Wednesday, January 6, 2016

52 Weeks of Reading - December (with holiday photos!)

Matt getting his fancy on for Christmas Eve. 
December was such a fantastic whirlwind!  Before we get any further into the New Year I guess I better write up my last reading recap for the 52 Books in 52 Week challenge.  I actually read more than one book a week during December since I had so much time off around the holidays.  So many happy hours of sewing and reading (or being read to, if you want to be technical about it).
My boys!
December 1-5
* Burn by Julianna Baggott

December 6-12
*If You Were Here by Alafair Burke

December 12-19
*Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves by Laurel Braitman

December 20-26
*On the Day I Died: Stories From the Grave by Candace Fleming

December 27-31
*Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards
*Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
Opening gifts on Christmas Eve, Ryan looking especially pleased with his new science beaker--for beer brewing, of course.
My favorite book of the month is one I've read probably twenty times--though most of those experiences were in 2002.  Welcome to the Monkey House was one of the few English books I had to read during my month with a friend from Belgium.  After reading all of Marj's sister's English language novels--including the dreadful Bridget Jones' Diary--I just read Welcome to the Monkey House over and over again.  They're short stories, so I could pick and choose where I wanted to start.  I must say that in this most recent reading though I found almost every one to be brilliant.  None I'd skip.  Its a wonderful collection of Vonnegut.  In fact, I might even identify it as my favorite Kurt Vonnegut book.  Period.  (Though I love his work so much its hard not to start adding qualifiers and caveats.)
The staff Christmas Party at the co-op grocery store where Matt works.
Animal Madness was quite good, too--once the author stopped talking about her own anxious, neurotic dog so much.  The start of the book is heavy on that--though her nutty dog was the reason she started researching the topic so I understand why it was the lead in.  I found the science and research and interviews with animal rehab workers, etc. which followed her personal story much more fascinating.  I picked the book up because I am having increasing suspicions that this new Johnny cat of ours may not be quite "normal" somehow....  It was an interesting read.
Playing Giant Jenja--a gift from Clare and Adam to be shared as a family.
I should have learned my lesson from the first Alafair Burke novel I encountered, read back in October--the month of books with lousy endings.  I didn't though and tried a second called If You Were Here.  While it was better than Long Gone I won't be bothering with a third.  I am sure some readers totally click with her, but I don't--too cliche, too much overthetop drama, and centering around a New York world that doesn't hold much interest for me.
Opening gifts on Christmas Eve.
Six Months Later, Burn, and On the Day I Died were all young adult books that just happened to meet the 200+ page requirement.  The latter was fine, albeit not that original.  It was an assortment of ghost tales, most of them being the same ones I knew growing up reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  Old legends and spooky tales like the one where a driver picks up a female hitchhiker who leaves something behind in the car and when the driver tries to return it to her learns she has actually been dead for years.  That sort of thing.  Not remarkable, but I could see it as the same sort of thing as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but for a new generation.  I sure liked those when I was young.  I must have put in on my iPod at Halloween and then never gotten around to.  Heaven forbid I just delete a book without reading it, so it was a taste of Halloween at Christmastime.  
More Giant Jenga.  We couldn't get enough.
Six Months Later was pretty unremarkable.  The premise seemed promising--a girl falls asleep in class to wake up and discover its six months later and she cannot remember any of it.  The actual story behind her amnesia was rather far-fetched, I thought.  It was not at all what I was expecting and much more disappointing.
We were feeling the love as we ran out of room on the cupboard doors for all the beautiful holiday cards we received.
Burn was the conclusion to the Pure trilogy which I started in November.  I didn't love the ending.  A couple of the lead characters were needlessly killed off, in my opinion, and others weren't quite acting true to the personalities they'd built up in the first two books.  It wasn't terrible, but I've certainly read many better YA trilogies.
Serious fun, that Giant Jenga.  Two thumbs up for sure.
And thus concludes the 52-in-52 challenge.  It was fun.  It encouraged me to read and select books in a different way than I usually do.  I think its a good thing to get pushed out of my comfort zone from time to time.   In the end I read a lot of good books (and some duds, too).  Mission accomplished.
Ryan, beer-maker extraordinaire, hard at work measuring that gravity.
Weeks passed: 52
Books read: 77
Giant Jenga with the bros.
Recaps from previous months can be found by following these links:  JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
A festive Pez dispenser from my dad.  I couldn't remember the last time I had Pez.


  1. It's been a while since I visited, and I have missed reading your posts. I am a reader myself and raised my kids the same way, so your challenge is Wonderful and woohoo for surpassing the bar! I give my kids books several times a year to build up their own book collection but also to remind them of favorite childhood books. Yesterday I gave them all Where the Sidewalk Ends! They loved it. Btw we are huge library fans as well as second hand book readers~but some I confess I am getting new.

    As to the giant Jenga~well I am planning in my mind for next Thanksgiving! What a cool party game!


  2. Such joyful photos! I love that you mentioned being read to - that is the best! I have been meaning to thank you for your beautiful comment on my last post. I'm so grateful to know you, and you're one of those positive people I aspire to be like. Things are starting to look up with the New Year's arrival :)


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!