Wednesday, February 1, 2023

January Reading Wrap-Up+

First month of the new year. Feeling motivated? Ready to take on the year?

We tripped right at the starting line with the new year this year. I mentioned in my year end wrap up post, but the small one tested positive for COVID right as he was about to go back to school. He was luckily ok (asymptomatic), we never tested positive and neither did the people we were around before he tested positive. 

This month I am trying to do more reading a night. Not just listening to audiobooks throughout the day, as I've been doing, but making time, however little, to sit down with a physical book and read. It's something that is easier to say than do since I have a small window after the little one goes to bed, before I go to bed, to do everything: unwind, catch up on TV that isn't children's programming (though seriously, check out Bluey), see what's happening online. Anything. But a friend got me a copy of The Bullet That Missed, the latest Thursday Murder Club book and what was I going to do, not read that immediately? Don't be stupid.

One other new thing I started doing is this bullet journal for reading. As if I didn't have enough spreadsheets going. I actually wrote about half a post about it and then...never finished it. So the year is starting out strong. Anyway, here's a screenshot of what my January reading looked like. I like this because it gives me a quick visual of when I'm reading. And it's easy to see how much quicker audiobooks go for me than any other kind.

Total books read
She Kills Me: The True Stories of History's Deadliest Women by Jennifer Wright
The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
Finlay Donovan Knocks 'em Dead by Elle Cosimano
Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
How To Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Shur
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl

She Kills Me: The True Stories of History's Deadliest Women by Jennifer Wright
Similar to another book of Wright's (It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History) this book is sort of a listicle on steroids. Here Wright lists out 40 women from various points in history who committed murder, sometimes a few (though I mean, sure, one is too many) to too-many-to-count. I listened to this and each woman was given roughly 5-10 minutes so only a few paragraphs worth of information. What was there was interesting but ultimately I would have preferred if there were fewer entries that went into more detail.
Rating 3.25 stars
The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
The third in the Thursday Murder Club series and OH MAN do I love this quartet of septuagenarian detectives. The group are looking into a cold case of a journalist who went missing, her car driven off a cliff, right after she was about to break a story about money laundering. Meanwhile Elizabeth is (briefly) kidnapped with the ultimatum to kill a former KGB operative or have someone she cares about killed. I won't go into too much more detail cos it's very fun to find things out with the crew. These books are just so much fun as much for the foursome (and the people sucked into their gravitational pull) as it is for the mystery itself. I may need to re-read the entire series while I wait for the next book to come out.
Rating: 5 stars
Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano
OK, it may have been unfair to this and The Bullet That Missed at the same time. Both are murder mysteries so they occupy a similar genre (Cozy? Cozy-adjacent? I'm still not entirely clear) and while both are entertaining, sorry, Osman's are much better. I say this as I'm sure it somewhat colored by reading. Anyway, this is the second in the Finlay Donovan series, where we pick up right where the first book left off (spoilers), after helping send a high ranking member of the Russian mob to jail with Finay finding a post on a message board from someone looking to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband. What can she and Vero do to keep Steven safe, what is Vero hiding from her, can she get her next book finished in time to keep her editor and agent off her back, and should she sleep with the hot law student or the hot detective? Lots of questions and honestly, Finlay isn't exactly the sharpest detective, which is endearing at times as well as extremely frustrating. The story is engaging, though I'm a little annoyed at the ending for spoilery reasons that holds it back
Rating: 3.95 stars
Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell
This was a favorite read of last year and gotta tell you, it really holds up on a second read. A great look at the ways "cults", be them religious, MLMs, workouts, use language. It's fascinating and I was going to say without being judgmental but yeah, it is judgmental at time (and I'd say with good reason). But it's generally not judgmental of those taken in by the language but rather of the institutions that use them. One I'm sure I'll reread again.
Rating: 5 stars
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
A book club selection, the story about a woman named Ruth whose personal life has blown up. Her finance, whom she left school just seven months shy of graduating to be with, has left her for someone else. She finds herself 30 and a bit directionless, so when her father's health prompts her mother to ask her to spend a year at home helping to take care of him, she takes the opportunity and documents the days in her journal. Much of the book is focused on her relationship with her father and helping to take care of him as his recent Alzheimer's diagnosis gets worse.  (Something most summaries leave out and would have been nice to know for most of us going into reading this for our book club.) Almost all of the characters are well-developed and three dimensional (though her mother could use some work) and while no one is perfect, there is little judgment cast about. The story isn't too heavy, despite the weighty conceit, but there isn't a huge amount of growth or change from the characters
Rating: 3.75 stars
How To Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Shur
I will start this by saying I love the The Good Place. It was, and is, one of my favorite shows. That alone was enough to get me to check out this book (that and a positive review from the podcast For Real). This book is Shur's collection of everything he learned about moral philosophy in his research for the show. It's a layman's introduction to moral philosophy that is funny and the audiobook is read by Shur and a bunch of actors from The Good Place. The concepts he goes into can be difficult and contradictory and frustrating, but Shur makes it accessible. I was disappointed when I realized the book was ending; I could have easily done another hour
Rating: 5 stars
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
When I saw Grohl had written a book and not only that but narrated the audiobook, it was a no brainer to check it out. It's a collection of essays about Grohl's life and it's been a crazy one. The opening essay was my favorite, with Grohl mixing his life as a dad with how he got to the point of playing sold out stadiums. And admittedly, my favorite stories were the ones that involved his family and where he is now. But that's not to say that the stories of him getting his musical start, playing in Nirvana, almost joining Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, forming the Foo Fighters and 1000 other things. At times the stories involve a lot of lists, of musicians and bands, producers and venues that can get a bit repetitive. And the stories could have VERY easily gone into a boring "look how great I am" territory (and there is a LOT of name dropping) but Grohl manages to come off so humbled by everything that has happened to him. Highly recommend listening to him telling the stories
Rating: 3.5 stars

Total pages read
2,098 - I was on a role in Jan. Will I be able to keep this up throughout the year? Probably not


Female authors

BIPOC authors

US authors

Book format
Audiobook: 86%
Hardback: 14%

Where'd I get the book
Gift: 29%
Kindle/Audible: 14%
Library: 57%


Book club

Decade published
2010s: 14%
2020s: 86%

The Bullet That Missed is by a UK author
Goodbye, Vitamin is by an Asian-American author