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Show Us Your Books – January 2018

Happy second Tuesday of 2018, everyone, and welcome to the first Show Us Your Books of the year! I’m excited to share with you what I read over the holidays and what I’ve gotten into so far this year, especially thanks to some fun reading challenges that I’m hoping will help me read my shelves and get through my TBR.

Before I kick off today’s SUYB, I want to explain how I’ll be rating the books today and moving forward. I’m going to start using my Goodreads rating method here to keep my ratings consistent across every platform. This is how I typically rate books:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars = LOVE LOVE LOVE. I will recommend a 5-star to anyone and everyone and won’t shut up about it. I absolutely need to own a 5-star read, so I can lend it out and have it available for re-reads. I usually have half a dozen or less books in this category each year because they need to be really outstanding to warrant 5-stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars = REALLY liked it. I will recommend a 4-star book to someone I think would like it – depending on interests/genre – and like to have them as part of my collection (for the same reasons as above). I’ll probably rave about this one a fair amount as well.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars = liked it. A 3-star book was good. I didn’t feel like it wasted my time and walked away with an overall positive feeling about it. I give the majority of the books I read each year 3 stars, and I don’t consider this rating to be a bad one.

⭐️⭐️ 2 stars = not a fan. This book just didn’t do it for me. It may have been a bit of a waste of time, or it may have been an experimental genre/topic that didn’t work out. I’m not upset about the time I spent reading it; I was likely just hoping for more. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either.

⭐️ 1 star = hated it. Pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t hand a 1-star rating out lightly. Like the 5-star books, these are pretty rare.

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

Last Month’s Edition

 

4-Star Reads ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

The Boat People – Inspired by true events, this fictional account of refugees seeking asylum in Canada tackles a timely topic. It did an excellent job straddling the complexities surrounding asylum-seekers and the emotional decisions refugees must face not only at the beginning of their journeys but throughout the process. In short, it was everything I wanted Exit West to be.

The Secret Life of Bees – I adored this coming-of-age story about fourteen-year-old Lily Owens and her black caretaker Rosaleen, as they navigate the troublesome South in 1964 and take refuge in a pink house owned by beekeeping sisters. It was a strong show of female power, heartwarming and uplifting.  

 

3-Star Reads ⭐️⭐️⭐️

In the Midst of Winter (3.5) – This seemed like the perfect book to read in the cold of December – and it was. It takes place over the course of a week or so, in the middle of a snowstorm in New York; the cold was palpable. Allende weaves together the beautiful and harrowing stories of three very different characters, taking us to 1970s Central and South America and back to present day America. It brings to light the struggles of undocumented immigrants and issues of human rights, and it all starts with a seemingly innocuous fender bender.

The Nest (3.5) – Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney’s novel is the story of four siblings who must learn to deal with disappointment and potential financial ruin when their trust fund, or “the nest” as they call it, is not quite as big as they anticipated. Filled with unlikable characters in unlikely situations (compared to most of us), it wasn’t a story I expected to like. But, low expectations may have saved this book for me and I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying it throughout – even the epilogue, which left me walking away satisfied.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (3.5) – A book about books and so much more than that, I’m looking forward to discussing this one in my book club tomorrow night (for which I’m making actual potato peel pie…stay tuned for that). Through a series of letters, this novel tells the story of a group known as the Guernsey Literary Society, which comes together while Germans occupy their island during WWII. It was like a less tragic The Nightingale combined with everything I wished The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was.

 

Standard Deviation – This was one of those completely random, stumbled-upon books; I can’t even remember how I heard about it. Still, it was funny and entertaining. Katherine Heiny’s novel was a quick read about Graham, his second wife Audra, his son who may have Asperger’s, and all of the random house guests that flit in and out of their NYC apartment.

No Time to Spare – Ursula K LeGuin is an inspiring woman, and though I’ve only read one of her novels, I have every intention of exploring her work further (thanks, in part, to Karen Joy Fowler who is an admirer of hers). As I am not as familiar with LeGuin as I’d like to be, I probably didn’t appreciate this memoir as bigger fans may but it was still enjoyable. As in her fiction writing, she discusses gender equality and meditates on life.

I will not be doing a longer post on this book, but if I were to do so, I would definitely have to make soft-boiled eggs, to which LeGuin devoted an entire chapter. It became very clear that I do not have the very specific tools required, nor the patience to handle a food that requires such delicate precision.  

