Welcome to 2015, friends. Welcome to exciting prospects and goals for the upcoming months, if you’re the resolution-making sort. :)
Last year, though I wouldn’t consider it a resolution so much as a fun project, I read 53 books of all shapes and sizes. If you’ll allow me just a second of gloating, that’s one book for each week of 2014, plus one! I can’t help but be proud that this goal worked out so well, as I’d never attempted such a feat in years prior. Though I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember, it wasn’t until 2014 that I began to really examine what I was reading, as well as keep a detailed log of what I was reading (available on Goodreads).
I decided to up the ante in 2015 by not only pushing the goal up by 10 books (60 books in 2015), but I’m also following a checklist of different genres or types of books. Here’s the list if you’re interested:
Along with this reading goal, I’ve decided that blogging each month about what I read would be fun and also give me the opportunity to narrow down my thoughts about each book. Connecting with others via blogging and opening up a dialogue for readers never hurt either!
Here’s what I read in January:
A nonfiction book: I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame by Brene Brown
Following the sort-of tradition of last year, I started 2015 with a nonfiction choice. Brene Brown is famous particularly for her TED talks about shame and courage. Her books are growing more of a following as well. This book outlines real-life experiences women have that elicit feelings of shame (which, I learned, is different and more intense than guilt and embarrassment). If nothing else, Brown offers an opportunity for the reader to connect to the women’s shame stories and find reassurance that their feelings are validated. However, I was expecting the book to also provide more accessible strategies in dealing with feelings of shame, and there were none. This shortcoming is why I docked a star off my Goodreads rating. However, I think the book is worth a read for the opportunity for connection, as well as for Brown’s scientific information about the subject of shame softened by her Southern wit.
A book with a one-word title: Tampa by Alissa Nutting (NSFW!)
If there was a category on my 2015 challenge checklist called “a book you would be embarrassed to be seen holding in public,” Tampa would be it. Goodreads users have called this a reverse Lolita (an adult woman involved with a pubescent boy), but I don’t believe that’s accurate. Celeste Price, unlike Humbert Humbert, does not at any point try to convince the reader of her innocent intentions. Her actions are strictly lustful, rather than romantic. It’s a fascinating, addictive dive into a beautiful trophy-wife-by-day’s hunt for the perfect partner: a fourteen-year-old boy in her classroom. The book might make a few readers squeamish, given the subject matter and the candid, unemotional way Celeste describes her own actions and desires. It’s completely exceptional, yet disturbing and cold and detached. I gave it five stars. For those over 18, but use your own discretion.
A book you can finish in a day: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
This is my pick for my favorite book in January. I was commissioned to read Stargirl for my adolescent literature class this semester. Never did an assigned reading go over better. I finished the book in one day and immediately scampered out to the local bookstore for the sequel, Love, Stargirl. This is a fantastic story about bullying, acceptance, and being oneself, and not once does it veer into sappy, after-school special territory. Everyone that has ever been in public school should read this book. Five stars.
A book from your childhood: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
It is my firm opinion that you haven’t fully experienced children’s literature until you’ve read a Roald Dahl book. While this isn’t necessarily my favorite of his, it’s a sheer delight that will have even adults cracking up. It’s hilarious and cheerful without being too cloying–Dahl always incorporates wry, dark humor into his stories that keeps his stories from veering into Pollyanna territory. Five stars.
A book with magic: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Sad to say, at three stars, this was the most disappointing book I read in January. It was also the longest. Good gracious, was it long! I’m not the kind of person to shy away from a long book (I’ve read Gone with the Wind more than once), but City of Bones could easily have been about 100 pages shorter. I found it was often very slow-paced and depended too much on dialogue, and I got either bored or lost at times. I loved the almost constant adventure, and the action sequences were well-written, but when the story slowed down, it REALLY slowed down. There was a real lack of character development as well. Finally (and I know at this point it sounds like I hated the book–I didn’t), a LOT of the happenings were very, very predictable. I may make a whole separate blog entry on this book, just to organize my thoughts on it. Multiple people have told me that the series picks up in the second or third book (which I think is another flaw), but we’ll have to see.
All in all, I can’t say I had a bad reading month. Here’s hoping that February produces such great reactions!
What are y’all reading lately? I’d love to know in the comments. Also, those of you following along on the reading challenge above, what did you mark off the list in January?
I’m off to pick my next book,