Mid-January Book Report

New Book Reviews in 2024!

I’ve decided to do two book reports a month—one mid-month and again at the end. Last year, as I was writing these reviews, I found myself forgetting the storylines of the books I read earlier in the month. This could be due to brain fog, but more likely, I’m just easily distracted by shiny new titles. Does anyone else have this problem? Seriously, who remembers what they ate for lunch yesterday, let alone the plot of the book they read recently (but not that recently!)?

The other reason I’m going to write two posts a month is because I really want to read 50 books this year. To accomplish this goal, I need to finish at least four books a month. I know I’m a fairly fast and avid reader, so this is doable, even though it is a bit of a stretch. And if you are doing the math, I know that only amounts to 48 books. However, I can sneak a few extra titles in here and there. Some months, I may only read three, while others may read eight novels (see my December 2023 Book Report).

Without further ado, here are two book reviews to consider for your TBR pile.

The Life Council: 10 Friends Every Woman Needs
by Laura Tremaine

The Live Council book coverAuthor and podcaster Laura Tremaine wrote an engaging book about making and keeping friends as adults and creating a sort of cabinet of go-to people you can rely on. She also talks about letting go of friends who no longer fit into your life, which is never easy but sometimes happens.

Her book promises to:

  • Create your own “life council” with the friends you already have
  • Understand the ten kinds of friends every woman needs–and how to find them
  • Learn how to evaluate your friendship circle for what’s working and what might need to change
  • Navigate tough conversations with friends
  • Get excited again about the possibility of new friendships

This is what the book promises, and IT DELIVERS!

As I was reading, I reflected on my friend groups and began to sort them in the categories Tremaine set forth. Some categories were easier than others. And for a few categories, I had no one specific in mind.

For instance, I have a friend I used to work with, and we were both mentally exhausted by the toxic leadership style where we were employed. We have been through hell together on a daily basis and survived it. And the best part is that we continue our friendship to this day, watching and helping each other grow from that shared experience and thrive. She is what the author referred to as my “battle buddy” —someone who has walked with you during a difficult time. There are nine other categories proposed by the author that aptly and accurately describe the friendships I have today. It was interesting to see where some seats need to be filled, and how other seats had more than one person who could sit there.

The Life Council is not only a book you will want on your shelves, but you may want to gift it to a friend or someone you love. I give this book four stars. For those of you who read my Book Confessions blog post, you now know this is the book I was planning on getting for my daughter for her birthday but couldn’t find. I’m ordering it online and sending it to her this week instead.

Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond
by Henry Winkler

I grew up on Happy Days and The Fonz. Tuesday nights were must-see TV in my house. The shows were funny, brilliantly written, and always entertaining and family-friendly. Henry Winkler plays such an iconic character, and it’s no wonder he was typecast after the show ended. However, he made the best of it with producer and director credits. And then, he has a comeback story with the movie Water Boy and the popular HBO series Barry, for which he won his first primetime Emmy.

I gave this book three stars because while the behind-the-scenes stories were fun to read, I wanted to know more about his battle with dyslexia and how he came to accept and work through it. I was also sad to learn he had a rough upbringing because he was raised by strict parents who doubted his intelligence and abilities. Back then, I’m not sure if dyslexia was as documented as it is today. Still, his parents could have been a lot nicer and more supportive. While discussing his dyslexia in any TV interview, he didn’t elaborate much more than what I already heard.

Also, this book won the Goodreads 2023 Best Humor Award. But let me say this: this is not a funny book. Henry Winkler writes about his anxiety as a result of his upbringing and dyslexia in a way that makes me feel sad for him. I can empathize with his situation, but I’m not laughing with him like other writers who have written on this topic.

Side Note: This is one of the reasons I don’t read reviews on Goodreads. It’s an online popularity contest. As a reader, I wonder why this book is in the humor category at all. The other choices were books written by actual comedians like Leslie Jones and Amber Ruffin or essay collections from professional writers with a keen sense of humor. My only explanation is that whoever was in charge of this category didn’t read this book. However, if the book were in the memoir category, he might have had a shot. However, he would have gone up against Brittany Spears’s memoir, which won by a landslide. Hence, the popularity contest.

Anyway, Being Henry is a nice story, and his treasured friendships with Ron Howard and John Ritter were especially poignant to read. I’d recommend it, but I would check it out of your local library.

Sorry, Fonzie, I still love you and hope you come to Philly sometime so I can meet you. Above all, you are a mensch!



6 comments on Mid-January Book Report

  1. Alice Gerard
    January 14, 2024 at 5:49 pm (1 month ago)

    I love to read, but I don’t think that I could manage a book a week. Usually, when I have to write more than one newspaper article in a week, I get a bit tired and I don’t even want to read. I just want to draw. And I also don’t read Goodreads reviews. I am kind of fussy about the reviews that I read and they don’t quite make it, in my opinion. I am looking forward to you talking about books, however.

    • Elisa
      January 15, 2024 at 1:17 pm (1 month ago)

      Thank you for the high praise, Alice! I will do my best to make my reviews helpful and engaging.

  2. Tamara
    January 14, 2024 at 5:07 pm (1 month ago)

    I’m intrigued by the “Life council”. My go-to online bookstore, however, predicts it may take 4 to 9 weeks (what kind of a range is this even?) to get to Switzerland. That doesn’t sound promising.
    I have a battle buddy for sure. We worked together for two different employers in a row. After she quit she left to live with her Mom in South Africa, and we actually managed to meet in Johannesburg over 8 years ago.

    • Elisa
      January 15, 2024 at 1:18 pm (1 month ago)

      It’s worth the wait, Tamara! I think you would enjoy it.

  3. Kimberly W
    January 14, 2024 at 3:17 pm (1 month ago)

    I am up next in the library queue for Henry Winkler’s book so I appreciate the additional insight. I don’t read Goodreads reviews either, in addition to it being a popularity contest the number of reviewers on there who are so self-righteous is baffling. Looking forward to reading more about what you’re reading!

    • Elisa
      January 15, 2024 at 1:19 pm (1 month ago)

      I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think of it, even if you disagree with me. I’d love your take on it.