January Reading Roundup

As I shared a few weeks back, I’ve set what might be an overly ambitious goal to read/listen to 100 books in 2020. I’m already learning so much. I truly do believe that reading opens our eyes to see the world in new and different ways.

Total January Tally:

12 Completed Books (I did finish one the morning of Feb. 1 that I’m counting!)

4 Audiobooks

8 Books (and I actually read all 8 as ebooks)

Favorite Fiction Read: The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

Favorite Non-Fiction Read: The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

I wrote about the first seven books previously, here’s a wrap on the last five.

The Solicitor’s Son by Rachael Anderson

One-sentence summary: The third book in a Regency series, this follows the reunion of a young woman Sophia with her childhood friend and love who is of a different social station.

What I found compelling: I had met Sophia in the first two books and it was fun to see the growth and change in her character.

What I found less compelling: As seems to happen often in series, the book quality seems to diminish as the books come out. I’ve found in many of those regency series where I’ve enjoyed the authors debut books (they always are recommended to me on Kindle – and often for free!) that the latter ones aren’t as good. I think they may be rushing to produce more content. There was little in the book that wasn’t completely predictable – which made me almost just give up on it and skip to the end – although there was a small section about 2/3 through where I felt like the book was at its strongest.

Rating: 3/3.5

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley (audiobook)

One-sentence summary: A biography of Jane Austen’s life that highlights the homes she lives in along the way.

What I found compelling: Although I’m a big Jane Austen fan, I have actually never really delved deeply into her life, so I learned a lot. I also appreciated that the author did not make outlandish claims or draw clear conclusions for parts of Jane’s life that will likely always remain a mystery.

What I found less compelling: I’ve listened to some really well-done, compelling biographies – and this one did not capture my attention in the same way. All of the names got confusing (and some other biographies I’ve read/listened to did a better job at reintroducing long ago, once-mentioned characters). I almost gave up on the book part way – but persevered until the end!

Rating: 3.5

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (January book club read for Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club)

One sentence summary: A weaving together of past and present to tell the story of Roya who begins as an idealistic teen in Tehran in the 1950s.

What I found compelling: Books with flashbacks and various points of view can be tricky, but I thought Kamali did a great job weaving the story together. The book came alive in so many ways. I could almost feel the tension in the streets. Even characters I didn’t like, I felt some sympathy toward. I was Googling recipes for Iranian food.

What I found less compelling: There were some moments in the book that could have been fleshed out more – that being said the pacing was very good. I never felt like the book dragged – so not a real problem.

Rating: 5 – If you are looking for a great fiction read, go find this book!

The Dream of You: Letting Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made for by Jo Saxton (audiobook)

One sentence summary: Jo Saxton weaves her life story and biblical passages to teach women to find their identity in Christ.

What I found compelling: In many ways, Jo Saxton and I are nothing alike. Yet in some ways, I felt like we could be the same person. She is able to speak to the underlying issues and cut to the heart in a way that really speaks to me. I also really enjoy listening to her speak – so the audiobook was a great choice. I could say many more good things!

What I found less compelling: The book started off a little slow – but for me it improved as it went on and stayed solid to the end (somewhat unusual in the Christian living genre).

Rating: 5 –I’d highly recommend this book for women – such important reminders!

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

One sentence summary: Chanel Miller, the young woman who came known to the world as Emily Doe during the Brock Turner assault case, reclaims her identity and challenges the way our culture thinks about sexual assault.

What I found compelling: Chanel makes a number of great points as she shares her story. There were times her writing was truly beautiful and she really made me think. She has an important story to share.

What I found less compelling: I’d heard and seen many accolades about this book and I do think Chanel had an important story to tell, but I really struggled to get through it. It just felt way too long and repetitive. I think it could have been a much stronger book with about 100 less pages – but apparently I’m in the minority on this opinion.

Rating: 3/3.5

*I will likely write about this book and Rachel Denhollander’s What Is a Girl Worth? again because I have so many thoughts as I read these two books back to back.

That’s a wrap for January reading – we’ll see what February has in store!

Just a quick reading note if you’re looking for ways to incorporate more reading into your life: I love the Libby app. I know there are other library reading apps as well that are likely just as good – but Libby works with several of my local libraries. My ebooks generally go directly to my Kindle app on my phone and audiobooks download in the app. My only problem is getting too many books at once – but at least I don’t have to worry about fines for late returns!

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