Books read in January 2020

Thanks to the constant nursing, I did a reasonable amount of reading this month. I even went to the library and picked up a lot of books, figuring it was good to have options, though I’ve realized that it’s much easier to hold my phone than to hold a book and flip pages while nursing. So I am probably best off making sure I have e-books loaded on my Kindle. When I do, I’m more likely to read during that 4-4:30 a.m. slot than scroll through social media.

(Side note: I’ve been trying to use the Libby app to borrow ebooks from my library, though we’ve had a few fails recently on that front. Most recently, my 7th grader forgot his copy of The Outsiders at school, and had to pull quotes from it THAT NIGHT for a Very Important Assignment. I tried to borrow an e-copy from our library, but there was a hold queue for both copies they had…probably because every 7th grader was reading it. So, yes, I wound up buying the Kindle version and letting him use that. What can I say. I’m generally willing to buy books.)

Anyway, here’s what I read in January:

The Body: A Guide for Occupants, by Bill Bryson

I’m always up for a Bill Bryson book (well, most of them anyway) and so I put this on my Kindle and found it an enjoyable read for that first postpartum week. He highlights interesting facts about various anatomical discoveries, along with memorable anecdotes. The one that most sticks with me is Samuel Pepys’ (successful!) surgery for the removal of a bladder stone before the days of anesthesia. Yikes.

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Journalists Kristof and WuDunn wade into the problems of America’s white working class, with a personal twist. Kristof grew up in a small town in Oregon, and so the pair cover his old friends and neighbors, looking at why so many of them died “deaths of despair” (by suicide or as the result of drug and alcohol abuse). They are careful to note that these tragedies are simultaneously the result of bad policy and bad personal choices, and while they’d like to see lots of public investment, they also highlight many charitable groups doing good work to improve people’s lives. This is one of those cases where the right answer is probably “all of the above.”

Twenty-One Truths About Love, by Matthew Dicks

I discovered this novel through Jeremy Anderberg’s weekly books newsletter. This book, whose narrator owns a barely-profitable bookstore, and whose wife is expecting their first child, is told entirely in list form. The plot develops through his budget statements, his lists of issues with bookstore employees, his top worries about his marriage, and so forth. While I thought the plot device in the last quarter of the book was fairly far-fetched, this was generally a fun (and funny) book, and since I needed a way to ease back into novels, this served that purpose.

Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I can Correct It, by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast

I always enjoy Roz Chast’s cartoons, so when I saw this book — about Marx’s mother’s quirks, illustrated by Chast — at the library, I picked it up. It kept me entertained during one nursing session, so that’s good, though the rather short length makes me happy I borrowed it.

Veranda: A Room of One’s Own, by Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

I’ve been into coffee table books lately. If borrowed from the library, they can be a very cheap source of self-care. Anyway, this book features gorgeous private sanctuaries, done up to reflect the owners’ personalities. If we are staying in this house, I’ve been pondering making my spaces (office, bedroom, porch) more into sanctuaries, so it’s fun to see inspiration, though there’s also a fantastical element. Staged rooms never feature waste baskets. Have you noticed this? Office spaces never have printers out in the open.

The Kids are in Bed, by Rachel Bertsche

Ok, I’ll admit that part of the fun in reading this one was seeing myself quoted extensively. Bertsche writes about how to find and use leisure time as a parent, and why it’s a good idea to do so. She occasionally leans a bit much on the trope of parents having no time to exercise/read/see friends/have sex/etc. after having kids. But her main point is that in fact people do have some time, we just often spend it mindlessly. By putting a bit of thought into when leisure time might occur, and what you might like to do with it, you can still have a pretty fun life.

What are you reading these days?



9 thoughts on “Books read in January 2020

  1. I finally read Little Women (before I see the new movie) and loved it. I also truly loved The Great Believers and A Place for Us!

  2. Just finished “Holding” by Graham Norton on Audible. I know I heard about it on a podcast. The Bill Bryson book you read is on my TBR list.

  3. I read five books in January, all fiction. Three of them were adult fiction: The Institute by Stephen King, Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton, and Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. Two of them were YA fiction by April Henry: Count All Her Bones (sequel to Girl, Stolen) and The Girl Who Was Supposed to die. I enjoyed all five books.

  4. I just finished ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ – truly one of the most remarkable books I’ve read in a long time. I am recommending it to everyone!

  5. I have been on a novel reading kick. I read 3 novels in January (The Last Romantics, Rules of Civility (a reread from 2011 and worth it) and Asymetry (Book club)). I also gave the Minimalist Home a quick read. Nothing new there, just inspiration to keep extra stuff out of the house.

  6. I read Rachel Bertsche’s book “MWF Seeking BFF” a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I enjoyed her writing style. I may consider buying “The Kids Are in Bed” as gifts for my friends who are becoming parents. I’m not a parent myself, and never plan to be, but I still value gift ideas. Thanks!

    P.S.: I just finished Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet,” the very first Sherlock Holmes story. I loved it!

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