Tuesday, February 1, 2022

January Month End Stats+

I'm going to try something new this year for my monthly stats in an attempt to keep on top of reviews. Well not just that because I don't necessarily review out of a feeling of obligation. I want to review because while I'm reading/listening to books I have THOUGHTS and OPINIONS that I want to share, which is the whole reason to start this thing. Clearly, given priorities of the last few years, I haven't had the time to write full reviews and even my mini reviews are few and far between and by the time I get to them half my reviews are "I don't remember this. Are you sure I read this?" 

Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to start my monthly stats post NOT at the end of the month as I usually do, but throughout the month. And I will include my mini-reviews of the books I read here. So I can jot down my thoughts about the book right after finishing them. Seems like a pretty obvious solution and I don't know why it's taken me so long to come up with, but it did and here we are. 

With that, let's take a look at those stats and mini-reviews.

Number of books read
The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix
Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do About It by Larry Olmsted
Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman
You Can't Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
The basic plot follows Lynette, a "final girl". You know what a final girl is, right? At the end of a slasher movie, when there's one girl left. That's the final girl. Lynette survived multiple massacres (there's always a sequel) which defined her life. She's part of a therapy support group for other final girls but it seems someone is trying to finish off these final girls.
Hendrix does a really good job of creating characters that don't fall into stereotypes and behave as one would think a real person might, when dealing with these incredible bizarre scenarios. Which in this case often means they behave in a way that is frustrating and infuriating, and if you want a character that isn't necessarily likeable but someone you still want to read about, this gives you a solid option. It's not my favorite Hendrix book (hello My Best Friend's Exorcism and The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires) but it's still a good one, though it had some pacing issues and it lacks the close female friendships that are at the center of those other two books. The plot kept me guessing, both what was coming next and what slasher movie inspired each of the girls.
Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Real Food/Fake Food:Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do About It by Larry Olmsted
I like the conceit of this book, examining the food you think you're getting and what you're actually getting. Is that really parmigiano cheese or is that wood pulp? There is advice on what to look for to make sure you're getting what you're actually expecting, all of which is helpful. BUT much of the book focuses on high end items (Kobe beef, ), mostly looking at items that are supposed to only be made in one location (champagne for example). Olmsted makes the point on why something called "California champagne" is not that and how it isn't as good as the real thing but listen. If the concern is just that the quality is better with the real thing, I'm not going to get too up-in-arms about stuff listed as California champagne. And since I'm not regularly purchasing things like a $300 Kobe steak, whether that's actually Kobe beef or not doesn't really matter to me. Many of the solutions he proposes involve having to pay a lot more to get something that, yes, I'm sure is of better quality. But I'm not going to buy real balsamic vinegar if the cost is in the 3 digit range. His point that you should know what you're getting and food shouldn't be misleading is valid, but overall his level of outrage felt out of proportion to the problem discussed (except when talking about slave labor being used in imported shrimp). 
Goodreads rating: 3 stars

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman
I feel I should preface this by saying I have liked Klosterman stuff in the past. I read Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs a few years after it was published and liked it. I read a few of his others as well and they didn't make a huge impact but I remember enjoying. But recently I went back to relisten to Sex, Drugs and, well, after about 10 min I decided this was no longer for me and returned it to the library. I think Klosterman's stuff might be of its time and unfortunately that time has passed and, at least for me, it didn't hold up great.
Unfortunately, this was the case with this book as well. If you were to ask me what the book is about, I'm not sure I could tell you. He goes on a road trip to visit places where rock stars died for a Spin Magazine article and spends a lot of time talking about past girlfriends. He makes some broad universal statements that fell flat for me and other observations that made me suck in air and cringe. There were some interesting moments but they were brief.
Goodreads rating: 2 stars

You Can't Tough My Hair and Other Things I Still Have To Explain by Phoebe Robinson
This is a reread and I read it so long ago I actually have a full review of it! Incredible, right? This was a Christmas gift and since my earlier copy was an ARC and also I heart physical copies of books I like so not only did I keep it but decided I wanted to reread. I maintain my comment from last review that Robinson teeters just on the edge of using a skooch too many pop culture references. But she pulls herself back just enough, and it's still very funny and tackles difficult topics (like a fellow student writing a love story where a woman decided to not escape slavery because she's in love) in an approachable way that finds the humor in the situation while still dealing with how serious some of these things are. And then there are the pieces that are just funny (not-so-guilty pleasures, love of U2).
Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Bear Town by Fredrik Backman (DNF)
You'll notice I'm writing about this book here yet it's not on my list of books I've read. Because I didn't finish this. Not because it wasn't good. It actually was pretty good. I like this author a lot. I was actually thinking about how much I liked this book right up to the point I decided I wasn't going to read it anymore. There are some spoilers here, but anyway, the story was about to involve a rape. A rape and the after effects, which were going to the remainder of the book. Something that I'm sure the author would have dealt with well, because I like the other stuff the author has done and they aren't necessarily the happiest of topics. But that doesn't mean I want to read about it. Because I don't, not really. Not now. I considered it. I talked to a friend who read it to understand what was coming and I just...reading is what I do for fun, with my limited free-time. This is just to say if that topic isn't a dealbreaker for you, this could be a good one. Or like maybe read one of his other ones first cos they are excellent.  

Number of pages read

25% - big month for non-fiction apparently. I do find it's easier to listen to non-fiction than fiction so if I don't know what to read next, that does tend to be the way I lean

Female authors

BIPOC authors

US authors

Book format
audiobook: 75%
paperback: 25%

Where'd I get the book
gift: 25%
library: 75%

Book club books


Decade published
2000s: 25%
2010s: 505
2020s: 25%

Resolution books
Just the one Phoebe Robinson one

That was pretty successful with the mini-reviews. Let's see if I can keep that up!