June 2020 Book Recommendations

I love giving recommendations. Restaurants, movies, books – you name it, I’ll give you some recommendations. In this monthly series, I’ll recap the books I read in the month and let you know which ones are worth your time.

First up:

Origin by Dan Brown

Synopsis

Edmond Kirsch, a billionaire tech genius, is set to reveal a scientific discovery that will answer the questions, “Where do we come from?” and “Where are we going?” On the eve of the reveal, a series of events is put into motion to stop the discovery from being disclosed – proving that not everyone is willing to let this information come to light. After the night’s proceedings descends into chaos, Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor, and Ambra Vidal, the future queen of Spain and museum director, work together to ensure this information is released to the public. Science and religion face off in a battle for the future of humankind.

Review

Origin checks a lot of boxes for me: advanced technology, questioning traditions (in this case, religion), and travel writing. The short chapters make it an easy book to pick up and put down – perfect for when you only have small pockets of time to read throughout the day. Each chapter follows a different character, which allows you to see the story from the multiple points of view. However, this makes the book is 632 pages and it could (and maybe should) have been much shorter. Brown spends a lot of time rehashing the same information over and over, but I’ll forgive it because I enjoyed it overall. Brown dedicated a lot of writing to describing real places in Spain, which was both interesting and slightly disruptive as I kept putting the book down to look up the real place. I’m not sure it added to the book’s narrative and I wish he had spent his energy of giving us more fleshed out and dynamic characters. The format of the story has a “what’s in his hat?” feel to it – a term my husband and I use for when a story is told by giving you little crumbs toward one big reveal at the end, and you have to decide if the anticipation was worth the wait. Kind of like when you’re waiting for a magician to pull the object out of a hat. I will say I was pleasantly surprised with the ending and it left me feeling satisfied with the story as a whole.

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Synopsis

Recipe for a Perfect Wife follows Nellie Murdoch and Alice Hale as they navigate being a wife in different time periods – Nellie in 1955 and Alice in 2018. Though they have seemingly little in common, Nellie and Alice work to escape the societal and moral confines put on them simply because they are women. The novel looks at what has changed and what has stayed the same for women in the world of wifedom.

Review

I couldn’t put this book down. Nellie’s chapters begin with a recipe from her mother’s cookbook, which Alice finds and uses to build a connection with the community of women from the past and future. My favourite (and least favourite) part of the novel was the historical advice from sources like Don’ts for Wives by Blanche Ebutt (1913). I had come across this book in university and marveled at the advice given, such as, “Don’t advise your husband on subjects of which you are, if anything, rather more ignorant than he,” and “Don’t be out if you can help it when your husband gets home after his day’s work.” Brown attempts to show how some things have changed for women within marriage, but also how some things haven’t changed. Reminds me of the Mindy Project‘s exploration of how women are still controlled morally by motherhood in a way not generally experienced by men.

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