Monday, February 8, 2016

100 Books 2016: January Reads

This year I set a goal to read 100 books. I didn't quite make it last year, but I'm off to a good start in January! I finished 8 books last month, and I'm on my 3rd for February so far. I'm going to try and do a little round up every month of what I read and what I liked. If you use good reads, add me as a friend! I love seeing what other people are reading, and find lots of stuff for my "Want to Read" list that way!

1. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy //  It is well documented that I love supernatural fiction. This book is a wonderful werewolf book that treats the infection like a disease that turns into a civil rights issue. In the future people infected are required to take a drug that keeps them from changing with the full moon. There is a war brewing, and you see it from a few different sides. I really loved it, a werewolf tale told in a new way. Looking it back up on good reads, I think I added this to my list because Stephen King highly recommended it. I wish he was still using his good reads account!

2. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan Beautifully written, this book deals with selkie folklore or women called forth from the sea, their seal skins hidden so they can't return to the ocean. I was familiar with this idea, because as a child I loved the movie "The Secret of the Roan Inish" and more recently, the gorgeous film "The Song of the Sea" but maybe it isn't lore that everyone is familiar with. The story is told from many different points of view, one voice per chapter, and I don't think any of the narrators repeat. It makes for a great read where you are constantly learning different facets of the story, and changing ideas you might have held before. I also felt betrayed by characters I loved more than once, like shockingly betrayed. The first few chapters are a little confusing, but just because it takes a little bit to put all the pieces together. It is worth it. I wish the cover didn't look like so much of a romance novel, because there is definitely no romance in this book.


3. Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia Travis is a sleep talker, and at one point he was having night terrors and sleep walking pretty often. Thankfully we figured out what was going on (eating weird stuff too late usually) so it stopped. But during that time, I saw the movie Mike Birbiglia made about this book and it FREAKED me out. He is a sleepwalker who has done things like jumped out of a second story hotel room while asleep. Holy moly! This book is like a series of essays, and doesn't deal just with the sleepwalking. I found it engaging and funny, and I like Birbiglia's voice.

4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed I saw a list of Emma Watson Approved Reading and added most of them to my too read list. She loved Cheryl Strayed so I gave Wild a shot first. I had seen the movie and liked it, and the book was a great read. It alternates between hiking the Pacific Coast Trail being the best thing you could ever do, and the worst thing you could ever do. I loved her writing style, the way she worked in memories of her past with her experiences on the trail. A really wonderful book, and I think the film did a great job bringing it to life. I added the rest of her books to my to-read list after this.

5. Among Others by Jo Walton My friend Brittany recommended this to me, and we have very similar taste in books so I checked it out right away.  I read a review that said this story starts after the climax, and the protagonist has to live with the consequences, and I think that sums it up really well. Mori is a twin, who is now living with a disability and without her twin sister. She loves reading, especially science fiction, and she has been sent off to a boarding school by a father she hardly knows, after escaping her mother who is an unstable, power hungry witch. I love the way that the book is set in the 1970's, and in a pretty normal world situation. The magic in it fits into the world perfectly and not many people know about it. The narrator Mori feels really different to me from other characters I loved it because she isn't super into the magic she can do, seems to see it more as a fact of life she must deal with. The book is less to do with magic, and more to do with her learning how to cope with having her life change so suddenly and violently. I found her really likable and look forward to more from the author!

6. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love From Someone Who's Been There by Cheryl Strayed This is a collection of advice columns that Cheryl Strayed wrote under the pseudonym "Dear Sugar." This book has the same beautiful language as wild, and I loved her advice. It often started with an anecdote about her own life, included some tough love for her readers, and was all around a good read. If she was still doing the column, I would be a regular reader for sure.

7. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira Another Emma Watson recommendation! This book reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (an all time favorite) probably because it is written in letters from one narrator, Laurel. She gets an assignment in school to write a letter to someone who is dead. She picks Kurt Cobain, because her sister loved him, and you quickly learn that her older sister died in the past year. You get little hints about what happened but don't get the full picture until late in the book. Laurel writes letters to many different dead people, for all kinds of reasons, using it as a way to work through the trauma of her sister's death, the aftermath, and her own issues growing up and starting high school. The voice felt authentically teenage to me, and I fell in love with Laurel as the book went on. 

8. Troublemaker by Leah Remini I'm super interested in extremist religions so I was excited to read Remini's tell all about Scientology. I read another Scientology memoir last year, Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, which I highly recommend if you are interested in Scientology. Hill grows up in the church, in a Sea Org family so it gives you lots of information on the inner workings. Leah Remini's story is more from a family that joins when the kids are teenagers, and the experience she had as a celebrity in Scientology. I found it completely fascinating, and do think it is really brave of her to come out like this against a religion that is famous for destroying the lives and careers of people that leave the church, and forcing families to stop communicating with members that leave. Also, who doesn't love to read real celebrity behinds the scene stuff? 

Are you reading anything really good right now? 


  1. Oooh adding love letters to the dead to my list!! I'm so motivated to read! This challenge has kicked me in the butt. Also, loved the movie sleepwalk with me!

  2. Just about everything on this list is on my To Read list. Benjamin Percy lives here. I love going to his readings. His (speaking) voice is amazing.

    I also loved the Sleepwalk with Me movie! I feel like I read the book, but I think I just heard part of it on TAL.

  3. Im doing the 100 book challenge too I want to read all of these but most of all I want to read the Brides book I love stories about silkies. Ive been reading Patricia Highsmith so good. I plan to go over the books I read in January and February at the end of the month on my blog

    retro rover

  4. Great list! As the world's slowest reader, I am sooo impressed by your goal of 100 books. Among Others is the only Jo Walton book I've read as well and I loved it. It was picked for discussion with a dear, far away friend. Also: Huge fan of Cheryl Strayed. I just started listening to her Dear Sugar podcast last week. Wonderful stuff!

  5. Oh man, 100 books is so much! I usually do around 50/year and can't really imagine where I'd get the time to do 100! I look forward to seeing more about the challenge :)


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