Books – January 2018 Roundup

I’m kind of ridiculously proud of myself this month.  It turns out that two of the books I said I would finish in December I actually finished in the very first days of January.  But it didn’t end up mattering, because I remembered to add in a couple of books I finished earlier in the year that were pregnancy-related but I hadn’t wanted to add to Goodreads and advertise my condition/plans.  So Anne of Avonlea and Bringing Up Bebe got shuffled to the 2018 total.  But that means those two items, along with the five that I solidly started and finished in 2018 brings me to 7 books read so far.  I am so, so excited.  Especially since there will be a little person coming along soon to tank my numbers.  Better to be a good chunk ahead now and have slightly less to catch up on later.

FINISHED:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This month’s book club book.  It was good, but it was also not as all-encompassingly awesome as I thought it was going to be, or supposed to be.  And it was also not quite as fantastical as I had imagined based on the trailers for the movie that I’ve seen.  It was still good and interesting, but we had a fascinating (though short) discussion during book club about how we were kind of disappointed by this book, and also didn’t really like Meg (the main character).  So…eh?  That’s going to be a seriously unpopular opinion, but whatevs.  I didn’t dislike it – it was just after talking about it with other people I realized it was maybe not as awesome as all the hype?

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

This is a book that didn’t disappoint me.  I had vague ideas about what it was supposed to be about – refugees from a war in the middle east and some kind of magic? – but it turned out to be more awesome, interesting and nuanced than I would possibly have imagined.  And as I had hoped last month in my preview, it was very short, and so I was able to finish it very quickly.  I also loved that the author read for the audiobook.  There’s not much I can say about the story without spoiling it, but know that the short description above is just a starting point and makes the whole story FASCINATING.

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

I am frankly surprised that I got the audiobook of this as fast as I did.  The book only came out in the fall, and I feel like it’s the kind of thing that more people would be clamoring to read – but maybe not?  In any case, I enjoyed this quite a bit.  I do like short story collections, which can be both frustrating and relieving.  If a story is particularly good, you just want it to go on and on.  If it’s bad, there will be an ending sooner than you think.  Hanks did a pretty good job with a good mix – quite a few good stories, a couple less appealing, and a couple that were wonderful.  Another quick-ish read, and the audiobook is nice too because Hanks’s voice is so familiar.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

I don’t know where I got this book recommended to me, but I was searching for something to read in my queue after Uncommon Type, and this was available.  It turned out to be really interesting, and also to have won the 2016 Printz award for excellence in YA literature from the ALA group that governs that area.  There were times when it confused or annoyed me because I’m not the biggest fan of magical realism, but this book was so different in that area, that I’m not sure I minded too much.  It did end somewhat abruptly in my opinion, but the story was good and different, and surprised me more than once.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Oh yeah – a book about unusual death rituals around the world, but which treats them respectfully.  Not the kind of book I would expect to find myself reading, but very good nonetheless.  I think I mentioned enjoying Doughty’s “Ask a Mortician” video series, but she has proven herself an excellent and humorous writer as well, which makes me want to read her other book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

IN PROGRESS/IMMEDIATELY NEXT:

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Another book where I’m not sure who or what list recommended it to me.  It’s a long one though, and a fascinating look through the eyes of four women in three generations of a family about their lives and how it all relates to their summer home in Maine.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Book club book for February.  This is one my sister has read and liked, which is a big deal since she’s not much of a reader.  I’m interested to see whether all the hype surrounding this book is worth it!

***

So yeah.  January.  On a good start to the year.

6 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    I’m disappointed you were disappointed in AWiT! haha. While it is L’Engle’s most popular and well-known book, I don’t think it’s her best. She, in fact, has over 60 published works and my personal favorite is A Ring of Endless Light which I have read probably 5 or 6 times so far. I also think A Wrinkle In TIme is better when set in the context of what is known as the Time Quartet, which includes 3 other books of related fantastical adventures by the Murrey family.
    I am excited for the movie (Ava DuVerney, what-what!) there are huge parts of the trailer I don’t recognize. They have definitely stepped up the action/adventure to make it more big-screen friendly. Also, I kind of hate Mindy Kaling (I know you love her though) so I am not excited to see her as one of the Witches. I also can’t tell who each Witch is supposed to be and there are several important things missing.
    AWiT, like most of L’Engle’s writing, is more about big-picture philosophical musing than fun fantasy.

    We should definitely talk more about Hillbilly Elegy as you are reading through it, as someone who, you know, actually comes from that world. It’s interesting the mixed reactions to that book you get from Appalachian folks.
    If 2017 taught me anything, it was how people carry their own baggage to every interaction they have and how that baggage colors everything for them (I mean, this is something all humans do but it seems to be particularly drastic and on display in this moment in time), so you can talk to 2 or 3 Appalachian folk who read it and it’s like they read as many different books. I think I filled up half my journal with thoughts and musings on and sparked by that book while I was reading it.

    1. maggie says: Reply

      Yeah – I think it was way more philosophical musing and less SF/F adventure than I had expected. And perhaps this is where not having paid close attention to the book as a kid, and then being vaguely influenced by the movie trailers was not for the better? In any case, I’ll probably still see the movie, but I’m not sure AWiT was exciting enough to draw me in and make me want to read more of the quartet. Oh well.

      I’ll probably want to talk over Hillbilly Elegy with you once I make any actual progress with it. The Boy is interested in reading it too, so maybe we get to have a mini-book club of our own at some point? 😉

      1. Nicole Holstein says:

        Lol yeah if you’re not into the Big Question, ontology-heavy lit, then L’Engle, in general, is probably not your bag. AWiT is definitely her most SciFi novel, too. Though ‘An Acceptable Time’ does have time travel and some vaguely druidic spirit/magic stuff. And ‘Many Waters’ travels back in time to Biblical time.

        It took me ages to get Hillbilly Elegy from the library in either ebook or audiobook format, and it’s probably not much of a shorter wait now, but it would be fun if [The Boy] were to read it at the same time as you so we could all talk about it. I think your mom read it already too, right? Do I smell a family bookclub???

      2. maggie says:

        Fortunately I’ve got HE as a kindle book (it was on sale around Christmas, I think?), and since we’re “family” with Amazon, he should be able to borrow it from me as soon as I’m done. That is, if he can put down the big fat fantasy novels he’s been gobbling up lately. 🙂

  2. Beverly says: Reply

    I’m up for a family book club to talk about Hillbilly Elegy. I am particularly interested in Nicole’s thoughts on the book. I found it fascinating. And…he described a different world from my experience.

  3. Beverly says: Reply

    Oh…and I’m glad you liked Exit West. I really liked it too.

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