Thursday, January 06, 2022

More Stuff I Read in 2021 but Didn't Get Around to Reviewing - In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren, The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar, and The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

Last of the 2021 reads!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren was a buzz read in 2020 and the reviews I read were all positive. So, when I happened across it during one of my mid-year purchases, I tossed it in the cart. And, I'm glad I did. 

A Christmas version of the movie Groundhog Day, In a Holidaze has a heroine named Maelyn, who has just made a terrible mistake (kissing an old friend while drunk). And, then her family finds out that the friends who own the home where they meet up twice a year with the same group of college buddies from her parents' university days are selling the house. While driving to the airport to leave their annual Christmas get-together, everyone in her family is upset about the house and the uncertainty of what will happen to their gatherings when something happens and Maelyn finds herself back on the plane, on her way to the Christmas gathering that she just left. What happened?

When things happen exactly the same way they did the first time she experienced the holiday, Maelyn is stunned. But, when she keeps getting thrown back onto the plane and reliving her Christmas vacation (each time lasting a bit longer before something happens to return her to the past), she realizes it's up to her to make changes if she wants to break free from the time loop in which she's stuck. 

Loved it and recommend it. Like Groundhog Day, In a Holidaze is basically a romance (it eventually gets a bit steamy) in which the heroine must figure out how to win the man she loves. But, she also has some other challenges to figure out and some reflecting to do on her life and what direction she wants it to take. I totally enjoyed In a Holidaze and will definitely read more by Christina Lauren if I get the opportunity. 

This is my second year of purchasing and reading The Short Story Advent Calendar, this year edited by Alberto Manguel with an "around the world" theme so that each story's author came from a different country. Oddly, I just now realized that I didn't think of this as a "book purchase". It didn't even occur to me that I was buying reading material! So funny. And, I think it's fine because it's an advent calendar. I'm always looking for some sort of advent calendar to usher in the Christmas season.

Well. This is a nice new tradition that I'll definitely keep going. I absolutely loved popping the seal on a new short story, every night. And, this year there was a bonus. Two friends let me know that they'd bought their own copies of The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar after reading my review, last year. Brittanie was one of them and we texted regularly about what we thought of various stories. That honestly doubled the fun. 

As with the 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar, there were stories I loved and some that didn't thrill me. Some of the authors were well known (Oscar Wilde, Muriel Spark, Hans Christian Andersen), some I'd never heard of. I didn't take notes on them, this year, because I won't be buying many books so it's pointless to write down favorite new authors but I know Brittanie did. Loads of fun and highly recommended!

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer is subtitled "Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements". It's about the kind of people who get involved in mass movements, the characteristics of a mass movement's leaders, what factors keep a mass movement going, and how they end. 

I don't know how I found out about The True Believer but I must have read about it somewhere. It's a classic, published in 1951, and therefore dated in some ways (he talked about the Iron Curtain and why he believed the Soviet Union would continue to exist for at least another 30 years, which turned out to be correct . . . closer to 40) and the slow rise of Communism elsewhere. 

But, what's most astounding to me is how comparable our last president was to Hitler. I have resisted comparing anyone to Hitler because he's pretty much considered the penultimate evil bad guy that everyone wants to use for comparison. But, throughout the reading, I realized that the former president did, indeed, parallel the actions of Hitler, Stalin, and other dangerous fanatics — holding rallies, declaring himself the only arbiter of truth, discouraging trust in experts and government entities (and successfully dismantling some of them), choosing a sector of the population to demean, and encouraging violence. 

Interestingly, the author also talks about why a quieter, more competent leader cannot maintain the following of a radical who is not as well educated but has the ability to stir up the masses to dangerous anger, even when there's really little to genuinely be angry about. 

I highly recommend The True Believer but it's not an easy read. Still, it's relevant in spite of its age and kind of scary, although there were rays of hope. 

Okie dokie, then! This is the end of my 2021 reads! I will post my full list of reads and links on Saturday, since tomorrow's kitty pic day. Then, I'm hoping to finally write a post about favorites, although it will not be a Top 10, as most people do. I'm too eclectic a reader to narrow down to 10 books, so I'll probably do it by category. 

Happy reading!

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