This post is based on a video from my YouTube channel.
As a part-time Booktuber, I aim to provide quarterly reviews ranking the books that I read. This post contains the YouTube video, relevant links, and a full video transcript.
Here are the Amazon affiliate links to the books that I read:
- Before the Coffee Gets Cold #1
- Everything Beautiful
- The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
- The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
- An Unnecessary Woman
- The Whole Brain Child
- The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
- Sea of Tranquility
- Braiding Sweetgrass
If you’re not into Amazon, I love Thriftbooks, and here is my referral link so you can get a free book.
YouTube Video Transcript
Here you will find the complete transcript of the video in the previous section. There are time stamps for every minute if you want to navigate to a certain part.
Hi everyone. In today’s video, I’m gonna be ranking every book that I read between January and March. Now, if you’re new here, I’m Smiti and I’m an archaeologist, but I’m also an avid book lover.
I read fairly broadly. So if you’re looking for your next book or you just love book tube, then this is the video for you.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Now, the lowest rank book for me this quarter was before the coffee gets cold with two stars. Now the premise was really intriguing. Basically, there’s this coffee shop in Tokyo, and if you follow a certain set of rules, you’re able to travel back in time. Now there’s a whole host of characters, but this book focuses on four characters, and you get to follow their journey in depth. I thought the pacing was great, and I read this book fairly quickly.
Even though I enjoyed the pacing and the premise, I did not enjoy how women were portrayed in this book. There was almost a reverence for certain behaviors and experiences that went against a woman’s humanity and dignity. So that did not sit well with me at all. Now, if I had just read each story in isolation, I probably would’ve given the author the benefit of the doubt. But as a collective, it seemed like there was a pattern that I was not okay with. So this book is [00:01:00] quite popular, so if you’re intrigued, check it out for yourself.
And just a quick reminder, these ratings are completely personal and subjective and kind of arbitrary, but I hope that the ranking helps.
Next up is everything beautiful and I gave it three stars. Now this book is part Self-Help book part workbook, and the author is really trying to help readers find the hidden beauty in everything in our world.
Now, the two strengths of the book were the artwork and the perception of beauty that came through in specific anecdotes. I own a physical copy of the book, and I’m glad I do because I really love the artwork.
Some of the parts that were hard for me to connect with were when the author made generalized claims about certain things and presented them as fact, as opposed to her own perceptions. Specifically, there were things mentioned about the nature of plants and for my academic training, especially with plants, I just knew that things were more nuanced than what was presented in the book. I also thought some of the main arguments, especially around beauty, could be developed a bit more, and I personally didn’t find them super persuasive. So as a self-help guide, I didn’t find it super effective, but I thought as a mixed genre workbook [00:02:00] featuring art, it did a pretty good job.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
Now also coming in with three stars is The Daughter of Doctor Moreau.
Now this is a reimagining of the Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells, and it’s set against the backdrop of 19th century Mexico.
Personally, I love Reimaginings and Retellings, now this book was slow for me to get into, and I really appreciated also being able to listen to this as an audio book in addition to reading this on my Kindle. I think the audiobook was really nicely done. I might have appreciated this book more if I knew more about the H.G. Wells story, but nonetheless, it did inspire a lot of thinking about humanity, what it means to be human, and how we treat one another.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Next in with 3.5 stars is the very secret society of irregular witches.
So basically there’s this isolated witch in Britain who goes to help this family and her life’s forever changed. This is a super cozy and cute read, and I honestly didn’t know it was a romance, which is not my favorite genre, but I still enjoyed reading it. Now, my favorite parts of the novel were definitely the children and how witchcraft was [00:03:00] described, and especially how diversity was represented. I really appreciated that there were so many lived experiences, identities, and backgrounds represented, and it didn’t feel like diversity for diversity’s sake.
Now I wish the book went a little deeper into certain characters’ backgrounds, and motivation. Still. I think this is a solid, cozy vacation read, airplane read, or just curl up at home and read a book. Read.
An Unnecessary Woman
Next on the list with 3.75 stars is An Unnecessary Woman. So the narrator and main protagonist is Aaliya, a 72 year old Beiruti woman. This book feels more like a character study as opposed to a book with a really intriguing plot. Now I read this as an audio book and it was fascinating to listen to Lebanon’s history and Aaliya’s perception of everything that had materialized in her life. Aaliya is a complex woman. She’s a bit of a misanthrope, a book lover, and she definitely has controversial views. Some of her perspectives about other people and nations were a bit jarring, and I’m still not completely sure how to process [00:04:00] them. For me, this was a great listen when I was running errands or if I had little pockets of time, it was really easy to stop and then pick it up again.
The Whole Brain Child
Next, we are jumping all the way to 4.75 stars with the whole brainchild.
Now this book was intriguing to me as a parent because there are these 12 strategies to help you nurture and develop your child, and they’re all rooted in neuroscience. I really appreciated that the narrative voices were filled with empathy and there wasn’t a lot of “shoulding” happening.
As an academically trained archaeologist, I really appreciated how they presented the state of the scientific research, whether it was at the beginning or whether it was fully developed and where they were interpolating and interpreting and making maybe minor or major jumps in their perceptions.
Now with each of the strategies they presented, they also provided real life examples on how to apply these strategies, and I found the examples quite accessible. Now, you might not resonate with every example, and that’s perfectly fine, and I do appreciate that a diversity of families and living [00:05:00] situations were represented in this book. I read this on my Kindle and listened to it as an audiobook, and I didn’t love the audiobook narration, so for me, I would definitely keep it on my Kindle or buy a physical copy so I could take notes.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
Next on the list also with 4.75 stars is The Secret Life of Baba Segi’s Wives.
Now I listen to this as an audiobook and it blew me away. The author narrated the book and her oration brought the story to life. Now, this was a quick-paced book that I really enjoyed on a long haul plane ride. My favorite part of the book was how the author developed the humanity and complexity of the four wives, as well as Baba Segi, and a few side characters. Now, many of the back stories were heartbreaking, but the author did a fantastic job of balancing heartbreak, tragedy, hope, and humor throughout the story. The ending was also quite satisfying too.
Sea of Tranquility
Now we’re onto our five star books and the first one is Sea of Tranquility. This book is a mix of genres and features, various themes including sci-fi, art, time travel, [00:06:00] love, plagues, and I don’t wanna give away too much because I think it’s best enjoyed if you don’t know too much about the book, when you start reading it.
Now, this is not a long book, but the author is able to develop characters so well and in such a short amount of time. I listened to this and read this while traveling and Olive’s story in particular resonated as a fellow mom who was working and traveling. I think about this book frequently and I recommend it to others whenever I get a chance.
My other five-star book of the quarter is Braiding Sweet Grass.
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, period. It’s also one of the best science writing books I’ve read, and one of the best mixed genre books that I’ve read.
Robin Wall Kimmerer’s writing is beautiful, precise, and thoughtful, and I just ordered a physical copy of this book, but I really enjoyed listening to it as an audiobook because she narrated it. I learned so much about plants, ecology, indigenous history, and just her lived experience as a mother, scholar, and indigenous woman. My mom also loved the book too.
So those are all [00:07:00] the books that I read between January and March and my rankings. So let me know in the comments if there is a book I should check out or one you’re going to check out based on this video. That’s all for today and I’ll see you in the next video. Bye.