Hannah’s Bookshelf January 2022

Here's an interesting snapshot of Hannah's head: CHAOS. What kind of books does Hannah like to read? YES. There's no particular theme going on here, just some vastly different books I've enjoyed over the past few months. See if any strike your fancy:

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

This book came to my attention in the best possible way: a recommendation from a friend—thanks, Friend!

Although the title made me think I would learn how to start conversations with people I don’t know, instead I learned all sorts of things about lying.

For example, how Cuban spies totally fooled the CIA—all due to the fact that we don’t decide someone is lying based on one tiny doubt, but only once we’re at a point of significant doubt. Same with Bernie Madoff. 

I listened to the audiobook available on Libby, which was an experience more like a well-produced podcast or radio show than an audiobook. Instead of reading the quotes he has selected, Gladwell chooses to play clips from actual interviews, a creative direction that helped connect me directly to the history under examination.

Talking to Strangers

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

People interact with this story very differently, but I personally resonated with its examination of romantic and fraternal love, struggle, class, sin, renewal, and differing experiences of faith and agnosticism. Perhaps you’re someone who will become instantly exasperated at Charles’ intertwining with the wealthy Catholic Flyte family, or maybe you’ll see yourself in one of the characters. Either way, the dialogue will make you laugh and/or cry—and the prose will make you hungry.

Brideshead Revisited

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

With Elizabeth Holmes’s criminal trial in the news, I thought I would pick up this book, leaf through it, and remind myself about Theranos’ “groundbreaking blood testing technology,” and how Holmes had hoodwinked her investors and crossed the line into full-blown healthcare fraud. 

And then, enraptured, I could hardly set the book down again. I even started listening to the audiobook in my car because the allure of the next crazy Holmes detail was too strong. I had to know it all. 

I’d highly recommend it if you like investigative journalism, true crime, or mystery/thrillers, because this book is all of them at once. It’s got crime. It’s got good intentions. It’s got villains and it’s got brave heroes standing firm in the face of immense legal pressure. And it’s all true!

Bad Blood

The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr

For those of you who have enjoyed Kristen Kobes du Mez's Jesus and John Wayne (West Michigan author, guys!), this is the perfect follow-up read. Another well-researched history of Christianity and culture (so many footnotes!), this time we get to learn about ideal masculinity/femininity as medieval Christians saw it. It's also part memoir. In between her segments about Paul's cultural surroundings and medieval Christians, Barr describes the growing tension between her professional life as a historian and what the leadership in her husband's church believed. For anyone reading about cultural American Christianity or the history of Christianity, this may be a good choice. 

The Making of Biblical Womanhood

Himawari House by Harmony Becker

If you like graphic novels, I have a great recommendation for you. I don't come across many stories that make me think, "This could only have been done in graphic novel format," but Himawari House is one of them. It follows three women living abroad in a Japanese house share, framed by the main character's gap year in Japan. 

The art manages to capture a lot of the experiences of living abroad, navigating a foreign language, and living on your own as an adult for the first time. Words and images are blurred or underdeveloped when the characters don't fully understand the world around them, and the art style changes enhance the difference in characters' personalities, which can shift depending on which language they are speaking. Becker has a true gift for conveying emotion through art, and Himawari House is an emotional book that I recommend to people who have lived/studied abroad in a country that doesn't speak their native language. 

Himawari House