January 2020 Book List

Total book count for 2019: 561

That number still kind of blows my mind a little. I know a lot of them are picture books, but it’s still pretty crazy to me. Mostly because I still believe I don’t read anywhere near fast enough. I WANT TO READ ALL THE BOOKS!

My pledge this year is to read 75 books. This count will not include the many children’s picture books I’m sure to read. Below is the recap of books I read in January, plus a bonus three that I squeezed into the end of December and liked so much I want to talk about them. ❤

All ratings out of 5 ⭐️’s

The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. Le Guin

This was my first book by Le Guin, recommended by Neil Gaiman in his Masterclass lectures. It had some beautiful things to say about storytelling and the rhythm of good prose and poetry. Writers should definitely give this one a read. It got a 4-star rating from me because some of the essays felt out of place in the collection. There was also one where she mad bashed Anna Karenina, which is one of my favorite books. I thought her criticisms missed the entire point of the story, almost like she’d never really read it. And some were a little too hardcore feminist for me. I’m a bit more Feminist Lite® (the best beer for a gal who is only occasionally bothered by the patriarchy).
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

How to Survive a Horror Movie: All the Skills to Dodge the Kills by Seth Grahame-Smith

This was a funny, quirky, and enjoyable read that does just what it says. In the event you discover yourself trapped in a horror movie, this book gives you tips on how to make it to the end credits alive. Obviously, it’s full of useful and practical advice.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What if?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

This book was amazing, interesting and funny. Randall uses science to answer questions like, “what would happen if you hit a baseball pitched at half the speed of light?” Sometimes the science and math went over my head, but his creative comparisons and stick-figure illustrations helped me get the gist of what he meant. I really enjoyed this read. You can check out his skills on his website, which is apparently pretty popular. (Free read with KindleUnlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Now to January…

The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

This is an imaginative novella about Fern, a 19-year-old who has an imaginary friend. She knows he can’t be real, but he just won’t go away, and as the story unfolds you learn why he’s so persistent. The opening was a little slow and clunky. I thought the author cheated by forcefully giving you false impressions of the characters to hook you. But ultimately, the writing is good and the story original. If you like YA fantasy and sci-fi, I would check this one out. (Free read with KindleUnlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Joy in the Morning by P. G. Wodehouse

I devoured four Wodehouse books during the holiday season. His perky humor helped to brighten a difficult time of year for me. I started this last one late in December so I didn’t finish it till January. It was a reread for me, one of my favorites, and full of stolen police uniforms, fancy dress balls, and exploding chimneys. You know, all the things that P.G. Wodehouse usually brings to the table.”
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

While I appreciate why Salinger wrote his narrator as rambling and whinging, I still did not enjoy this read. I understand that Holden Caulfield is meant to represent the confusing stage between childhood and becoming an adult. But still, I found his judgemental attitude and lack of empathy supremely irritating. What I did appreciate was the more subtle discussion of grieving and how trauma disrupts the maturing process.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts by Douglas Bond

Another book from the Long Line of Godly Men Profile series that I discovered last year. I  just adore this series. Each book is about 200 pages, but even in their brevity they are a lovely, complete synopsis of the subject’s life and work. I picked the Isaac Watts book because I’ve been playing at writing more poetry this year. I found their discussion of his poetry very inspiring. When I finished reading it, I downloaded Watts’ two poetry collections, “Hymns and Spiritual Songs” and “Divine Songs.”
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

New Birth or Rebirth?: Jesus Talks with Krishna by Ravi Zacharias

This is the third book I’ve read in Zacharias’ “Great Conversations” series. I haven’t read one in a while, and I remember enjoying the other two a lot more than this one. If you take it as an easy read that gives a creative rundown of the main differences between Christianity and Hinduism, it’s perfectly fine. But when I approached it as anything more, it read as awkwardly contrived with one-sided arguments. Certainly not my favorite Zacharias book.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

This was a fascinating account of the life of the explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett and his journey’s into the Amazon in search of a rich lost civilization he enigmatically labeled “Z.” The book had so much interesting history, and the author’s own travels into the Amazon forests made the descriptions of the jungle jump off the page. My only quibble with the story was the author’s method of jumping from past to present was poorly executed at times and left me confused.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

This novel explores a version of the world if the axis powers had defeated the allies in WWII. It is written by interwoven narratives of several characters, all of which have fascinating voices. Excellent read, though the ending threw me a little, but I think it was meant to. (Free read with KindleUnlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This book was everything you’d hope to get when reading a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Paul’s moving memoir of his journey from neurosurgeon to Cancer patient is a powerful and beautiful read. I am so thankful that he took the time at the end of his life to write down his thoughts on living and dying.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

An interesting account of the life and education of Helen Keller, who became deaf and blind before the age of two. It is remarkable how well she describes things for someone who cannot see, and I wondered how much of it was due to the descriptions of others or from her own remaining senses.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

i’m done by Gurpreet Kaur

This is a short poetry book that explores the pain of a relationship gone sour and the struggles of healing post-breakup. The style of the poetry is very similar to Rupi Kaur but uses the clean starkness of black and white instead of illustrations to bring extra life to her words. (free read with Kindle Unlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thirst: Seeking God When All Seems Lost by Christian Bosse

Not my favorite book of poetry, but decent as a light read. (free read with Kindle Unlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics by R. C. Sproul

This book is now one of my favorite theology books. I gained a deeper understanding of my security in Christ from reading it. Even those who disagree with Calvinism might gain insight from this book, if only for its clear presentation of what the early reformers like Luther and Zwingli believed. (Free read with KindleUnlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Storyteller: 100 Poem Letters by Morgan Harper Nichols

I found this sweet collection of poetry through a friend who quoted from it on Instagram. An enjoyable little read. (free read with Kindle Unlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 by Wendell Berry

These poems were so beautiful. I have never read Berry before now and I am smitten. They contained so much truth about caring and tending our world. It was convicting and inspiring. And his gorgeous descriptions of the woods and trees and birds made me long for a world with less concrete and more unspoiled forests.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride

This book had a lot of helpful information about how narcissistic mothers affect the adult lives of their daughters. The recovery section at the end was what I found the most helpful. As an abuse survivor, I’m always looking for advice to help me move forward, heal, and create a safer environment for my family. (free read with Kindle Unlimited)
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

If I had been expecting a nominally spiritual self-help memoir I may have enjoyed this book. There was very little scripture referenced in it, just God in general, which I find unhelpful when I’m looking for spiritual encouragement. Also, her writing style annoys me. It rambles and is in dire need of a good edit. (free read with Kindle Unlimited)
rating: ⭐️

Watership Down by Richard Adams

This book was forbidden by my parents, so this was my first time reading it. It was so imaginative and beautifully told. The folklore and language of the rabbits were just amazing. I loved everything about it even down to the quotes that opened each chapter.
rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for me based on what you see here. Obviously, I’m always up for another good read.

Happy Reading everyone!

Book count for January: 17
Total book count for 2020: 17

3 thoughts on “January 2020 Book List

Add yours

  1. You would make an AMAZING literature teacher! Your honesty and contagious enthusiasm make my “want to read” list longer. Online class for homeschoolers on Outschool?

    Liked by 1 person

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