Book cover of "Binti: The Night Masquerade" showing Black women with blue tentacle-like hair and cradling a glowing ball floating above her hands.

This third book in Okorafor’s Binti series brings the story of the eponymous character to a close. In this final chapter, Binti comes to know her diverse genetic selves in ways that defy her own understanding. Even among her father’s people, she outshines in aptitude and ability, giving a whole new definition to the meaning of harmonizer. Throughout the experience, she stays true to her many selves, but most of all to her family heritage. The emotional arc of this series is perfectly balanced between external and internal struggle. Okorafor’s world building is elegant and subtle, allowing the reader to focus entirely on Binti’s experience. I’m naturally drawn to space opera-type narratives (though even that feels too simplistic a term), and this series did not disappoint. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book coving showing human figures in hamster wheels.

In The End of Burnout: Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives, Jonathan Malesic argues that burnout is a cultural phenomenon, not an individual one. Relying heavily on Christina Maslach’s definition of burnout, as well as her psychological instrument for measuring it, Malesic explores the history of burnout as a diagnosis, the cultural impulses that create and foster burnout, and ways we as a society can move away from it.

The first half of the book is dedicated to defining and delineating burnout as a concept and an experience. Briefly, burnout is caused by the gap between our ideals about work and the actual experience of work. For many people, work has been offered as a path toward self-actualization; but combined with deteriorating working conditions, the persistence of the Protestant work ethic, the idea of work as “a calling,” and the pull to always be mentally on-the-clock, work becomes a perfect recipe for burnout. It completely subsumes the self. “Work occupies not only our time by our psyches, too. We have no way to understand ourselves, and now way to express our humanity, except through our jobs. Even before we burn out, we lose much of our identity and our ability to live a good life.” (p. 132)

Malesic shows burnout to be a spectrum. He differentiates between those experiencing burnout without being “burned out” (i.e., they are still doing their job) and being fully burned out and incapable of work. The second half of the book explores remedies and introduces people who have found ways to escape the burnout cycle (spoiler: work less and stop rooting your self worth in your job). 

It’s been a while since I read a non-fiction book with so much enthusiasm. And while I’m sure much of its appeal was due to my own feelings of burnout, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in refining their understanding of the “burnout epidemic.”

Book cover showing earth styled like and apple with a tree growing from its top.

I wanted the first book I read in 2023 to be a work of fiction. I wanted to become immersed and nothing pulls me in faster than post-apocalyptic stories. Appleseed: A Novel by Matt Bell is a story that takes place across three timelines: one in the pre-industrial North American frontier, one in the near future following ecological collapse, and one in the far future after a continental-sized glacier has taken over North America. The characters that inhabit each of these stories are connected, not only by name, but seemingly also in spirit. Interwoven thematically (and sometimes literally) with their stories are the myths of Ancient Greece. 

I found myself having to constantly slow down my reading. I wanted to speed through to see how it all ends: the plot driving above the speed limit. There are moments of wisdom throughout worth slowing down to catch. Each of the characters contemplating their place in nature, mirroring humanity’s greater relationship with the environment. It is a profoundly sad book: there is loss, betrayal, and deep love. We watch as the sins of the fathers and mothers, from one Fall to the next, move humanity and its ecosystem toward its inevitable end, each still seeking for some way to regain paradise.