Books – December 2018 Roundup

I tried SO HARD to get my modified reading goal accomplished. And I was so close. The only reason I stayed up as late as I did on New Years Eve was to try and finish one more book, but I just couldn’t get it done. I even read two comic book volumes that had been lingering on my “to-read” list for a while. In the end I was short by one book. One stinking book! If I had been able to finish any of the other books I’d started in the last couple weeks, I would have made it. Instead, it looks like I’ll start the year off with a bang. This year’s goal and the whys on that at the bottom.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This was our book club book for December, and it was a lot of fun to read. Mainly because while I have seen theatrical, television and film adaptations of this story, I haven’t ever read the book properly. And it was a real short one, so that was satisfying. Spoiler alert: because the book is so short, you’ll be familiar with nearly everything that happens, but there are also things that get put in the movies (especially as part of Scrooge’s backstory) that aren’t in the book. A highly satisfying December read.

Call of the Wild by Jack London
Technically, I guess A Christmas Carol could have been my “classic book” for the year. And I don’t even really remember if I read another classic book this year (would have to go back and look – oh, just did, and I didn’t), so this was a good one to sneak in at the end. Another short book, but one I really liked. I didn’t really have any idea what the story was about, and didn’t even realize that it was told from the point of view of the dog. But super interesting, and made me want to go back and either find and play “Yukon Trail” or else read more about the Yukon gold rush.

People I Want to Punch in the Throat: True(ish) Tales of an Overachieving Underachiever by Jen Mann
I finally finished this book! That may sound like it took some effort to finish it, but the main issue was that this was a Kindle book for me, and I’ve now reached old-ladyhood by falling asleep nearly as soon as I start reading a book in bed – the only place and time I’m able to read my Kindle. It was pretty funny, and I would definitely be up for reading the other essay collections she’s done.

Loveable Liveable Home by John and Sherry Petersik
This is a book I’ve owned for three years. It was a Christmas gift from my sister and brother-in-law, and I know that because it still has the gift tag inside the book and I used it as a bookmark. I’ve mentioned my enjoyment of the Petersiks and their blog and podcast before, but I had just not managed to read this book. Since 2019 will be a year in which the Boy and I embark upon some serious home improvements, I figured it was time to read this. Also, I had received as gifts at least one book that was recommended by them on their podcast, and so I figured if I didn’t read
Book 2, I was a real turd. And it didn’t hurt that it would be a quick read. 😉

Ice Cream Man Vol. 1: Rainbow Sprinkles by W. Maxwell Prince, illustrated by Martín Morazzo
I’d read lots of good things about this new comic book. It was appearing on all kinds of best-of-the-year lists. And then I read it was immediately disappointed. I went in not knowing at all what it was, which was probably for the best in the end. It turns out to be a collection of short horror stories, all connected by the same creepy Ice Cream Man who is haunting a town. I wish the stories had been more connected. That they didn’t seem so completely random sometimes. It felt like the very last issue in the volume was making overtures towards a thread to tie everything together, but I’m not sure I’m interested enough to keep going and see if the series lives up to the hype.

Saga Volume 9 by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples
I had known that Vaughan and Staples would be taking a year-long break after a time, and well deserved because Saga is a gem. But I hadn’t read the final issues yet, and Oh. My. God. Seriously folks – what a cliffhanger to end on. What a reveal. I am sad and shocked and I don’t know how things move forward. But I trust the creators because they are geniuses, and because they’ve done weird stuff in the past that works.


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
This was one that I fell behind listening to and then the due date on the audiobook caught up with me. I’ve got it again, and am about 3/4 done, so it should be a decent thing to accomplish this month? Also – that’s a classic book to check off the list right off the bat!

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
My book club book for January. I got a good way through and then it got taken away from me. Fingers crossed I can get this back from the library and finished before I host in a few weeks!

Lonely Planet City Trails – Tokyo
This was the book I tried to finish on New Years Eve because it was short with lots of pictures. Spoiler alert: we’re going to Japan this year, and taking all the kiddos.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Inadvertent theme of classic books I’m reading recently: dogs. This is one I never read before and am actually thoroughly enjoying. I’m reading it slightly sped up so as to finish quicker (I’ve got Grapes of Wrath waiting again, and would hate to not finish this time!), and it hasn’t changed the sound of things too much, I don’t think.


My reading goal for 2019 is 48 books. That’s 4 books per month, which I think is a very reasonable goal for having no plans to miss out on commute and lunchtime reading time. And with 4 books already started (and nearly halfway through all of them already!), I think things should start out well. But then, I said the same thing last year, so who knows?

6 Comment

  1. Beverly says: Reply

    Old lady hood eh?

    What makes a book a classic? How old should it be? Twenty/thirty years or older? Or more?

    1. maggie says: Reply

      I’m not sure I can give a definitive answer on what makes a “classic”, but like pornography, you’ll know it when you see it. 😉

      Beyond that, I would say it’s not really a matter of age, so much as an enduring legacy. Yes, it’s one that people will say, “YOU SHOULD READ THIS” (and that’s part of what makes a modern classic), but it’s also one with a story that is either perfectly of its time or else could stand anywhere in time. One with either a wonderful message, and/or a way of telling a great story that is unique and memorable.

      And even these are perhaps both too restrictive, and not restrictive enough as far as qualifications. I think mainly it’s a book you hear of again and again as being one that needs to be read.

  2. Nicole says: Reply

    Lab Girl is – you may have guessed – a book I have read. Can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Are you listening to an audiobook of it? I read the hardback, so I wonder how the audiobook changes the experience of this book, because it’s written in first-person, right? Does the author read her own book?

    Grapes of Wrath is a classic I read last year, I think? I can’t remember what I read it for…it was FOR something…… oh well. I had never read it in school, where I think most people encounter the book. I believe I did the audiobook version of it, too. Have you read it before?

    1. maggie says: Reply

      The author does read her own book, and it’s fascinating to listen to her talk, mostly because she seems so softspoken in her manner of speech. I wonder if she comes across that way to someone reading the book, or if she seems more authoritative?

      Grapes of Wrath is not one I’d ever read before. I had heard vague things about it, and most of what I knew about it was related to Steinbeck’s portions about the “Mother Road” from my various encounters with Rt 66. And since most of what I read is through audiobook, this was/is too. I’ve got the version narrated by Dylan Baker which is pretty good.

      1. Nicole says:

        It’s been a few years since I read Lab Girl, but the lasting impression I had of her was neither softspoken nor authoritative. Rather, I read her voice, in my head, as…. I guess you might say intense? She was wildly excited and determined in her work, or else down in the darkest pits of depression (that is the nature or manic depression, after all). I was amazed at the lengths to which she went to make her experiments work, or to cobble together equipment and funding she lacked. It was frankly terrifying to think that being ‘successful’ in science might require those drastic lengths.

  3. […] remember how I was only cautiously optimistic last month about being able to read 48 books in 2019? Well, if January is any indication of how things will go […]

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