  

MAUS I & II – I read MAUS I as part of the Literary Feast 2018 Reading challenge, since it was published in the year of my birth; it was the first book I picked up and finished this year. I also read the second MAUS because it just felt right to complete the story.

Though graphic novels aren’t my genre of choice, I tend to end up reading one almost every year. I’m always surprised when I don’t really like them, especially these since the ones I choose are so critically acclaimed. I just found it hard to get into, I suppose; the style didn’t evoke as much emotion as I would expect from a story about concentration camp prisoners. That being said, both were quick reads (as graphic novels are) and the content was clearly heartfelt and personal. It’s an important story to be told.

Britt-Marie Was Here – I wanted to like this more than I did, probably because I love Fredrik Backman’s writing (especially A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry). Like all of his novels, there was quite a cast of characters, some likable and some not. Britt-Marie fell in both categories intermittently, though of course she grows more endearing as you get to know her. I certainly enjoyed the story, but I wish there’d been a different ending.

When the English Fall – I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish lifestyle, so when I saw this dystopia about what happens when the power grid goes down and no one but the Amish are situated to survive, I knew I had to pick it up. I read it in a few hours – it was quite riveting for the most part. I think I was hoping for more about how the rest of the world was surviving, aside from the bits of information brought in to the Order from the outside, and in that, it fell short.

 

2-Star Reads ⭐️⭐️

Manhattan Beach (2.5) – Jennifer Egan may not be my author. I didn’t like her much-acclaimed A Visit from the Goon Squad, and while this one was a bit better, it wasn’t really my thing either. A historical novel set first during the Great Depression and then in WWII, it primarily follows the young, fearless Anna Kerrigan. There are several chapters that focus on other main characters, but her story was the most interesting to me; I especially enjoyed her journey to become a female scuba diver and wish it was a bigger focus of the narrative.

 

Books I Didn’t Finish

None!

 

Books I’m Reading Right Now

I haven’t actually picked anything up yet, since I just finished When the English Fall last night, but my plan is to dive into another Book Challenge by Erin selection – I’m leaning towards The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because it’s been on my shelf long enough!

What did you read last month?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

New Year + Reading Challenges

The first week of 2018 is almost over, and I hope everyone’s year is off to a great start! I’m coming at this year with a positive outlook, and while I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, I do have some personal, professional and blogging goals in mind. To have a successful book-related blog, of course, it requires lots of reading.

As such, I’ve committed to two reading challenges this year – because what better way to read more than to be (somewhat) competitive about it? Now, both of these challenges are intended to be low-key, low stress and not really all that competitive. But, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try to do my best to succeed at the challenges I set for myself. So, I wanted to share a bit about them with you (accountability and all that). And, if you’re interested, there’s still time to join both of them, so you too can enjoy the benefits of reading more in 2018. 🙂

 

Book Challenge by Erin (8.0)

Duration: January through April 2018

Challenge: Choose 10 books across specific categories and read as many of them as you can during the first 4 months of the year

All books must be 200 pages or more and you each book can only be used for 1 category. If you’d like to include a book you’ve already read, you can only do so once but you must actually re-read it for it to count.

You’re supposed to pick your 10 books up front, but it’s no big deal if you change your mind and want to read something else for that category instead! Most of all, this challenge is supposed to be fun – I personally am using it as a motivator to read a bunch of books on my TBR list, and I pulled the titles using as many books as I could from those I already own.

5 points (Freebie): Read a book that is at least 200 pagesThe Secret Life of Bees

This was the third book I read this year (after MAUS I & II, more on that below), and I loved it. Great way to start the challenge!

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “L”Love & Gelato

This has been on my TBR for a bit now, and while I don’t own it, the library has it readily available. I picked it before I joined the challenge from A Literary Feast, but it fits for the February pick, so it’s conveniently going to do double-duty for me.

10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) red coverRed Clocks

This is one of the books I’m most looking forward to this year, and I was so excited to see that BOTM had it as one of their January selections! You can bet I scooped it up, so there will be no library waitlists for me this time. I can’t wait to get started on it.

15 points: Read a book with a character’s name in the titleThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

This was a BOTM sometime in the middle last year, and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. I’ve heard amazing things about it, though, which is why I’ve kept it, and now I have a great excuse to pick it up and experience it for myself.

