Book Reviews: December ’19

My hiatus is over! The last five weeks have been ridiculously crazy…

  • We traveled out of state to Kentucky and Tennessee for five days for Thanksgiving
  • We moved out of our apartment and into our new home (as well as deep cleaned both)
  • We attended five Christmas gatherings in seven days (including hosting one)

I decided to take the month off from blogging to enjoy our traveling, get settled into our new home and try to stay present during the holiday chaos. I did make time to read this month and am happy to share that I exceeded my goal of finishing thirty books this year! I’m about 40% of the way done with my 40th book of 2019, so we’ll call it 39 books finished for the year.

Click on image to see this book on Amazon

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Romance/Fiction, 2013). This book was a sappy, feel good read that I devoured after getting home from our Thanksgiving travels. One of Jojo Moyes’ more recent books, The Giver of Stars, is also on my list and I believe shares the same genre. The storyline follows Louisa Clark, an eccentric but hardworking young woman in rural England who needs to work to support her family but finds herself without a job after the cafe where she works unexpectedly closes. She ends up taking on a temporary position spending time with (not as a caretaker, but more as company to) a wealthy young man (Will) who suffered a terrible accident and is now a quadriplegic. The two develop an unexpected friendship despite having nearly nothing in common, and her time with Will offers a respite from the chaos of her home life. It’s not your average romance and isn’t as cheesy as you might expect. The story deals with difficult topics like rape, suicide and infidelity and hardly paints a cheery portrait of what life is like for someone robbed of their independence and arguably, alive when they don’t wish to be.

Click on image to see this book on Amazon

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward (Non-Fiction/Politics, 2018). I won’t get *too* political on here, but this book was alarming and frustrating to read (but also worthwhile). I’m sure some will argue that Bob Woodward is biased, which every author is to some extent, but Mr. Woodward is one of the most respected Presidential writers and researchers of the last 50 years. I devour books about current politics, but then I tend to get upset about what I’ve read after the fact. I can’t land on whether it is a habit that is bad for my general mental health, or one that simply means I’m healthily and calmly accepting the chaos and disorder of our current state of government. Regardless, I’ll probably keep reading current political event books.

Click on image to see this book on Amazon

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Fiction/Historical Fiction, 2018). This book was SO GOOD I read it in about two days (and worth noting, I cried for about the last third of it – so sorry to the person who rents this specific copy next from the library)! The story follows Kya Clark, “Marsh Girl”, a young girl left to effectively raise herself in the 1950s in meager conditions in a marsh in rural Western North Carolina after her family abandons her. The girl, while building a few relevant human connections, becomes deeply engrossed in the natural world around her and becomes mostly self sufficient for her teenage years. She is accused of murder when the local high school football star turns up dead in the marsh. The book follows her youth, her fascination and appreciation for the natural world around her, and the murder trial of which she is at the center.

Click this image to see this book on Amazon

The Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang (Autobiography/Asian Culture, 2008). I don’t know that I would have been drawn specifically to this book on my own, but this is the 2020 Fox Cities Reads selection and I was able to borrow a community copy to read in advance of Kao Kalia Yang’s coming to the Fox Cities Book Festival this spring. The story line follows the multi-generational story of Kao’s grandmother, parents and siblings as they fleed from Vietnam, spent years in Thailand refugee camps and eventually resettled in California and Minnesota as refugees in the United States in the 1990s. Hmong culture is very present in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but I don’t know a great deal about it. This book presented a beautifully accessible narrative of Kao’s family history, Hmong folklore and a unique perspective on a displaced people seeking to find their new cultural and physical home in this world.

As I said, I thought I would finish one more book in 2019, but the audiobook I’m cranking through still has 11 hours left on it (and it’s a bit of a slog, to be honest) – 39 exceeded my goal of 30 books for 2020 and has left me inspired to kick it up to a goal of 40 in 2020. Here are some of the titles on my list for 2020. Any suggested ones I shouldn’t miss?

Since it’s the last month of the year (and since I only started blogging in September), I’ll finish out the year with a graphic of some of my favorite books I read this year – if you’re looking for suggestions to add to your own reading list for 2020!

1 thought on “Book Reviews: December ’19”

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