– Who you should target as an agent for your burgeoning career
– How the mysterious auction for novels actually goes down
– Why you should learn to work with your agent through thick and thin
Guiding your first novel from early words to a spot on the bookshelf can be an exciting and terrifying journey, but you’re not alone. Alongside the advice of industry veterans, Your First Novel Revised and Expanded also includes plenty of firsthand accounts from published authors on their journeys, including Dennis Lehane, C.J. Box, Kathleen McCleary, David Kazzie, and more.
Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell
From New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell comes Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert, a comprehensive and intriguing exposé of one of the world’s most chilling cases of serial murder—and the police force that failed to solve it.
Vain and charismatic Walter Sickert made a name for himself as a painter in Victorian London. But the ghoulish nature of his art—as well as extensive evidence—points to another name, one that’s left its bloody mark on the pages of history: Jack the Ripper. Cornwell has collected never-before-seen archival material—including a rare mortuary photo, personal correspondence and a will with a mysterious autopsy clause—and applied cutting-edge forensic science to open an old crime to new scrutiny.
Incorporating material from Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed, this new edition has been revised and expanded to include eight new chapters, detailed maps and hundreds of images that bring the sinister case to life.
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes deep into the well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for their world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets Howard Bowditch, a recluse with a big dog in a big house at the top of a big hill. In the backyard is a locked shed from which strange sounds emerge, as if some creature is trying to escape. When Mr. Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie the house, a massive amount of gold, a cassette tape telling a story that is impossible to believe, and a responsibility far too massive for a boy to shoulder.
Because within the shed is a portal to another world—one whose denizens are in peril and whose monstrous leaders may destroy their own world, and ours. In this parallel universe, where two moons race across the sky, and the grand towers of a sprawling palace pierce the clouds, there are exiled princesses and princes who suffer horrific punishments; there are dungeons; there are games in which men and women must fight each other to the death for the amusement of the “Fair One.” And there is a magic sundial that can turn back time.
A story as old as myth, and as startling and iconic as the rest of King’s work, Fairy Tale is about an ordinary guy forced into the hero’s role by circumstance, and it is both spectacularly suspenseful and satisfying.
Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen
In 1911 two wealthy British heiresses, Claire and Dora Williamson, came to a sanitorium in the forests of the Pacific Northwest to undergo the revolutionary “fasting treatment” of Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard. It was supposed to be a holiday for the two sisters. But within a month of arriving at what the locals called Starvation Heights, the women were emaciated shadows of their former selves, waiting for death. They were not the first victims of Linda Hazzard, a quack doctor of extraordinary evil and greed who would stop at nothing short of murder to achieve her ambitions. As their jewelry disappeared and forged bank drafts began transferring their wealth to Hazzard’s accounts, Dora Williamson sent a last desperate plea to a friend in Australia, begging her to save them from the brutal treatments and lonely isolation of Starvation Heights.
In this true story—a haunting saga of medical murder set in an era of steamships and gaslights—Gregg Olsen reveals one of the most unusual and disturbing criminal cases in American history.
It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover
Before It Ends with Us, it started with Atlas. Colleen Hoover tells fan favorite Atlas’s side of the story and shares what comes next in this long-anticipated sequel to the “glorious and touching” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestseller It Ends with Us.
Lily and her ex-husband, Ryle, have just settled into a civil coparenting rhythm when she suddenly bumps into her first love, Atlas, again. After nearly two years separated, she is elated that for once, time is on their side, and she immediately says yes when Atlas asks her on a date.
But her excitement is quickly hampered by the knowledge that, though they are no longer married, Ryle is still very much a part of her life—and Atlas Corrigan is the one man he will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter’s life.
Switching between the perspectives of Lily and Atlas, It Starts with Us picks up right where the epilogue for the “gripping, pulse-pounding” (Sarah Pekkanen, author of Perfect Neighbors) bestselling phenomenon It Ends with Us left off. Revealing more about Atlas’s past and following Lily as she embraces a second chance at true love while navigating a jealous ex-husband, it proves that “no one delivers an emotional read like Colleen Hoover” (Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author).
Then vs. Now