January is almost always a good month for reading for me. Between the (relative) calm that settles in after the holidays, the weather, and a personal lack of desire to DO anything besides hibernate, I typically manage to read more than usual.
My Goodreads count for the month is thirteen books. Of those, five were audiobooks. Audiobooks have been my MO for the past year or two. I’m juggling more priorities than I ever have in my life right now, so any time I can enjoy a book while also accomplishing some other (usually mundane) task, I do it. However, I almost always actually prefer the book to the audiobook, if given an opportunity to sit and read rather than listen. (I’m slightly more of a visual learner than an auditory learner.) For that reason, I’m linking to the actual books below instead of to the audiobooks, though I will note if the narrator is particularly good, etc. I almost never buy audiobooks these days, and I’ve even cancelled my Audible subscription in favor of a Scribd subscription and using various library services (mainly Hoopla). Anyway, here are my January
I re-listened to/read The Book Thief again because anytime is a good time for this beautifully written and haunting story and because the thirteen year old is re-reading it for her World War II studies (Build Your Library unit, for those interested). In fact, I started this one months ago, way back when the weather was still warm and 2018 was only middle-aged. I kept with it, though, despite being derailed by several other books, mostly because it’s a sure thing and I knew it. The narration for this audiobook (read by Alan Corduner) is par excellence. Read my original thoughts about this book here. They really haven’t changed, despite several subsequent re-readings, though I must say that I hardly recognize my own voice in that review because I seem so dispassionate about a book that I truly adore.
Atomic Habits by James Clear is an audiobook I listened to because the hubby had downloaded it on our Scribd account. I’m always game for a good self-help book, and this one is a good one. As the tagline on the cover states, it’s about “Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results.” Clear shares lots of research about how to make small, incremental changes that do indeed add up to big changes, and he shares personal anecdotes (often his own) to back it up. I was not familiar with Clear before listening to this audiobook, but I was interested to learn that he has a website and also a free newsletter. I signed up for his newsletter because I like his voice (which comes across as very humble and likable, and yes, he does read his own audiobook, so I mean both his writing voice and his speaking voice, I suppose) and because I don’t mind adding another few emails to my full-to-overflowing inbox.
I’m listing Okay for Now and Orbiting Jupiter, both by Gary D. Schmidt, together because they were both re-reads for me. I reviewed Okay for Now here and Orbiting Jupiter here. My feelings for neither of these books have changed. If anything, they’ve grown stronger, as I’ve learned more about Gary D. Schmidt. I’m making it a goal of mine to read everything I can get my hands on by Schmidt this year, and I’ve made a good start, even if everything I’ve read so far has been a re-read. I can’t recommend his books highly enough.
I’m an INFP and an Enneagram 4. Both of those things (and especially the 4!) make me resistant to bandwagon jumping. Also because I am an Enneagram 4, I have a tendency toward envy, and I’ll admit that I have to give myself a stern talking to every once in a while when it comes to folks who have made a career out of books. Both because I eschew bandwagons and because I have a healthy case of why didn’t I do that? when it comes to bookish careers, I’m not a huge fan of book-related podcasts or blogs, especially those that turn reading into a commercial venture for the person who writes them. (Honest confession is good for the soul, right? Dear Reader, I am jealous.) HOWEVER, I want to say after that lengthy confession, I was pleasantly surprised by Reading People by Anne Bogel. I am a complete personality typing junkie. I have made the deepest of deep dives into the Enneagram in the past year and I have LOVED IT. Thus, in this books, Bogel is preaching to the proverbial choir. She does a fantastic job of explaining the major personality profiling tests, though, and I gained a few nuggets of wisdom in her book that I had never realized before. That’s saying something because, again, I’m a junkie. I enjoyed this one enough to move on to her next book, so again, that’s saying something.
We finished The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean as a family read-aloud in the new year. We’ve done the Jesse Tree several times in the past, even using a homemade felt Jesse Tree I made when the girls were quite young. I enjoyed this simpler take this Christmas season. The frame story kept my boys interested. I recommend this version if you prefer a more straightforward style than Ann Voskamp’s. (I reviewed her book here.)
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier was one of my read-alouds with the boys for January. This was a re-read for me because I listened to and LOVED the audiobook last summer. This was just as much of a hit with my boys as I expected it to be. This story has everything: excitement, slightly scary parts, growing relationships, and a completely satisfying story arc. I hope to follow this one up with a read-aloud of Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard soon.
The other six titles of 2019 were shortlisted titles for this year’s Cybils. Because I’m a second round judge, I am not at liberty to share my thoughts just yet. I will soon (I hope!), though.
That’s a lot of good reading. I have several other books I’m in the middle of and/or had to set aside. I’m not complaining, though.
Here’s to a bookish February!