I already explained in my New Year’s Resolutions post that I hold myself accountable for yoga classes by actually signing up for them, rather than showing up as a walk-in. So to help me keep up with my new year’s resolution of reading 100 books in 2014, I’m going to post a monthly list/mini-reviews at the end of each month, recapping what I’ve been reading. Here’s January:
1. Adulting, How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps – Kelly Williams Brown
I thought this one was appropriate, since I’ve been living on my own for five months now and am still clueless about a few things. Kelly Williams Brown is informative yet witty, and sometimes downright hilarious. I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot from this book and would recommend it to anyone recently out on their own or anticipating independence. Plus, aren’t self-help books what you’re supposed to be reading in January?
2. I Hunt Killers – Barry Lyga
My friend Feliza has an really cool online geek culture magazine called Girls in Capes. With the start of the new year, GIC has formed a book club, reading speculative young adult fiction. I Hunt Killers was their January pick, and I really loved the story of Jazz, a teen who is dealing with some serious problems (like having a serial killer for a dad) and gets involved in the investigation of a new serial killer in his town. Jazz’s sidekicks are his hemophiliac best friend Howie and sassy girlfriend Connie. The series (there is a second Jasper Dent novel, Game) has been compared to the HBO show Dexter, which I coincidentally began watching right before I started the novel.
3. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
But why didn’t you read The Goldfinch? Well, because it’s a really expensive, really large hardback novel that we could barely keep on the shelves at the bookstore. However, the popularity of The Goldfinch is what sparked my interest in The Secret History – I wanted to read something by Tartt, whom I’d never heard of before demand for The Goldfinch became the bane of my existence. And I’m so happy I did, because The Secret History is my new favorite book. I love novels set in New England (this may be due to my mom’s massive Stephen King collection that I’ve been raiding since God-knows-how-long). This one is set in Vermont, which was even better because that’s where my boyfriend lives, so I knew some of the places characters went. Add in the cult-like Greek courses (although Latin is my favorite classic), a tight-knit group of slightly odd characters, and a few murders with Tartt’s skilled writing, and BOOM! My new favorite book.
4. The Girls from Corona del Mar – Rufi Thorpe [Advanced Copy, Pub Date July 2014]
This book showed up at the bookstore in a box along with a few other ARCs, and it just drew me in. It’s a beautifully written story of friendship, motherhood, addiction, and heartache. The trials that Mia and her best friend Lorrie Ann go through from childhood into adulthood and the toll that distance – both emotional and physical – takes on their friendship lead Mia to question her friendship with Lorrie Ann, as she may not be the person Mia thought all along.
5. Dear Life – Alice Munro
This collection of the Nobel Prize winner’s short stories is awash with the intricacies of everyday life. This is the first book I’ve read of Munro’s, and it will definitely not be my last. Each short story developed into something that would resonate in my mind long after I had finished reading. With Dear Life, rather than novels which I’ll read for hours at a time, I read one or two short stories a day and that was enough.
6. The Maid’s Version – Daniel Woodrell
Alma Dunahew is a maid working for a prominent family when 42 people are killed in an explosion at a dance hall (including her own sister). She is privy to secrets that may lead her to know who caused the explosion, but nothing is done; she tells the story to her grandson in The Maid’s Version, a book that made me feel as if I was in on the secrets as well.
7. A Star for Mrs. Blake – April Smith
A Star for Mrs. Blake is a great piece of historical fiction based on the diary of Army Colonel Thomas West Hammond. The plot follows Cora Blake and a group of Gold Star Mothers traveling to France to see their sons’ graves. Each woman on the voyage has her own little quirks, but they share tension, friendship, and sorrow. Cora befriends an American journalist who was injured in the war, and he uncovers information about her son. Inevitably, the story has a few twists and an ultimately happy ending. I really enjoyed it.
I am almost on track for my 8.333 books a month to reach my goal of 100 books in 2014! I will keep you updated on February’s list.