What I Read In January
Starting this month, in addition to giving a run down of everything I read last month, I’m going to include the details of which reading challenge (if any) the books counts for.
The Walking Dead: Volume 1 by R. Kirkman & T. Moore
For the PopSugar Reading Challenge category A book made into a movie you’ve already seen. Since I’ve watched the series, it was cool to experience the story again this way. Even in this format, it’s intense and emotional. I’m curious to continue to see how the characters develop, and how the storyline varies from the series.
Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
For the PopSugar category A book about time travel. This book is just as epic and lovely as the rest in the series. It continues the story beautifully and shows the strengthening relationship between Jamie and Claire, which is of course what the reader wants! I did find this installment to require me to actively suspend my disbelief more than the previous three. There were a couple parts where I found myself thinking okay now that’s a little too unbelievable, but Gabaldon is so skilled at bringing all the different plot points together (even though it takes a long time!) By the end, all the troublesome parts made sense and my heart was full.
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
For the PopSugar category A book from a celebrity book club (Reese Witherspoon) This is an epic thriller, much different from the genre standard. The plot took me from feeling bad to worse real quick, then had me cheering. It was a thoroughly satisfying read, compelling all the way through. It had me up late at night, then reading on the treadmill and at my desk – all of which are unusual for me – I was desperate to finish!
The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff, MD
I have known I was an empath for about 5 years, and have done research to educate myself. I had NO IDEA how my sensitivities effect every single aspect of my body and my daily life. The tools and techniques I acquired here will serve me every day going forward. The information here was much more in depth than I’d found elsewhere, and comes from a compassionate caring place. It affirmed to me that I have been on the right track over the past few years, and encourages me to go much deeper in my exploration of my abilities. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever been told you’re “too sensitive” or suspects they might be an empath.
Raymie Nightengale by Kate DiCamillo
For the PopSugar category A book set in the decade you were born This is a lovely middle grade novel about friendship, family, and loyalty. The three girls at the center of the story meet at baton twirling lessons, and come lean on each other as they learn some of life’s harsh realities. The audiobook narration was excellent and the story is wonderful. I laughed at times and nearly cried at others. I think this could be a powerful learning tool for young girls in particular.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
For the ReadHarder Challenge category of A comic written and illustrated by the same person This is smart, hilarious collection of comics. I was laughing out loud every few pages. Her ability to capture real life in her simple drawing and thoughtful words is impressive. But what moved me most is the author’s brave vulnerability. Her pieces about depression are agonizingly accurate and touching. I appreciate her vulnerability. Her transparency shows us she is flawed and funny, which makes her relatable and lovable.
The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
For the PopSugar category A book that’s published in 2018 This extremely well done thriller absolutely stunned me. The premise is unique and weirdly fascinating. Anna Fox is agoraphobic, living her life online and carefully observing her neighbors. She calls the police after witnessing something questionable, yet no one believes her due to her diagnosis, medications, and drinking habit. My heart went out to Anna, I genuinely cared about her, even though I was never sure if she was reliable. This was an incredibly entertaining and satisfying read that kept me thinking the whole time.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
For the PopSugar category A novel based on a real person This was my first venture into Vonnegut’s work and I’m bummed I waited so long to get to it. The audiobook narration gave it a lot of character, so I’m not sure I’d have liked it as much if I’d read it on my own. This novel is smart and quirky, witty and while satirical, still manages to get some serious points across. I liked it a ton and am looking forward to reading something else by this author.
Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim
For the While I Was Reading Challenge category of A collection of poetry Several poems were excellent and powerful. The rest felt like it was trying too hard to be meaningful or something…The poet touches on depression and anxiety, and those poems are strong, but it wasn’t as much as I was expecting. A few poems I didn’t finish, or couldn’t follow, or I just “didn’t get.” But even in the poems I didn’t care for, I usually found a line that reached me or was particularly well written. Across the board, the writing in the poems felt inconsistent. I suspect most of them would come across differently when performed by the poet.
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
I think my experience reading this was influenced by the fact that I’ve read a few super compelling thrillers recently. So this one felt slow compared to those. I almost quit about 70 pages in but was curious enough to keep going, and I’m glad I did. This is a heavy story but it’s beautifully done. It’s a unique combination of writing that’s literary and emotional, with a plot that’s mysterious and twisty.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
For the PopSugar category A previous GoodReads award winner This is a powerful book, and she wrote it with the intention of making a statement, which I respect. I started listening to the audio book and was hooked immediately. It’s intriguing from the first page. The first half was sexy, fun, and interesting. At the half way mark, things got serious and I had to go get a physical copy from my library so I could get through it faster! This is a novel about domestic violence, but it’s about so much more. Love and loyalty, family, friendship, and self care. It examines the struggle we face when we love someone who doesn’t always treat us well, and what happens when we begin to learn about the person we love. I wish the characters were a bit more developed. I cared about them, but I wish I had felt I knew them better. Overall, this is a fantastic reading experience and I highly recommend it.
Body Full of Stars by Molly Caro May
For the PopSugar category A book by a local author This is an important book, and it’s striking up crucial conversations for women. It certainly opened my eyes to what mothers experience in their bodies, and the fact that women I love have gone through this unaware to me, breaks my heart. It also made me realize there is a deep disconnect between women who chose to become mothers and those who don’t I am hoping to bring my awareness into my relationships. Molly addresses so much more than motherhood when it comes to the female body. Her story of becoming a mother is interwoven with her coming of age, until they become one. It’s beautifully done, her writing is raw and vivid. The topics of body shame, sexual awareness, assault, and female rage are timely, Universal, and need to be discussed with Molly’s sense of openness.
My DNF List (books I started but didn’t finish)
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
I’d heard a lot of buzz about this novel and knew it was difficult subject matter. By page 29 I was nauseated by what I was reading but wanted to keep going, so I set it aside and came back the next day. I got to page 50 and quit due to the general disturbing nature. I’m not saying it’s a bad book or author, it simply isn’t for me. It’s powerful writing and an intriguing story, so maybe it’s worth it in the end, but I’m not willing to upset myself to find out.