Friday, February 8, 2019

Reading Recap: January Edition

I got down to business this month.  I downloaded the Libby app and listened to some audiobooks, I reduced my TV time by a lot, and I always had a book on my person.  I even abandoned a book this month.  Who am I?  

I've heard people who read a lot suggest all of these things over the last year, but I mostly scoffed at that advice.  "Sure, whatever, but they must be able to stay up reading late, or not have so many kids, or skim more."  I decided to just give these strategies a try and surprise, surprise, they worked.

This month I logged 7 books.  That is more than I read in any month last year.  I am super excited about 2019.  It feels like my phone and TV have less of a draw and I can foresee hours reading, writing, and being engaged with my family.  #bestlife

I'll Be Your Blue Sky

I started the month with this audiobook.  It was readily available on Libby and I had heard enough podcasters talking about it to give it a try.  I had read another book by De Los Santos, in this series, and *strongly disliked* it.  But this one was different.

I really enjoyed the story, the characters, and the historical context.  It didn't feel as contrived or predictable as the predecessor I read last year.  I listened to it while I folded laundry, made Beef Borgnine, and started a new puzzle.  All the winter things. 

the Beef Borgnine recipe was courtesy of my best girl, Ina

Sold on a Monday

This was the opposite.  It was contrived and predictable--once I knew what the story was.  The cover and marketing copy was misleading and that always annoys me.  

The language was flowery and a bit over the top.  I kept wishing for a red pen to cross out the superfluous words.  The novel reminded me of Christian fiction, which can be over-written, but with a few swears thrown in here and there to make it more "gritty."  I was not a fan. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

I had procrastinated reading this book for a looong time.  Then, I saw a trailer for the movie and I couldn't get it out of my head.  The book has been sitting on my shelves for a while and winter was the perfect time to read it. 

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!  I'm pretty picky about pop fiction.  But I can't stop thinking about it.  The way it's told (in articles, emails, flashbacks, and doctor's notes) was so interesting.  I felt like I was tracking down the mystery of Bernadette's life from the first pages.  The characters were so real I was dreaming about them.  I had a visceral connection to the book and that hasn't happened to me in a while. 

A big reason why I loved it so much was the theme of motherhood and work.  These themes have been tossing about in my brain for a while and to see these ideas played out in figurative and literal ways on these pages was illuminating for me.  It's easy to disappear yourself these days and society isn't always super welcoming when we decide to be who we are meant to be.  

I can't say enough about this book and I will be the first in line to see the movie. 

The Advocate's Daughter

A friend recommended this to me as a good distraction which is something I was desperate for in January.  It was excellent for that purpose.  I got this on audio and listened to it a lot in the car.  

This is a legal thriller that takes place in DC.  It was plot driven and immersive.  I learned a thing or two about the legal world and the Supreme court and that was a fun little bonus.  

Side note: there was one really annoying part: a character who kept being referred to as "Chipotle man."  It bothered me so bad that I started yelling, "Stop calling him that," every time he was mentioned.  I'm weird.
we all love chipotle, but use the dude's name

Golden Child

This was my Book of the Month pick.  I got it and decided to start reading it the day it arrived because I have so many BOTM books sitting unread on my shelves.  I will get better about this.  

I haven't talked to anyone else who has read this, but I feel like I need to.  It was good but not obvious good.  Does that make sense?  Probably not.  

The writing had sparse quality.  The author created a strong sense of place with few words.  The more I think about it, the more this author reminds me of Hemingway.  

It had me thinking big thoughts and considering the role of society, class, and ambition on decisions we make.  The characters were all deeply flawed and I loved them...well, most of them.  

This scratched my literary fiction itch in a big way.  If you've read it, let me know in comments, I need to know what other people thought.  

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

My 9 year old is reading Harry Potter and she wanted to do a book club with me like I do with her older sisters in the summer.  She asked me to read the 4th book in the series and I agreed.  It's been years since I read this book, but it holds up well (duh).  

I was surprised by the way a book that is beloved by children could contain so many governmental intricacies.  In this installment, the reader looks carefully at the workings of the ministry of magic and Harry competes in the triwizard tournament.  There's a lot of excitement but also breaks in the action where Rowling is world building and developing characters.  It's really masterful.  

Another thing that impresses me about Harry Potter is the way Rowling combines reality and fantasy.  Yes, we're talking about a magical government but yes, we're also talking about the same corruption that happens in regular government.  Yes, we're talking about the mistreatment of house elves, but yes, we're also talking about broader inequality and that there are no easy answers and that it takes courage to stand up for others.  It was stunning to see how relatable a group of kids with magical gifts could be to me, a mom in her late thirties with no known magical talents whatsoever.  

I ask myself this all the time
The weather was frightful this month, but it made for excellent reading conditions.  

What did you read in January?

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