January’s Books

This post is going to be a doozy, so unless you are interested in a very long list of books that I read in January you might want to skip this post, or maybe just skim it to see if there is something you might like to read here. A couple of posts ago I talked about my New Year’s Resolution to read all the books on my to-read bookshelf. I started the year off with a lot of momentum, mainly because Husband and I went on vacation to Aruba. There is nothing to do on that tiny island other than sit on the beach and read. I would not have it any other way–it was perfect, and since half of my suitcase was filled with books I got a lot of reading done. So what follows is a post about the 16 books I read last month.

I am sorry.

I have been meaning to read this book for a long time. I have not delved much into the world of Virginia Woolf, which I have always felt guilty about. The very basic idea of this little book is that women, in order to write, need a room of their own. Which is more than just a room, but when Woolf inherited a monthly allowance to live on from a dead relative it allowed her the freedom to be her own person, to be free from men, to be without worry about where her next meal would come from, and most of all to have her own space to write and create. I found it a little hard to get into the book, as it is pretty dry and academic, but she had a lot of good things to say and it was well worth pushing myself through.

Reading this collection of poems by Hafiz was just a joy. He was such a happy man and his writing is soaked with it. Every poem seems bursting with love and happiness. This is a very hippy read of course, and living in the home land of Portlandia, I have come across copies of this book in many waiting rooms. Go figure. This is the closest I can get to religion without my skin crawling. But that is the beautiful thing about the great Sufi masters–it wasn’t about religion, it was about self-realization: love and happiness. Can’t get much better than that.

This was another Portland Book Review book, you can see my full review here. This wasn’t a major page turner, but it was a fun take on World War II. Parr takes fictionalizes parts of the war, adding in his two fictional characters to actual events. He does it very well and if you are not a major history buff it is hard to tell fact from fiction. On the whole I feel like I learned a lot about how global WWII was. How many places the war touched, how many people it changed or destroyed. I would recommend this to  anyone interested in history.

I am currently doing some ghost writing for a Cambodian man who grew up during the Khmer Rouge, so I felt that I had to read this book. I really enjoyed it–as much as you can enjoy a book about death. This is the foreigners perspective about the war, which gives the reader insight into the international politics that enabled a lot of the atrocities to happen in Cambodia. I had no idea how many countries were involved in Cambodia’s politics. It was very eye-opening to read.

This is by the same author of the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which I loved. This one was good too, not as good, but an easy fun read, that didn’t leave you feeling like you had wasted any time for sitting down and reading it. It is easy to get invested in Well’s characters–all of them have faults and all of them have virtues, which is a beautiful thing. This definitely falls into the category of women’s literature, so keep that in mind when making your reading selection.

I love Sci-Fi, and I love Sci-Fi done well. This is Sci-fi done well. I am excited to read the next three books in this series. Husband introduced me to the books as Ender’s Game was one of his childhood favorites. I can see why. I wasn’t sure how this book would stand the test of time, as it was my husband’s favorite when he was little, but the book was just as interesting and fun to an adult coming to it for the first time. If you like reading about hypothetical future stories, than this is a book for you.

I had a hard time putting this one down–maybe because I am pregnant. On the other hand this might not be have been the best thing for me to read being pregnant. I couldn’t put it down and ended up freaking myself out over a couple of the chapters. I mean the book is about several different births, some beautiful and some gruesome. I especially had a hard time with the chapter on eclampsia.  That is some very scary stuff, and for about a week after reading that chapter I walked around convinced I was going to go down in a writhing, seizing mess, before falling into a coma and dying. This book is all about women, so keep that in mind. But there are things in the book for someone of the opposite gender. There was a good amount of history about midwifery, which was very interesting. I know my dad enjoyed the book and he is as grizzly and gruff as one can get–mustache included.

I LOVED this book because it places Japanese and American cultures side by side, you get to learn a lot about our similarities and differences. Besides it is also very well written with an interesting plot. The story is told from the perspective of a couple of different characters, each one unique with well developed voices. At its heart this is a mother-daughter story, but it is also an immigration story, a war story, a love story.

