Reading Recap: December 2018

It’s finally here, the last recap of this year’s reading challenge.

December was a mixed month for books.  Life has been absolutely insane for the past few months and, as a result, I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like.  Since my job transition and grad school semester ended, I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things.

My main take-away this month is I’ve rediscovered my trick for getting myself to go to the gym: designating a book on my Kindle that I’m only allowed to read while working out.  I’ve explained this to a few people recently and they keep looking at me like I’m crazy.  But it actually works!  I’ve been tearing through Sarah Dessen’s older novels and they are keeping me on the cardio equipment longer and longer each time.  So I’m not only working out, I’m actually enjoying it!  It’s a win-win!

Dec 2018 Reading Recap.jpg

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 7
  • Number of pages read: 2,470
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 0
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns
  • Highest rating:
    • The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns (4.75 stars)
    • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Screenplay by J.K. Rowling (3 stars and that is being generous)

Some notes on my stats:

  • Audiobooks are included in total page count.  It takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, so I count them
  • My ratings are on a 5-star system and are ridiculously subjective

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

  • Pages: 356
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • Ehhhh… I had a really hard time getting into this one.  Normally, I really enjoy historical fiction, particularly World War II novels.  If I didn’t need to read this for work, I wouldn’t have finished it.
    • There’s a lot of WWII stories out there and this one took an interesting approach, telling the story of the wives left behind after their husbands are killed for attempting to assassinate Hitler.
    • None of the characters were interesting.  The most spicy part of the book was Benita’s affair and the aftermath of that was enough to ruin all the characters for me.
    • Another frustrating thing in this book was the jumpy timeline.  You have to pay close attention to the dates because it moves around.  I wasn’t very engaged while reading, so this threw me off several times.

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns

  • Pages: 288
  • Rating: 4.75 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • A few months ago, in preparation for hearing Enns speak at a conference, I picked up The Sin of Certainty, which was excellent.  Upon writing about it in a recap, a friend recommended this title (Thanks, Dan!).
    • This is the book about the Bible that I’ve always wanted in my life.  I’ve read other books that attempt to address the nature of the Bible, but they always leave me wanting.  At last, here is a book that gives me what I’m looking for.
    • Instead of trying to explain away aspects of the text that are confusing and contradictory, Enns examines the questions that ancient writers were asking. As a literature person, this contextual approach made complete sense to me.
    • The structure of the book is also fantastic.  Since I usually read these kinds of books in 10-15 snatches before going to work, I loved the short chapters.
    • What I love most about this book is its accessibility.  You don’t need to be trained in theology to understand what Enns is talking about.  It’s also super funny.  I laughed aloud several times at Enns’ dry humor.
    • As of today, both of Enns’ books that I own are on loan to various friends and family, which indicates how much I enjoyed this work.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

  • Pages: 304
  • Rating: 3 stars.
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • This actually deserves only two stars, but I gave it an extra one because I love J.K. Rowling and wish all the best for her.
    • The second installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise was not good.  It is too plot-heavy, too fast-paced, and is riddled with canonical issues and inconsistencies.  The screenplay was much better than the film because it allowed me to actually process things.
    • There were things I liked about the film.  Newt is a splendid protagonist and, the more I see of his character, the more I love him.  Leta Lestrange is also a really interesting character and I want more of her.
    • Ugh, don’t even get me started on the big reveal at the end of this story.
    • I could go on and on about this screenplay, but think I’m going to save it for a separate post.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

  • Pages: 471
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • I love Marissa Meyer and will read anything she publishes, but this one fell a bit flat for me.  For a book this size, it took a long time for things to actually happen.
    • While I really enjoy spending time with Nova and Adrian, superhero stories are starting to wear on me.  Meyer explores the dichotomy of good and evil, delving into the pros, cons, and motivation behind each side.  The insights are not, however, particularly profound or new.  You can get just as much depth out of a Marvel film.
    • Still… this was a fun read.  It was a nice break for my brain after a long semester of grad school.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

  • Pages: 371
  • Rating: 4.75 stars
  • Format: E-book
  • Thoughts:
    • I loved this book when I was a teenager and, revisiting it now, it still holds up.
    • What a phenomenal example of quality contemporary YA.  Dessen is at her finest, addressing real-world issues in an engaging, age-appropriate way.  Here, she tackles sexual assault, eating disorders, and (as always) family issues.
    • What I love so much about Dessen’s older work is how elegantly she weaves her themes.  The core message of this book is learning to who to listen to.  Annabel, through the aid of Owen (who, naturally, runs a radio show and spends the novel teaching her how to appreciate his eclectic music taste), learns to move past what others say, think, and expect of her and listen to her own guiding voice.  It’s a beautiful coming-of-age story.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

  • Pages: 374
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Format: E-book
  • Thoughts:
    • I second everything I said in my above thoughts for Just Listen.
    • This one centers on Macy, a girl who avoids grieving from the death of her father by attempting to be perfect.  When she finds herself working for a chaotic catering company for the summer, the friends she makes help her discover that perfection is an illusion and life has so much more to offer.
    • Dessen weaves the concept of “forever” through her story.  It pulls Macy through her journey of self-discovery, through her grief, and through learning to take risks.
    • Why don’t Sarah Dessen love interests exist in real life?  I just love the guys in these books so much.  They never take center stage in the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery, but they always help her along.  These books make me believe that finding love is actually possible.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

  • Pages: 304
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • I picked up this recently-released reimagining of Pride and Prejudice after reading the original in my book club last month.  It took a while to get into, but once I did, I read most of it in a day.
    • What I appreciate about Zoboi’s rendering is that Pride is both true to the original, but not constrained by it.  She hits the same familiar beats, but doesn’t cling to them.  The story is 100% her own.
    • The most interesting thing about this book was the insight into black culture and issues of gentrification.  Yes, it’s part love story.  But it’s also about change, growing up, and navigating differences of culture and class.

This marks the end of this year’s recaps!  Stay tuned for the final post of my 2018 Reading Challenge.

For more of my reading adventures, add me on Goodreads

3 thoughts on “Reading Recap: December 2018

  1. danrunsfast December 30, 2018 / 11:25 am

    Glad you enjoyed The Bible Tells So! I agree that Pete’s humor and accessible style (without losing the theological richness) set his books apart.

    • Amelia December 30, 2018 / 7:34 pm

      Thanks, again, for the recommendation! I had the chance to meet him briefly at a conference in October and he’s just as funny in person. Have you listened to his podcast, The Bible for Normal People? It’s excellent!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s