Books I read in January: An eclectic list

I subtitled this post as if my reading selections aren’t always eclectic. This month’s reads included books for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers, with a mix of literary fiction, classics, and memoir. Overall, it was a satisfying month of reading adventures. Yay, reading!

And here we go:

The Marvels by Brian Selznick*

This is a beautiful novel about love, loss, finding meaning and purpose, and what makes a family. It’s the third in a trilogy of books following these themes and told through images and text. Both drive the narrative in meaningful ways. It’s a book that is best appreciated in hardcover as the art inside and out is stunning.

Writing Alone and with Others by Pat Schneider

Whether you’re alone or with others (geddit?), Schneider’s book includes a wealth of excellent prompts. Her approach will be most appreciated by those who’ve struggled with writing anxiety and had negative experiences with writing. So … I liked the prompts best of all.

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

I highly recommend this fab memoir of reading, paired with recipes. Nicoletti discusses fifty books, from childhood reads to classics to contemporary literary and genre fiction, and includes a related recipe for each one. Besides being a great read for book lovers, Voracious is a great resource for anyone who has ever wanted to start a literary supper club.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens*

This is one of Dickens’s “shorter” novels, so it’s fewer than 500 pages. Easy peasy (kidding!). The two cities of the title are London and Paris in the years leading up to and during the French revolution. Bold prediction: The final few chapters are among the most gripping and moving I’m likely to read this year. And the book has one of the best last lines in English literature.

Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler

If you like magical realism, Zahler’s novel for young readers, which came out Feb. 1, should satisfy. A young orphan, Bee, finds a place as a baker’s apprentice and discovers she has a magical ability to bake emotions into her food. A gig providing baked goods to the princess and her uncle segues into an adventure to save the kingdom. This would make a fun read aloud with middle grade readers.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Everyone is talking about this book, which is why we picked it for the reading group I lead in Connecticut. I keep hearing it described as a book about marriage. But I don’t think so. It’s about secrets and trauma and how self-perception dictates our choices.

Roman Fever by Edith Wharton (short story)*

I originally loaded this onto my Nook intending to read it for the Gilmore Girls reading challenge. Of course, it got sucked into the void. Well, I plucked it out this month, and wow. The writing is gorgeous and the story somewhat twisted, as Wharton does so well (see Ethan Frome). Two old New York broads hang out on a balcony in Rome reminiscing. Much shade is thrown and a shocking secret revealed. I gasped audibly reading the last sentence.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I’m still processing this young adult novel about a teen who is suffering from an immune disease and has lived her whole life indoors. I loved the quirky storytelling. Yoon has very short chapters and supplements with visuals – diagrams, medical records, emails, a plane ticket, and so on.

Books I started but haven’t yet finished:

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens*

I already know how this book ends. If I tell you this one is about little Nell and her grandfather, you too might know the outcome. Spoilers don’t spoil Dickens though.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (audiobook)*

I’ll be stretching this one out since listening to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter is pretty much the only thing that keeps me on the treadmill. And exercise is good for you. Or so I hear.

Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathan Philbrick

Philbrick argues that Moby-Dick is THE American novel. After the first chapter, he had me convinced. In fact, I was tempted to put it down and pick up Moby-Dick instead. But I’ll carry on with this one first – a fascinating analysis of the book and it’s unique place in American literature.

What were the best or favorite books you read this month?

My two #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks selections are front and center :)
My two #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks selections are front and center 🙂

*These selections brought to you by #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

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