I read this in a couple of hours one evening when I decided to treat myself to an easy book. I love Mercedes Lackey, and this is one of her newer ones. While I feel like she is writing the same story over and over (especially in the Elemental Masters Series), I have a hard time not enjoying her books anyway.  I have also read almost every book in this series, so I feel like I am obligated to read any new ones that she comes out with. I like that some of them are loosely based on fairy tales and i am a huge fan of magic/fantasy books. So if you want a quick, easy, read that doesn’t take any brain power this would be it.

Matthew Dickman is my all-time favorite poet. His first collection was marvelous. He is so quirky and dark. He has such an interesting way of looking at the world, and I cannot get enough of his rhythm. His poems are a lot of fun to read out loud. I had the privilege of hearing him read is own work when he came to visit my university, so I have a pretty good idea of his cadence and style, which only makes his poems that much better. Now this collection is very dark. If there ever was a port headed to suicide Dickman is it. Or at least that was the feeling I got reading these poems. A lot of them are about grief and loss, depression without the angst. I really hope he doesn’t commit suicide because I want to go on reading his work for years to come. Fingers crossed.

This was NOTHING like the movie. Besides the name of the main character, nothing else matched. I am having a hard time seeing how they even say that the movies were made from the books. I enjoyed the movies better, but I still had fun reading the book. I don’t really feel compelled to go out and read the rest of Ludlum’s work, mainly because I do not get much out of this genre other than entertainment, and I generally like to get a something more out of my reading.

This is an older book, so if you enjoy reading things from earlier centuries then this is a good pick. The Moonstone is touted as one of the first, if not the first, book written in the mystery/crime genre. Yes it is that old. I enjoyed reading it as you can tell it was written by someone with a good sense of humor. It takes a little while to get through this book, just because the style is a bit of an adjustment to our modern minds, but once you get used to the language it is pretty smooth sailing. Just expect that everything will be described in-depth, a little too in-depth maybe, but that was a hallmark of anything written around that time.

My sister-in-law gave me this book after the birth of her baby. It was interesting to read and very reassuring as a first time momma. As a society we have done a very good job of integrating fear into birth, even though it is a very natural and normal experience. While I do not plan on following this book like a religion, it did help me relax a little over the idea of giving birth. I have always felt pretty confident when it came to the idea of giving birth, but being around doctors and really anyone who has anything to say about pregnancy weakens that innate sense of confidence. This book helped me to stand firm and to hold onto my confidence. BIrth is a natural experience that our bodies were built to achieve. The biggest take away I had is that the more fear we have the more pain we will have, but since this is something that our bodies are meant to do you can relax into the birthing experience and trust your body. I will let you know how it goes in a couple of weeks.

I tore through this one–which is often the case with any literature regarding the Holocaust for me. This is a very short read, about a Danish couple who hide a Jewish man in their home during the war. It was well written and by the time I got to the middle I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was going to happen, which is always a good feeling when a book can wrap you up like that. I would highly recommend this one, especially if you have a morbid curiosity with the Holocaust like I do.

I read the first half of this book the traditional way, and the second half I read via audiobook. I have to say that it is a lot easier for a book to get under your skin when you are reading it, rather than listening to someone read it to you. Something about the act of reading maybe? Hunching over a book makes you feel like looking over your shoulder, and no book makes you feel like you need to look over your shoulder like Dracula. I really enjoyed it.

My good friend Karen recommended this book to me. It was a lot of fun to read, being a mystery written for young adults. Every character is very weird, so when you get a bunch of odd ducks forced into a situations together, fun and interesting things are bound to happen. It reads a lot like the podcast Welcome to Nightvale, if any of you are familiar with that. The same friend who had me read this book also introduced me the that podcast, which is no surprise. The only difference between this book and that podcast is that the book makes sense at the end,  while the podcast never does.


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