Lil’ Book Reviews #4

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

I read this on Vanessa’s recommendation after she heard about it on The Daily Show. With the seal of approval from not only Jon Stewart but also Goodreads (where the book has some pretty great reviews), I knew I had to read it. Although it has now been about a week since I’ve finished reading Just Mercy, I still find myself thinking about it, in some capacity, every single day. The book follows the real-life situations, cases and encounters of its author, a lawyer who now heads the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and teaches at NYU Law. For decades now, Stevenson, along with his colleagues, have worked tirelessly to not only save the imprisoned from their unfair and unjust death sentences (often for crimes they did not even commit) but also to prove that the system we put so much faith into is more than coming up short. In the book, Stevenson closely focuses on one man’s overarching story but also dives into shorter anecdotes (like lifetime sentence mandates of minors and the imprisonment of the mentally and physically disabled). I think this book would be an especially inspiring read for anyone who is interested in learning more about current incarceration practices in America but, above all, I think this would be an important read for everyone. We all have something to learn and Just Mercy is a step in the right direction.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am someone who recently discovered that I do not really like Mystery/Thriller books, even though I’ve always thought that I really, really did. I like wondering “whodunnit?” and looking for clues sprinkled throughout the text…but, as I’ve started to realize, those clues don’t usually exist (maybe I’m reading the wrong books). I know, I know – it is just a book! And the author has full creative control! But that’s kind of my problem (and maybe why I’m starting to love True Crime even more): these books don’t usually have those clues I love looking for. It’s a mystery and it’s meant to stay a mystery until the end and, I mean, that’s cool, but not as much fun for me, problem-solving extraordinaire.

Despite all of this, I actually really did like The Girl on the Train. Yeah, yeah, it’s been compared to Gone Girl but put that all aside (especially because I personally much preferred Girl on the Train). There’s really not much to say about the plot of the book without diving into the story and then diving into each of the characters and their crazy lives. The book is incredibly popular right now and I think it does live up to its hype.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Hi, hello, are we friends? If so, you probably already know what I’m going to say about this book.

Mindy Kaling is just…everything. From The Office to The Mindy Project to this book to her taste in everything, I love the woman. Everyone has their dream celebrity BFF and mine is definitely Mindy (and Emma Watson – wouldn’t we be the best trio you’ve ever seen?). If you love Mindy already, you will surely love Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? because the book will make you love her even more. I’ve read a lot of the recent celebrity memoirs (particularly the ones from female comedians) and I think this one is my favorite of all. There’s a real humor there that comes from more than just recalling funny moments in her life. I know it is so overstated that Mindy Kaling is “real” (like “Celebrities – They’re Just Like Us!” real) but this book really seals the deal. From detailing her beautiful, personally-crafted home office space and later admitting she’s worked from it once and actually writes in bed to talking about her teenage after school hang-out-seshes at The Cheesecake Factory, I spent almost the entire book laughing out (really) loud. Even if you aren’t (yet) a fan, I’d still recommend the book. I’m sure you will thank me.

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