December 2020 Reading

I was pouring my crème brulee tea (honestly one the best things I’ve ever smelled) when I realized I never blogged about my December reads. So here they are. Please picture them wrapped up in a nice bow as though I’m giving you a late Christmas present.

December was a bit of a strange month because I wanted to reach my goal of reading 100 books, but not if it made reading a chore. It’s a relaxing, leisurely activity and I wanted to keep that image pure.

I did make the 100 books; I think it was even 101 because there was a book I’d read earlier in the year that I had forgotten to date on Goodreads. Anyway, in all honesty I did read a few kids books so maybe they don’t count but also – I’m counting them. And it’s my blog and my goal and I don’t feel ripped off so I’m keeping my 101 books as a win. The kids books are: Wombat Divine (Mem Fox) which I gave 5 stars, The Barnabus Project (Eric and Terry Fan), which I gave 4. And I read two childrens classics books, which are novels, and I love them, but they were quick reads. The ones I read were: Tuck Everlasting (Natalie Babbitt), which I gave 4 of 5 stars, Anne of Windy Poplars (LM Montgomery) I gave a 4, and The Nutcracker (ETA Hoffmann) which I gave a 4. (But also – imagine if your initials were Estimated Time of Arrival??)

To the proper reviews, I suppose, because things are getting a bit chaotic.

I read four novels and one non-fiction, so let’s start with the non-fiction: Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love. I gave this book a 4, but it was a funny one to rate in the sense I loved some aspects but couldn’t get on board with others. I loved how even though the title is focused on love, Dolly recounts her life and the relationships she has; romantic, yes, but also with family and friends. The honesty was what I appreciated the most, as she recalls loneliness, jealousy, insecurity, and the ups and downs that we all have as we try to figure things out.

I reviewed Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot) in October, which you can read here, and enjoyed the sequel though not quite as much. I gave this one a 3. Told about the same café (where if you sit in a certain seat you can go backwards or forwards in time so long as the memory happened in the café), the author goes into more depth about the owners and their personal experiences with the whole time-travel thing. I didn’t like this book as much because it wasn’t original by this stage, but I did appreciate the background information on the Woman Who Occupies the Seat.

The Midnight Library (Matthew Haig) I gave 4 of 5 stars. I loved the premise, which is a woman is on the edge of death and wakes up in a library. The library is full of books which all contain different versions of her life depending on the choices she makes. So she chooses a book and wakes up in that alternative life, and if she’s not disappointed by it she can live that life and stay there until she properly dies. I did struggle with the first few chapters, getting used to his writing style, but once I found the rhythm it was quite good. The ending was predictable and cliché, but I still liked it enough to give it 4 stars.

The last two books I read are hard to review because I gave them both 5 stars and they’re two of the best books I’ve ever read.

Anxious People (Fredrick Backman) tells the story of a bank robbery turned hostage situation turned wrong. What makes this book so clever and charming is that it’s not about a crime, it’s about people. You see, the hostages are all connected and their lives come together in the most beautiful of ways. This book was witty and hilarious and poignant and clever and devastating. The more that’s revealed about the characters, the more you love them and feel for them. I can’t describe much more than that, but it’s the kind of book that I can recommend to anyone because it has a bit of everything. Also, it’s perfect.

Finally, The Silent Patient (Alex Michaelides). This is a crime fiction, which I don’t generally read because I don’t like gore or horror or anything too graphic or anything too ‘evil’. (I know that sounds ridiculous because surely anything crime related is evil?) I suppose what I’m saying is I love Agatha Christie because the death in the books isn’t really described and the books focus on the characters and the mystery. They’re quite light, even. And I loved this book because, even though it’s a crime, it’s suspenseful and mysterious and is about the characters rather than focusing on psychopathic actions. This book is about Alice, who is accused of killing her husband. After his death, however, she doesn’t speak one word. The story follows Alice and the psychotherapist who tries to speak to her and tries to understand what happened the night her husband died. The reason this is 5 stars is because I did not predict the ending. When I read it, I got proper chills and had to stop reading for a few minutes because I was so shocked. An incredibly clever story that again, I highly recommend.

Wow, a bonus blog post and a long one at that. I hope you enjoyed your late Christmas present!

Sarah xx

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