Thursday, January 2, 2020

What We Read in December

December ended up being a huge reading month for me - but mostly out of necessity! I use the 'pause hold' feature at the library so that I can move up the queue and unpause the hold when I'm ready to read the book. However, you have to set an expiration date for your holds and I didn't realize all my holds expired in mid-November. So all of a sudden about 15 books became available for me to read. Eeks! Since I'm an enneagram 1 and an upholder, I couldn't stomach holding the books past their due date and racking up fines, so I read as many books as I possibly could. Many of the books were in transit for awhile so they weren't all available at the same time. So I was able to read 10 of the them before their due date, bringing my total books read in 2019 to 104! I don't expect to read 100+ in 2020 but we'll see!

Mom's Reads:


I loved a lot of these books so have to be really particular about hits so I don't end up talking about 6+ books - I gave 4 stars to 8 out of 10!

- The Gown by Jennifer Robson - I'd recommend this for Anglophiles, watchers of The Crown, and fans of historical fiction. It's a fictional account of the making of Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown. It's a dual narrative as it's told from the perspective of one of the gown makers in the 40s and one of the embroiderer's grandchildren who lives in Toronto and is trying to learn more about her grandmother's time in England before some immigrated to Canada. This was such an enjoyable read!

- The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal - This is the second novel by this author and I loved this book as much as his debut novel. He's a Minnesota author so he sets his books in Minnesota, usually in small towns. At the heart of the novel, it's about 2 sisters who have a falling out over how their parents estate was handled (one sister got everything). I heard the author interviewed on a podcast recently and he talks about his intentional decision to feature people with lives that don't get much attention - like those who work in nursing homes. This author is doing his home state proud!

- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett - Ann Patchett is one of those authors whose books I HAVE to read when a new one comes out. She's a master at character-driven family novels. In this novel, we meet 2 siblings who find themselves kicked out of their home after this father passes as the estate goes to their step-mom. The novel covers 5 decades and we get to see how their challenging childhood and close relationship impacts their lives as adults.


- On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong - This novel is a letter from a son to his mother. His mother was abusive towards him and, in general, the family had a very hard life as immigrants to the US from Vietnam. You'll be hard-pressed to find a 'best of 2019' list that doesn't include this book. But it was a big miss for me. I know it is beautifully written but it just did not resonate with me and I had to really push myself to finish it. It’s something I should have abandoned but I kept reading to try to understand what all the buzz was about. 

Paul's Books:

Paul received a number of new books for Christmas. His favorites are ones with buttons on the side that play music or sounds. The one he's looking at in the picture below has dinosaur sounds which I find quite scary! 

He also loves the "Pookie" series by Sandra Boynton. I got him 3 from this series plus another book from the Amazon "best of 2019" list.

But amidst the new books, he's still a fan of the 'oldies but goodies' - like the Dr. Seuss ABC book. He's starting to recognize letters which is pretty cool!

Did you read anything good last month?



i like that you are very much dedicated towards your woorjk and happy holidays to you

Jeanie said...

I read the Gown this summer and I loved it. Of course, I'm an Anglophile but I thought it was pretty well written and I learned a lot about that couture industry in the post war years, too. And I'm reading The Dutch House now. I'm just about 70 pages in so much to happen. But I love Ann Patchett (Commonwealth is on my stack) and know I'll love it. I'll have my book post ready in a few days but the last thing I read this year was "The Last Painting of Sara DeVos" and it was very good!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I admire how much you read. I should really make more time for it, as it's one of my favourite hobbies. I never know where to start with choosing fiction though, as I haven't read enough of it as an adult to know what I like ... if I have new non-fiction around the house, I can't stop myself from reading, so I think I just need to go to the library more often. I wish the library would deliver, hahaha! Oh no! Actually typing this out, I realize that I probably need to get on to e-books. That's probably the best way to up my reading ...

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

The lager queen looks interesting. My library has it but I just picked up two books from there today. I may have to check it out soon! I enjoyed most of what I read in December. I'd suggest Quiver, The Optimists Guide to Letting Go, Merci Suarez Changes Gears, A long walk to water and Ayesha at Last.

Stephany said...

I have heard nothing but rave reviews of The Dutch House so I need to move it up my TBR list! I really want to listen to the audiobook because Tom Hanks narrates it (heart eyes!)

The best book I read in December was Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. So fascinating and terrifying!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I love Ann Patchett too! I have not read anything of hers that is not good. One of my favorites was This is The Story of a Happy Marriage. I have The Dutch House on my holds list at the library, but I haven't been able to keep up with them fast enough. I am not sure if I am doing my hold pause correctly because I put a few on freeze for a few months, but I think I am still getting them anyway. I end up losing a lot of them due to not reading them fast enough!

I also agree with you regarding the Ocean Vuong book! I wanted to like it but it was just meh for me! And just like you, I had four books that were all ready to expire and that was one of them. I pushed through it but could have done without it.

Amber said...

I am reading The Dutch House right now and LOVING it. It's a huge page turner for me and will definitely be a 5 star read. I waited forever for it to come in at the library, a solid 4 months I think! 104 books is extremely impressive!! Is that your biggest reading year ever?