This Winter in Reading

Each month (or thereabouts!) we round up the best things we have read. In December we went to a parade, did some archery, went to holiday parties, enjoyed Christmas at Jeff’s parents’ place, and went to Zoo Lights at the National Zoo. We visited my parents for New Year’s, and also spent a weekend playing board games in Luray, and another weekend snowed in by a big blizzard in January. In February, we went to Philadelphia and to Orlando, and Rachel started a new job.

Rachel’s Reads


Books – I read 7 books in December (plus one that I quit) and 7 books in January (plus, I quit two). I read 10 books in February.

  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown – 3 out of 5 stars. I read this out loud to Jeff (after about half the book we took turns). So that was fun, but highlighted some pretty bad writing. It got better towards the end and was ultimately enjoyable.
  • Feed by Mira Grant – 4 out of 5 stars. This is such a great take on the zombie apocalypse! Bloggers becoming licensed journalists. Very well done.
  • The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin – 3 out of 5 stars.  This was certainly an interesting concept, with a lot of basis is ancient Egypt. Intriguing. Pretty good.
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin – 3 out of 5 stars. This was a recommendation from a friend on the List App. I liked it. I feel like I wanted more of Ged’s internal thoughts and character development. But on the whole, enjoyable!
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon [quit] – I’m sorry but I tried. It just felt inaccessible and a struggle to me. I got through 50 pages. I maybe could have struggled through but then I checked out some more exciting books instead.
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – 5 out of 5 stars.  I LOVED this. Also, early in the book I was like “what, January 13 is my birthday too!” Highly recommended.
  • Golden Son by Pierce Brown – 3 out of 5 stars. Jeff and I read this out loud to each other (the second after Red Rising). It was sometimes pretty good, sometimes pretty awful. Overall, maybe a smidge better than Red Rising? But similarly mixed yet somewhat enjoyable.
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris – 2 out of 5 stars. I’m not into David Sedaris’s books and it’s high time I remember that.
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King – 4 out of 5 stars. There is one part of this book that I think drags a bit but surprisingly it stands up well overall despite being really long. I tend to enjoy King’s longer works. This one is an intriguing look at the repercussions of time travel, and also a love story. Worth a read.
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – 4 out of 5 stars. This book looks at how families damage each other and how a lack of communication can affect family dynamics. It’s quite good.
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante [quit] – I struggled through half of the book, waiting to be enchanted and hooked like I expected to be based on the hype for this series. I put the book down for a bit to read other things and then just never wanted to read more. A friend of mine was struggling through at the same time which made me feel a little better about quitting.
  • Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith – 4 out of 5 stars. I have enjoyed the Cormoran Strike novels quite a bit and this one was no exception.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – 4 out of 5 stars. Even though there was a point in this book where I was like COME ON (about when the rover flipped near the end) it was still enjoyable. However when bad shit keeps on happening it gets less tense. Also why doesn’t he just assume that NASA is seeing him on satellites from the beginning?
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates [quit] – I know, right? I feel kind of horrible for not liking this book based on the prevailing opinions about it. But whatever, I read half of it and felt no need to read more.
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski – 5 out of 5 stars. Excellent read about recent sex research – very affirming, especially for women! Worth a read for anyone with a partner who is a woman too or just anyone who is interested in sex research.
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – 5 out of 5 stars. Loved this! I have heard of a bunch of the research already, but Aziz puts it all together in such a compelling and hilarious way! I would totally read more pop sociology if it was written by Aziz.
  • One More Thing by BJ Novak – 3 out of 5 stars. I didn’t like every story, but a lot of them made me giggle. Fairly dark, I liked it.
  • The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher – 3 out of 5 stars. Quick read, a retelling of Bluebeard. Enjoyable but not outstanding.
  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson – 4 out of 5 stars. I was immediately sucked in by the lyrical writing and the quiet, intense story.  The image of the title fits the book perfectly. Snow falling on cedars to me feels quiet, beautiful, but also oppressive. The book centers on the trial of a Japanese-American man who is accused of murdering his childhood friend in 1954. It’s set on a small (fictional) island in Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. The small-town mindsets and relationships resonated with me. I grew up on a peninsula not an island but we had some shadow of that isolation. The book covered racial tension, Japanese internment, coming back from war as a broken person, and intricacies of the heart. Again, the writing is absolutely beautiful. This book is well worth a read.
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra – 4 out of 5 stars. Really well interwoven stories. Not always that interested in Soviet stories but these are great.
  • A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux – 3 out of 5 stars. The first half was pretty great but it kind of lost the thread halfway through.
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – 3 out of 5 stars. A nice book about coming to terms with yourself. But somehow I didn’t find it amazing, just good.
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – 3 out of 5 stars. This book made me want to be friends with Mindy Kaling.
  • Calamity by Brandon Sanderson – 5 out of 5 stars. Final book of the Reckoners series and the conclusion worked for me! Lovely as always.
  • Dawn by Octavia Butler – 3 out of 5 stars. Intriguing premise but it didn’t go as far as I expected. Really felt like it was setting up the rest of the series and not as good as a stand alone.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – 4 out of 5 stars. Very cute graphic novel! Really into it.
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta – 4 out of 5 stars. You get a glimpse into most of the main characters’ heads which elevates this above the usual fairy-tale-esque fantasy. It wraps up nicely even though it’s a series, which I liked too.

What did you read this winter?

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