January Books

When I first started writing my book of personal essays, I was a little nervous about reading too many other books that were similar. I didn't want to get discouraged that what I was trying to do had already been done.   But when I read a couple, instead of feeling discouraged, I felt inspired and excited about my own stories. So this year, my goal is to read 50 books. I'm trying to mix as many genres as I can and January was an excellent start!

Fall on Your Knees by Anne Marie MacDonald ***
This is a doozy of a book. I started it last year but didn't think I was quite up for something so heavy. And heavy it is! The characters are generously developed but lack likability. You sympathize and feel deeply invested in them, but I would hardly say I liked any of them. But I also felt like I had accomplished something by the time I finished and was genuinely glad I had read it. But be warned, it is gruesome, tense, and a little bleak. That said, it will move right along.

Clams: How to Find, Catch and Cook Them by Curtis J. Badger **
Shaughn told me to read this because he thought it was funny. And it is! The writer is poetic, hilarious, and passionate about clams! If you see it at the library (where we got it) it is certainly worth the short hours it takes to read it.

My Kitchen Wars by Betty Fussell ***
This memoir takes place in the days before WWII and then after. It's about her life and her marriage and her experience as a woman during the 40's-60's. She's an academic, pissed off, and determinedly honest. I loved her struggle with feminism and feminists. I was so sympathetic to that struggle of figuring out what it meant to be a woman--what choices felt authentic to her needs and wants and what choices felt pressed upon her by personal and societal gender expectations.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris ***
I was surprised that I hadn't actually read this one. Some of the essays are from other books of his but some are original too. I wasn't a fan of his fictional essays at the beginning. I think the personal stories are the ones that really shine with hilarity and depth.

Wilder Life by Wendy McClure ***
This is about a woman's adventure into the Laura Ingals Wilder books. She calls it Laura World and is described by that first childhood experiences of the books, where the books and especially Laura came alive in this near tangible way. She goes to great lengths to experience Laura World: churning butter, twisting hay, and sleeping in a wagon. She visits the homes sites from the book and even ones that had been left out. There is this underlying sadder journey that is also going on but only touched on at the end. I really wish that part had been expanded even further because it was so rich and tapped into why Laura World is so enticing and captivating.

Psychopath Test by Jon Ronsen ****
Phew! I loved this book. I devoured it and was sad and even a little irritated that it was over. It's lively, asked really good questions, and pulled on a lot of strings to tell a really big story. I especially liked the part where he talked about the percentage of psychopaths and then estimated the number of psychopaths that would read the book, and what, if anything, should he say to them. It made for an eery moment. And I liked the story of the guy who faked being insane so he could go to a mental hospital prison instead of regular prison. And then couldn't convince anyone that he was actually sane. And when you think about it, how would you try to prove your sane?


Ok, that's all I finished for January. I am almost finished with David Sedaris's Naked and have How to be a Women waiting in the wings.




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