My Top 5 January Reads

You guys, I have a confession.

I only read five books last year.

For some people, managing to read five books might be a good thing. Or even an improvement, but for me it was a significant step down. I read 36 books in 2015, but last year was the lowest total of books read since I started keeping numerical track. I can’t tell you why 2016 wasn’t a “reading year” for me, but it wasn’t and I was determined to change that for 2017. I set my reading goal for 100 books, like I do every year, but this year I think I might have the chance to meet it and surpass it!

I’m very happy to have been able to read enough books that I could formulate a top 5 list and not have every book I’ve managed to read all month be ranked on it. In truth, I read pretty fast (around 400 wpm) so that helps me out and when I get “into” books, I can do very little but finish the darn thing.

Anyhow, I now present my top five reads for January

1. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
This book was just about as good as it gets and I can see it holding on to a top spot when I get to the end of the year. The story takes place in North Korea and is the story of  Pak Jun Do and his life inside the country. I don’t want to give to much away, because there are a couple of excellent plot twists that happen that I don’t want to spoil. The imagery of the book was so, so good and the character development was excellent. Additionally, this is the first book I’ve read that was set in North Korea, so the cultural elements (and the propaganda!) were new experience that I really enjoyed.

2.The Enchanted by Rene Denfield

Another unusual read, for me.  The Enchanted is the story of a man on death row.  He has committed a terrible crime that he never mentions, only alludes to.  He sees the old prison he is housed in as an enchanted, magical place.  He tells the story of others; the warden, fellow prisoners, an investigator and they’re interspersed with the magic he feels at being safe inside the prison walls.  It’s a very poignant book.  No one is painted with a broad brush.  There is kindness and mercy and awfulness and those attributes aren’t limited to those in front of or behind the bars.    It was a very beautiful stream of consciousness like telling.  If you like crime stories, this one might work for you because there IS a fairly through forensic investigation that happens inside the book.

 

3. Life as We Knew it* by Susan Pfeffer

This series now has four entries.  The first is the best by far and could certainly work as a stand alone book if you’re not interested in reading another series (I am not always interested in reading another series).  In the spring, a comet strikes the moon driving it nearer to earth.  The change in the moon’s proximity affects the earth greatly.  The tides change causing horrible coastal flooding.  Volcanoes begin erupting clouding the sun and plunging the earth into a long winter.  Miranda and her family (her mother and two brothers along with their elderly neighbor) are trying to survive in rural  Pennsylvania.  They manage to avoid flooding, but food is scarce, power is gone, winter is coming and there’s no relief in sight.

Many people report disliking the second book in this series, The Dead and Gone which is the same story told from the perspective of a teenage boy in New York City.  The two main characters, Alex and Miranda, come together in the third book This World we Live in and the new addition to the series The Shade of the Moon is told from the perspective of Miranda’s younger brother, Jon.  Honestly, I regret reading The Shade of the Moon because it felt so far derived from the original series.   Character development falls to the way side and there’s a ton of gratuitous violence, which seems unnecessary.

But, Life as we Knew it is definitely a must read especially if you’re at all interested in post apocalyptic/dystopian works

4. World War Z by Max Brooks

This really isn’t like the film.  It is written as a factual collection of data of the Zombie apocalypse.  The story is told from different places around the world detailing the rise of the virus, the downfall of society, security techniques and the rebuilding of society following the plague.    It is written, and reads, like non-fiction which makes it equal parts unsettling and interesting.

5.Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

It’s hard to get your hands on paper copies of Carrie’s books following her death, but luckily several of them are available as e-books, so download and read away.   It’s not go great ratings and I think it’s a really well done memoir, however, Fisher writes in a stream of consciousness style and that’s not everyone’s jelly.  I read it after watching the Bright Lights documentary on HBO and it was a really good companion piece to it.  I’m looking forward to reading more of Fisher’s books.

 

Anyhow, there you go.  This month’s top five. Enjoy!

*Life as we knew it is available on Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a subscriber, it’s free to read!