An Open Book: What I Read in December

The other day I read an article that said people shouldn’t start their New Year’s resolutions on January 1 because there is so much upheaval going on in people’s lives during that time of the year. Instead, anyone who wants to incorporate new habits and new goals in their lives should embark on those goals on April 1, after the new year crazies have settled and before the summer crazies begin.

Once upon a time, I was a new year resolution person. I outlined goals and strategies for meeting those goals. For many years, one of those goals had to do with blogging. Blogging more often. Blogging to a particular schedule. Blogging about certain topics.

Well, forget that nonsense. 

I spent three wonderful weeks traveling over the holiday season followed by a trip to the United States. People and memory-making took precedence over work and personal projects like this blog. Life is short, and I’d rather live in the now than poke around online.

Now I’m dealing with the inevitable computer problem. That was bound to happen, right? Anyway, I’m still trying to sort that mess out, so working online is taking twice as long anyway. It’s made for a frustrating, inefficient, and ineffective last few days for sure.

This is all to say that, at long last, I’m finally publishing my open book reviews for the month of December. 

I’m currently in downtime mode and I’m hoping to squeeze in a lot of reading this month. I’m deep into a work of fiction on my Kindle, two yoga-related books for my teaching training, a memoir recommended by my sister, an audiobook and a relatively short but absorbing memoir journal I need to finish up in the next week or so.

Also, just in case you’re interested, I’ve set a new Goodreads goal for 2018. Last year, I wanted to read 30 books, and I read 39. This year, I’m going for 35. I’m still trying to read at least one fiction and one non-fiction book each month. Keep things interesting, you know.

What have you been reading lately? Did you set any reading goals for 2018?

january book review

The One-Week Job Project by Sean Aiken (2/5 stars)

Three-line review: I met Aiken shortly after he completed this project and really wanted to love this book but it fell flat in so many ways. This story is very much about him and his relationships rather than about the 52 jobs he worked over the course of a year. It would have been much more interesting and readable if it had wider applications beyond Aiken’s personal opinions and growth, which often didn’t relate to the one-week job project at all.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (4/5 stars)

Three-line review: This is a very well-written, insightful and personal story about someone who has grown up in a poor Appalachian town. It touches on all the expected subjects — poverty, drug use, education, neglect and abuse — and should be required reading for anyone hoping to understand this demographic living in the United States. I recommend listening to the audio version (read by the author), which helps paint a larger picture about the many societal and cultural issues plaguing this population as a whole.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham (3/5 stars)

Three-line review: Reading Grisham is like reading Dan Brown for me: quick, easy, fun and mindless. The first third of this book could have been cut out completely and still maintained its intense fast-and-loose, law-focused story, so that was a mild annoyance because I expect more from Grisham. That said, the remainder of the story was engaging and fast-paced, and though slightly predictable, still worth taking the time to read.

2 Responses to “An Open Book: What I Read in December”

  1. Jill

    I really found Hillbilly Elegy to be an eye-opening read. I was thrilled to learn, just a few days ago, that J.D. Vance is considering running for the senate in Ohio. He would add a voice of actual experience that is lacking in government.

    • JoAnna

      I thought Hillbilly Elegy was really interesting. I think it should be required reading for everyone. For me, at least, it illuminated a part of the American population about which I was very unfamiliar.


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