20 points: Read a book from Book Riot’s list of 100 Must-Read Books with Plot TwistsThe Book of Unknown Americans

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book through my office’s Diversity Book Club, but was unfortunately not able to attend when the time came (due to meetings and all that). I was surprised to see it on this list – not exactly a book I was expecting to have a big plot twist. Now I’m all the more excited to finally be able to check it out.

20 points: Read a book with the words “house” or “home” in the titleThe Two-Family House

Another book from my TBR, but not one I owned until this past week – thanks to a very fortunate book swap! I had a few books I could’ve chosen for this category, but this one has intrigued me from a distance for long enough.

25 points: Read a book by an author whose first and last name begins with the same letterThe Mothers by Brit Bennett

When I was perusing my shelves for alliterative authors this is the first one that caught my eye. I got it in a book swap last year (seriously, where would I be without book swaps?) and don’t know a ton about it, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the read.  

30 points: Read a book that was originally published in a different language than your ownBritt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie was originally published in Swedish by the wonderful Fredrik Backman, who has written a couple of my favorites (such as My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry), so naturally I was excited to dive into his charming writing again. It’s the second book I decided to tackle from the challenge and I’m about a third of the way through. So far, so good!

30 points: Read a book where most of the action takes place on a form of transportation (i.e. bus, boat, car, plane) – Life of Pi

Such an interesting category! My first thought was of the movie Speed, but that wasn’t a book and so obviously I couldn’t pick that. I remember loving Life of Pi when I read it before, but it’s been so long now, that I don’t recall much of the specifics – except that it takes place mostly on a raft. Perfect for this challenge! And another book already on the shelf 🙂

35 points: Read a book with a character that suffers from a debilitating physical illness – Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Full disclosure: I don’t know much about this book, except that when I was googling around trying to find a book for this category that I hadn’t already read (since I used my re-read for the previous category), it popped up. It was on my TBR and the library had some copies, so here we are. I’m looking forward to it, and also a grateful that I don’t have any high expectations to hamper my reaction.

Have you read any of the books above? What would you recommend picking up next?

If you’re interested in joining Erin’s challenge, stop by her Facebook page here. There are typically three challenges per year, each lasting four months.

 

2018 Reading Challenge from A Literary Feast

Duration: Entire year

Challenge: Read a book in each appointed category, which changes each month

My kindred spirit in the book blogging community, the lovely Grace of A Literary Feast, started this challenge and I’m excited to be able to support her and participate. I only chose the first few months, since even summer seems so far away in these frigid temperatures! I’ve outlined all the categories below though, so you can get a feel for what the rest of the year will bring.

January: A book that was published in your birth yearMAUS I (and MAUS II)

MAUS I has been on my TBR list for several years now, and conveniently it was also published in 1986! The second one was published a few years later, but together they’re still pretty short – and as graphic novels, quick to get through. These were the first books I picked up in 2018 because the library was super quick on their interlibrary loans, and I finished both on January 1.  

February: A book that has a food in the titleLove & Gelato

I already mentioned the double-duty this book is doing, which is awesome in and of itself. I’m also excited about the prospect of making gelato. (Ice cream has no season, so I don’t care that it will still be unbearably cold outside when I do it.)

March: A book that was made into a movie you’ve already seen

I haven’t chosen a book for March yet, and I’m all over the map for this category. Initially, after a quick search, I was leaning towards The Green Mile because I enjoyed the movie… but I’m super terrified the book will be scary where the movie wasn’t really. Then, while watching Funny Farm over the holidays, I discovered it was actually based on a book and thought maybe I’d pick that because it’s more light-hearted. I don’t know, guys… I’ve seen a lot of movies but I’ve also read a lot of books-turned-movies, so I’m trying to find one I’ve seen but not read yet. Looking for suggestions!

April: A book set in a country that intimidates you

May: A book that you saw a stranger reading in a public place

This would’ve been amazing when I lived in NYC and rode the subway all the time. I think I’m going to have to start hanging out in some coffee shops or airports between now and then.

June: A book about a mid-life crisis or finding your true self

July: A childhood classic that you’ve never readThe Little Prince

This is the lone book I chose past February, mostly because as soon as I saw this category, I knew what it had to be. The Little Prince is one of my coworker’s favorite books, and after hearing all of her praise about it, I’m looking forward to finally reading it too. That being said, I’ll probably have to get it out of the library since her copy is in French.

August: A book that you’ve loved and read before

I don’t usually re-read so this will be a welcome change of pace.

September: A book that was published in 2018

October: A blind date book (someone else chooses for you)

I’m going to let Deanna pick this one for me, since I am constantly forcing her to read books I recommend, and I know I can trust her to pick a good one.

