We’re Not Broken

by Eric Garcia

Someone close to me was recently diagnosed with autism and asked me to read this book to better understand them. I’m glad they did, because I didn’t realize how little I knew about autism or how to think about it.

Some takeaways:

  • Autism is not actually on the rise—alarmingly or otherwise. Basically, we were really bad at identifying it and now we’re better at identifying it.
  • Autism is fairly common. According to the CDC about 1 in 36 people is on the spectrum, making autistic people one of the largest minorities in America.
  • Autism is a disability, not a disease. It probably can’t be cured because, as advocate Jim Sinclair said, “it is not possible to separate the person from the autism.”
  • High functioning and low functioning are misleading, unhelpful terms. People with autism have different support needs, and the amount of support someone needs does not necessarily correspond to their ability to function.

And most important of all, autistic people must have their own say in their support options and autism policy. Even well-meaning parents and other neurotypical advocates are not a substitute for self advocacy.

The book reminded me of another disability rights advocate, Haben Girma, who I interviewed on The Lawyerist Podcast in 2019. Both Girma and the author of this book, Eric Garcia, advocate for the social model of disability—that it is society’s job to remove barriers to access by disabled people, rather than seeing them as broken people in need of mending.

Seems right to me.


by Natalie C. Parker

This was a swashbuckling post-apocalyptic young adult pirate novel. Kind of like Waterworld, but with an attack yacht full of young women pirates instead of Kevin Costner on a catamaran with a tomato plant. It started a bit slow, got good, and ended with a bit of a whimper.

PS, you don’t use oars in a canoe. Not sure I can forgive the author for that.

The Serpent of Venice

by Christopher Moore

A comic smushing-together of “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Merchant of Venice,” and “Othello.” Plus Marco Polo and a dragon, because why not. Quite bawdy.

As an English major with well-thumbed copies of all the source materials on my bookshelf, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eisenhorn: the Omnibus Edition

by Dan Abnett

This is a massive collection of 4 novels and 4 short stories about Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

  • “Regia Occulta”
  • Xenos
  • “Missing in Action”
  • Malleus
  • “Backcloth for a Crown Additional”
  • Hereticus
  • “The Keeler Image”
  • The Magos

I’ve never played Warhammer and this was my first encounter with the universe. The gist is that in the 41st century human scientific and social progress have ceased, humanity is united under a god-emperor, and humankind is fighting for survival against alien and occult forces.

It’s a pretty great setting, and these stories are a good read.

Of the novels, I thought The Magos was far and away the best. Although it is also the odd one out—the only story not told primarily from Eisenhorn’s first-person perspective. If you wanted to just dip your toe into this series to see if you like it, I would start with The Magos, and if you enjoy it, get the omnibus and start at the beginning. (Even though The Magos comes last in the timeline, I don’t think it spoils anything about the other stories.)

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

by David Mitchell

The page-turner-ness of this book is a bell curve. The first half is a slow-moving introduction. The next third or so is a riveting samurai movie in novel form. The rest is predictable but satisfying.

I was ready to give up in the first half, but I’m mostly glad I stuck with it to the end.

The Pale Blue Eye

by Louis Bayard

Sometimes when reading a book I get so delighted with it that I find myself giggling and have to tell a friend. This is such a book.

Imagine if Sherlock Holmes were a crotchety middle-aged bachelor living near West Point soon after the Civil War, and Watson were Edgar Allen Poe while he was attending the academy. And both the style of the book and the murder under investigation bear the hallmarks of Poe’s later fiction. Does that sound odd? Well, it is, and it makes for a delightful murder mystery—with a twist or two before the end.

Gunmetal Gods

by Zamil Akhtar

An epic fantasy twist on the Crusades, with masked magi, angels right out of Revelation (think lots of extra eyes and wings), and a healthy dose of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.

I didn’t devour it, but I really enjoyed it and I’m starting the second book in the series right … now.