As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've decided I'm going to track and read 1,000 books over the course of the next several years. While I'm confident I have already read at least 1,000 books in my life (think of all of the Sweet Valley Twins and Baby-Sitter's Club books I read in my youth!), I'm starting a fresh list by tracking the books I've kept record of on my Goodreads account for the past four or five years. As of today, I'm on book #218, and I thought it would be fun to keep a monthly record of titles here on my blog. I'll recount the books I've read at the end of each month, sharing a few brief notes about each piece. So, here we go: January's reading list.
Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein
This was well-written and heartbreaking; the last page made me cry. It was a quick read. I did have to suspend disbelief that all of this information could have been tracked in a journal, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I learned so much from this book, and I felt especially convicted about sticking to a budget after reading it. I love the way Rachel Cruze equated budgeting to freedom—this mindset makes me so much more excited about pursuing an otherwise tedious and intimidating task. I also liked the discussion about social media comparisons and assumptions, and how they impact our financial interests and desires—the concept of keeping up with the Joneses has changed over time, presenting new challenges and insecurities, and this book addresses that. This was a quick and easy read.
Living the Dream by Lauren Berry
I stuck with this so-so book because it was fairly entertaining, but I got to a part near the end that I personally couldn’t read due to my own convictions and beliefs. The way the author dealt with a sensitive subject made me really uncomfortable, so I ultimately gave up about 80% through the book.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book was beautifully written and I really enjoyed reading about the Nigerian characters and culture, but ultimately I felt that it ambled along too slowly for me. It didn’t captivate me; it was a little tough for me to bring myself to finish it, actually. But the book deserves extra points for the good writing.
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
Captivating, quick, well-written book. The subject matter is dark, so beware to highly sensitive readers. I got sucked into the plot quickly, but I did feel that the last 20% was a little scattered—more slice-of-life style than linear plot.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Haunting & beautifully written. Celeste Ng is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. However, I did enjoy Little Fires Everywhere more than Everything I Never Told You—in the latter, I was super intrigued, on the edge of my seat waiting for something to happen, and that something never came. Maybe my expectations for this book were too high based on how much I loved Little Fires Everywhere, which I read first.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Just an absolutely perfect, heart-wrenching book, one that I know I will read over and over again and learn something new each time. I got this book at the library but will be ordering my own copy asap; I know I will cherish it forever and share it with fellow readers. Paul Kalanithi’s writing is so earnest and beautiful and wise, and so are the words in Lucy Kalanithi’s epilogue (I would be thrilled if she wrote her own book).
Marlena by Julie Buntin
A beautifully written debut novel—I’ll be looking forward to reading more of Julie Buntin’s work in the future. The writing was truly delicious; I gobbled this story up. Some of the content in this book is difficult to digest, especially if you’re very sensitive to references of drug use.
The Nix by Nathan Hill
I struggled to decide whether The Nix should garner three stars or four, and ultimately, I had to go with the higher rating. This is truly an epic novel, a creatively written piece of fiction full of twists and turns. It is long—620 pages—and I was tempted to give the book three stars because it took me over two weeks to get through, which is unusual for me—there were parts I really slogged through, even full paragraphs that I skipped altogether because they seemed repetitive and laborious. But I think that whole sentiment is less about the book itself and more about my current season of life + the resulting books I’m gravitating toward, which are not as long, so I'm giving it high praise. Plus, I really loved the ending. The Nix is certainly worth reading.