Thursday, January 4, 2018

Books I Read in December

Some years I forget to do this post. What with all the end-of-year wrapping up and New Year's resolutioning (or, you know, having a baby), I know I've forgotten to do my monthly round-ups of what I've read in December.

But I remembered this year! Because I know you're all dying to know my thoughts on the four books I read this month. Considering classes ended for me on December 6th, I spent most of the month without my glorious commute listening time. So really, I think it's quite amazing I managed to finish four books. Especially since those last two weeks consisted of me hosting my family for Christmas, throwing a six-year-old birthday party for 22 people (all the family in town), cooking all the things for Christmas Eve, cooking all the things for Christmas day, throwing a one-year-old cake smash party, then packing everyone up to go to Iowa for the New Year. All I'm saying is, it was busy. But I squeezed in some reading time. So here goes:

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I finally managed to finish all of Jane Austen's novels (except for Lady Susan, which doesn't really count anyway because she didn't submit it for publication in her lifetime, although I have read it before and found it delightful). I think it so funny that this is the only one of her books I had to put on hold and wait to read, because it's by far my least favorite (yes, even less favorite than Mansfield Park and Emma). That's not to say I don't like it. Austen at her worst is still far better than 99 percent of other authors at their best. I really find her over-the-top satire of the gothic novel genre to be hilarious. I love the way she snidely pokes fun at other popular authors and books of her time. But the romance in this one lacks even an ounce of chemistry (even the friendship between Catherine and Eleanor was pretty lack-luster in my opinion). The narrator/Austen herself admits that Catherine doesn't have much to recommend her (which the events of the book confirm), and I just can't figure out what Henry Tilney sees in her. I like Henry quite a bit. Of course, there's hardly an Austen hero I don't like. Her heroine's can be hit or miss for me, but Austen sure knows how to create a fictional hero!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (abridged)

Guys, this whole thing is so stupid. First, it's stupid that for being such a huge fan of Charles Dickens, I've never actually read his most famous work. I determined that this was the year I was going to change that, but since you can't read A Christmas Carol at any other time than December, I waited until this month. I checked out the audio book from my library and started listening to it. But the whole time I was listening, I kept thinking, "This sentence structure is so weird, it doesn't feel like Dickens!" and "Wow, I knew this was one of his shorter works, but this pace is really clipping along!" and then when it was over, it just didn't feel right. So I looked into the audio file, but it didn't say anything unusual in the text description or title, but after zooming in on the cover picture (not the same as the picture here, I was too lazy to find the actual one) I finally discovered it was an abridged version. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I generally make it a policy to never read abridged versions, and it is especially unnecessary for a piece that is so short already. But alas, my library didn't have any other versions of this book available on audio, so I guess I'm going to have to wait till next year to actually read the whole thing. Stupid.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Okay, this one. I have weird conflicted feelings about this one. I started off really disliking this book (I think 98% of that had to do with the narrator's voice) and almost gave up on it, but then I got into the story and more invested in the characters and the writing really is quite lovely, so I finished it and... I'm still not sure what I think about this book. It had some scenarios and thematic situations that made me think about stuff I've discussed in theoretical classes before (like questioning social norms and the nature of desire and who it's okay to love and not love, etc.), and so while I understand this book was trying to explore and open up some of these questions, I still found myself on the side of social norms. Like (potential spoiler), if I had a 13-year-old-daughter, I honestly would not want her sneaking around with a 30-year-old man, even if he is gay and misunderstood and grieving. But the book really made this relationship seem innocent and beautiful, which did make me question why I was so against a friendship between these two categories of people. Why does it seem so weird? So, thought-provoking and interesting. Worth the read, but not sure I recommend it very heartily.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

I listened to this one in the week leading up to New Year's, with the intention of getting some inspiration for goal-setting and all of that. I've read some really raving reviews of this one, so I was excited to get some really good information out of it. And yes, it was good. Good enough that I included it on my top 10 books of the year list, although I'm still pretty convinced that was only due to having just finished it when I made that list, so it was new and shiny and fresh in my mind (we'll see if it actually sticks with me). I have lots of thoughts about this book and will probably (hopefully) write a whole post about it soon, but in general just know that this is a recommend.

What did you read last month?

1 comment:

  1. Sourdough by Robin Sloan was really good! I recommend the audiobook.