January: What’s on Your Bookshelf?

Thanks to Marsha for introducing me to this fun book review exchange. Can’t wait to learn about more great reads. In January, I’ve focused on non-fiction. The titles are Soul of an Octopus, Poet Warrior and It’s Not About the Burqa.

January 2022 Books. Photo: Rebecca

Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness (2015) by Sy Montgomery is a book about the cephalopods the author has known. She goes from thinking of them as interesting underwater creatures to considering several as friends. Montgomery finds that the octopus raise their tentacles in greeting and recognition once she visits them regularly. Fascinating observations by an excellent science writer. I would be interested in hearing more of her theories on octopus emotional expression through color changing.

Poet Warrior is United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s memoir told through poetry snd prose. Words have been her lifeboat in a stormy life. Despite the challenges of motherhood, supporting herself with her art, and living as a Native woman in US society, she has excelled as a person, a poet and a professor. Harjo’s wisdom runs deep. A must read for women writers and their friends.

My third book in January had the most controversial title; It’s Not about the Burqa, edited by Mariam Khan. This is a recent book of essays by 17 top notch Muslim women writers focusing on their own lived experience in English-speaking countries. Themes range from work, family, marriage, modesty, protest, politics, to head scarves and burqas. The comment that was a constant through the essays was that Muslim women who wear burqas or hijab are lightning rods for criticism, without people asking the women themselves what they think. The call for self-definition is a powerful one, and Muslim women like their non-Muslim counterparts deserve to decide for themselves. I learned a lot about Muslim communities in the UK and here in the USA. Recommended!

Ok, last night I realized that last Thursday was the date for the book share. Since I only discovered it this week, I’m sharing today. Next month I’ll be ready 2/17!

What are you reading this month? ¡Olé! –Rebecca

Rebecca Cuningham

54 thoughts on “January: What’s on Your Bookshelf?

  1. It’s Not about the Burqa – this sounds super interesting. I haven’t been reading much lately. I either go all in and read several in a row or wait a year. I may have to jump back in with this one.

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    1. Ah yes, I Thought you had told me something about octopuses, and their dispersed neural networks!
      One of my doctors had told me that the second biggest collection of neurons in humans is connected to the gut; it seems that dispersed networks are ‘a thing’ for vertebrates as well as invertebrates!

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      1. I find that aspect of octopuses fascinating. Can different tentacles have distinct personalities? It seemed that Montgomery suggested they might! The curious arm, the reticent arm… As for the human gut, mine tells me when it is missing chocolate…

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      1. Knowing of your interest in Latin America, I would recommend the historical novel In The Belly of the Horse by Eliana Tobias. Set in Peru during the country’s brutal civil conflict, it gives us a close-up view of how families are torn apart when our divisiveness turns violent.

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  2. An interesting and excellent variety of books, Rebecca. I am adding Poet Warrior to my list. I am currently reading, The Wanderess by Roman Payne. I came across a quote by the author a few months ago and thought it sounded interesting. I am about half through, and it is picking up. Happy reading!

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    1. Oh my, was there no limit to his hatred? I guess what is surprising is that his name is simply used to mean “strict” in India, rather than racist genocidal dictator. Has Purandare done a good job of telling the story? Sounds like he has, with your reaction to it.

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  3. I want to put in a comment about a book about my daughter. I wrote it for other parents who have a child with epilepsy. Its title is Seizure Mama and Rose. It is a memoir covering over two decades of Rose’s life. We have a blog with the same title. It is not a “poor me memoir.”

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  4. Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness sounds like a fantastic book to read. A few weeks ago I watched My Octopus Teacher which tells the moving story of how Craig Foster came to know an octopus – and the emotional bond that formed when he did. I cried my eyes out as it was a very moving story! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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