What I Read in November and December 2017

Phew! The last couple of months of last year really got away from me. Between work and the holidays, there was a lot going on, but I still got a lot of reading done 🙂

Here’s what I read in November and December of 2017:

Into the Water

What I read in November and December

Completed: 11/10/2017
Format: eBook via Overdrive

Thrillers with female protagonists/antagonists are having a major moment right now, and this novel by Paula Hawkins really hit the mark. It was a little dark, but not too dark (I have nightmares like a child), and had several twists. I waited for MONTHS to get this one from the library, and it was 100% worth the wait!
Recommended for: Fans of Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Liane Moriarty, and thrillers with female main characters

The Zookeeper’s Wife

What I Read in November and December

Completed: 11/20/2017
eBook free through Prime Reading 

Going into this book I only knew two things about it: it was set during WWII, and the movie looked good. I had absolutely NO idea it was a true story, or that it was really about a Zookeeper’s family. I’ve read lots and lots of novels about people doing brave things, but there is nothing like reading about the heroism of real people during WWII. It really puts into perspective how strong humans can be, and how important it is for us to do the right thing now. If Antonina and Jan Zabinski can save over 200 Jewish people in Nazi occupied Warsaw, I can speak out when I see injustice. 

I watched the movie the other day and it was… ok… Not bad, but nowhere near as emotionally powerful as the book!
Recommended for: Lovers of WWII stories, people who need a shot of bravery.

The Nightingale

What I read in November and December

Completed: 11/21/2017
Format: Audiobook through OverDrive

Speaking of excellent WWII stories… WOW! This one is one of my favorite books of 2017. Thanks to my sister-in-law Anna for recommending it! This novel set in France follows two sisters as they brave German occupation in their own ways. Heartbreaking and inspiring, this novel should definitely be on your list to read. The audiobook
Recommended for: everyone.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

What I read in November and December

Completed 11/25/2017
Format: eBook through OverDrive

There were a lot of things to take from this book, and it was definitely a good read for around the start/end of the year… BUT the author (being Japanese) talks a lot about the super tiny homes of people in Japanese cities, which wasn’t always applicable. That being said, I got some good tips and it inspired me to do a good closet and under sink cleanse to pare down without feeling guilty for giving/throwing things away. 
Recommended for: People whose resolutions include keeping a tidier house.

Hillbilly Elegy

What I read in November and December

Completed 11/28/2017
Format: eBook via OverDrive

This memoir was a quick read, and as someone who grew up in the foothills of Appalachia, frequently visiting very rural areas of Appalachian Tennessee and North Carolina, there was a lot to identify with. Author JD Vance has become a little bit of a star in some circles, and I get why… He tells the truth about some of the issues plaguing these areas in a relatable, but not denigrating way. That being said, while I know it was a memoir, I wish it had included more data and analysis to back up some of his assertions. 
Recommended for: folks wondering how President Trump won the Rust Belt.

Origin

What I read in November and December

Completed 12/1/2017
Format: Hardback bought at Barnes and Noble

Ok, I’m a shameless Dan Brown fan. I loved The DaVinci Code, and Angels & Demons, as well as his relatively lesser known novels Deception Point and Digital Fortress (Dan Brown was ringing the alarm about the NSA way back in 1998, y’all!). They’re FUN. Fast-paced, surprising, engaging, educational(ish), fun. Origin was no exception… BUT I found the “earth-shattering” conclusion of Origin less convincing than some of his previous books. 
Recommended for: Dan Brown fans. 

In the Garden of Beasts

What I read in November and December

Completed: 12/11/2017 
Format: Audiobook via OverDrive

I really enjoyed the other Erik Larsen book I read this year, Devil in the White City, and this one was good too… but not as good. I think I would have enjoyed it more in another format. The man who read this one for the audiobook had a nice voice, but he read the entire book like it was a newscast, which I found dull and distracting. Otherwise, it was an interesting look into some of the build up to WWII through the experience of the American ambassador to Germany in the 1930s.

Something many people really try to forget is how many prominent Americans gave Hitler and the Nazi party the benefit of the doubt while he was accruing power, and even initially saw no problem with his promises of racial cleansing. Turns out, looooots of elected officials and influential people (including folks some see as “heroes” today) thought eugenics were A-OK. Thankfully, once the natural conclusion of such ways of thinking was revealed, most of those people changed their views, but it was still a good reminder that sometimes the accepted “truths” of today are tomorrow’s horrifying heresies. 
Recommended for: Fans of WWII non-fiction, Erik Larsen

A Court of Mist and Fury

What I read in November and December

Completed: 12/21/2017
Format: eBook through OverDrive

I am a firm believer in reading what my mom calls “fluff” literature every once in a while. There are a lot of heavy reads out there (including the next couple on this list), so sometimes it’s fun to indulge! My dear friend Gina recommended this series to me, and I’ve enjoyed the first two installments! Fair warning, there are some, erm…. adult fun time scenes… in this book, and if your husband starts reading it over your shoulder on the plane to Disney World HE WILL MAKE FUN OF YOU RELENTLESSLY. 
But that’s ok. Whatever. A Court of Mist and Fury was better written than A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the love story is a good one. 

This series is essentially a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with lots of original elements and twists. 
Recommended for: Fans of fantasy romance. 

Option B

What I read in November and December

Completed 12/22/2017
Format: eBook through OverDrive

This one is another one I’ve anticipated for months while I waited for it to become available through my library. SO GOOD. As a fan of Lean In, and someone who has recently lost several close loved ones, this book really hit the mark. 

It was very comforting to me to read about someone who had been through similar grief, and experienced the same emotions I did. Losing a close loved one unexpectedly is earth-shattering, and it affected me and my family in ways I haven’t been able to describe. Sheryl Sandburg put words to some of those feelings and experiences, while making me so thankful for the ways my family has been surrounded by love and help through the last year and a half.

I read this in just a few hours, most of them on the plane home from Disney World, where I shamelessly cried. 
Recommended for: everyone, because you will lose someone or something you love one day, and you will need help getting through it. 

Water for Elephants

What I read in November and December

Completed: 12/24/2017
Format: eBook free through Prime Reading

I really enjoyed this book! It took me a while (several months, actually) to really get into it, but I’m glad I went back and finished it. Man, it makes me glad circuses are going extinct, though. I know it depicts a pretty seedy circus, but the treatment of the humans and animals made me sad. 
Recommended for: people who like Depression era novels.

White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America

What I read in November and December

Completed: 12/31/2017
Format: Audiobook through OverDrive

This one was pretty dense, but incredibly interesting. It was like Hillbilly Elegy on steroids, in terms of being an in-depth look into the working class in America. From the early early days of colonization to today, it follows the formation of and mythos surrounding “white trash” in America. It was a little bit too smug at times, but overall it was highly informative and brutally honest look into the classism that really does exist in our society. 
Recommended for: budding sociologists. 

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