Hello Friends and Welcome.
I cannot believe that we are already almost halfway through February. Today I wanted to come back to my reading life and share the books that I read in January along with my thoughts on what I liked about them. Overall, I really enjoyed the books that I read last month.
One: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
If you read my post on the ten books I could reread over and over again, you are aware that I love this delightful book. Every year I choose to reread through a series that I loved as a child and this year I am rereading through the Lord of the Rings. My copy is now extremely well loved, with lines highlighted and underlined. Some books are almost impossible to review. If a book is bad, we can easily dwell on its flaws, but if the book is good, how do you give any recommendation that is equal the book?
What I love about this book: The whimsey, the magic, the charming adventure story, the fact that the hero is not a strong Hercules-type hero but a simple hobbit who, as with the majority of the hobbits, values the simple things in life. As Thorin says to Bilbo, “There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Two: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
This one has been on my TBR list for quite some time. I’m not sure exactly when I first officially added to the list, but I do know that when I first got my Kindle back in 2010 that this book was free in the Kindle Library and I downloaded it. This book is a classic, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s an interesting and engaging exploration of shallowness, superficiality, morality, and the flaws of humanity.
What I like about it: The writing is so beautiful, eloquent, and rich. The dialogue is witty and humorous. I really enjoyed how engaging the story Wilde told is. To me, one of the biggest things that stands out is the idea that terrible monstrosity can lie underneath a beautiful exterior. We can look upon beauty and be fooled into never asking what lies beneath that beauty.
Three: Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin
This book was the January selection for one of the book clubs I belong to. This was the second Gretchen Rubin book that I’ve read. I read The Happiness Project a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Our book club always selects a non-fiction read for January and this one came highly recommended to us.
What I liked about it: This read was quick and light. There was a lot of white space on the pages and each tip took up only about 1-3 pages so it was great if I wanted to get a few pages in as a quick break. This book is unlike the rest of Rubin’s books, which have more content. This was a great read for kickstarting my new year organization spree and I think it will be a great resource to have on hand to reread again in the future.
Four: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
So this one has been on my TBR list ever since I saw the movie and fell in love with the story. I bought the book a few years ago and just kept putting it off. I am so glad I finally picked up the book, because it is just delightful.
What I loved about this book: The entire thing! I fully enjoyed this and it was my favorite book that I read in January. It’s a love story, a friendship story and so much more. There’s survival against the odds, murder, and absolute hilarity. I could not keep from laughing when lines that I loved in the movie were right on the page.
Five: Two Girls Down (Alice Vega #1) by Louisa Luna
This was a Book of the Month pick from back in 2018 that I had chosen but never gotten around to reading. I finally decided to pick it up and read it in January. This book was hard to put down. I read it over the course of a couple days and really enjoyed it.
What I liked about this book: It was fast-paced and well written. If I hadn’t had my full-time job to go to, I wouldn’t have put the book down. I would have read straight through in the first sitting. I really enjoyed speculating about who abducted the girls and never being sure if I was right. I definitely will pick up more of Luna’s books in the future as she knocked it out of the park with this one!
Six: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
This one was another book club pick for January and this is a book that I’ve read three times now. I always pick something new up each time I read it. If you’ve never read the book and only heard about Allen’s GTD approach to productivity, the book may seem overwhelming at first. However, once you get into it the method does not seem as overwhelming.
What I like about this book: Allen has a very realistic approach. He explains, “…most people are so embroiled in commitments on a day-to-day level that their ability to focus successfully on the larger horizon is seriously impaired. Consequently, a bottom-up approach is usually more effective.” The book is very straightforward and focused on implementation of a management system to handle all of the various tasks we face each day. Also, while I have read the book cover to cover, you do not have to do so. The first few chapters give you enough information to be able to understand and implement your own GTD system.
Seven: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Last summer, a good majority of my friends read this book and would not stop raving about it. My library hold on this book lasted about seven months-and would have lasted longer but one of my coworkers decided to buy the book in December and she was kind enough to lend it to me in January. As someone that tends to gravitate toward thrillers and fantasy this wasn’t the type of book that I might have chosen to pick up if it hadn’t been so highly recommended.
What I like about this book: This story has a lot of elements that I love. There’s a murder mystery, a likable character that pulls on your heartstrings, and a great story of resiliency.
Eight: The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Betrayal. Murder. by Evan Ratliff
This was a Book of the Month pick from 2019 that I saw sitting on my shelf when I still had about a week left in January. The book tells the incredible true story of a decade-long struggle to discover and bring down Paul Le Roux, the creator of a powerful internet-enabled cartel. The story is an example of when the truth is crazier than any fiction that could be made up.
What I liked about it: Ratliffe spent a lot of time tracking down former members of Le Roux’s cartel (and other related operations) as well as international law enforcement. There’s a lot that still isn’t known as many people are still afraid of repercussions for speaking out. The book reads like fiction, resembling the plot of a best-selling thriller.
Did you have any favorite books you read in January? Let me know!