What I Read in January

There’s nothing like waiting until you’re a week into a new month to share last month’s reads, right? Well, I hope you’ll excuse my tardiness, because I am excited to share what I read in January with you. So, let’s get to it!

I managed to read two nonfiction books and three fiction books in January. I generally try to keep a balance between fiction and nonfiction, though admittedly the scales tip lower on the fiction side most of the time nowadays. As a busy mom of two, escaping into another reality, if only briefly, is often a much needed reprieve! However, I thoroughly enjoyed both of my nonfiction reads this month. Here they are:

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts by Trillia Newbell. This book is a refreshing dose of encouragement in an otherwise dark and depressing world right now. Newbell tackles tough topics like sex, relationships, food, money, work (among other things in life) and examines, through the lens of the gospel, how they are meant for our joy and, ultimately, should lead to a deepening worship of the One who created all things. I found Enjoy to be so refreshing because, sometimes, Christianity is known more for what you can’t do or you’re not supposed to do. Rather, Newbell susses out how, as Christians, we should be people who live in freedom, and that freedom should lead us to joy and delight in the good things God has given to us. I particularly found her chapter on intimacy to be a good word to me, personally, for the season of marriage I’m in, and I would recommend it to anyone for that chapter alone.
Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I picked this book as research for writing my own memoir, and I am so glad I did. I had read a brief synopsis of her story, and I was drawn to it because I felt like we had parallel themes from our past. Walls is masterful at taking the events of her childhood and crafting a narrative that is gripping and heartwrenching. She eloquently weaves devastating childhood atrocities with humor and wit, and you find herself laughing at one vignette then crying at another within a few paragraphs of each other. The Glass Castle is a piece of verbal art.

Now, onto my fiction reads!

In the Woods by Tana French. As you may know, this book is the first in a series of mystery novels, each told from the vantage point of a different character and primarily centering on the Dublin Murder Squad. I wanted to give a glowing review of this book, because I couldn’t put it down. I consumed it in less than two days, and I loved it until the last 50 pages or so. I can’t say much more without revealing important details, but just know that the ending was extremely unsatisfying for me. I’ve read interviews with French since finishing it, and I get her perspective and motivation for making the authorial decisions that she did. That doesn’t mean I like them.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This story is an interesting portrayal of the people we are inside our own heads that we may not share with others, especially those people closest to us. Ng explores the separation between the internal reality of our thought life versus the external reality of our words and actions. I found it to be a fascinating commentary on human nature – that we are all a little deceptive in who we claim to be on the outside, and that ultimately our lies catch up with us.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield. The premise of this book captured my attention immediately: a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. As a devoted Austen fan, and a lover of all things P+P, I wanted this book to be a fair homage to the original but strong in it’s own right – think 10 Things I Hate About You, only as a novel instead of a movie, and Austen as opposed to Shakespeare. It was not, unfortunately. I really don’t have positive things to say about it, and I ultimately didn’t finish it because I just couldn’t get my mind to embrace the modernizations Sittenfield chose.

Have you read anything good lately? I’m always looking for recommendations! Share them in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “What I Read in January

  1. Hi Rachel, I read Everything I Never Told You this past month, too. I thought the author was so good at giving all the characters’ perspectives. Nowadays in novels it seems more common to use just one character’s point of view, or to have alternating chapters from different POVs — but Ng wove the different perspectives together so seamlessly and allowed us to get to know all the characters well. Impressive.

    Yeah, Glass Castle was quite the book. I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading a memoir, not fiction, because it seemed so far-fetched at times — but others have told me this is all too similar to their backgrounds. I’ve also read her book Half-Broke Horses, about her grandmother, and you can see that the apple fell very close to the tree.

    1. Hi Jeannie. I agree with your comments about Ng’s character development, and how it compares with modern approaches to POV. I, too, was impressed at her ability to craft several dynamic characters that were complete in their own right.

      I will have to look up Half-Broke Horses! I didn’t realize she had written one about her grandmother, who I always thought was an interesting figure as read Glass Castle. Having a seemingly far-fetched background of my own, I connected well with Walls – but I can understand how some might have found it incredulous.

  2. Have you considered reading nonfiction?

    I really enjoy it because it allows me to learn the lessons that successful people learned the hard way, from the comfort of where ever I might be reading.

    If you are interested in the nonfiction I have been reading, or if you want to know what the benefits are from reading this genre in specific, please stop by my page. I post book reviews over biographies, classics, and inspiring nonfiction.

    https://thewrightread.com/

  3. I’ve had The Glass Castle on my list for a while! I felt the same way about In the Woods. You can read my Goodreads review if you want. I loved it until the end and then I was just so mad! I swore I would never read another Tana French book again. I’ve read 5 total now ha! I have no control.

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