Book Reviews Reading

Books & More Books

January 9, 2020

I just picked up a new library haul yesterday (Celine by Peter Heller and Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin). I am in a reading groove so far this year! Taking an instagram break has probably helped with this.

We also haven’t been watching really any TV for a while, which is kind of a shame, but it seems like books / TV is a mostly an either / or proposition for me, since my main time slot to read is right before going to sleep.

THAT SAID – Station Eleven had me shutting my office door to devour pages at lunch, which honestly is something I could probably do more often (it’s a nice break!).

stack of recently read / to be read

Some other reading-related notes:

  • I cannot figure out why I don’t want a GoodReads account, but . . . I don’t. Maybe I just don’t want one more account to log into. Maybe I can’t deal with the idea that my record would be incomplete (because how could I add every book I have ever read?). Who knows?
  • LIBRARY HOLD LIST MANAGEMENT is key to maintaining my momentum — though it is true I could BUY a book (electronically or otherwise) if truly desparate.
  • I have an arbitrary goal of reading 50 pages whenever I sit down to read, though sometimes there just isn’t time (or I’m falling asleep, though if the book is good enough this doesn’t usually happen). I’m not sure how long 50 pages takes. 45 minutes? An hour? I am not a super fast reader.

Thoughts on Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel:

I hated it, and I loved it. It actively stressed me out while I was reading it, which is not something I particularly like in my reading life. At the same time, it was beautiful in some ways and the characters were rich and appealing. And there was something about it that compelled me — strongly — to keep reading. I am not entirely sure I’m happy to have read it, because it’s a bit haunting and not necessarily in a positive way. BUT, I couldn’t stop once I started. (How’s that for an obtuse book review!?!?)

Also finished in January: The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by Ryan Stradal (same author as my beloved Kitchens of the Great Midwest). MUCH lighter read, but still with some depth and interesting characters/relationships. I didn’t like it QUITE as much as Kitchens but it was enjoyable. Would make a nice plane or vacation read (esp if headed to northern US!). Josh read it too and is now dying to brew his own beer.


  • Reply Julie January 9, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I was also captivated by Station Eleven. Mortified and fascinated. Recommended it to my book club, and everyone else hated it! Glad to hear someone else felt the need to devour it! Also, second the library hold list management. The only way to keep momentum.

    • Reply Kevin January 9, 2020 at 6:50 pm

      I highly recommend the Apple app “Reading List -Book Log” to keep track of lists to read, have read, and reading” allows bar scanning of books etc and I find it the best free source to maintain—as I agree I stopped using GoodReads after some time too!

  • Reply Danielle January 9, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I would love to hear your thoughts on Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, if you get a chance to read it.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2020 at 11:45 am

      REALLY want to read this. I think it’s on my Q2 list 🙂

  • Reply Jodi January 9, 2020 at 10:02 am

    I am with you about the GoodReads site. I cannot bear to log in to another site. I like my old school way of listing the books I read in my notebook along with my rating. I have added a few word synopsis this year since all book titles sound the same after a while. LOL I enjoy your reading posts very much.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns January 9, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I am a hard-core goodreads user. If you use a kindle, it will sync to your goodreads account so there is less updating required. I like it for several reasons: 1. I can track what I’ve read each year (I’m a numbers gal so I like having this data). 2. I use it to make book recommendations to others as I can sort what I’ve read by my rating. 3. It helps me keep track of what I want to read and I will use my tbr list on there to see what’s available to immediately download from the library.

    I’m a big library user, too. I love the pause feature! I pretty much pause every request I make. You still advance up the queue but then you can unpause it when you are ready to read it. That way you don’t get a whole bunch of books at the same time!

    I’ll be curious to see what you think of the Peter Heller book. Did you read “The River”? It was on the MMD SRG. I want to read it but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Anne Bogel has said he’s a great author so I might try to read some of his backlist this year.

    • Reply Danielle Plafsky January 9, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      I would second the recommendation for The River. It’s much better, and very different from, Celine!

    • Reply Marcia (OrganisingQueen) January 13, 2020 at 6:30 am

      Yes, Lisa, to everything you said about Goodreads.

      Sarah, I love Goodreads. I recently posted years of stats which was so satisfying to do because of Goodreads! I started in the middle of one year but you could start right now and this could be a good thing. I download the app and so you sign in once and you never sign in again (use your finger to unlock and to do your password if it happens to throw you out). Goodreads has so many lovely categorisation capabilities – I can tap my Book Club shelf and instantly send to someone to see books we’ve read, and so on…

  • Reply Andrea January 9, 2020 at 11:13 am

    I absolutely love your book recommendations!! I read 54 books in 2019 – basically one a week 🙂 that being said I only have 1 kiddo and work 75% schedule as a hospitalist so I probably have more free time than most! But definitely read most of the fiction books you do (non fiction is not my thing). Station 11 was ah-mazing.

