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Reading Update: December 2017 – Early January 2018

Let’s talk about some books I’ve read lately, hmmmm? But first, let me tell you a funny story.

Last Wednesday when I got home from work I knew that Thursday would be a snow day. I changed into pajamas and wondered on Facebook if I’d get dressed again before I had to go back to work on Monday. I mean, I knew I would have to but it was still fun to speculate about spending the next 5 days in my jammies doing nothing but reading and knitting. At the suggestion of a friend I started a contest and asked my friends to guess how many books I would finish over the extended weekend. I figured it would be at least 2 and perhaps 3 and a lot of people guessed that – some, however, were crazy and suggested I might finish 8 or more. Seriously? Maybe if I’d read Jack a half dozen board books I could have met that quota.


I finished Reservoir 13 on Thursday and I started The Weight of Ink, a 576 page book. Do I have to tell you? I did not finish it by Sunday night which meant that I only finished ONE book that weekend. I was definitely surprised and at one point on Sunday I found myself rushing to get through The Weight of Ink when I thought, STOP. Stop reading so fast just to finish a book so you can say you finished two. Stop rushing through this book that’s really quite good and should be savored and enjoyed. So I slowed myself down and yesterday I posted that I’d only finished one. Nice person that I am, I gave everyone who commented a chance at the prize (a home baked pie) since no one actually guessed that I would only finish one book. I pulled my friend Steve’s name out of the basket so I’ll be baking him the pie of his choice very soon.

Now let’s talk about the books that I did finish in December and the first week of January!
Still Me by JoJo Moyes
4 stars
Louisa Clark is back and just as quirky, thoughtful, insecure and hopeful as ever. She learns a few more life lessons in this book, reflects back on things that happened with Will and Sam in the previous books, and ultimately discovers that reinventing yourself again and again isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Recommended for fans of the series and for those who enjoy the genre. I was given a copy of this book by Net Galley for review.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
3 stars
John Green tackles mental illness (OCD) in this book and I found his portrayal of Aza to be realistic and enlightening. The description of her thoughts and how they control and frighten her was enlightening and I found myself contemplating what it must be like to experience the world in that way. That said, not much else happens and I didn’t love this the way I loved The Fault in Our Stars.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
4 stars
Timely and relevant, this story is a modern adaptation of Antigone – which works very well although I thought the ending was forced. I found the plot relating to jihad recruiting fascinating and couldn’t help but reflect on how the political climate of the world is feeding the extremists. The themes of loyalty, love, tragedy, ambition and justice are interwoven through the novel and, although parts of it feel disjointed, it’s very good.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
4 stars
A sentimental and magical tale of how Mr. Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. Highly recommended for those who love Dickens and London and Christmas.

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4 stars
A collection of essays Coates wrote during Obama’s presidency that illuminate in a very sobering way just how the election of a black president perfectly set up the election of Trump. Heavy and thoughtful, at times a bit dull, but always important, I enjoyed the prologue to each essay more than the essays themselves because of the memoir aspect of those pieces. A tough but important book and one I will think about for a long time.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
3 stars
The premise of the book is great – a murder mystery manuscript being read by the editor – and a real life mystery tied to it. But the book is too long and I felt like it really got bogged down about half way through. Despite the tediousness of getting to the conclusion I did enjoy it, particularly the references to Agatha Christie.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
4 stars
I really enjoyed this prequel to Practical Magic, which I haven’t actually read yet. Hoffman delivers a beautiful tale full of magic, longing, despair and love. Highly recommended.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
4 stars
This is a wonderful book for the reader who loves a setting that feels alive and real. Not a lot happens but the cycles of the seasons, the repetition of nature, the birth and death of everything living is beautifully told in a way that reminds me of Brian Doyle’s Mink River. There are a lot of characters to track but if you can give yourself over to knowing that it’s all very fluid and not necessary to remember all the details I think you’ll find this well deserving of the praise it has received.

Those were all mostly great but I think We Were Eight Years in Power is the one that has stayed with me the most.

What are you reading these days?

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Eight Years in Power; it’s an overdue library book, but I got SO MANY books for Christmas, I’m being pulled in different directions. A lighter but enjoyable read is Sisters by the Bush twins.

  2. Exactly! It’s not the number of books, but the enjoyment, information, questions, and everything else that we gain from reading them. I’m not even sure I’ll be setting a reading goal on gr this year, but you’ve got plenty of intriguing books here to add to my tbr. I’m currently reading The Queen of Hearts pre-pub, The Woman Who Smashed Codes, and The Power. Three very different books!

  3. Well I would say that 2018 is off to a very good start for you. I am currently listening to The Alice Netwrok and reading a m8 dfulness book on my kindle.

  4. On my quest to read all six of Jane Austen novels, I’m currently reading Persuasion. In a way I’m happy to be reading them now because I enjoy the satire much more than I would have when I was younger. This one is a slow read…I don’t want to miss a thing! I recently finished The Woman Who Smashed Codes and it was excellent!

  5. I am on the wait list for We Were Eight Years in Power, I hope it comes through soon! I am at the “bogged down” portion of Magpie Murders, and while I have not bailed on it, I am in no hurry to finish it.

  6. I felt the same about Magpie Murders. I finished The Other Einstein and really liked it. am now reading The Roanoke Girls – an easy read and so far (about a third of the way through) it is okay. I just got Sing, Unburied Sing through Overdrive and am anxious to start that.

  7. Your story made me laugh! This year, my goal is actually to read FEWER books than I did last year. I’ve decided I need to slow down and savor — rather than try to READ ALL THE BOOKS!!!! I just downloaded Reservoir 13 (Overdrive finally came through!), so that’s my next read.

  8. You have struck a chord here, Carole. I, too, am not setting any ambitious goals for reading this year. I did last year, and I found myself hurrying through books to get them read, and that absolutely _ruins_ reading for me. It’s not about the number#! I hold goodreads accountable for starting me down that road. I set a low goal, and if I don’t make it, who cares? I just started the Weight of Ink, and I am reading a lot of self improvement books on the side about improving my breathing, mindfulness, and exercise, and I have already started reading cookbooks again. I want to improve my pizza game, so I am reading Elements of Pizza. You have been reading a lot!

  9. I think we need to start a thing for board and children’s books … I’d love a way to share my/our favorites, but I don’t need (want) them to count on Goodreads. All that said – I finished Sing, Unburied, Sing this afternoon and I wish I belonged to a bookclub that was up to it. Can’t wait to hear what you think about Weight of Ink! ALSO – I wish I lived close enough to get pie … and that just might be the thing to get me on Facebook!!

  10. I’m not reading as fast as usual, but I am enjoying the books. Your reviews are always so helpful and right on. I felt the same about Eight Years and about Magpie. My goal on Goodreads is the same as last years, but I’m not forcing myself to hit that mark as I like to make sure I really read a book and get the most out of it.

  11. Thanks for the reviews. I had been eyeing Magpie and the John Green. I needed a book to read in the middle of a trip last week and found Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand languishing on my neglected kindle. So I’m reading that and searching for a good audiobook for the car.

  12. Good reminder to not rush through books. I find myself doing that every now and then; especially audiobooks.

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