October-December Reads Welcome to the New Year!

One of my favorite ornaments-books tied with twine.

Well, here are are! We made it through the odd 2019 (I have a theory that odd numbered years are far less superior to even ones) and we’re roaring (hah) right into 2020! I’ve spent the last two weeks being unsure of what day it was and forgetting what a vegetable is and can honestly say I’m ready for routine to start again. The Christmas tree is gone, ideas for the new year formulated, and I’m ready to run into January full of anxiety and hope!

I finished the quarter logging fewer titles but still about the same amount of hours read. Why? Because the first book up is a doozy. On paper I believe it’s around 750 pages, in audio it’s about 31 hours. Most of the books I read are somewhere between 5-8 hours and I can usually get through them in a week, so this book took most of the month of October to finish. (Also, mid-October to, well, yesterday? was pretty hectic and brain-frazzle-y so finishing anything was a feat.)

37. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt (contemporary fiction)- This is a book divided- people have either loved it or hated it (I have found few in between). I ultimately enjoyed this book a lot. Yes, it has been made into a film recently (I haven’t watched it yet but I’ve heard that it didn’t translate well despite what I consider a solid cast). Some have compared this to works of Dickenson, it reminded me of Go Ask Alice– a story of a young person who becomes lost in a world they were thrown into by circumstances beyond their control. By the end of the book I can’t say I particularly liked any of the characters (except one-if you’ve read it feel free to take a guess) but I enjoyed the writing. B

38. Red, White, and Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston (teen LGBTQI+ romance?)- I needed a palette cleanser after #37 and this book was a ‘new to audio’ selection. It was a fantastic mix of humor and predicament! The characters were charming and like many, I too wished that parts of this story were real life. If you’re looking for a quick read, this is a good one. A

39.Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate (historical fiction)- And right back into some serious stuff, oops. This book takes a fictional look at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage that ran for the first half of the 20thcentury under practices that were just deplorable. (Sidenote, I’m preparing to teach a course on child welfare so this book hit me right in the feels.) Before We Were Yours was a heart-wrenching tale of what can be assumed as reality for far too many children who lived through the broken and corrupt tactics of child laundering. This book broke my heart with some saving grace-resiliency is a hell of a thing. A

40. Unfuck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life, Gary John Bishop (self-help)Quick read with some nice reminders that waiting around to ‘feel like’ doing the thing is a waste of time. Waiting to feel motivated/creative/energized/ ready is a fallacy, so just suck it up and start. A

41. Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey (nonfiction romance)- It’s really easy to accidentally read romance novels, ya’ll. I don’t fancy myself a romance novel ‘fan’ but I will say that they are good reads in between harder ones. Shrug. I chose this book because of the title (I can feel your judgment!) and it was a cute story. Was it groundbreaking? No. Did it have flaws? Yes. Was I able to escape into a rom-com and ignore my kitchen being unusable for two weeks? Absolutely.  So it did the job. B

42. Everything is Fucked: A Book About Hope, Mark Manson (self help)-I adored this book because it aligned well with my own personal philosophy on life. Manson made sense of some thoughts I’ve had lingering for a while and I found myself talking back to the book (“EXACTLY”, “OMG THAT’S IT!”, “THANK YOU” may have been yelled). However, this book pushes past Nihilism to look meaningfully at life in the most objectively way possible. Two side notes: if you are not in a place to look at life and question things, this may not be for you. I suggested it to a friend who said it was a difficult read (it can make you question things, so know your own headspace when going in) and two-if you follow Manson’s blog I’ve read that this book is more or less a collection of blog posts strung together. A

43. White Fragility,Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo (nonfiction badassbook)- This book tore me down in a way that we* should all be torn down. To realize privilege past the obvious is hard-but necessary. I highly suggest everyone* read this and sit with the uncomfortable feelings it’ll bring up and then ask; Why? How? Now what? A+
*white people

44. Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney (contemporary fiction)- A comment on Goodreads, “Conversations with Friends is another one of those books about not particularly nice people entangled in awkward relationships.”  It wasn’t the worst book, it was not the greatest book. It kept my attention just enough that I didn’t roll my eyes. C

45.The Witches are Coming, Lindy West (nonfiction, essays, badassbook)- I have been waiting for this book since the second I finished Shrill last year and it’s incredibly fitting that this was my last book of 2019 and that it was #45. I felt heartbroken and empowered throughout this book and reminded of the long road ahead, and the long road behind. The witches are definitely coming. A+

15 books over my goal-happy dance!! For 2020 I’m going to try and hit 50. I also want to try and find a list similar to thisthat pushes me to be more mindful about different genres. There are some I really don’t care for (mystery/thriller, true crime, basically anything that leaves me feeling anxious) but I do want to continue to experience others point of view. And I’m always open to suggestions!

A thought: I recently read that finishing a book just to finish it is a waste of time and that more seasoned readers practice a page 50 rule. Page 50 rule means that if you’re not engaged by page 50 and feel yourself wanting to quit-quit.  I have only found myself wanting to truly quit one book in the last year while others I wanted to finish just to see if it got better. To me, having any sort of drive is worth finishing the book but I am giving myself permission to ’50’ a book this year.

In 2020 we should have a new Jenny Lawson book and I can’t wait! Hopefully her book store in San Antonio will open as well so I can go and bask in the glory that is this very large cat.

Favorite books in 2019: In no particular order (these can usually be noted by an ‘A+’ review, these are the books I’d recommend to anyone who asked):
  • White Fragility
  • Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered
  • Good Omens
  • Shrill
  • Becoming
  • The Hate U Give
  • Lean In
  • Everything is Fucked
  • You Are a Badass

Cheers! Wishing you all a year full of equal amounts excitement and contentment mixed with growth and rest.