Monday, February 1, 2016

Books I Read in January (and December)

Pretty Library Books

So, in all that end-of-year-reflections and new-year-new-goals hubbub, I completely forgot to mention the books I read in December. Except, sadly, it was only two books I read in December. I really thought that with my break from school and all that delicious travel time, I'd get just tons of reading in. But no. I did not. I'll talk about all the reasons my travel reading failed in my next post.

But, I managed to read four books in January, which is not a terrible month for me. It sure helped getting back in my audio-book commute routine once school started up again. In this mix, there were some good ones, and there were some just okay ones. Here we go.

December Books:

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and D. Ross Campbell - So, I've talked about love languages before, and I'm totally on the love language band wagon. Figuring out the love languages of the people around me (especially when it isn't my own) has been the single best thing to happen to all my adult relationships, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to see how this love language idea applied to children. And yes, I found it very insightful and helpful, and it gave me a slew of new strategies to work with in figuring out my own children (I'll probably write more about this at some point). However, I also found this slight little volume to be super repetitive (especially since I've read the other book), and the basic information probably could be communicated in one really solid info-graphic. But whatever, they turned it into a book, and if you're a parent, I still highly recommend it.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer - I plunged into this one right after the semester ended, when I needed something super light and fluffy for my brain to relax on, but didn't want to waste my time on something stupid. Luckily, I stumbled on just the right book. This was a delightful Regency romance (although quite light on the romance, as this genre goes) that was also smart and loads of fun. Sophy, the main character, was simply delightful. She managed to be a thoroughly modern independent woman while at the same time staying just enough inside the bounds of the time period to be believable, and I actually missed her when the book was over. I am super interested in reading more Heyer, if the rest of her work is this delightful.

January Books:

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - I can't decide if I loved this book, or if it was just okay. I picked it up because someone recommended it as a good companion to The Book of Strange New Things, and I find the concept of a sci-fi alien meets Christianity book to be fascinating (maybe has something to do with Mormon doctrine). In some ways, this book was much more what I was expecting from this type of scenario, but in other ways it fell kind of flat for me. The writing was excellent, the characters were excellent (for those interested, this book is much more heavy on characters and relationships and really quite light on the sci-fi), the way the plot unfolded was intriguing, but the big reveal at the end was, I don't know, disappointing. Not only did I see it a mile away, but it was also a bit of let-down in that it was the kind of trial you don't need to go to another planet to find. I guess I'm still looking for the perfect alien meets Christianity book (but I do still recommend this one).

A Spool of Blue Thread by Ann Tyler - I've heard so many good things about Ann Tyler, but when I got to the end of this book, I just wondered, "What was the point of that story?" So, the writing was excellent. I really found myself involved in this family and the characters. But I think I need to talk through this book with someone, because I feel like I missed something. It would probably make a great book club book, but it's not going to be a personal favorite. I'm definitely willing to try something else by her though, because I can see she is a fabulous writer.

What Happened to Good-bye? by Sarah Dessen - So, I usually think of myself as a big fan of YA, especially when it's good and clean and has a nice bit of romance thrown in. But I don't know, maybe I'm getting old and grumpy, or elitist, or maybe this just wasn't actually that good. It wasn't bad, but in the end it felt like a waste of time. I think this was my first Dessen, and I've heard a lot of good things about her, so I might try another at some point, but right now I'm just not feeling the contemporary YA genre.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - You guys, can you believe that this was my first ever time reading Virginia Woolf? So, what can I say? First off, I listened to this as an audio book, but I quickly came to the conclusion that audio is not the right way for me to consume Virginia Woolf. I think I need to see her words on the page, read them slowly, and savor her sentence construction a bit. It was very difficult for me to get into this book listening to it (which is saying something, since I usually prefer audio). However, I could tell the writing was amazing. I could tell the various characters were so completely formed, and that Virginia Woolf has some pretty amazing insight into human nature. I absolutely want to come back to this book again at some point and read it again on paper. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll end up really liking Virginia Woolf, if I give her the proper attention.

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts/opinions on them?

P.S. The January episode of The Book Blab has been rescheduled for this Friday, February 5th. We're switching the time up, and we'll be streaming live at 10:30 AM Central Time (still trying to figure out what works best with our schedules and kids and all). So, if you have a free half-hour this Friday morning, feel free to join us for our discussion about books and reading goals. We'll see you there!


  1. I read "A Spool of Blue Thread" for my book club, but I hadn't finished it before discussing it. After the discussion I did enjoy reading it more, but you're right that there are flaws. Call me sometime and we can talk about it, because I just finished "Book of Strange New Things" and I have some things I want to discuss about that book too!

    1. Yes! Let's Facetime this weekend. I'd love to chat with you about these books.

  2. Georgette Heyer is one of my favorites! I've only read a couple of her romances, but her mysteries are just as enjoyable--very witty, with such entertaining conversations. Love it!
    Sarah Dessen is hit or miss for me. I've liked some and some have been just mediocre. At the moment I can't even tell you which ones I liked.

  3. I absolutely agree with you about needing to actually read a physical copy of Woolf rather than listening to the audio. I love audio for some things, but if the prose is rich enough, I just need to be able to see it. Have you read Eowyn Ivey's "Snow Child"? It's such a lovely winter read -- here is a link to my review of it if you're interested.

    1. Yes, Snow Child has been on my to-read list for a while. I'll try and get to it soon.