* The Monsters of Templeton – Lauren Groff
* The Hogwarts Library – J.K. Rowling
* Furious Love – Sam Kashner & Nancy Schoenberger
* The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
* In a Sunburned Country – Bill Bryson
* At Home – Bill Bryson
* The Good House – Ann Leary
* A Working Theory of Love – Scott Hutchins
* Sleepwalking – Meg Wolitzer
* So Sad Today – Melissa Broder
* The Bazaar of Bad Dreams – Stephen King
* Something New – Lucy Knisley
* Our Souls at Night – Kent Haruf
* Y The Last Man, Vol 1: Unmanned – Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra & José Marzán Jr.
* Coraline – Neil Gaiman
* A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
* Wytches, Vol. 1 – Scott Snyder , Jock, Matt Hollingsworth & Clem Robins
* Batman Earth One – Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal & Brad Anderson
* Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds – Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Whenever I sit down to do these posts, I start by going through all the pictures I took on my cellphone over the course of the month to remind myself of everything that has happened. I’m a huge picture-taker, so my phone’s camera roll basically gives a broad overview of my life. When I went back over December, I was shocked by just how much I did in the last 4 weeks (and the number of books I read this month definitely shows that too!)
At the beginning of December, I had to read 13 books to complete my Goodreads challenge of 65 books for the year. I was just about to resign myself to another year of not quite getting there, when an unexpected gift from a friend boosted my confidence and made me more determined than ever. Sadly, I still didn’t reach the goal, but I got SO DARN CLOSE! Not only did I read like a crazy person, I also spent a ton of time with friends and family, which was really, really nice!
(Before we get started, a little apology for the lack of Rifle Monarch photo this month. I usually take the picture at work right before I switch over my monthly page, but I’ve been on vacation for a bit and am writing this from the cushy chair in my in-laws’office, so you’ll have to bear with me!)
I began this month with a really odd little book. Melissa Broder is a poet and works in publicity in the publishing scene in New York. A few years back, she began an anonymous Twitter account called SoSadToday where she would post her most raw, unedited thoughts. Broder has struggled with severe depression and destabilizing anxiety for many years, and found that her ability to speak to the outside world about her thoughts, whilst keeping her identity a secret truly helped her. She decided to come out as herself, and publish this book under the same name. This collection of essays is everything from raw to truthful to disturbing to powerful to vulgar to heartbreaking. It will definitely not be a book for everyone, but it was something I’m very glad I read. Having dealt with anxiety my whole life, I respected Broder’s open and honest discussions of even the most private bits of herself. Her descriptions of what anxiety physically feels like were unlike anything I’ve ever read on the subject before. Yes, there are bits in this that may make you cringe, but I’m personally glad I decided to stick it out. So Sad Today releases in March of 2016.
Next, I finished Stephen King’s newest book, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. This is a collection of short stories that were a mix of previously published work, re-worked work and brand new work. Each story began with some commentary from King on the origins or inspirations of the tale. Having read King’s most famous collection of short stories, Night Shift, and basically crowning him as the actual King of Short Stories in my head, I was really pumped to give this a try. Many King purists say his earliest work is his best, so I was pretty curious, and though I did find this an enjoyable collection, I will say that Night Shift still reigns for me. It’s tough to describe this book as a whole when I loved a few of the stories, and didn’t care much for others. But one this is for sure: the man can write!
I was also lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Lucy Knisley’s new book (coming in 2016) called Something New. I’m a big fan of Knisley’s work, having read two of her travelogues earlier this year. This one, about her experience being an unconventional, mostly DIY bride got me so excited, as I’m getting married this year and my fiance and I are doing our best to create a celebration not based around tradition, but around who we are. Sadly, I didn’t click with this book at all. Though Knisley and I may both be keen on doing things our own way, our personalities are much different. I enjoyed her wonderful art as always, but felt less connected to this than I have with her other works. Still, if you’re a fan, this is worth a read, just not my personal favourite.
Then came, the book that made me look constipated on the streetcar. I say this not to be gross, but because I was literally doing everything I could to stop myself from crying and probably made some pretty weird faces while trying to do so. Kent Haruf got himself a reputation in my office when one of my coworkers read his second last novel, Benediction, and admitted to having a good cry when he finished the book. When Our Souls At Night released, everyone was jumping to read it, and coming back teary-eyed. I knew I had to be in the right place for it, so I’ve put it off for ages. But on a Sunday afternoon, I picked it up to read a page or two, and couldn’t put it down. It is a quiet, meloncholic novel about finding love later in life. I finished it on my way into work the next morning and .. well.. the above took place. I highly recommend this beautiful book. You’ll hug your loved ones a little tighter when you finish.
And then began the slew of goal-oriented reading. I picked a bunch of shorter books and comics off my shelf at home and decided to finally dedicate the time to them to both knock some things off my TBR, and to put my Goodreads goal in sight. I’m going to do mini-reviews for things in bullet form so that this post doesn’t actually take you a whole year to read!
* Y The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned – I’ve been saving this, knowing I would love it when I got around to reading it, and was a little surprise to find that I didn’t. Maybe the story is just getting started, so I’m not giving up. More to come when I read further on!
* Coraline – The entire time I was reading this, I was thinking about how I would love it so much more if I were reading it aloud to my children. As I don’t have children, and am no where near having them, this obviously won’t work, but I did put it on my shelf to revisit someday to share this imaginative, eerie story with the ones that may one day come along.
* A Monster Calls – You must read this. That is all.
* Wytches, Vol. 1 – CREEPY! After finishing A Monster Calls, I couldn’t go right to sleep, so I read this. Then wished I had picked something else up, or could have slept with the light on. At the end of the book, Snyder talks about the inspiration for it and I absolutely loved that.
* Batman Earth One – This is my second Batman comic and it wasn’t my favourite. I did really enjoy the portrayal of Alfred in it, and the art was realistic, but the story didn’t really do it for me. But I’m no Batman expert, so take my words with a grain of salt!
* Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds – This was ALSO very creepy. This is the story of a man who has a very confusing past with demonic possessions. Also, it’s by Robert Kirkman, the mastermind behind The Walking Dead, so you know it’s going to keep your eyes wide open the whole time. I can’t tell if I’m interested to see where it goes, or too scared to try.
And then, we will have to address the elephant in the post, which is the nice chunk of books I bought this month. December is my book treat month. For the last few years, I have given myself full permission to buy whichever books I’d like with the means I have available to me. I don’t go ridiculously overboard, but I also don’t guilt myself over it either. This year, I bought all my books at great prices, and all of them are books I can’t wait to dive into as soon as possible. I read the Author’s Note of Lauren Groff’s The Monsters of Templeton and fell in love (and had to have it), finally bought myself the hardcover slipcase of the Hogwarts Library, got a few biographies (which I had been craving) and then went to the 50% off sale at a remainder warehouse near my parents place to load up on some books I’ve been lusting after for the last year. No shame, my friends, no shame!
PHEW! And that, is all. I’ve already began a few of my new books and am loving the fresh start on this year’s reading goal. Man, I love books.
Hope you all had a wonderful year, and that you have an even better one about to play out for you in the coming 12 months! Make it a good one :).