  • Reply haya January 9, 2020 at 11:18 am

    goodreads is one of my favourite social media apps! (for a while, strava surpassed it but i’m not active enough these days so looking at everyone else’s stuff bums me out) i am slightly irritated that it’s not a complete record of everything i have ever read since i only started using it in 2012); as i come across books on lists that i have read in the past, i add them to my read pile but i’m not super obsessive about it (and i do tend to get super obsessive about completeness). i find it an excellent way for me to manage my TBR list and also a great way to remind myself of books that i have already read (sometimes it seems familiar but i may not actually remember if it’s been a few years).
    i found celine to be just okay. it did not come even close to how much i enjoyed the river.

    now that i do almost all my reading on ebooks, i have good data on my reading speed (also because pages on an ereader are highly variable based on how large of font i choose. time is a better measure of how long the book is). on average, a book will take me 5 hours to complete. a YA book may only be 2-3 hours. a book in the 6-800page range may be more like 7-10 hours. i am a pretty fast reader.

  • Reply Donna January 9, 2020 at 11:24 am

    With all you have going on (and all the great books out there) how do you select which books will be (hopefully) worth your time? I loved Station Eleven, btw, and am looking forward to the HBO limited series that is being made.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2020 at 11:44 am

      Recs from friends and Anne Bogel’s blog, podcasts, and lists!!! I love everything she does.

  • Reply acdalal January 9, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I am with you on Goodreads. I set up an account, and I’ve never been back to the site since. :\ I have a pretty good system for keeping track of books I want to read, and this year I’m working on keeping better records on what I’ve read (using Evernote for both). I guess, for me, reading feels just too personal to share on social media in that way? And if I feel strongly enough about a book, I’ll post about it on Twitter or FB anyway.

    • Reply Ali January 9, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      I’m with you on goodreads. It is just one more thing, and I already have plenty of things to do. 🙂 Are you an e-reader user? Our local library has a great selection of e-books and all the same request and wait list functions. It is SO convenient. I do wish we had a “pause” function like the above commenter mentioned. I feel you on tv or books being an either/or…I haven’t watched tv in months as a result.

  • Reply Caitlin January 9, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    I also agree with tv and books–it’s usually one or the other for me too, and books are usually easier. I’m not a fast reader either, and I tend to read about 20-25 pages in a half hour, depending on the book (sometimes a little more or less).

    Goodreads can be nice for keeping track of books you want to read, but my list is kind of out of control and unmanageable at this point. Your public library catalog might have the ability to create lists that you can add and remove items from–I’m a librarian and this is how I keep track of a lot of books that catch my eye. I have lists for various genres, which is helpful when deciding what to read next, and I can request a title right from the list.

  • Reply Anne January 9, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    I just finished Celine and Loved it! The River was good but a little harder to read.
    Also, a big fan of YMYL, a frequent recommendation by Trent at Simple Dollar.

  • Reply Emily January 9, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    I love Goodreads to keep track of books and find recommendations — and it doesn’t bother me in the way that other social media can in that it’s so book-specific, whereas Facebook/Twitter/Instagram are more about sharing your life in general. (Also selfishly wish you had a Goodreads so I could stalk it — I like seeing both friends’ and internet friends’/bloggers’ books for ideas. 🙂 )

  • Reply Amy January 9, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    Station Eleven! I read it years ago and still think about it a lot. I was left feeling like I wish the author had expanded more on the world she was creating, like she was just getting started and there was SO much potential there. It’s not a feel-good book, but it was fascinating and compelling. Like you I could not put it down.

    By the way, another book I couldn’t put down five years ago and still think about all the time is The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson. It’s an incredible book but more along the lines of Station Eleven than anything light and fluffy. It takes place in North Korea. In case you want another book to haunt you for the rest of your life (in a good way! I love when books do that!). Happy reading! (I’m reading Dorothy Sayers right now myself.)

    • Reply acdalal January 9, 2020 at 10:08 pm

      I second the recommendation of The Orphan Master’s Son. I read it years ago and still can’t stop thinking about it.Such a powerful story!

  • Reply Emily January 10, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I liked Celine but absolutely LOVED The River (thanks as always to MMD for the rec because it’s not the kind of book I’d pick up otherwise!). Re: Goodreads, I joined in 2017. Key for me was deciding that i would NOT track books I’d read before 2017–my account is only accurate from 2017 on because it would bother me if I felt like I had to account for every book I’d ever read. I already had a book tracking system I was happy with before 2017, but I must admit I do love Goodreads for tracking my TBR list and (probably more importantly) finding book recs from friends and hearing about books I wouldn’t otherwise hear about. Plus as another commenter above mentioned, I like to quickly sort by rating so I can make recs to friends who ask and/or buy holiday gifts for family/friends. And finally, I love the Year in Review that shows you all the books you read each year (in various sizes depending on your ratings of the books). It’s so pretty 🙂

  • Reply Friday Links – alyssa everyday January 10, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    […] many. reading. lists. have been popping up and I love it! Looking forward to sharing my January 2020 […]

  • Reply A. January 13, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I love Goodreads, but from the other side: I am an author and I really like to read what readers have to say about my work, I am curious about the heterogeneity of a readership. Of course I am happy when I get a good rating, a good review, but even mixed reviews interest me. But I have too much friends who are also writers, so I don’t rate books on GR haha.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.