Book Chat

January 2016 Reading Log

January was a month full of checking things off the list: dentist appointment, hair cut, oil change, etc. … and of course unpacking! Reading anything more demanding than a magazine was not on the agenda, but I listened to some excellent audiobooks in the car and perused some great children’s lit from the library, so it’s all good!
To kick off the first reading log of 2016, I’m tweaking the format slightly (just like I do every year), mostly because I’m tired of keeping up with that chart every month. Hopefully the new(ish) format is easier to read and makes more sense.

The Amateur Librarian // Reading Log

January 2015 Thoughts


Still Reading:

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, by Sally Mann

Start date: 11/8/2015
Genre/Format: Memoir / Library book


The Amateur Librarian // Reading Log November 2015

Still reading. I finally got this one back from the library and picked up where I left off. The chapters I’ve been reading this go-around explore her family history, and it is super interesting! So many scandalous, intriguing stories… the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction” definitely applies. Glad to have this one back in my hands again!


The Marvels, by Brian Selznick

Start date: 11/22/2015
Genre/Format: Children’s Lit / Library book

The Amateur Librarian // November 2015 Reading Log

Still reading, another one from the library that I had to return during the move, and now it’s sitting in the TBR pile again. Can’t wait to continue!

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Start date: 1/12/2016
Genre/Format: Young Adult / Audiobook

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

Still reading. I don’t know why I resisted this YA fairy tale retelling for so long, but I’m loving it! The first book starts off with a cyborg Cinderella 100 years after World War IV, and it’s so much fun. Can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series., too.


The Lake House, by Kate Morton

Start date: 1/2/2016
Genre/Format: Mystery / Hardback

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

Still reading. Starts out much the same as The Secret Keeper – a childhood memory of a tragedy, introducing characters in the present and past, a mystery uncovered many years later. Good stuff, but I haven’t had the time to delve into it yet.


My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan #1), by Elena Ferrante – A

Start date: 12/11/16
Finish date: 1/27/16
Genre/Format: Fiction / eBook

The Amateur Librarian // December 2015 Reading Log

This novel about female friendship in 1950s Naples, by Italian writer Elena Ferrante, has been on my To-Read list for a long time. A few days after finishing, I still have conflicting feelings – partly because I felt some of the magic was lost in translation, and partly because it was so hard to focus on what was happening until the last half when I finally felt invested in the characters. The last ten chapters especially became more compelling, and then the very last chapter finally made me hungry for more. I’ve read reviews that mention the first book is a slog, but the seeds planted for the rest of the series make it worth it to keep going. My trouble with some translated works applies here – you know there is one perfect Italian word that had to be conveyed in four English words and the end result is a lot of seemingly irrelevant details. Despite the stilted language, the relationship between the two main characters was intriguing and the culture of poverty so well portrayed, enough that I’m still debating whether I want to continue with the next book in the series. I’m dying to find out what comes next, but if I don’t start soon I’ll probably lose momentum… and there are so many other books out there.

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – And What You Really Need to Know, by Emily Oster – A

Start date: 12/12/2015
Finish date: 1/1/2016
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction / Library book

The Amateur Librarian // December 2015 Reading Log

Spoiler Alert: Not Pregnant! (Just curious). An economist frustrated with the vague reasoning behind many Dos and Don’ts of pregnancy researched the source studies to make her own decisions. Having never been pregnant, I wasn’t too familiar with the extensive (and controversial) arguments surrounding each and every topic, so it was illuminating – and a little nerve-wracking – but Oster explains it all matter-of-factly and thoroughly. She lays out all the information and encourages you to make your own decisions, while also explaining what she ultimately decided to do herself. I checked this copy out of the library, but I’ll probably buy a copy when I actually need it.

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3), by Robert Gilbraith – A+

Start date: 12/26/2015
Finish date: 1/1/2016
Genre/Format: Mystery / Library book

The Amateur Librarian // December 2015 Reading Log

The Cormoran Strike books just keep getting better and better! This one dives deeper into Cormoran and his assistant Robin’s backstories and relationship, which I really loved. Robin’s story especially gave her character a lot more depth and her point of view was so interesting. If the first book was all about celebrity, and the second was about publishing, this third book is all about violence against women and I can’t help but think it’s a way for JK Rowling to share her own experiences and thoughts on each topic. The murders are more gruesome but the psychology behind it all is fascinating. I listened to an NPR interview with JK Rowling and she mentioned that she read a lot about serial killers while writing, and the POV of the killer was heavily influenced by Ted Bundy’s letters… which is pretty disturbing, but rings true. I was a bit on the fence with the first book, but now I’m completely on board and eagerly awaiting book four!

