BOTNS: Winning Reads 2017

It’s so difficult to let go of my favorite podcast when they string me along like this. Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness send a monthly email to their faithful followers with a book recommendation from each. Here is what we have this month:

 A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman

In A Really Good Day, Ayelet Waldman writes about her experimentation with micro-dosing LSD in an effort to cure her debilitating mood swings that had been difficult to control with conventional psychiatric medicine. Micro-dosing (taking a tiny amount of LSD every few days) does not give the kinds of psychadelic effects that we tend to associate with LSD, and Waldman explains, with the help of experts, the history of LSD and its potential uses that may never be made available because of governmental regulations about research.

This is also a memoir of how Waldman’s marriage (to novelist Michael Chabon, though she never names him in the book) was strained by her mood disorder, and how her experiment with LSD may be the thing that saves it.

This book is truly fascinating and, I confess, had me wondering for a moment if maybe I knew a guy…

I love that Kingman, before introducing the book, prefaces with this:

I debated whether or not to include this book in our prize package, since I don’t know the winners personally and I didn’t want them to think that I was advocating for the use of illegal drugs. But in the end, I loved it so much, and it’s not really about illegal drug use in the standard way, and most readers are open minded, so here we are.

She is sensitive to her readers, but also acknowledges our reading maturity, ability to decide for ourselves, and in general, gives us the power to choose. That is respect. Thanks, Ann.

Kindness is next with this suggestion:

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsay Lee Johnson

Though I think The Most Dangerous Place on Earth had its title early on, the plot was a mystery to me. That’s a good thing because I think if I had known what it was about beforehand, I might not have read it. And that would have been a shame.

Lindsey Lee Johnson’s debut novel is the story of a group of teens at a high school in affluent Marin County, CA. At first, the characters appear to fit into the usual high school stereotypes: the A-student, the athlete, the bad-boy screwup, the once-popular, now-ostracized girl. But in this novel, no one is quite what they seem, making them all the more real.

But back to why I wouldn’t have wanted to read it if I’d known the plot. At the heart of the story is Tristan Bloch, a shy outcast and the target of online bullying. As a parent, the tragedies of this book were nearly too much to bear. But Lindsey Lee Johnson’s writing makes this book worth the pain.

Again, a simple yet poignant warning to the reader that this will not be an easy journey, especially if you are a parent. However, if you choose to, you may just be a better person for it.  

And with that, you can see why I still miss this weekly podcast from these two exceptional readers. I have downloaded both of these, and added to my TBR. Let me know what you decide!

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