Books Read in January // phoneless

February 5, 2018

My iPhone 7 crashed into oblivion yesterday, and the first Genius Bar spot is on Wednesday.  Okay, I’m not quite phoneless:  Josh had his iPhone 6 Plus on the docket for selling, but hadn’t yet . . . so I threw in my SIM card and now I have a phone to use.  BUT, it still has all of his apps and settings loaded and since this is temporary, I’m not going to try to restore mine from the backup.  So, I am sort of textless*, Instagram-less, and otherwise app-less.

It’s not so bad.  At least temporarily.  Josh thinks the tides are turning and flip phones are going to become cool again (interesting!).  I am absolutely going to repair mine, but being forced into being mostly app-less has been kind of nice.  It’s somewhat mind-boggling to think that a mere 6.5 years ago I was still using my own flip phone (and apparently blogging what I ate while pregnant with Annabel: evidence!).

Anyway . . . BOOKS!  This maternity leave has been a reading renaissance of sorts for me.  I’m usually a 1-2 books/month kind of person — I got through around 24 in 2017.  In January of 2018, I read . . . NINE!  I don’t think I’ve hit those kinds of numbers since 1988 (and back then, many of them would have been written by Judy Blume and Ann M. Martin.  Heh.).

Here’s the list, and a super-quick assessment of each:

from my insta

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Loved.  Fun, full of ’80s minutiae, sci-fi but very accessible for a non-sci-fi (usually) reader.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng:  Also loved!  Some heart-wrenching themes.  Memorable characters. Recommend for fans of Liane Moriarty, but even better writing, I think.

The Four Tendencies:  Gretchen Rubin’s latest.  I found myself nodding like crazy as I read this.  Not necessarily as fun as some of her other volumes, but fascinating.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett:  Just OMG.  Beautiful.  Compelling.  Fascinating.  Read it!

Ignore It! by Catherine Pearlman:  A parenting book about . . . well, ignoring certain behaviors.  I found it interesting but cannot say I have fully put her ideas into practice yet.  She did make me realize how certain behaviors really are just attention-getting mechanisms and often our gut responses (yelling, etc) just reinforce a bad pattern.  More about this later I think once we’ve practiced it more!

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:  This was for the book club I am in.  I will be honest:  if it had not been a book club book, I might not have finished it.  It took SOOOO long to suck me in.  However, I am 100% thrilled that I did, because it ended up coming together so beautifully that it was perhaps my favorite of the month (well, maybe tying with Bel Canto).  I highly recommend this but please beware that it can take a while to become fully immersed into the world Zafon is creating!  The characters and intricately-woven stories are amazing though once you are there.

Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan:  Meh.  I thought it was fine while reading it, but compared to some of these others, it didn’t grab me.  I did think it was an interesting blend between Ready Player One and The Shadow of the Wind, above!  (But not as good as either . . .)

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (note: that name is such a great author name!):  fun engaging read.  Not necessarily all the memorable, but would make a plane flight go by very quickly!  Great summer or beach pick, too.  Nice and juicy.

Hourglass:  Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro (a memoir).  I enjoyed this — Shapiro is an amazing writer and I like her honesty.   A short and quick read, but with some intensity.

Whew!  9 total – 6 novels, 1 memoir, and 2 non-fiction books.  There is absolutely NO way I will be able to keep up this pace of reading once I go back to work, but I do think:

a) I’ve become a somewhat faster reader already, just gaining some momentum
b) I’m developing the habit of grabbing a book instead of my phone while there is downtime
c) I am much happier/more satisfied by reading than phone-scolling, overall.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering:  I read Little Fires Everywhere and The Shadow of the Wind on my Kindle Paperwhite.  I bought Ignore It! and The Four Tendencies recently, and we own Bel Canto because I got it for Josh a while back.  The other 3 were library books.  I still prefer physical media for some undetermined reason but admit it’s easy to balance the Kindle on my breastfeeding pillow, and I like that I don’t need a light at night!

* For whatever reason I can get SMS messages but no texts sent from an iPhone (the ones that come in blue).  I’m sure this is something I could fix but I think I’ll just hold off until my genius bar appointment.