Summer Books

A round-up of July and August Reads

Sing, Unburied, Sing — I didn’t enjoy this one so much. The combination of shifting narrators, the supernatural, and neglected children was not for me.

Bulletproof Problem Solving — This is a handbook from some former McKinsey consultants on the firm’s general approach to problem solving. It is very practical and has lots of helpful frameworks. I recommend as a reference for anyone who wants to bring some discipline to their problem-solving.

A Stranger in the House — I had picked this as a summer cottage read because I had enjoyed Shari Lapena’s earlier book The Couple Next Door, but it felt like a slog rather than an easy-reading thriller. Not recommended!

Foe — This book is hard to describe, but I found it really riveting. Four stars.

The Fifth Risk — They say that amateurs talk strategy and professionals talk logistics. This book is an examination of the Trump administration through that lens. Setting aside the buffoonery on public display, Michael Lewis explores how Trumpism shaped how the work of government got done (or not done, more accurately.) Lewis’s brand of inside baseball non-fiction is very much up my alley, and this was no exception.

How to Be a Family — Dan Kois writes about his families year of living abroad — three months in each of four different locations (New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and rural Kansas). I’ve listened to Kois on a parenting podcast for years, so I came to the book quite familiar with him and even his family. I found that the book reflected less on what it means to be a family, as what it means as an adult to navigate the trade-offs between personal, professional, and parental responsibilities when you both have demanding jobs in an expensive place, and the pace of life is just relentless. It’s a funny book, and I enjoyed getting to spend the year vicariously with the Kois-Smith family.

The Splendid and the Vile — Erik Larson goes deep on Churchill’s first year as prime minister during World War II. I confess I had trouble keep track of some of the antics of the supporting cast, but it was fascinating to be able to go into the details of an especially critical person in an especially critical year of world history.

Such a Fun Age — Ugh, I really didn’t like this book. I think the book is meant to be about Alix being a complicated person with layers, but I just found the character morally vacant, and I resented spending time reading a book about someone with no redeeming qualities.

The Man Who Saw Everything — Oh, this was good. I was a bit flummoxed in Part 1, but it’s so worth pushing through to Part 2, when the whole book comes into focus.

Little Fires Everywhere — This was a nice, light read. I saw someone say it reads a lot like a YA novel, and I think that’s true — it focuses a lot on the high school characters.

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