Read in 2016: December

31.12.16

I'm sorry to post this right after my November wrap up, but the end of the year has crept up on me and I'm determined to complete the list of books I managed to get through in 2016!


#69 - GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS: DRESSING UP, PLAYING PARTS & DARING TO ACT DIFFERENTLY
I'm trying to read along with the Feminist Orchestra book club and this was December's book which, for the most part, I enjoyed!  Having read quite a bit of non-fiction this year I can say that Emer O'Toole writes in a really accessible way, complementing her well-researched facts with anecdotal reflections.  I'd say this is my first real dalliance with the feminist genre, and whilst I've definitely taken on board some of her comments on gender stereotypes and playing up to learned behaviours disguised as choices, I'm not fully at the level of appreciating how not shaving my armpits would make me more of a feminist. I'm aware that words are failing me somewhat here and I'm not articulating myself particularly well, so if you've read this book please let's discuss below!
Rating: 4/5

#70 - THE WALKING DEAD, ISSUE #1
If you've read my blog for a while you'll know that this is way off piste for me.  I had to read a graphic novel as part of my 2016 reading challenge and although some of the tasks have opened my eyes to new genres, I knew a graphic novel wouldn't be for me.  Not only that, they're expensive!  The way I understand it is that sometimes comics get gathered into graphic novels (correct me if I'm wrong) and so I decided to go for the first issue of The Walking Dead series as a sort of compromise.  As expected, I really didn't enjoy this.  I read it on my kindle (think it was a free download) so I know my reading experience would have suffered for it, but the art style did nothing for me and I'm more aware than ever that reading comics just isn't my thing.
Rating: 1/5

#71  -THE VANISHING ACT
This book tells the story of Minou who lives on a small island and whose mother walked out of the family home a year ago and hasn't returned.  It was a nice book with beautiful prose, which was quick to get through, but other than that I didn't really get anything from it.  There's a heavy emphasis on philosophy but not really much of a plot.  I was hoping for much more!
Rating: 2/5

#72 - THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF NOT GIVING A F**K
I have really mixed thoughts on this one.  Not giving a fuck (or NFG as I've been living by for the past 18 months) has become a big part of my coping strategy when it comes to stress.  It's something I've genuinely shared with people I know and has helped me immeasurably.  So when I heard there was a book being released about it I rushed out to buy it....and inevitably it sat on my shelf for a year before I got round to reading it.  I feel like this is quite a nice entry into learning to distance yourself from stresses which don't concern you, but the idea of mentally sorting through everything you may or may not give a fuck about just seems exhausting and pointless to me.  I could talk loads on this topic (and have already deleted a huge paragraph I just drafted!) but will leave it at the fact that maybe I'm just too advanced in my NFG status(?!) for this to have any real benefits to me.  Oh, and the amount of times the word "fuck" was thrown around just got ridiculous.
Rating: 2/5

#73 - THE SNOW CHILD
Based on a Russian folktale, this book tells the story of a middle-aged couple who are living in the wilderness of Alaska and long for a child.  One night they make a girl out of snow, only to discover that she's become human.  This was a really atmospheric read and the lonely conditions of their surroundings felt dark and almost overbearing....which  was a good thing!  It was a little slow at points, but overall an enjoyable one to read at this time of year.
Rating: 4/5

#74 - WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU COULD BE NORMAL?
This memoir follows on from Jeanette Winterson's semi-autobiographical Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (which I haven't yet read) and details Winterson's life growing up as the adopted daughter of Pentecostal parents.  I feel like perhaps I needed to have read Oranges first to get the full impact of this book, as from what I can understand it works as a backstory to the former.  An angry, honest book which is full of emotion.
Rating: 3/5

#75 - CHRISTMAS DAYS: 12 STORIES AND 12 FEASTS FOR 12 DAYS
I was *so* excited to get my hands on this.  I struggle a little with short story collections (more on that in a few books!), but this is so well written that even if the stories fell a little flat in plotline they were still well executed.  Admittedly I dipped in and out of the recipes (fishcakes are never going to be something I want to learn how to make) but liked the way that each one was accompanied by a little anecdote either about the owner of the recipe or the food itself.  It's also a beautiful book and one I think I'll revisit to get me in the festive mood again next Christmas.
Rating: 3/5

#76 - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
This was another on my TBR list for December and I'm really glad I've finally managed to read it.  I think everyone's heard snippets of the story but reading it in its entirety really put me in the festive spirit.  Because nothing says Christmas like a Victorian Christmas!
Rating: 3/5

#77 - THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS
This was a sweet little story by L. Frank Baum (author of The Wizard of Oz) detailing the imagined origins of Santa Claus.  It was whimsical and magical, taking me back to my childhood reading tales of fairies in enchanted forests.  It was a text-heavy book so not suitable for her just yet, but I can't wait to share this with Ella one Christmas when she's older.
Rating: 4/5

#78 - THE COLOR MASTER
As I said, I struggle to find short story collections which hit the mark for me and this one certainly didn't manage it.  There were a couple of stories which I really enjoyed (The Color Master itself being one of them) but overall I found myself counting down the pages until the next story started for the majority of this book.  Which is unfortunate as I'd heard great things about Aimee Bender's writing and love the whimsical feel to her books.  Despite this disappointment I'm not ready to give up and will try one of her novels next.
Rating: 2/5

#79 - SWEET HOME
Sweet Home is a collection of short stories from the author of A Song For Issy Bradley; a book I read last year which unexpectedly became one of the most memorable of 2015.  Sweet Home was a lovely way to end the year - a book of easy to read stories focusing on family.  Carys Bray writes family dynamics so well and this book was a wonderful mix of humour and warmth juxtaposed against the darker sides of families.  I didn't anticipate enjoying this as much as I did and would urge you all to give it a read if you've yet to find a short story collection that you enjoy.
Rating: 4/5

And that concludes my reading wrap up of 2016!  What was your favourite book you read this year?

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