Wednesday, February 04, 2009

January Reads in Review

I know. Always late when it comes to wrapping up.

Bookfool's January Reads (in brief - links to reviews, if applicable):

1. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (epistolary/memoir) - New Yorker Helene's correspondence with employees of a bookstore in London is charming because of both the friendships it spawned and the gigantic heart of the writer, who sent care packages to employees until post-WWII rationing ended.

2. I Choose to Be Happy by Missy Jenkins (memoir) - The true story of a school-shooting victim's faith and how she was able to forgive her shooter and turn her bad experience into opportunity to help others.

3. We're In This Boat Together by C. Bishop (business/part fiction) - A fictional account of how the 4 generations in our current workforce might interact during a time of crisis with specific examples of companies that weathered major changes in leadership.

4. A Civil General by Stinebeck & Gill (historical fiction) - The story of George Henry Thomas, a Virginian who chose to fight for the federal army in the Civil War and became a great leader who was trusted by his men yet scorned by his superiors.

5. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (children's) - My friend Melissa calls this, "The cross-dressing bunny book". Silly Melissa. A sweet story of how an arrogant little toy learns how to love.

6. Flight, Vol. 1 (Graphic novel/anthology) - An anthology of tales, each of which somehow involve flight. How I felt about each depended on the artwork and storylines. A rather wildly diverse anthology but overall I enjoyed it.

7. Daylight Runner by Oisin McGann (YA) - A dystopian tale about a teenager living in a futuristic ice age, inside a domed city in a hollowed-out volcano. Taut action, dark & violent. Excellent storytelling.

8. Austenland by Shannon Hale (Chick Lit?) - A young woman's experience stepping inside the world of Jane Austen for a 3-week vacation. Loads of fun.

9. Alpine Americas by Olaf Soot & Don Mellor (coffee table/mountaineering) - Beautiful photos taken in remote places combined with poetic text about the mountains, the climbing conditions and the experience of mountaineering in these ranges. The word "awesome" comes to mind.

10. Recovering Me, Discovering Joy - Vivian Eisenecher (self-improvement) - The author shares her thoughts about recovering from alchoholism, depression and social anxiety from a Christian perspective. Not for me, but probably terrific for those who are battle alcoholism.

11. Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs (self-improvement) - The author's story about how she lost nearly 200 pounds and kept it off, with advice for how others can lose weight through exercise and healthy eating.

12. Grace for the Afflicted by Matthew S. Stanford, Ph.D (psychology/Christian) - An exceptional book about what the Bible says about mental illness.

13. Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story by Linda Thieman - A very cute little ghost story geared to 3rd-grade level.

14. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham (graphic novel) - Gorgeous artwork and some fascinating tales but sometimes a little too violent and some of the stories were unsatisfyingly abrupt in their endings.

15. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (graphic novel) - I absolutely loved this novel about how a monkey king and a boy learn to be happy as they are. Incredible storytelling, both humorous and meaningful, and the artwork is pure delight.

16. Written in Blood by Sheila Lowe (mystery) - A mystery starring a handwriting analyst. The handwriting info was fascinating, the mystery so-so. Not family friendly.

17. The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter (literature) - Absolutely brilliant writing, definitely not family-friendly but the writing was so amazing that even graphic sex didn't put me off.

18. No Experts Needed by Louise Lewis (body, mind, spirit) - The author's story about being let go from her job, traveling around to ask people their opinion of the meaning of life. Uplifting and fun. Looks like you can get a free copy at the author's website.

19. The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich (YA) - The adventures and trials of an Ojibwe family in search of a new home. Lovely storytelling; I hope to read the entire series and will review this one for Estella's Revenge. Speaking of which . . . the February issue of Estella is now available for your reading pleasure.


  1. Anonymous11:24 AM

    No wonder you're late in wrapping up - you're too busy reading.

  2. Kathy,

    LOL! It does at some point come down to a choice between reading and blogging. This month, so far I've blogged more than I read (but I did finish my first February read, last night).

  3. Wow---you had a really good month! That's awesome. Hope February is just as good.

  4. Dar,

    I've only finished one book in February, but I should finish another tonight. We'll see. I think it'll be hard to match January in quantity, but that's okay. I'm just happy if I enjoy the books. :)

  5. You beat me by one book, that's phenomenal. Quite a variety too. I really liked 84 Charing Cross Road (and Hanff's other books too) and The Porcupine Year interests me. I'll watch for your review. I did a January review in my Sunday Salon. Let's hope we continue to have great reading months.

  6. Sandra,

    I read a lot of short books, so the quantity is a bit misleading. 84 Charing Cross Road is wonderful, isn't it? I've got Q's Legacy sitting here and hope to get to it soon. Soon being a relative term. I'll have to peek at your Sunday Salon, but first . . . exercise. Bummer.