November: A book with an ugly cover

Because you should never judge a book by its cover.

December: A book set in a cold climate

Obviously looking for recommendations for the book/movie category, but if you have suggestions for the others I haven’t chosen yet, please comment below! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂 If you’re interested in joining the 2018 challenge from A Literary Feast, there may still be time – check out the original post here.

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’m Looking Forward To in 2018

Hi everyone! We’ve made it to the end of year (almost)! What a wonderful year in reading it’s been… and now since it’s Tuesday, it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

This week’s topic looks to the future and all of the books that await us on the other side of the new year: Books I’m (Most) Looking Forward to in 2018. This list skews a bit towards the early part of the year, and also includes a few books-becoming-movies that I’ve been meaning to read.

 

The Spring Girls by Anna Todd – releases January 2

In the remix tradition of the cult favorite movie Clueless and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible comes a modern retelling of the beloved story of the March sisters, delivered with Anna Todd’s signature style. With plenty of sass, romance, and drama, The Spring Girls is the perfect chance for you to revisit Little Women or discover this cherished story for the first time.

I’ve always loved the story of Little Women, thanks to the 90s movie starring Winona Ryder (among others). When I read the book for the first time years later, I felt like I struggled through it. I’m hoping this modern retelling ends up evoking the spirit of the story that I’ve always enjoyed.

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – releases January 9

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Like They Both Die at the End before it, I’m always interested in books that explore the topic of death (you can blame my college writing teacher), and this concept looks like a good one.

 

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas – releases January 16

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

If you’ve been a blog reader for a while, you know feminist dystopias are in my wheelhouse. I’m just hoping I like this one better than The Power.

 

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure by Shoba Narayan – releases January 23

When Shoba Narayan, a writer and cookbook author who had lived for years in Manhattan, moves back to Bangalore with her family, she befriends the milk lady, from whom she buys fresh milk every day. These two women from very different backgrounds bond over not only cows, considered holy in India, but also family, food, and life.

In this charming true story about two women and the animal they share, readers are treated to an insider’s of view of India. The Milk Lady of Bangalore is also a window into our universal connection to food and its sources, the intricacies of female friendship, and our relationship to all animals.

This is the first of a few memoirs on this list, and it also appears (from the outside) to be the most light-hearted. Honestly, it had me at “writer and cookbook author.” It sounds wonderful and I’m looking forward to cooking some Indian food to go along with it!

 

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – releases February 20

An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

I’m always drawn to stories about those who live just outside mainstream society. I love learning about those ways of life, and this one is told not from an outsider’s perspective but from the perspective of someone who lived it. Doesn’t this one sound fascinating?

 

The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum – releases March 6

In this genre-bending novel, there is no such thing as chance and every action is carefully executed by highly trained agents. You’ll never looks at coincidences the same way again.

What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it’s all part of a bigger plan? What if there’s no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don’t know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?

Enter the Coincidence Makers—Guy, Emily, and Eric—three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets.

I love that the author decided to explore this topic! I expect this to be one of those books that sticks with me even after I’ve put it down – hopefully not as haunting as The Word Exchange, but given that it’s not dystopia, I’m sure it will be lovely. 🙂

 

Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann – releases March 6 (in US)

In Too Afraid to Cry, Ali Cobby Eckermann—who was recently awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world—describes with searing detail the devastating effects of racist policies that tore apart Indigenous Australian communities and created the Stolen Generations of “adoptees,” Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their birth families. Too Afraid to Cry offers a mirror to America and Canada’s own dark history of coerced adoption of Native American children, and the violence inflicted on our continent’s Indigenous peoples.

It looks like this book has been out in Australia for quite some time, but it’s being released in the US this year. When I was looking at upcoming books this one caught my eye.

 

The Elizas by Sara Shepard – releases April 17

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

I’m not usually drawn to mysteries outright, but given that the protagonist is an author, I’m intrigued. I adore stories that explore the blurred line between what an author writes on the page and what could happen in the real world as a result.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – movie release August 17

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

I’ve heard wonderful things about this book and honestly have been meaning to pick it up since it’s debut – now that the movie’s coming out, I need to make sure to get it from the library before everyone else catches on!

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – movie release 2018 TBD

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

This book has been on TBR and on my shelf for at least two years now, and I’m excited the movie is finally coming out to get me motivated to pick it up and read it. With Julianne Moore involved, I’m hoping for the best.

