45 Books in 2018: #41 By The Numbers By Jen Lancaster

This blog has a lot of unknowing godfathers and godmothers (and some knowing.) He of the podcast and aftershows who’s name we no longer speak, Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick, but primarily, my decision to start blogging came down to reading Jen Lancaster’s books. (Jen started as a blogger.)

I always devour her non fiction, though I’ve never quite hit it with her fiction. But, as I scanned the library shelves a few weeks ago, I passed her section and smiled at the jewel toned spines of her books, and noticed a title I hadn’t picked up before. After reading the jacket, I decided to revisit Jen’s vision of Chicago (or now-a-days, it’s suburbs.)

The lead character in By The Numbers is Penelope Sinclair, she’s an actuary, who’s prodigiously good at analyze numbers to maximize effeciency. The problem with that, is that it causes her to keep the people in her life at a distance, it’s cost her, her marriage (feeling unloved, her husband had an affair.) her relationship with her daughters (they are nightmares) and a lot of other things. A series of crisis set Penny up to reevaluate her life and choices and she begins the road to starting over.

The book is funny and bitchy in the way that I’ve always appreciated from Jen. (We met once, so we’re on a first name basis) And it was a nice palette clenser from all the horror and family tragedy I’ve been absorbing lately. (Back to all of that in a little while.) Workaholism and the effects of dehumanizing the people around you was a common theme in a lot of Jen’s earlier work (there’s also dog training in this book. Jen writes about dog training A LOT) so it was fun to see her examining those themes from a different perspective than her own story.

I’d recommend this book, especially because it’s a quick read, and if memoir isn’t your thing, it’s a way to connect to one of my all time favorite writers.

Up next is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, because ya know…vampires. (Also, getting around to it.)

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