Books – January Roundup

Cover photos (clockwise from top left): ©2002 Villard; © 2016 Gallery Books; © 2010 Vintage; © 2008 Librivox; © 2016 Feiwel & Friends

Here we go – the second big change in my blog format adventure, it’s the last Friday of the month, and so it’s time to tell you what I read and what I’m reading right now!


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

This was my book club book for the meeting we had in early January.  It was written in the 1850s and is considered to be one of the first mystery novels.  It was serialized, and also used multiple narrators – a technique not common at the time.  Reading it felt a lot like when I read Charles Dickens books as a teenager.  The language is a little stilted, and some of the narrations and sections of the book are more appealing than others (getting over that first hump was HARD!), but it was definitely worth it to get through.  I think it also helped that I was listening to the audiobook version (read by a full cast thanks to LibriVox).  I barely gave myself enough time to finish it – I should have started earlier than mid-late December for our early January meeting, and I’ll be honest and let y’all know that I only finished 15 minutes before everyone showed up.  Still good, but not an easy read.

The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro

I have this vague memory of reading in Glamour magazine about this book – or some similar magazine aimed at young women.  This is a collection of non-fiction short stories/essays that tell about the life of author Laurie Notaro.  She’s not a “good person”, and she’s kind of just scraping by, but she’s having fun and enjoying her friends while living her life.  Many of the essays first appeared in the newspaper where Notaro was a columnist.  This is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for YEARS, and I actually have two more of her essay collections which I intend to read someday as well.  It was a fun book, and I enjoyed it, but I don’t really intend on re-reading it.  If you’re interested in having my copy (FREE) – let me know in the comments!

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

I’ve been on the waiting list for this memoir since the early fall of 2016.  I was so excited to start listening to it, and I was not disappointed.  Amy insists at the beginning that this is not a memoir, because she’s not old enough or pretentious enough to write a memoir, but despite it all, it sort of is.  And it was fascinating to hear that someone that I enjoyed and felt like I had a good impression of in my mind as an exuberant extrovert was also painfully introverted, and a bit of a scaredy-cat.  Also she has some hideous stuffed animals.  No matter.  It was a fun read, and I was amazed (and pleased!) at how much time she devoted to her topics of advocacy, which are domestic abuse and gun control – both of which have touched her life.  Highly recommended.

One Day by David Nicholls

This was a kindle book that I read on the train ride down to visit my sister and her family in Virginia Beach.  I’d bought it months ago when it was on the Kindle daily sale (I get an update from Goodreads when one of the books I’m interested in is cheap), and so I had maybe spent $1.99 on it.  I think I originally wanted to read it based on the fact that there was a movie based on the book that came out a few years ago starring Anne Hathaway.  I never watched the movie, and so I was unspoiled for the book, and while it’s definitely not high literature, it’s engaging and interesting, and a quick read.  It also made me cry.  So definitely worth a look if you’re looking for something fast to get lost in.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

This is the short story collection follow up to the book series that I finished last year.  This is not the kind of book you can read without having read the entire series, because very little will make sense.  The real reason I wanted to read it was because of the short story that forms a sort of epilogue to the the Lunar Chronicles themselves.  I listened to this recently in the car while the Boy was there (reading the Economist) and he asked what I saw in this story – I think he was sort of mocking the idea of reading young adult books as a frivolous pursuit.  But the stories are good, and I felt connected to the characters, so I wanted more.  It’s no more shameful than being really into the Song of Ice and Fire books, and wanting to read every short story and additional piece that relates to the history of those books.  Likewise, this collection is an excellent addition for those who have enjoyed the other Marissa Meyer books.


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I don’t know what I expected this book to be.  I think I had this idea in my head that it was a more modern/futuristic idea of the Underground Railroad, because I didn’t read up on the book – only knew that it was on a lot of “Best of 2016” lists, and had seen from friends that it was really moving.  Instead, so far it’s a more realistic and brutal look at the lives of slaves, and difficulty of escaping.  The writing is excellent, and the audio performance of Bahni Turpin is terrific so far.  I guess I’ll let you know more next month?

Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony by Lewis Thomas

This is another book that I heard about long ago – or rather an author I’d heard about.  It was either while I was taking AP Biology in high school, or during my undergraduate biology studies that I first heard of Thomas, who was a physician, scientist and educator with most of his bigger publications coming in the 1970s and 80s.  I think I picked up this copy at Strand Books in New York a few years ago.  Reading it so far and having to put the essays in the context of the 1980s science and political environment is FASCINATING.

So that’s it.  What I’ve read and what I’m reading.  Have you read one of those books?  Want to?  Loved or hated one?  What are you reading now – anything I should add to my list?

3 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    Colson Whitehead is going to be on campus next month for a reading and signing of Underground Railroad. I won’t be able to get to the book by then, but I intend to go anyway and hopefully get a signed copy!!

    1. maggie says: Reply

      Woo! It’s really good so far, and things have changed in the story even since I wrote my post yesterday! You should definitely go.

  2. […] last time when I said that this book was a more realistic take on the Underground Railroad than I’d been […]

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