Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Reading

One of my goals for 2015 was to read at least two books (for pleasure) a month.  In an effort to remain accountable and track my progress towards this goal, I'm going to list and describe my thoughts on each book that I read at the end of each month and try really hard to not give any spoilers.

Drumroll please....

Here are the books I read in January in the order that I read them:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.  It was good, don't get me wrong, it just left me feeling a bit underwhelmed.  It has a predictable story line, the plot is simple, and the characters are unrealistic.  It seems like it would be better suited for the teen genre (al la Twilight and Divergent) as opposed to adult fiction.  If you're looking for a quick, easy read this may be a good choice, but if you're looking for complex character development or a plot with twists and turns, you should probably skip it.  Overall I'm glad that I read it but I'm also glad that my sister left it at my house and that I didn't have to buy it.

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes.  I initially picked this book out because Klara recommended a different book by this author that my library didn't have so I "settled" for this book.  I am a huge history buff, particularly World War I and World War II, so when I saw that this book partly took place in occupied France during WWI I (the other half being modern day) was immediately drawn to it, and I wasn't disappointed.  I found the plot to be very rich and not  predictable and the characters to be very complex and I really felt like I got to know them.  The story transitions from from 1916 to modern day with ease.  I think the richness of the book was increased for me because I already knew a fair amount about WWI and retrieving stolen artwork in modern day, but I don't think this knowledge is a prerequisite for enjoying the book.  If you're looking for a book to take you to a different time, you enjoy historical fiction, and you're not looking for a particularly easy read, this is a great choice!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  This book takes place in the WWII era in the United States. (I told you I was a history buff!)  It is set in Seattle after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor when Japanese Americans were rounded up and placed in internment camps by order of the president.  This is an ugly part of American history that many know nothing about and/or they are very keen to forget.  Anyway, the story has a very believable plot that is easy to follow and I like the characters.  My one critique is that much of the book involves the main character flashing back to his childhood and  the character's voice is the same when he is 12 and 56.  Overall this was a pretty easy and quick read with an engaging story line and likable characters.  If you don't know much about Japanese internment camps and you don't want ton read history books, this work of fiction will give you a fairly accurate picture of the camps.  This TED Talk given by George Takei (of Star Wars fame) also talks about internment camps.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.  This is the Moyes book that Klara recommended to me.  I believe that her description of the book was something along the lines of "it's a book that will stick with you." and I concur with this statement.  I'm not sure that a work of fiction has ever provided such an intellectual challenge for me and enabled me to see a complex issue from a first person perspective.  I really wasn't prepared for a book to make me feel on the level that this book did.  At it's very core this book is a romance novel that brings together two unlikely people, but it's not the traditional sappy, over the top romance novel and the end isn't what you inevitably will hope it will be.  Amazing plot.  Complex characters.  The works.  I can't write much more about the book without giving away spoilers so I won't.  But I will say that if you haven't already read this book, obtain a copy, pour a big glass of wine, grab a box of tissues, and read it already!

So that's my tally for January!  Off to a good start, I think.  :)


  1. I really liked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet! I actually read that because I had to. A student of mine was extremely sensitive to violence, so I gave it to him as an alternate text when we did our unit on Elie Wiesel's Night. I thought it was rich and very readable.

    1. You are the second person who has told me they have also read this book! I'm glad you enjoyed it even if you had to read it for work. :) I think I'm going to reread Night. I recall it being one of my favorite books in middle school.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! Have you ever read "Snow Falling on Cedars"? -- part of the plot involves the Japanese internment camps on the west coast and the aftermath.

    1. I'm pretty sure I read it back in high school but since I can't remember, I'll add it to my growing list of books to read. I'm thankful for libraries because otherwise my reading habit could get expensive fast!