  7. Wow, look at all those books read! American Born Chinese is one I've been meaning to read for a while. Sounds very good.
    Hope February is another great reading month!

  8. Wow...that is a lot of books...Good job!

  9. I'm impressed not just by the quantity but the variety as well!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  10. Iliana,

    I thought American Born Chinese was amazing. I hope you do read it! I chose it at Chris's suggestion (Stuff as Dreams Chris, that is). Thanks! I hope you have a terrific reading month, too!


    Thank you! I love your little Snoopy avatar. So cute!


    You know, I hadn't even noticed the variety. I was zoned in on the fact that I read several graphic novels, which I'm still iffy about counting, even though they did take time to read. Thank you!

  11. I'm new to your blog and LOVE it!

    I read like this but only in the summer- school teacher!

    The only book on your list that I've read is "84 Charing Cross Road" and I love it. It has become more "relevant" as people build friendships through blogs and boards across the Internet even if they never meet IRL.

    I'm looking forward to reading more here.

  12. Wow. Wow! And I thought I read a lot in January!

  13. I read American Born Chinese in January, too! And, I am in love with the Fables series... I read seven of them in January alone! I haven't read the one you read yet, though.

    You read a lot of good books!

  14. You had quite a good month, Miss Book Fool! :) I read 3 books. Yep. 3. But they were all quite good. Need to get my summary posted, too.

    I read Feast of Love when it first came out and I still remember that it was a bit racy. I liked it, but must not have loved it as I no longer have it on my shelf. 84, Charing Crossroad, on the other hand is one I LOVED!! I've read it a couple of times and need to give it another read. The movie's fabulous. Love Anthony Hopkins in it.

    Off to curl up with my book. It's getting cold again and the warmest spot in the house is under our down comforter.

  15. LadyDoc,

    Nice to meet you!

    Well, it's been cold outside. I guess that's my excuse for all that reading. :)

    Oh, meaning we no longer sit down to write real letters? Is that what you mean by "more relevant"? That's an interesting thought. I know I used to write big, newsy letters and now I try to keep my emails to a minimum. Not that I'm succeeding. I do babble.

    Thank you! Do come back!


    I didn't see a list of your January reads, but it sure does seem like you read a lot. Did I overlook a wrap-up? I've missed a lot, lately.

  16. Kailana,

    Isn't American Born Chinese fabulous? I love the fact that it's funny and colorful but at the same time it has meaning. I'll read it, again. Not sure about the others. I enjoyed Fables, but there were a few stories that made me cringe. The artwork is amazing, though. Hard to part with it for the looks alone. You read 7 Fables books!!! Wow!!


    Yeah, I had a pretty decent month. I keep reminding people that 3 of the books were graphic novels and a lot of the rest were short, but 19 is still a lovely number to ponder. I'm more about quality than quantity, though -- at least, now. I was just thinking I'll have to post an update on how the New Years resolutions are going, so far.

    Oh, argh, there's a movie? I didn't know there's a movie! I would have looked it up on Amazon (just placed an order -- see my guilty face?). And, I adore Anthony Hopkins (although I won't watch the scary movies with him in them because he's just that good and I don't want to see him in my nightmares). I can't part with 84 CCR. I'll reread it, for sure.

    Feast of Love . . . not sure I'll reread, but I thought his writing was brilliant. It's definitely racy and it gets more so the farther you get into the book. But, I was so blown away by his writing that I didn't care. That's pretty unusual.

    Oh, yes, I've got something on the order of 7 blankets on my bed. Believe me, I was happy to have those layers when the power went out!!!

  17. Boy, you had a busy month! Almost double the number of books I read! Do you ever sleep?

    Diary of an Eccentric

  18. I don't usually do a monthly wrap-up, but just keep track on my 2009 reads post - I read nearly 10 books which is a lot for me in one month.

  19. Anna,

    I don't get a lot of sleep. :) But, most of the books were pretty short, so that's the real reason -- that and the fact that I'm kind of "scheduled", right now. It forces you to pick up the pace a little, having a lot of commitments.


    10 books is an excellent month, IMHO. I don't always remember to do monthly wrap-ups, myself, but I like reading them on other blogs and try to remember to write about my month's reads.

  20. No wonder you're late...when you get that much read in a month, it takes a long time to write up a wrap-up!

  21. Debi,

    I'm always late, but that sounds like as good an excuse as any. ;)

  22. Apparently my description of Edward Turlane made quite an impression :-) It was a cute book.


  23. Melissa,

    I'm not kidding you when I say write the cat book. You have a great turn of phrase!! :)

  24. I'm mentally collecting stories for my cat book. Remember, you're my test audience :-)


  25. You betcha. I can't wait. :)


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