January books

I barely managed to meet my 8 book a month goal, and it’s only the first month of the year. This does not bode well for my reading resolution. Yes I know 100 books in a year is pretty ambitious but to make the goal a little more attainable I count audio books and any book over 50 pages. I’m already a big fan of audio books and it gets me through those long days of cleaning/cooking and this month packing. I’m also planning on including some kid and young adult books so I can find some good stuff for my god children to read. January was a tough month since I was busy with my move out to New York but I did it and here are the reviews.

On Writing by Stephen King:

I checked this out on audio at the library and listened to it while packing. It’s a wonder to me how I’ve never read anything by Stephen King in all these years. On Writing was full of great advice for the aspiring writer. King recounts his progression as a writer and gives the best and most obvious advice which is if you want to be a writer then write! Meaning make time and be diligent about writing everyday. The second best bit of advice was to choose words that can be understood not ones that show off your vocabulary. For someone that loves big words that was a hard one to swallow but one that makes sense. Stephen King didn’t become successful until he was in his 40s and he started when he was 7! That is a disheartening reality for most aspiring writers but people that love writing can’t help it and will keep doing it even if they never get paid. It was gratifying to hear about the phone call King received letting him know Carrie was sold.

Recommended for an aspiring writer or a big Stephen King fan. Everyone else can probably skip.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech:

This is a kids book and a Newberry Award winner. I got this one on audio too and listened on a road trip up to visit my sister in Sacramento. The girl in book Salamanca is on a road trip with her grandparents to visit her mother’s grave in Idaho. Along the way Sal tells stories of her friend Phoebe and memories of her mother.I don’t really have an opinion on this one good or bad, I have to admit I was only half paying attention on the car ride. What I did manage to focus on was well written from a kids perspective. Salamanca was a well fleshed out character. I could easily imagine a kid like her on a car ride with her grandparents.

Recommend for kids 9-12.


Hamlet by William Shakespeare:

I haven’t read Shakespeare since college but BBC was showing a production with my beloved David Tennant and I decided to read the text again. I’m not sure how many people realize how saturated our culture is with Shakespeare quotes. I’ll let you google that yourself. Watching and reading Shakespeare can be tough, everyone always talks so fast and of course the language is foreign to most of us. Once you have the chance to really study Shakespeare though, it’s hard not to think he’s a genius (I do). Hamlet is a beast of a read but a satisfying one if you’re committed to tackling it. Thankfully I’ve read and studied this before so it was fun to recount previous revelations and a great primer for the BBC version which will show on PBS in April if you’re interested.

Recommended for lovers of the English language, actors, and the British.

The Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt:

10 short stories about a mischievous devil running amok on earth. The tales are humorous accounts of the devil playing tricks on unsuspecting humans. I received this as a going away gift from a friend. I enjoyed it. It didn’t paint the devil as a scary monster, more like a trickster.

Recommended for kids 4-8.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare:

This is my favorite Shakespearean comedy, I adore the movie. Do you recognize a young Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson from House) and Kate Beckinsale. Also Denzel and Keanu as brothers, genius (ha)! I also have this as an audio book so I listened to it one day while job hunting. I love the banter between Benedict and Beatrice. I think it would be fun to be Beatrice in this play. I repeat her lines aloud sometimes just because they are so biting.

Recommended for the Shakespeare lover. The movie is great too.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King:

This series has been recommended to me several times but series books always intimidate me. This series has seven and I had an impression of Stephen King as only a horror writer so I wasn’t really interested. My sister Julie assured me that this wasn’t a horror book but more like a sci-fi western. I am a huge fan of Firefly the Joss Whedon futuristic space western who met its end far too soon, so I already had a soft spot for sci-fi westerns. The story follows Roland on his hunt for the man in black. It is set in a parallel universe so it’s interesting when he meets people who are dead in his reality, alive in the parallel world. The book is a great adventure, you can almost feel the dry desert air and the gritty dust getting all over you as you read. I’m excited to continue the series.

Recommended for people who love westerns, sci-fi, and adventure stories.

Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander:

Another audio book, I got this one after hearing several of Auslander’s contributions to This American Life. It recounts his upbringing as an Orthodox Jew. It is really funny and sweet at parts.

Recommended for fans of This American Life. I also think Jewish folks will commiserate with the stories he tells.

Free by Chris Anderson:

I got this free on iTunes as an audio book. Chris Anderson is an editor at Wired magazine, he believes that all content on the internet should be free. He thinks crowd sourced news is better than conventional journalism. I followed an online back and forth between him and Malcolm Gladwell. I agree with Gladwell’s arguments for the most part, but I do think that we are headed in the direction of Chris Anderson’s proposed future. I’m waiting to see how newspapers will charge for their content online and if the public will stand for it. Overall the book was a good listen.

Recommended for Ronald, and other tech and media minded people.

Whew! Those are the books for January. After this month no more than 4 books will be on audio. I’m already half-way through my first book for February. I’m going to warn you though, February will be full of Austen.


2 thoughts on “January books

  1. Thanks Karen! I’ll have to check out Free. I also want to read all of Malcom Gladwell’s books too. Do you know where I could check out that “online back and forth” between Gladwell and Anderson?

    • I have a crush on Malcolm Gladwell. His books are some of my favorites. I have Blink and the Tipping Point if you want them. Aaron has Outliers. He narrates his books on audio which I recommend if you don’t have time to sit and read them. Anyway here is the original review from Gladwell in the New Yorker and Anderso’s rebuttal in Wired

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