Hi friends! I am participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, where I will post a daily blog post all month. That’s 31 blog posts! I look forward to reading other people’s blogs who are doing this challenge with me. I also really appreciate the likes and comments you bestow upon me. It helps to know I have a real live audience and that I’m not writing into cyberspace. I promise to respond to every single one of them! Thanks in advance for reading.
At the beginning of December, I was eight books behind on my 2023 Goodreads goal. I thought there was no way I’d read that many books in one month.
I thought wrong.
Knowing that listening to a book is much faster than reading them on the couch, I figured I had a chance to reach my goal. In case you are someone who thinks listening to books is cheating or not really reading, just imagine being read to by a talented narrator while making dinner or running errands. And then, imagine that the story is so good that you tack on a few more errands just so you can finish another chapter.
Convinced? Well, I tried. 🙂
This month, I read four books on Audible, one Kindle download, and three in print. To reach my Goodreads goal, some of the books I selected were less than 200 pages and were just as enjoyable as the others. I can’t remember the last time I read eight books in a month, but I’m proud of myself for not only reaching my goal but being able to enjoy each of these titles. Here are the books I read in December.
Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
I was afraid to read this book at first. It received a lot of hype, and when that happens, I’m often left disappointed. But the title kept coming up in the reading-themed podcasts that I listen to, so I gave it a shot. I’m so glad I did.
Nora is a romance channel writer who turns the story of her failed marriage into a big-screen, blockbuster movie. When the actors and crew film at her home, the tables are turned on her life. She finds herself falling for the lead actor who happens to be playing her husband. Of course, he is nothing like her husband, but it all gets complicated in the most entertaining way. Add in a few adorable and inquisitive children and you’ve got yourself a great read.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
Go behind the scenes of an SNL-type show and step into the shoes of a writer who pulls back the curtain on how sketches are selected and produced each week. The author did not leave out any details, making it so easy to get into the book.
On top of this, the relationship between the writer and the guest host did not disappoint. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying neurosis in a typical partnership, and you’ve got yourself a great read. The narrator was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok
When someone in my book club recommended this to the group, I was all in. Historical fiction is my jam, and surprisingly, I haven’t read a lot of it this year. This is something I will rectify in 2024.
Here is the setup: Jasmine comes from a rural Chinese village where she left her controlling husband to search for the daughter she was told had died in childbirth. Meanwhile, Rebecca appears to have the perfect life in NYC with a fantastic job, a wonderful husband, and a beautiful adopted Chinese daughter. The story that unfolds for each woman has many twists and turns. I was fully invested in their storylines. When their lives intertwine, the result is both surprising and captivating.
I also learned a lot about Chinese culture and the “one-child policy,” where women were subjected to sterilization and abortion and abandoning daughters for sons. The historical context, along with modern themes of women’s empowerment and economic and cultural differences, drew me into this story and left me wanting more.
This is one of the books that I added miles on the car just to keep listening. 🙂 Highly recommend! I can’t wait for book club to discuss this one.
The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley
I chose this as my last book of the year. It was a fun ride as I felt myself sitting in the backseat of a classic Jaguar, enjoying the banter of Tanner, a 21-year-old woman with an uncertain future, and a not-to-be-underestimated elderly woman named Louise. They are on the run, but only Louise why. Tanner is behind the wheel, but Louise is doing all of the steering throughout this road trip. Parts of the truth unfold in rest areas, diners, bars, and hotels until they finally reach their destination.
Tanner and Louise are accompanied on this trip by side characters who are just as intriguing as the protagonists. Everyone has a backstory and plays a sizeable role in the plot. I’d definitely recommend this one to people who enjoy a little mystery, romance, and humor rolled up into one excellent read.
This little book of poetry will have dog lovers and owners laughing out loud. Some of my personal favorites include: “I Lose My Mind When You Leave the House,” “Purse Dog,” and “Halloween.”
For cat lovers, this author has a companion book of poems called “I Could Pee On This.” I haven’t read it because I’m highly allergic to cats, but I’m sure felines are just as funny. Maybe…
Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) by Mindy Kaling
I love it when a celebrity is also a brilliant writer. Mindy Kaling’s smart collection of essays addresses everything from single parenting to social anxiety. This is the first book I read about her and by her, but definitely not the last.
No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of A League of Their Own by Erin Carlson
320 pages/Print/Library Book
This year, I read three behind-the-scenes books about some of my favorite movies. The first one was “The Church of Baseball,” which was about the making of Bull Durham. I loved that book because I’m a fan of both the movie and the sport. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy “Surely You Can’t Be Serious,” about one of the funniest movies I’ve ever watched, Airplane! This book was more about getting the movie made and sold rather than great stories about the film itself. (I do a full review this book, here). After I finished the book, the only thought I had was that it looked like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking. 😉
When I heard about this book, I was thrilled. I loved this movie and watch it often. The author did her homework about this movie and leaves nothing out. From Penny Marshall’s directing style to Madonna’s diva-like attitude on set to giving Tom Hanks his second chance in movies, there were so many anecdotes. It was hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll say the story behind casting Geena Davis instead of Debra Winger was a winner. Minor characters and plot lines were also discussed in the book which made this book that much more enjoyable.
I finished this book in two days and will probably reread it and then watch the movie again.
The Art of Living: Reflections on Mindfulness and the Overexamined Life by Grant Snider
How do I even begin to explain this book? For once, I’ll have to go to the Goodreads description because I can’t do it justice. “Beloved cartoonist Grant Snider has created a humorous, uplifting look at mindfulness in this collection of one- and two-page comics that map his inner thoughts, poetic observations, and frequent failures at living mindfully.”
In a word, this author/cartoonist is brilliant. I also enjoyed “I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf,” which should be on every book lover’s shelf if it isn’t already. Each of his cartoons in “The Art of Living” makes you think a little and smile a lot. He has a way of breaking down his thoughts into small moments that truly capture my heart. I highly recommend this, especially at the start of a new year.
What did you read in December? Let me know in the comments!