Recap of January’s Reads

Historically speaking, January is always my busiest month for reading. Something about the new year just inspires me to buckle down with my books, I guess. Here’s a quick recap of everything I finished* in January.

January Books

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell finished 1-2-13 *
This book inspired its own mini post, and was a gift from my Dad. My sister Carol gets credit for finding it and introducing it to my family, though. A much deeper read than I originally expected, it’s a novel that spans centuries of mankind and postulates on slavery, self-empowerment, and the power of hope.

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky finished 1-5-12
It took me several attempts to finish this book, and I must have read the first 15 – 20 pages a half a dozen times during 2012 before finally settling into a rhythm and honestly reading it. It’s a (failed) attempt at comedy that features a hyper-narcissistic woman as the first-person narrator and touches on themes (including pedophilia and emotional abuse) that I found, in the end, inappropriately handled. I don’t need to like a protagonist in order to like a book, but in this case the author wrote the narrator too antagonistically, leaving me to find not just her character but the whole book unredeemable. 

Marbles by Ellen Forney finished 1-6-13 *
Ellen Forney is a local Seattlelite who draws regularly for The Stranger, and reading her graphic memoir about her journey with a bipolar diagnosis was a very intense and beautiful experience. Her art style was masterfully used to capture the varying moods that accompany her diagnosis, and her attention to detail in her research outside of her own specific experience places this squarely on the Required Reading list for anyone diagnosed with a personality disorder, and anyone who has friends or family with such a diagnosis. I could go on for hours about how much I loved and was impacted by this book, but hopefully this quickie review sums up my appreciation thoroughly enough.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie finished 1-12-13
This was unintentionally the perfect follow up to read Forney’s
Marbles, since she was the illustrator for this young-adult novel. Alexie is also a local Seattlelite with his writings appearing regularly in The Stranger, and this was his first novel I’ve read. It was beautifully and honestly written about an American Indian boy who very bravely steps out of his tribe in search of a better education and economic opportunities. Alexie doesn’t dumb down the writing or gloss over the issues of race and acceptance in this novel and effectively reaches his audience with the raw portrayal of the protagonist’s experiences.

Reached by Ally Condie finished 1-14-13
I read this at the suggestion from my friend Violet over at List Love Laugh. It’s the third in a Young Adult trilogy that is basically a plot combination of Hunger Games (romantic angles) and The Giver (societal structure). The whole thing was fairly well written, although it lacked any amount of originality for me to feel comfortable promoting it. I was a huge fan of The Giver growing up, though, so I was happy to read a three-part storyline about a world almost identical to The Givers. 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zappo finished 1-16-13
This is one of my sister’s favorite books and she gave it to my mom for her book club. Then she gave the original Spanish version to my dad for Christmas. See what I mean about passing books around? I had to get it for myself, and I really enjoyed the story. It was super creepy and scared me in a couple of spots. I’ve never really read mysteries, mostly because I feel like I’m supposed to have it all figured out but I never do. In this story, about a boy who saves an old book and finds a mystery surrounding it, I had the mystery solved in the first twenty pages. And then I was wrong. And then I solved it again. And then I was wrong. And then I solved it aga—-catch my drift? Basically, it was a ton of fun. Creepy creepy fun.

Just My Type by Simon Garfield finished 1-21-13 *
I had a lot of high hopes for this book, which presents itself as a design history of typography. Mostly, though, it’s just a type nerd nerding out over his favorite fonts. The history was fairly rich, but I was a little stumped by the lack of examples and diagrams of fonts. I think this book would have gained a lot from almost instruction-like illustrations. It was an easy read, but I don’t feel like I gained anything out of it. Especially since he’s a little harsh in how he bashes Brush font, which I happen to use on the blog. And don’t think I’ll be changing anytime soon.

Animorphs # 8, 14, 26, 33 + The Andalite Chronicles + The Ellimist Chronicles  by KA Applegate
Okay so in the realm of guilty pleasures, these books are definitely it. I look for them every time I’m in a used bookstore or thrift store because they are the best easy, half hour reads for me. I love them like candy.

*These books were technically started in the last week of December, or in the case of the last one, I’ve been reading it on and off for months, but I’m still counting them for January. Since that’s when I finished them.

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11 thoughts on “Recap of January’s Reads

    • Oh that’s totally the exact opposite of my intent! Your reading list is super awesome. Like I said, I always read obsessively in January and also, I only work part time.

  1. Warning: rambling to come. 😉

    I’m surprised this is your first Sherman Alexie book! I have quite a few of them, so if you ever want to borrow them (and if I ever figure out this whole schedule thing of mine to be able to see you again), you totally can.

    I’m pretty sure I mistakenly think everyone’s read at least one Sherman Alexie book if they’re an avid reader, kinda like how I assume everyone’s read at least one Shakespeare play.

    And now I’m going to be THAT person: though Alexie does live in Seattle now, he is originally from eastern Washington (Spokane-area) and has some Coeur d’Alene Indian in him (Idaho). I only feel the need to bring that up because I studied him like he was going out of style when I was in college, and I’ve had it hammered into my brain that we should never forget Alexie’s roots. It’s kind of a reflex that I can’t avoid now. 😛 Also, I’ve met him twice in person, and he’s pretty awesome.

    Have you ever watched Smoked Signals? It’s a movie based on Lone Ranger & Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Alexie. It’s hilarious and touching at the same time (at least in my opinion). I think it’s on Netflix; you should check it out.

    Kinda bummed to hear Reached didn’t end up having any individuality. Still haven’t finished it yet, but still looking forward to it. I loved The Giver when I was growing up, too. It’s one of my very favorite books to date. Have you read any of the recent sequels (Gathering Blue & The Messenger)? I loved GB but still have yet to finish The Messenger. I keep forgetting to check it out at the library again. It resolves what happens to Jonas at the end of The Giver after he goes into town on a sled. Apparently a fourth book, Son, came out late 2012, but I haven’t picked that one up yet.

    Aaaaaand this fellow-bookworm is done. For now. 😉

    ~Violet

    • Lives in Seattle = Seattlite, in my book. I know I fail True Reader status because I’ve only read some of his short stories before this. And I’ve only read on Shakespeare, it was in the 7th grade, and I remember nothing about it. I’ve totally watched Smoked Signals and love love loved it. So that might be a good starter book by Alexie for me to investigate! Thanks.

      • Aw, I wasn’t trying to imply that you weren’t a True Reader. 😦 I’ve got two degrees in Reading a Crapload of Books and I still think you’ve got loads on me both as far as “books read” count and ability to scholastically discuss.

        I’ve only read tons of Shakespeare because the Shakespeare seminar class was a requirement, not an elective. BEFORE the class, I swore if I ever became an English teacher that I’d do everything in my power to not have to teach it in class; after the class, my opinion only became more cemented.

        I didn’t mean to sound like I was on a high horse. 😦

      • Oh man I totally didn’t take it that way at all. I was just teasing! I know you don’t prescribe to it, but I think it’s funny and ridiculous that’s there’s like this ephemeral definition of a True Reader. It’s so silly that people are more impressed when I read Dostoevsky instead of the unequivocally dark and complex graphic novels like Watchmen.

  2. I loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. I just read it earlier this month for a book club and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Also, Animorphs!! I loved those books when they first came out. I haven’t read them in years, but I think it’s a lot of fun to revisit that kind of stuff.

    • Revisiting the Animorphs series is hands down one of the goofiest but most fun things I’ve done in a while. I’m also really looking forward to reading more by Sherman Alexie.

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