I’ll aim to do these recaps monthly moving forward, but since I couldn’t get my act together in January, I’m lumping the first two months of the year together.
I got a bit of a slow start, but I’m starting to find my reading groove. My intentions for 2020 were to read more international authors (ie. not Americans!) and especially more books in French, as well as pick up some of the books I already have on my shelves instead of being such a slave to my library queue. So far I’m not doing great with any of these but the year is young….
THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang, fiction
I didn’t kick off the year with an easy read. This South Korea book is short but intense.
KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller, memoir (audiobook)
Chanel Miller recounts being sexually assaulted behind a dumpster by Brock Turner and the subsequent trial that ended with the “promising young athlete” barely getting a slap on the wrist. It’s an important read from a courageous young women who reclaims her name and her story in every page.
CONFESSIONS OF AN UNLIKELY RUNNER by Dana Ayers, memoir
Sometimes I run, sometimes I read about running. Summit to Soul, a fabulous woman owned fitness boutique on Capitol Hill organized a bookclub and picked this book by a local runner as its January pick. It was a quick read and it really related to the author in her quest to pick up running.
THE SENATOR NEXT DOOR BY Amy Klobuchar, memoir (audiobook)
I’m pretty sure this will be the last “getting to know DEM” memoir I read this election cycle. Definitely one of the more enjoyable ones, especially since I knew very little about Amy Klobuchar before picking it up.
RED AT THE BONE by Jacqueline Woodson, fiction
Beautifully written short book about two very different families whose lives become permanently intertwined by a teenage pregnancy. The story goes back and forth in time and points of view, those of the unplanned child that was born out of the pregnancy, and those of her parents and grandparents. The book packs in a lot in less than 200 pages, touching upon issues of class, education, racial prejudice, motherhood, identity, parenthood or loss…
THE NICKEL BOYS by Colson Whitehead, fiction
This book is a fictional rendering of actual events that took place not that long ago, during the Jim Crow era. It’s so hard to believe and so heartbreaking to think that the actual school this fictional rendering is about only closed 9 years ago! Heavy read (again!) but an important reminder not to let history repeat itself.
ON THE CLOCK: WHAT LOW WAGE WORK DID TO ME AND HOW IT DRIVES AMERICA INSANE by Emily Guendelsberger, non-fiction (audiobook)
After the local newspaper where she worked as a reporter closed, Emily Guendelsberger took a series of low wage jobs around the country: at an Amazon fulfillment center outside Louisville, KY, at a call center in North Carolina and at a McDonald’s in San Francisco. I never eat at McDonald’s, but this book has made me want to never raise my voice again when I’m on a phone with a customer service representative and try to ween myself of Amazon. I thought the book was just ok though.
A WOMAN IS NOT A MAN by Etaf Rum, fiction
After reading two books I recommended, Educated and Maid, my college bestie Sara asked me if I had any happy reads to recommend. I was reading A Woman is Not a Man at the time, which is such a heartbreaking story. So my answer was no. But I still recommended she reads this book someday.
THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang, fiction
At first, I was really put off by the mail-order-let’s-trick-my-son premise of this rom-com novel but within a few chapters, I was totally into it. While the romance part is on the predictable side, it’s sexy and funny, and explore (albeit with a light note) some more serious topics like autism, grief and finding your place in the world. Will definitely pick up Hoang’s first novel, The Kiss Quotient, soon!
LA TRESSE by Laetitia Colomani, fiction
Another short book that was quick to read yet dealt with heavy topics through the stories of three very different women in three different parts of the world. One is an untouchable in India, determined to give her daughter a life where she can have some control over her destiny. Another is a young woman in Sicily trying to save her family’s business. And the last one is a lawyer in Montreal working hard to break the glass ceiling at a big corporate law firm. Three women with a strength of will to carve their own path in a world that seems to want them to stick to a particular lane.
DEAR GIRLS by Ali Wong, memoir (audiobook)
Dear Girls was the perfect companion to my marathon training runs. It’s funny, raunchy and very entertaining and I certainly do hope Ali’s daughters wait until they are much older to read or listen to it.
So 11 books in two months. Two foreign books, including one in French. Four audiobooks. Two books plucked out of my library shelves. A good mix of fiction/non-fiction. All but one written by women. Seven written by non-white authors. Not bad.
If I had to recommend a book over others from what I read it would definitely be Chanel Miller’s Know My Name. It’s really a powerful book. And Red at the Bone was extremely well written. What’s the best book you’ve so far this year? I’m kinda desperate for some happier reads…
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