What books are you looking forward to?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

 

of interest

Show Us Your Books – December 2017

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for this year’s last edition of Show Us Your Books, where I briefly recap what I’ve read since last time, giving you a sneak peek of what I might be reviewing on the blog next. I read a lot more than I expected to in November, and honestly a lot of that is due to my participation in the Thanksgiving Readathon, where I managed to tackle a surprising 5 books in 5 days. Since I already recapped those 5 in my wrap-up post, I won’t do it as much here, but I’ll still share a few brief thoughts on each. 🙂

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, January 9, 2018.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

Last Month’s Edition

Engrossing Reads

A Homemade Life – Molly Wizenberg’s food memoir was truly the only book I read this month where I was into it 100% and walked away loving it. Racing through it for the readathon may have compounded this love, but I’m standing by it. In the meantime, I’m still deciding what to make to accompany its review… For those who’ve read it, I’m open to suggestions! The recipes all sound seriously delicious.

Young Jane Young – Any book that makes me laugh out loud is usually a good one, and this novel by the author of The Storied Life of AJ Fikry did just that. The story-telling was surprising (in a good way), and I always appreciate a story that revolves around strong female characters. I don’t think I went in with any expectations – having only heard of it in passing – and I’m glad I picked it up.  

 

Passed the Time Just Fine

Everything Everything – I’m probably the last person in the world to read this popular YA novel, especially since it came to theaters over the summer. The story was predictable, until it wasn’t. I was totally surprised by an unexpected turn of events about two-thirds of the way through, which I thought gave the novel a little more heft.

Seven Days of Us – I read over Thanksgiving too, as a sort of kickoff to the Christmas season. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I still thought it was an interesting read. I’m looking forward to making mince pies in my upcoming blog post about the novel, so look out for that closer to the 25th.

How to Behave in a Crowd – The cover of this novel initially caught my eye when I was perusing in a bookstore one evening, so I made a note of it and found it later at the library. On a bit of a stories-about-family-dynamics kick, this made its way into the Thanksgiving Readathon too. The tale narrated by an eleven-year-old boy in a family of brilliant older siblings was both heartbreaking and charming.

My True Love Gave to Me – I don’t often read short stories, but I saw this collection on a list of Christmas-y books from Carly Blogs Here and it piqued my interest. I enjoyed more than half of the stories, disliked a few and was meh about others. The stories I liked I really liked and it was a relatively quick read since it’s YA. If you’re looking for something to get you in the holiday spirit, I suggest giving it a try!  

Hunger – Having been a fan of Roxane Gay’s other work, I didn’t hesitate to pick this up when I saw it on a shelf of new releases at a recent trip to the library. Every woman struggles with feeling comfortable in her own skin, and Gay’s memoir about her weight, her relationship with food and how she got here is deeply personal and raw. It’s also relatable and particularly poignant in today’s social/political climate.

 

Not Worth It

I read both of these during the readathon, and while the speed with which I read them and their close approximation to books I liked much better may have exacerbated my dislike, I just wasn’t a fan of either of these.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend –  Since my wrap-up post, I’ve met with my book club, and honestly, no one really enjoyed this book. In fact, the more we talked it through, the less I liked it. Characters felt one-dimensional, the setting and plot felt a bit absurd, and books weren’t as transformative as I think we would’ve hoped. Perhaps if it wasn’t compared to AJ Fikry my expectations wouldn’t have been as high, but either way, it fell flat.

The End We Start From – I think something I’ve learned from the few books I’ve disliked this year is that it’s not my favorite thing to be stuck in an unknown world and be unable to empathize or relate to the characters. This one lacked characterization and as a result the whole thing felt very far away and unrelatable. On a positive note, it was literally the quickest read of the year.

 

Did Not Finish

The Power – As you may recall from my last SUYB post, I was pretty determined to finish this book after having already read 200-ish pages, despite not being very into it. My lack of enthusiasm kept me from picking it back up, and I’m okay with that. I read a lot this month, most of it worthwhile, so I’m glad I didn’t let this one hold me back. (I’m not the only one who felt that way, and I too am looking forward to the release of Red Clocks to fulfill my feminist dystopia quota.)

 

Currently Reading

The Boat People – I’m only about a fifth of the way through this book, which I’m reading courtesy of NetGalley before it releases on January 9, but so far, I’m a fan. It’s a debut novel inspired by real events and follows a group of refugees who flee their dangerous homeland to find safety in Canada. It already promises to be more like what I was hoping Exit West would be, and let’s hope it continues to be worth the read.

