The Month in Books: January


January! Things sure were crazy this month. I had two back to back work trips to Orlando and Las Vegas (oh, the glamour), which meant I had lots of airplane reading time. Here’s what I read this month.

Hag-Seed (Margaret Atwood)
A modern retelling of The Tempest set in a prison literacy program and written by Margaret Atwood? Yes, please. There was a character named Krampus the Mennonite–I think that’s worth mentioning. This was a story within a story within a story. I loved everything about this. Also, the cover was gorgeous.

Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave (Jill Kargman)
I listened to a radio interview with her, and she was funny. This book, for the most part was not. It was mean-spirited. I don’t have time for humor based solely on making fun of other people.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)
Quick airplane book. This is only my second Neil Gaiman book, and it felt more like an interlude than anything else. It was fine. At times it felt a bit too precocious, a bit too much like what I would expect from a Neil Gaiman novel. At 176 pages, though, who can complain?

The Partly Cloudy Patriot (Sarah Vowell)
I read this right before the Inauguration, which felt appropriate. I want to see what she’s writing now, how she’s processing our current situation. I think what brought me the most comfort from this book was the fact that she is so unabashedly patriotic, even while being upset about where we’re going. America is bigger than the POTUS, bigger than the policies in place. This was a really good reminder of that.

Royal Wedding (Meg Cabot)
Is there anything more delightful than finding a new book in a series you loved as an 8th grader?  When I saw this, I had to grab it for my four hour plane ride to Las Vegas. Meg Cabot has such a fun writing style, and this didn’t disappoint.

The Actor and the Housewife (Shannon Hale)
Did you know it was possible to love a book where the word “icky” is used more than once? It’s true! Oh, but I loved this one. I picked it up because I loved Midnight in Austenland, and kept it on my library pile because the protagonist was Mormon, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a Mormon protagonist. Things I loved about this book: the fast-moving, unpredictable plot. The dialogue. The fact that Becky Jack isn’t afraid of standing up for what she believes in, but she never seems preachy or fake. The family and other background characters. And of course, the romance (even though it wasn’t really a romance). We need more books like this.

Packing for Mars (Mary Roach)
Well, this successfully annihilated any conception that being an astronaut was a glamorous job. Wow. The thing I love about Mary Roach is that she takes such obvious delight in what she’s writing about. She throws herself into whatever it is she is studying, and man but this woman does her homework. I also love the way she weaves in humor and sarcasm, even in the middle of a dense sentence; even in a footnote. Proof that smart is funny and you should never let anyone tamp down your excitement and joy, no matter how strange the subject of it is.

So that’s that! Let’s see what February has in store.