Saturday, February 29, 2020

February Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 201777 in 2018 and 67 in 2019!) has morphed into this passion for books. As you can see, my reading has slowed a bit, but my love for books has not! In the past couple years I've added longer distance races (which means more time running/ training and less time reading), we've remodeled our condo (I think it legit took us six months to finish the whole thing... DIY seems to take twice as long {and cost twice as much} as you originally think it will), and I've added another part time job (which means I'm now working 40ish hours a week, cutting down on my reading time). Even still, I love getting my read on whenever I can.

Truth be told, I was never much of a reader when I was younger (CliffsNotes were my best friend when it came to books), but recently I fell in love. Although I may not read at the same speed as I previously did when I first caught the reading bug, I still want to keep the hobby going (and what better form of accountability than to post a list of the books I finished at the end of the month?!). I don't have any set number of books I am shooting to read this year, but hopefully a lack of goal doesn't mean a lack of books completed. So, without further ado, let's jump into everything I read in February!

  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher - When the hubby and I were planning to drive to Phoenix for the Mesa Marathon, I figured we should get a couple audiobooks. I came up with a list of possible titles and let the hubby choose. I enjoy biographies and he likes Star Wars so I thought this would be a win-win. Low and behold he ended up falling asleep for the majority of the book (and the drive in general), but I was still happy we had selected it. I didn't know much about Carrie Fisher prior to listening to this book, but what it reminded me of was the old adage - you can't tell a book by its cover. I would have never known some of the "demons" Carrie dealt with. For example, I had no idea she had electroshock therapy! I find true stories so fascinating and this was no exception. In fact, this book was actually based on a one-woman show. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • The Stranger Beside Me: The Shocking Inside Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy by Ann Rule - This is another audiobook we listened to on our Phoenix trip. I'm not sure if you're like us, but we've recently been entranced by all the real crime docs on Netflix so when we saw this title on Hoopla we thought it might be interesting. The author was actually a friend of Ted Bundy's (and she didn't realize he was the serial killer she was reporting on as a journalist until later in the investigation). I guess in my mind I was hoping there' be some new insight shared in this book. Don't get me wrong, the personal side was an interesting aspect, but the overarching feeling from most of the info I've come across is he was well-spoken, intelligent, handsome, the opposite of what someone would stereo-typically think of when they pictured a killer... and this was more of the same. It kept me entertained (yet again the hubby nodded in and out of nap-land), but I'd say if you've seen some of the other documentaries (or Hollywood movies) then this is "old news". I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - I know I've mentioned it a time or two before, but I didn't read a ton growing up... which means a lot of the "classics" most kids read in high school I probably only perused the ClifNotes and learned the basics that I would've needed to write a paper or pass a test (not what I'd suggest, but what happened...). With that said, when I see a "classic" these days I try to snag it and give it a read. Well, the other day I came across this book in one of the free libraries I walk by and figured I'd give it a try... I mean, it's a classic for some reason, right?! Well, this was NOT my jam. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was what felt like a lot of whining from a privileged, entitled kid... Now, when I mentioned this a friend of mine who happens to be a high school English teacher he said that he's the "anti-hero" (and that with social media these days there are a lot of parallels between the main character's feelings towards "phonies") and I guess I can see this, but man, when I finished this book I felt like there were no redeeming qualities in Holden. I sort of felt like I wanted a refund on the time I spent reading this one...I would give it a 4 out of 10.

  • Tweak by Nic Sheff - I read (and then watched) Beautiful Boy last year and when I found out the author's son had written his own books I put them on my 'to read' list. I am not sure why I haven't checked one out until now, but when we were on our way home from Phoenix and had finished both of the other two audiobooks we grabbed this one (which the hubby and I had to finish after the roadtrip {on our own}). I will be very upfront by saying that addiction runs ramped in my family, so I am well aware of the fallout and consequences that this disease can have (especially on loved ones of those suffering). With that said, this book is heart-wrenching. Maybe that isn't the word most people would use to describe it, but because I have a first-hand experience with addiction, I know how tortured someone can feel. This is an eye-opening, real and honest account of someone who grew up on methamphetamines (along with plenty of other drugs, as well as struggling with mental illness). I was also very impressed with how well Nic was able to recount experiences, seeing as he was "high out of his mind" during some of the events. I give him major props for not only sharing the good, the bad and the very ugly, but also for getting clean. I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

  • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson - This is another classic that I found in one of the free libraries I walk by on my lunch break. I'll be honest, I sort of knew the outcome (which I found made it not as "impactful" because I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop) but I still loved this one. Don't get me wrong, I never want an animal to be injured (sometimes it is more devastating than when something happens to a human) but I found this story so heartfelt and full of love that I just had to smile. Old Yeller did his best to keep this family protected and, not only that, but he gave them his undivided love. What a great pup! It made me hug Walt a little longer (even if he is a butt-head and definitely couldn't protect me from a wild boar or sick bull). I would give it an 8 out of 10.

With that, February has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

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