The Search for Delicious, by Natalie Babbitt – A

Start date: 1/2/2016
Finish date: 1/3/2016
Genre/Format: Children’s Lit / Paperback

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

I’m pretty sure I tried to read this as a kid but was a bit too old for it and found the premise too silly – a kingdom torn apart because they can’t decide on a definition for the word “delicious” in the dictionary? But as an adult I made it past the first chapter and found the fairy tale much more charming. And I have to admit the lure of mermaids kept me reading – and it was worth it! (Especially because I love mermaids of the mysterious and murky variety.) I might just search out more Natalie Babbit, now that I’ve finally given this one a chance.


Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me, by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp – B

Start date: 1/4/2016
Finish date: 1/4/2016
Genre/Format: Children’s Lit / Library book

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

I haven’t yet seen the youtube videos, but I’m a fan of Jenny Slate so I checked the two Marcel books out of the library. It’s cute but with no backstory it didn’t feel particularly profound or even special. Listening to the free audio version on the publisher’s website is well worth it – with Jenny Slate’s narration it’s a lot cuter and you start to understand Marcel’s quirky personality.


Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: The Most Surprised I’ve Ever Been, by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp – A

Start date: 1/5/2016
Finish date: 1/5/2016
Genre/Format: Children’s Lit / Library book

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

I was about to write Marcel off as fit-for-Youtube-only, but this second picture book changed my mind. Same beautiful paintings, same quirky character, but this one actually had a story and some profound moments. I was surprised by how much I liked it, and enjoyed an afternoon going down the rabbit hole of Marcel the Shell (with shoes on) videos and Jenny Slate interviews (Conan and Ellen are the best!).

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – A

Start date: 1/5/2016
Finish date: 1/12/2016
Genre/Format: Memoir / Audiobook

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

Perfect audiobook for my commute – I say that about almost every audiobook, but it’s especially true in this case. Quick, funny essays read by Mindy Kaling herself. I appreciated that this sequel explored some other aspects of her life, like the background of starting The Mindy Project show, her career, fame, writing, etc. and departed from typical growing-up essays of her first book. Short and sweet – a great palette cleanser to kick off the New Year.

Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and His Service Dog, by Luis Carlos Montalvan and Bret Wittier – A

Start date: 1/14/2016
Finish date: 1/14/2016
Genre/Format: Children’s Lit / Hardback

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

A charming true story of the service dog that helps a soldier with PTSD, told in photographs. It’s a simple plot but it would be such a great read-aloud at the library, and a great conversation starter for tricky topics like 9/11, war, PTSD, etc.


The Kinfolk Home: Interiors for Slow Living, by Nathan Williams – A

Start date: 1/15/2016
Finish date: 1/24/2016
Genre/Format: Non-fiction / Library book

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

A coffee table book featuring gorgeous and meditative interiors and thoughtful essays about slow living and the diverse families who occupy each location. Not attainable in the least, but I didn’t mind… in fact, it was soothing to just appreciate the sparse photography and imagine a spotless life, even if I could never (or actually want to) live that way. I especially enjoyed the older home in the Swiss mountains and some of the industrial buildings that were converted into work/live spaces. Unlike a DIY book or magazine, I wasn’t trying to apply every ounce of insight to my own life so it was purely relaxing to savor this book… perfect for the cold weather this month.


Green Smoothies: Recipes for Smoothies, Juices, Nut Milks, and Tonics to Detox, Lose Weight, and Promote Whole-Body Health, by Fern Green – B

Start date: 1/17/2016
Finish date: 1/17/2016
Genre/Format: Cookbook / Paperback

Green Smoothies Book Review // The Amateur Librarian

I’m several years late to the green smoothie craze on Pinterest, but I’ve been thinking of replacing my breakfast yogurt with a smoothie, and the bright clean look of this cover grabbed my attention. The same look continues throughout the interior, and it’s a great layout – with all the ingredients laid out visually, you can pick out recipes based on what you have on hand with a quick glance. Some instructions are vague like “2 handfuls of strawberries” but the photographs are helpful as well as pretty. I tried a basic smoothie recipe and it tasted pretty good, although I have to say it looked nothing like the picture in the book. I wasn’t put off by the brownish-green color since that’s what I assume all green smoothies look like more or less, but it was pretty strikingly different from the promised peachy-pink. Overall, it’s a pretty book and a nice reference but probably not a necessity for your cookbook library with so many free recipes available on Pinterest.


(Full review here.)

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall – A+

Start date: 1/24/2016
Finish date: 1/24/2016
Genre/Format: Children’s Lit / Library book

The Amateur Librarian // January 2016 Reading Log

I put this picture book on my library hold list when one of my favorite book bloggers recommended, then found out it won the 2016 Caldecott Award a day later. Such a sweet tale of the real Winnie the Pooh, from a cub in Canada rescued by a World War I soldier to the London Zoo and meeting the real life Christopher Robin, with delightful illustrations the entire way. And of course I love a story that is revealed to be true at the end – especially with old photographs from the family album! (Side note: I definitely went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole to find out more about A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin – so interesting!)

Books read in January: 11

Books read so in 2016: 11

Still reading: 4

So that’s what I’ve been reading during the month of January, the first month of 2016.  I’m always looking for more book recommendations – are you reading any good books?

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