Wednesday, February 1, 2023

What We Read in January

January was a decent month of reading for me. I read 7 books which is on the lower end for me, but I had a ton of social plans during the month which cut into my reading time. Also, in the past I would read during both of Will's weekend naps but now I spend one of them working out so I can hit 3-4 workouts/week. Plus most of what I read was very heavy and heavy books tend to slow down my pace of reading. Lastly, after several months of multiple 5-star reads, I only had one 5-star read this month so my reading didn't feel as stellar but was still quite good! Here is how our reading shaped up.


My favorite of this bunch was "All the Broken Places" by John Boyne. It's technically a sequel to "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" but if you haven't read that book, you would likely still enjoy this book. It follows the life of the daughter of a Nazi commandant and looks at culpability. "The Midnight Library" was our January pick for book club. I re-read it since I didn't remember much from when I read it in November 2020. When I read it for the first time, I felt pretty meh but I was 9 months pregnant and expecting a baby during the peak of the pandemic so I wasn't in the right mindset to ponder existential thoughts. I liked it more this time around and we had a good discussion about regrets and roads not taken in life. "The Four Treasures of the Sky" is historical fiction set in the Western part of the US in the 1880s. It focuses on the horrific treatment of Chinese immigrants and is VERY HEAVY/SAD. "Solito" is another heavy book - it's a memoir of the author's journey from El Salvador to Arizona at the age of 9. I had to keep reminding myself that the child makes it since he's alive and writing this memoir. "And Yet" is a beautiful collection of poems that focuses on the experiences of women and mothers. You could read this in one sitting. 


Neither of these books worked for me. "The Midcoast" is literary fiction set in Maine. It's the examination of a family that pretends to be something that it's not (they exude wealth but it's all based on lies/dishonesty). "The Ingenue" had promise as it was about a young piano prodigy. But overall it was a miss for me. The protagonist is around my age in this book and I didn't understand some of the decisions she made/how she dealt with challenges in her life. 

Paul's Reading:

These were our 2 favorite picture books from January, both from repeat authors that we love! I highly recommend both!

Paul and I have started to read chapter books and most have worked well but Socks by Beverly Cleary was a bit of a miss. I have such great memories of reading Cleary books but hadn't read this one. It wasn't as good as her Ramona series and I think the content went a bit over Paul's head. It's about a couple who gets a cat - and then the cat is kind of benignly neglected when they have a baby. This book hasn't aged well either as it talks about the post-partum mom needing to go on a diet... I'm really sensitive to talk of diets/body shaming/etc since I was so very critical of myself from an early age. So we'll be putting this in the little free library as I don't plan to read it to Will down the road. 

Did you read anything great in January? 


Elisabeth said...

We have that same Billy Goats Gruff book in our bin from the library; just haven’t read it yet!!

Nicole said...

I thought the Midnight Library was okay, but I didn't love it. So much depends on my headspace when I read though, as you say! I just remember that there were a lot of Thoreau quotes, and I CANNOT WITH THOREAU. I have an immediate negative reaction to anything with Thoreau in it, because I just think of his mother doing all his laundry and bringing him food so he could live in the woods all intentionally and shit. Then that brings me to LM Alcott's father who ran his whole family into complete and utter poverty as a peer of Thoreau and MEN, I TELL YOU.
Wow, my comment took a TURN.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I was not a huge fan of the Midnight Library. My Mom really like the Humans and has tried to get me to read it, but I gave three stars to Midnight Library and three to Comfort Book, so I have not put the Humans on the top of my priority list. I have the Boyne on hold but I think I have a long wait for it still...

I am trying to be more generous (I try every year!) with my stars, so this month I actually gave three books five stars. I will not lie, I went back at the end of the month and adjusted a couple because it is kind of all relative. I gave five to Dinners With Ruth, The Light We Carry and Remarkably Bright Creatures. I know you were not as much of a fan of the latter but I thought it was touching and really enjoyed the characters so I bumped it from four to five yesterday.

On the flip side, I also DNFed two books that both got great reviews: The Love Songs of WEB Dubois and Demon Copperhead. I may have just not been in the right headspace at the time for them so I may come back to them depending on what my closer friends think (and not just the general GR population).

Jeanie said...

I think it's interesting how we can read a book at different times and our feeling about it is much different. Anyone who read "The Great Gatsby" in college should pick it up again when they are 40 or 50 -- and any number of other books! I wonder -- is it our time of life, our experience that adds to it, our concentration or lack thereof when reading? An interesting topic.

NGS said...

I love that you reread the book and came away with different thoughts and feelings about it. I feel like the absolute best books speak to us differently at different times in our lives. I've read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" at various points in my life and it's always interesting to see which character I most relate to when I read it. At this point, I'm the people who own the house that Francie uses their address to go to the better school. Ha! Why is this little girl always stopping at our house?!

coco said...

homegoing and die with zero were my favorite, 10/10 type of books!!! thanks to your tips for reading, i read much more in January :)

Sarah said...

@NGS: Oh my gosh YES-- I thought of Neelie's zitful cap the other day out of nowhere on my walk. I actually find myself thinking most fondly of sergeant McShane, too, a character I barely paid attention to before.

I, too, just thought The Midnight Library was OK-- probably because I am so shallow and would have just run with a life of fame and fortune.

Grateful Kae said...

I haven't read any of these, and after reading the comments, I'm intrigued by this Midnight Library book! Should I add to my list??

Sounds like overall you had some heavier reads this month!! I think you're due for some beachy type reads. haha. Maybe something to take your mind off the cold weather. ;)

Diane said...

I got my son the Three Billy Goats Gruff book for Christmas! I was in the bookstore browsing and it made me laugh out loud in the middle of the store, so I figured it would be a good choice.
My oldest loved listening to the Ramona books on audio when she was little - my Husband didn't like them, though - he finds books with chaotic kids hard to take in. Not escapist enough, I guess.
I did not like Midnight Library at all - the whole thing seemed just kind of... prescriptive and pat. I thought his book How to Stop Time was much more interesting a framework to explore the same ideas of what would we should do with our one precious life.
I have Four Treasures of The Sky on my holds list, and am looking forward to that one.
Love Kate Baer's poetry. So much of it is spot on and perfectly expressed.

Shoshanah said...

I was so excited to read Beverly Clearly books with my kids, but found they really weren’t great for younger kids. The chapters are so long and there’s not many pictures. I still love them for nostalgia, but we didn’t have a lot of success with them even though each made it through a couple. Have you read the Dragon Master books yet? They’re my son’s favorite! Also, Zoey and Sassafras’s is great too. They’re science based and feature a cat!

Jenny said...

Yes- I LOVE Beverly Cleary but Socks was probably my least favorite of her books. My daughter has never been that interested in books (SIGH) but we read all the Ramona books together, multiple times. I would try to branch out into books I though were similar, but she always wanted to go back to Ramona. We still refer to those books, like "It's just like at Ramona's birthday party where Susan brought an apple!" I almost feel like Ramona is a real person.
Anyway, I recently finished David Goggins' new book- I know he's not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

Stephany said...

Three Billy Goats Gruff! OMG, that brings me back. I think my mom had felt pieces (and a felt board) for that story when she was a daycare teacher.

In January, I loved A World of Curiosities, Wrong Place Wrong Time, and A Burning. It was a strong month of reading for me!