Book Club: 3 books we read to close out 2020 | –

Posted: January 3, 2021 at 12:53 pm

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SALT LAKE CITY At last, the end of one of the most turbulent years in recent memory.

In 2020 we dealt with natural disasters, a tense election season, and a racial reckoning, among other things all while a pandemic played out, affecting nearly every aspect of our lives.

As people around the world were asked to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many were forced to slow down and pick up new hobbies. For some, reading books helped create both an escape from the realities of the year and an understanding of them, too.

Welcome back to the Book Club. It's a book club with a twist, where some of the team members read a different book and then recap our picks at the end of each month. The goal here is to simply read more and escape real-world distractions, if only for a few pages a day.

This month's Book Club features book picks from social media manager Yvette Cruz, copy editor Jordan Ormond, and news director Whitney Evans. If you think of a book one of us might like based on our book choices and reviews, feel free to let us know!

A couple and their two kids rent a vacation home outside of New York City hoping to get away from it all for a bit. At first, everything's fine and as relaxing as they'd hoped, but then there's a knock at the door.

The home's owners have arrived in a panic saying there's a major blackout in New York and they've come to seek shelter at their second home. With all forms of communication down at the home, there's no way to know if they truly are who they say they are. The family lets them in but questions arise about the entire situation, including what's really happening in New York.

Over the next couple of days, there's tension between the two families as they deal with each other and differences of class and race all while a possible apocalypse plays out in the background.

This book was more than a thriller. It was thought-provoking and unsettling and stayed with me days after finishing it. Several times, I found myself wondering if 2020 was the right year for me to read it given all the uncertainty we've dealt with, but I couldn't put it down nonetheless.

"Leave the World Behind" contains some explicit content.

Who would like this book? Those who want something really thought-provoking and want to read the book before the Netflix adaption comes out.

Your next read?"The Light We Lost" by Jill Santopolo has been on my list for a while now so I'm hoping to finally get to that one next.

Favorite read in 2020:"The Library Book" by Susan Orlean and "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett

This book was part of the required reading for my MBA program, and I entered into reading it with a decent amount of anticipation. You see, I'd been hearing rave reviews about this book for years but had never gotten around to reading it. After all that anticipation, I came away with a mixed impression.

First, what I liked: The book does a great job highlighting what you can do to help solve some conflicts and has some simple frameworks to guide you through. Is your heart at war (assuming the worst) or at peace (assuming the best)? Do you see those around you as people or as objects? (Hint: Seeing people as people leads to better outcomes.) Is your behavior motivated by the need to be seen a certain way? (If so, maybe question your motivation and approach.)

Next, what I didn't like: I struggled with the parts of the book that, to me, seemed overly didactic and reductive. While this approach can be beneficial, I can see times when maybe it falls short. For instance, the authors used a civil rights protest in the U.S. as an example of times when people were "in the box," which to me seemed to lack the nuance and empathy needed to understand why and what groups were protesting. Part of being "out of the box" involves listening to other groups and perspectives, and it seems the authors did not spend as much time listening to some of the groups they represented in the text. Yes, it's helpful to see people as people and that approach would help most interactions but there are also systems and structures that need addressing that go beyond being in or out of "the box." I think "The Anatomy of Peace" is perhaps a good start to conflict resolution, but not a finishing place.

Who would like this book? This book is good for anyone looking for alternative approaches to solving conflicts and negative relationship patterns.

Your next read? I just started "More Than A Body" by Lexie and Lindsay Kite. Full disclosure: I know one of the authors, so going into the book I had decently high expectations. I'm about one-third of the way through, and this book is already exceeding my expectations. It's so good!

Favorite read in 2020:"Circe" by Madeleine Miller or "The Water Dancer" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Would you describe yourself as less-outgoing, more solitary and cerebral, or quieter than other people? There's power in that, as Susan Cain explains in her book "Quiet."

Published in 2012, this book has been around for nearly eight years now and it's spent every one of them on the New York Times bestseller list. That's because this book is fascinating. Cain has collected an exhaustive amount of research on what makes people introverted and organized it in a way that is easily understandable. She spends time explaining how introverts "tick," the power that lies in being introverted, and why our extrovert-centric U.S. society should make more room for these people. Then she shows us how to do it.

As an introvert myself, I identified with so many of the research subjects and results, so many of the anecdotes about people and relationships, and so many of the attributes of people who tend to be more introverted. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn a little bit more about my extroverted counterparts and how they "tick," as well as learning some tips and tricks for extroverts and introverts to communicate better and accomplish more together.

Whether you identify more as an introvert or an extrovert, I highly recommend you read this book. You will learn so much about yourself and others around you, and you will become better skilled at working with people.

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January 3rd, 2021 at 12:53 pm

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