What I Read- December 2021 & January 2022

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December and January turned out to be pretty good months of reading after taking a bit of a reading break before the holidays (all the shopping, wrapping, prepping had me busy!) and it felt so good to get back into a groove with reading. I read and listened to some fantastic books the last few months and as always I’m excited to chat books with you. The Guncle is one of my favorite recent reads and if you haven’t read that, I’d absolutely recommend picking that up! On a completely different side of the spectrum, I loved Cultish– I was completely intrigued by this book and hooked from the first day I started listening to it.

What have been some of your favorite reads? Have you read any of these books? Would love to hear your book recommendations and thoughts on these books too!

The Midnight Library- Nora Seed is depressed and feeling lonely when she finds out her cat, her only friend, has died. Trigger warning (and not a spoiler as it happens right away): Nora attempts to take her own life. After doing this, she ends up in The Midnight Library. The library is one where there are hundreds, thousands of books all filled with different lives if she made different choices. Nora visits some of her other possible lives while trying to understand what is really worth living for. I had been hearing about this book a lot from different people whose taste in book I value and while I really liked the book and thought it was very powerful, I wouldn’t put it on my list of favorites. Possibly could be from too many people hyping it up which sometimes makes me have too high of expectations before reading. It is still a good book though so don’t let this stop you from reading!

Taste: My Life Through Food– I listened to Taste, Stanley Tucci’s memoir, and it had me both drooling and also wanting to run into the kitchen to make a delicious Italian meal. I loved hearing more about Stanley’s travels, great food and how important good food was to his family growing up and now. If you enjoyed his show Searching For Italy, I think you will enjoy this book! My only regret on the audio version versus owning the physical book is he shares recipes in it.

Beautiful Little Fools– I was lucky to get an advanced reader copy of this book so I devoured it in two days over the holidays before its February publication date. Beautiful Little Fools is a retelling of The Great Gatsby from the point of view of the women- Daisy, Jordan Baker, Myrtle and Catherine, Myrtle’s sister. The Great Gatsby is obviously a well loved classic, but I felt Jillian Cantor, the author, added so much to my appreciation of the story through her re-telling and expansion of the classic. Jillian did an amazing job of challenging some of the things the reader may have thought from the original novel by showing them from the perspective of a different character, like Daisy instead of Jay.  Highly recommend this for anyone who considers themselves a fan of The Great Gatsby!

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism– I cannot say enough good things about Cultish! Amanda Montell dives into the world of cults and the language used by them in a book that had me hooked from the first page (or should I say first listen as I listened to the audio book!). Her book explores cults from religious cults to fitness cults (think Crossfit and Soul Cycle) to MLMs to Scientology. Combining research and anecdotal stories from people who have been a part of all of these different cults, it was such an interesting read and one I devoured. While I personally listened to this on audio, I think it is one that would be just as great to read as it was to listen.

The Last Thing He Told Me– Hannah is at home when a young girl knocks on her door with a note from her husband, Owen that says Protect Her. Confused, especially after she can no longer get in touch with her husband, but she knows the note refers to his sixteen year old daughter, Bailey. After they find money that Owen left behind, the arrest of his boss and a visit from a U.S. Marshall, Hannah realizes there is much more to Owen’s story than she knows and that his daughter can remember. Hannah and Bailey go on an adventure to try to find out the truth and the book’s twists and turns had me wanting to stay up late to read! While this isn’t necessarily a murder-y thriller, it was what I would call a mystery thriller and I definitely got sucked into it!

The Guncle– Oh my goodness I LOVED this book! Patrick is a former actor on a popular sitcom living a life of solitude in Palm Springs when he finds out his best friend has passed away. His best friend Sarah was also his sister-in-law and when his brother faces issues of his own following her death, his young niece and nephew Maisie and Grant come to spend the summer with their Guncle or GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick) as they affectionately call him. Based on the cover and title, I had expectations that this book was going to be more lighthearted than it was and I was so pleasantly surprised with how fabulous it was. The Guncle is a story of family, of loss and grief, of evolving friendships and a book I absolutely recommend.

Joan Is Okay– Similar to The Guncle, Joan Is Okay also has themes of grief and family dynamics paired with the journey of finding yourself and your calling. Joan is an extremely dedicated ICU doctor who lives to work. When her father passes away, she travels to China and back over the course of the weekend to attend his funeral and get right back to work. Joan is one of those characters you love despite or maybe because of her social awkwardness. My one hesitation going into this book was knowing it was going to talk about the Covid-19 Pandemic and I wasn’t sure I was ready to read about it from a fiction perspective. If you are feeling the same way, it was not an overwhelming amount of the book in my opinion and really served as a good reference in time for when the book was taking place.

Yearbook– I was looking for a new audiobook to listen to when I saw Seth Rogen’s memoir, Yearbook available. If you are a fan of his movies and humor, you will definitely find this book hilarious. I loved his stories of trying to make it as a stand up comic as a teenager, growing up Jewish and his experiences in Hollywood with many hysterical stories about other celebrities. I think listening to this would be even better because you get to hear the story in his voice which in my opinion was awesome. Oh and if you have seen any of his movies this is probably obvious, but there is a lot of drug content in the book so just know that going into it!

xoxo, Jenna

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