January is usually a month I finish several books because it’s cold and I all I want to do is be inside cozied up on the couch with some tea (or wine) and read. In January I was fairly busy with work, trying to paint and create art as much as possible, and doing a lot of Marie Kondo-ing, although I feel like I need to get rid of so much more!
My husband was home for over a month with the government shutdown, which was really nice (he helped me on some photo shoots and things) but also threw me out of my routine a bit. It sort of felt like we were still on holiday at home.
I was able to get through five books this month — I read two physical books, and three I listened to while painting murals or cleaning out my house as everyone is doing right now with the KonMari craze. I can also listen to books while I edit photos, drive in traffic, and even do my hair and makeup.
If you’ve read any of these books, please tell me your thoughts in the comments!
CIRCE, by Madeline Miller
I don’t think I would have ever picked this book up — even though the cover is GORGEOUS — if it weren’t our book club book I don’t know that I would have read it. I’m usually not a fan of fantasy or sci-fi although I did read all three Hunger Games books back to back within a few days.
This book was SO GOOD. If the Odyssey and the Iliad and everything Shakespeare wrote that I had to read in AP English were written like Madeline Miller wrote Circe, I probably would have gotten an A in that class in high school. Miller’s writing transports you into the story.
I want more and will now look into reading Miller’s other book. I can’t wait to discuss at book club and then I’ll be back with any great discussions we had. Can’t wait to see what Miller does next. Circe was also optioned for a TV series, which I can’t wait to see!
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
No matter what your political affiliation, Michelle Obama’s book is a fascinating look behind the curtains of the White House and what it’s like to be the First Lady. Not only do you get to learn about how she ended up with Barak and how they ended up in the White House, but it was so interesting hearing it all from her point of view — basically everything you thought she was thinking the whole time — she tells you.
Learning about how she balanced her service life as the First Lady with her other major role as a mom to two young girls who had to deal with weird things like constant secret service around, and also how Barak dealt with it all is exactly all the details you wanted to know about them. I loved how revealing and honest she was, and if you listen to it like I did — she is the one reading it! I loved hearing it right from her. Highly recommend.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou
Wow, wow, wow. I mean, wow. Let’s just say I can’t WAIT until the movie comes out. I was on Instagram today and while I know Jennifer Lawrence is playing the role of Elizabeth, I think Allison Williams would have been a dead ringer to play her. Those giant big blue eyes. What I really want to see is all of this as a big long multi-part documentary! Even if it was the same people and the same info, just fascinating.
Back to the book, I had no idea the depth of this crazy story and level of manipulation. It’s amazing what people can get away with sometimes without having ANYTHING to back it up. Everyone in the book talks about how she was such a good salesperson, she could convince people of HUGE things when it was all smoke and mirrors. OR I actually think if she just made everyone work hard enough, I think she thought magic would just happen. Like she could will these tests to be that tiny and actually work — and maybe someday they will — but the technology just isn’t there yet.
I listened to this in just a few days because I couldn’t get enough of this story!
33 Artists in 3 Acts, by Sarah Thornton
This book was definitely good and I think artists and people in or interested in the art world will appreciate it. I think I was just expecting something different. I liked it, but I expected it to be a page-turner and I felt that a few of the chapters were a little dull but then others were fascinating. Maybe that was just because I personally find some types of art/artists more interesting than others? Who knows.
Definitely learned some interesting things about artists, their habits, their businesses, how they interact with press, etc. Art nerds and enthusiasts will probably like it or at least learn a few things from this book.
Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty
A few of my friends who are avid readers like me hated this book, which I found out before I read it, but I actually didn’t think it was that bad. Maybe my personal tolerance or standards for entertainment are low, who knows. I think of a few things when talking about books I’ve read — have I heard the story before, was I entertained, did I want to keep reading, was it well-written (that doesn’t always matter), did it surprise me?
I thought the story was sort of funny in the way it poked fun at society, writers, wellness fads and retreats, and yes even Instagram influencers. I felt like Moriarty wrote things that people actually do feel — wanting to be an influencer, wanting to be rich but then realizing that money doesn’t always solve your deep down problems, complicated marriages and families with pain and bad communication and grief and how uncomfortable all of that is, and also losing weight, feeling fat, and all things wellness/fitness.
Yes, the story was fiction. It was unrealistic (but maybe not if you’ve heard of the sweat lodge deaths). But I went into the book thinking it was going to be terrible, and while it felt a little bubble gum I didn’t think it was bad. The story kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next and I think it commented on current things in our society (while in a very exaggerated story), whether we like how the author executed it or not she was commenting on current culture.
With the body positivity movement there’s this almost understated current where if you say you want to lose weight or be thin that it’s bad or something — you aren’t being body positive, you aren’t loving yourself as you are, don’t judge, etc. So I thought it was actually sort of brave for Moriarty to write things that publicly might be taboo these days and it seems like most people wouldn’t write about them like she did.
Have you read any of these books? What have you read recently? Please tell me in the comments below!