 

What did you read this month? Which books did you enjoy most? Least? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Thanksgiving Readathon Wrap-up

What a whirlwind 5 days this Thanksgiving Readathon has been! I set a loose goal to read 5 books in 5 days (read my announcement/sign-up post here), since this “challenge” is supposed to be less of challenge and more of a conscious effort to set aside some time for yourself to read in a stress-free way while interacting with other book bloggers and bookworms on social media. 

I don’t think I actually expected to get through the entirety of the stack of books I lined up to read during the readathon, so maybe that’s why I stayed un-stressed. Somehow, though, I did it, and I’m super excited about it. I also finished my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal in the process (with book number 4), which means I’ll also be less stressed next month because I’m already set for the year. Woo hoo!

Here’s a brief overview of the books I read, some of which I’ll write longer reviews of in future posts (with book-inspired recipes, of course!):

 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

I expected this to be a bit like The Family Stone, as I mentioned in my kick-off post, but it wasn’t. Even though it took place over Christmas, the story was more about the family dynamic and the fact that they were stuck together in a seven-day quarantine, which just happened to take place over the Christmas holiday. I’m going to do a longer post on this one, so I won’t go too deep here, but I did enjoy it for the most part. It was a solid read, and it led to an interesting back-and-forth with the author, which was a wonderful bonus. (I didn’t include some of the conversation, which was a bit spoiler-y.)

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

I was sure this would sustain me through a readathon, since it’s one of my favorite faux-genres, books about books. Alas, it was my least favorite of the long weekend; it was also the longest. I’m not sure what to say about it, though I suppose I’ll have to formulate some thoughts, since my book club is discussing it next week… The characters were all a bit one-dimensional and sometimes felt a bit mixed up, as though the author got them confused.Above all, it took much too long to get to the charming-bookstore-turns-the-town part of the plot, and that didn’t really land for me. I’m not sure the bookstore changed the town at all! Mostly, it was just disappointing.

It also lacked descriptive food mentions, and though it prompted a brief discussion about mini dogs versus sloppy joes – sadly, the only foods relevant to the story – I’m left feeling too underwhelmed to be inspired to do a longer post on this one.

 

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

I have been listening to Molly’s podcast Spilled Milk for a few years now, and though it’s one of my favorites, I had yet to read any of her (or her co-host Matthew’s) books until this weekend. I am delighted I did! I loved this food memoir so much; it was definitely my favorite of the readathon. It is full of rich descriptions of every food that ever made an impression on Molly, and of course, the recipes for most of them. I’m going to have a lot of trouble deciding what to make for my review post on this one, guys. Has anyone else read it and made the recipes? Any suggestions?

 

 

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

At 160 pages, I expected this environmental dystopia to be a quick read. That was an understatement. I don’t think I spent more than an hour with this book, which read more like lyrical or poetic meeting notes. The only character that was named was Zeb, the main character’s son, but he was primarily called Z as all the other characters were only called by their first initials as well. I’m not sure I’ve completely processed it, but it didn’t haunt me like dystopias usually do. The characters as initials felt distant to me, and in the end, the immediate threat (which wasn’t well-outlined to begin with) seemed to disappear, or at the very least lessen.

 

How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas

My final read, which I started on the way to a football game Saturday (lest you thought I curled up in my reading chair all weekend!), was a quirky novel about a brilliant French family. It’s told through the eyes of eleven-year-old Isadore – who prefers Izzie though everyone calls him Dory – the youngest of 6 children. As he figures out how exactly to be a normal adolescent in a family of overachievers, he makes sharp and amusing observations about those around him. It struck me as a sort-of The Family Fang meets This Is Where I Leave You and ended up being a wonderful note on which to end the readathon.

 

Aside from the football game, I spent a lot more time not holed up reading than I had initially thought I would. I enjoyed most of Thanksgiving Day with family (not reading); scored some shopping deals and celebrated a birthday with family on Friday; wrote and cooked for Saturday’s blog post; and even got in a little yard work (ugh) and holiday decorating (yay)!

I loved participating in the Thanksgiving Readathon because not only did I surprise myself by reading so much, it was fun following along with everyone else on social media and being a part of those interactions too! Most importantly for me, though, it made me realize that I probably can squeeze in more reading each day if I just make the time for it. 🙂

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