Monday, December 31, 2018

A Month In The Life: December 2018

And just like that, 2019 starts tomorrow! It's been a full year, both in life and books, and as always I'm so grateful that you've followed along with me. Starting a book blog and getting immersed in this part of the internet is up there with my better decisions, and I'm looking forward to continuing to connect with the wonderful people who make being a book nerd online so fun in the coming year!

In Books...

  • Messy: This is the sequel to a book I read last year, Spoiled, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. While we return to the Hollywood world of the first book, the focus shifts from Molly to her sister, wannabe actress Brooke, and best friend, aspiring writer Max. When Brooke hires Max to ghostwrite a dishy blog to give her career some buzz, the longtime high-school enemies gain a new understanding of each other...and then a boy gets in the middle. It's got the same breezy, fun, light tone as the first book, without the weird tonal issues. Not a lot to it, but an enjoyable easy read.
  • Once Upon A River: On a dark winter solstice night, a strange man and a little girl who seems to be dead burst into the door of a riverfront tavern renowned for its storytellers. When the little girl turns out to be alive, she's claimed by three families who each have a reason to believe she could be their own disappeared loved one. The girl herself never says a word, while each of the three try to figure out if she belongs to them...and if she does, how to keep her, while other local figures dig into the mystery of her arrival. Deeply focused on the art of storytelling, this wonderful book draws together pastiches of familiar tales, tells love stories, references folklore, and knows exactly when and how to get the reader emotionally invested in its fantastic characters. I loved it. 
  • Interpreter of Maladies: I've had this Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories on my shelf for ages, but it was chosen for my book club so I finally got around to reading it! While I absolutely loved Jhumpa Lahiri's novel The Namesake, this book suffered from the usual ailment of short stories- it was very uneven. Focused on stories about Indians, usually immigrants or going through some other state of transition, the opening and closing bits are gems but there were some that seemed well-written but ultimately pointless. 
  • The Goldfinch: Donna Tartt's The Secret History has been a favorite of mine ever since I read it in high school. This, her most recent work, got a ton of critical praise and a Pulitzer to boot! While I did really like this sprawling epic about a boy who steals a painting from a museum after a bombing that kills his mother and the way his life is forever effected by that day, I didn't love it. I thought it was a trifle long and sometimes overindulgent, though Tartt's prose kept me hooked.
  • The Prince of Tides: I was excited to get back to Pat Conroy after how much I loved The Lords of Discipline when I read it a few years ago. But this one, although it had its merits, was much more flawed for me. There were some writing tics that got really old really fast, and switching back and forth between the past and present didn't always work as well as Conroy thought/hoped. His writing about the South is powerful, though, and it came around to being a solid read.
  • The Island of the Colorblind: Neurologist Oliver Sacks travels to islands in the Pacific to explore groups with a high incidence of total colorblindness and a unique neurological condition, as well as explore some rare plant life. Unlike he usually does, Sacks never quite settles into a groove, and the extensive footnotes interrupt the narrative. 

In Life...

  • BFF2K18: My yearly trip with my high school besties took us to New Orleans this year! We had a great time exploring the city, partaking in the signature beverages, and eating food that was honestly amazing across the board. My fave might have been the Middle Eastern place inside a little corner market. Such good falafel. 

One Thing:

With the temperatures dropping, it's officially cozy season. Hands down the comfiest sweatpants I have ever put on my body are these pile-lined ones from Uniqlo. Thirty bucks seems a little on the high end for sweatpants but watch for sales, they are 100% worth your money even at full price! I love them so much I have them in three colors.

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

Bonus Reading Stats!

I've been keeping track of some basic stats on my own (which I put in my annual update post in October and am not going to replicate here) since I started this blog. From using Sarah's Rock Your Reading Tracker this year, though, I discovered some things about my reading that I'd never really considered and wanted to highlight some!

I read a lot of debuts: I have honestly never even considered this metric before, so it was interesting to see! If I'd had to venture a guess, I think I would have thought I didn't read many because I think of myself as preferring established authors, but it turns out they made up almost a third of my reading!

I need to up my diversity: I don't think of myself as someone super focused on white authors and/or white experiences in my reading; in fact, I'd like to think I made an effort to include own voices. But I am not nearly as good at this as I should be! Less than twenty percent of my reading this past year was by diverse authors.

I think most of the books I read are decent-to-good: I set my "successful book" standard at 7/10, and over 50% of the books I read get there (58% at that)! If you add in books I read that I rated 6/10, though, it goes up to over 75%, so the vast majority of my reading is on the good side of average.

I'm pretty good at picking books for myself by browsing and going for trusted authors: When I look at my top recommendation sources, trusted authors (ones whose work I've read and loved before) feature highly (nearly 25% of my successful books!), as do things I've picked up just while browsing the Kindle sale or a secondhand bookstore collection.

My favorite reads are likely to come from Penguin Random House: No other publisher came close to publishing as many of my successful books...just under one third came out of one their imprints! Only Harper Collins and Knopf Doubleday had over 10% from the remaining publishing houses.


  1. I loved all the things you learned about your reading from the tracker and thanks for sharing that! Plus, thrilled to see Prince of Tides on here!

    1. It was super interesting to see how all of the categories worked out (plus I'm looking forward to seeing the new ones next year)!

  2. Happy 2019! I loved Interpreter of Maladies when I read it in college. I’m not sure what I’d think of it now. I agree with you about The Goldfinch. I got bored because it was too long. I like your reading stats! I still need to look at my spreadsheet and analyze what happened last year.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I think Interpreter would hold up...they're really well-crafted stories! And that's one of my favorite parts about the end of the year: looking back at statistics and finding patterns!