Thursday, January 4, 2024

Read in December 2023

At the beginning of the month I decided that I wanted to break my all-time reading record of 101 books in a year. So, I went to the library and scanned the shelves for the thinnest books I could find. This turned out to be a fun exercise and led me to pick up several books I wouldn't have otherwise. If I didn't like them, then the time commitment would be low. I did it: I read 115 books in 2023!

Because there are so many, I'm doing brief reviews and ranking the books by how much I liked them. I'll be back soon for my 2023 Reading Wrap-Up!

You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith

    An absolutely gorgeously written memoir about the author's divorce

Dancing At the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

    A sensitive and raw graphic memoir of the author's mother's death at a young age

The House At Riverton by Kate Morton

    A very Downton Abbey-type feel. All of Morton's books are so readable and immerse you in the past.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    A re-read to celebrate my age being the meaning of life (if you know, you know). One of the funniest books I have ever read!

Into the Planet by Jill Heinerth

    Heinerth is a cave diver: yep, swimming into tight caves filled with water. Everything she does is so incredibly dangerous you will be screaming "WHYYYYY?" constantly.

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan

    Three brilliant short stories. I don't know why there isn't just one Claire Keegan book containing all of her stories and novellas in one. I'm sure it's just a way for publishers to make a profit!

Fire Story by Brian Fies

    A graphic memoir about the author's home burning down in a wildfire. 

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

    Following the collective lives of Japanese women immigrating to the US in the 1920s (I think?), this short book has no named characters and is told in the first-person plural. The structure was creative, I learned a lot, but I probably would have become annoyed if it had been a longer book.

The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng

    Set in the early part of the 20th century in Penang, we follow the author Somerset Maugham and the family that he's visiting. Beautifully written with a strong sense of place.

The Life-Changing Manga of Tiding Up by Marie Kondo

    Nothing new if you've read Kondo's other books, but it's a cute illustrated story about a woman who is helped by Kondo to clean up her apartment.

The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett

    I didn't realize this was part of a series, so I missed a lot of background on the characters. The whole story is told in emails and texts. The mystery wasn't engaging but there were tons of funny lines.

Look at the Lights, My Love by Annie Ernaux

    A memoir entirely about superstores; relatable because we've all experienced what these places are like!

The Young Man by Annie Ernaux

    Truth be told, this should not be considered a book. It's an essay about the author's affair with a man much younger than herself. Well-written and insightful.

In Light Years There's No Hurry by Marjolijn van Heemstra

    This reminded me SO MUCH of Enchantment by Katherine May. There is even an identical scene! Read if you are very into outer space.

Going Zero by Anthony McCarten

    A fun thriller about 10 people who are in a contest to disappear for 30 days - if a big-brother-type corporation can't find them, they win 3 million dollars. I liked the strategies that the contestants tried, but about 2/3 of the way through the book jumped a big 'ol shark.

It's Lonely At the Center of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood

    A graphic memoir about dealing with depression - can someone please write a memoir about kittens and ice cream?

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

    A short novella about a man with dementia and his grandson. Heartfelt but a little on the cheesy side.

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero

    I had never heard of Graciela Iturbide before, who is a Mexican photographer. Her work is interesting, but the book is written in an avant-garde way that lost me.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

    Not exactly a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, involves some other dimension travel(?) where somehow cellphones still work. 

Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame by Erin Williams

    A graphic memoir about some hard subjects (alcoholism, sexual assault). I found it to be too much, too explicit, too intended to shock. [I'm ranking books based on my enjoyment of them, not on their merit, so you might connect with this one. Definitely these subjects shouldn't be silenced.]

Whew! Even reading through this list made me tired. I won't be repeating this level of reading for a long time. January is already shaping up to be a slow and steady month. Happy New Year everyone!


  1. I ADORE when people write up about all the books they read for the entire year in one place. I've read exactly one of these books (Hitchhiker's Guide - isn't it great when an old fave holds up?), so there are so many great book ideas for me in this post. So many books, so little time!

    1. It's pretty fun to just browse the library and pick up what looks good, with no background. I found some great books that way - but, in January I've already gone back to putting books from my TBR on hold! There's nothing like a good recommendation from a fellow reader.

  2. An amazing achievement in reading all those books. I hope you find lots more books to enjoy in 2024.
    Happy New Year to you, Sarah

    1. I have my fill of achievement for now, so 2024 is going back to being a slower-paced, reading for enjoyment type year. Happy New Year to you too!

  3. That's so fun that you smashed your goal! And WOW, 115 books in a year is note-worthy, indeed! Go, you! I've never tried just grabbing a bunch of short books, but I think I should try it myself -- it sounds like an easy way to get some solid wins under my belt since my reading life has been lackluster lately, to say the least :)

    1. Reading short books has always been a reliable slump-buster for me. It would probably work better with the crazy schedule you have these days! The years I had my babies were the lowest reading years for me, but now with the oldest almost 6, I have soooo much more time.

  4. Oooh I love Marie Kondo, and I didn't know she had a Manga! My son loves manga. I loved the Maggie Smith too...and I think that's the only one I have read on your list! Happy New Year!

    1. I think I read the Maggie Smith book because of you! I get so many of my memoir recommendations from you - and as I see from my 2023 stats, it's my most-read genre.

  5. Oooh! So many authors that I've wanted to read here! I do think a short book is very underrated. I love that tactic of just picking up a slew of slim volumes. I've been binging Agatha short stories lately as a way to get out of a slump.
    I read Hallett's The Appeal - I'm a sucker for an epistolatory novel and thought it was very fun, though like this sequel, a little weak on the plot.
    Happy New Year! Wishing you many happy reading in 2024!

    1. I may pick up The Appeal in the future, and hopefully the characters in the Christmas version will make sense retroactively. Short books are the sure-fire way to break a slump for me! Off to check out your latest reading post!


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