It seems like such a long time since I did one of these monthly reading round ups. January is one long month, eh? And I didn’t do a proper round up in December as I was too busy writing about my favourite books of the year. So this is going to be something of a December/January mashup, and a bit of a bumper edition. With that in mind, I better get on with it before another month bites the dust again!
Back in December I loved reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, a lovely story about a girl starting university while juggling a book series obsession, a changing relationship with her twin sister and some blossoming affairs of the heart. It was the kind of story that takes you back to your younger days (unless, of course, you’re still actually in your younger days) and I loved the nod to one of my all-time favourite books, The Outsiders, in a particularly tender scene. The main character’s fangirl relationship with a Harry-Potter style book series really took me back to that youthful feeling of soul wrenching connection. One for the young and young at heart in equal measure, Fangirl is a very sweet story I’d highly recommend.
My second book for December was The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, it’s a dark and intriguing tale about young bride Nella, who finds herself thrust into an unconventional marriage and a unfamiliar life. When her husband gives her a dolls house as a wedding gift she engages a miniaturist to furnish it. But it soon becomes clear that the mysterious miniaturist knows much more about Nella and her new family than she really should….I really enjoyed this book and the BBC adaption which handily appeared on screens just as I was finishing it. And if you like well-written stories about secrecy, mystery and self discovery, I think there’s a good chance that you might like it too.
Over the Christmas holidays I went vintage and delved into The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – something about that time of year always makes me want to pick up something classic and old school. Believe it or not, I’d never actually read either of these stories, but I enjoyed them both immensely. The Catcher in the Rye has become a particular favourite – it still feels very current, and Salinger’s Holden Caulfield is probably one of the most clear-voiced narrators I’ve ever come across on the page.
By January I was ready for something a little bit lighter, and Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher was the perfect antidote to the long dark winter nights. It tells the story of Lizzy, who, while on a romantic holiday with her boyfriend, dreams of getting married but instead ends up getting jilted. Cue lots of soul searching, new friendships and Lizzy learning to reclaim the vestiges of her pre-long-term-commitment life. And cue pure comfort reading for me while I quite literally raced through it – it really was the perfect pick-me-up for the post-Christmas return to normality and routine.
At the other end of the reading spectrum was Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad by Rio Ferdinand, a personal memoir about the loss of his wife Rebecca who tragically died after a battle with cancer in 2015. I became interested in reading this book after watching Rio’s BBC documentary on the same subject last year and being touched by the plight of his family as they came to terms with the loss of a beloved wife and mother. Thinking Out Loud is a beautifully written story that shines a light on the subjects of grief, loss and bereavement – that Rio’s own mother also died of cancer while he was writing this book is a heartbreaking reminder of just how fragile life can be.
Finally, a special mention of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which I read with the kids this month – a wonderful anthology with one hundred inspirational stories of amazing women like Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks and Coco Chanel. The stories are told beautifully and the illustrations are utterly gorgeous. And it’s not just for little girls either – my two sons loved it. The perfect bedtime read for rebels everywhere!
That’s it for this month’s round up (phew!) I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and it’s given you some ideas for that to-read list of your own. I do hope to see you back here again in February. And don’t forget that you can catch up on all my latest reads in my Little Loves round ups every single week! 🙂
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