January in Review: Books!

I love books. As you might have noticed, considering I’ve recently renamed this blog to Books & Barbells, after the things I tend to post most about. Although if we were being truthful, it should really be called Books & Diet & Barbells. šŸ˜‰

I also, by extension, have a crush on Goodreads. And they have not made quitting them any easier with their whole year-long-book-reading goal. After hitting a solid 100 read last year, I’ve – of course – upped the ante this year. To 104. Big jump. I know.

Whether or not I hit that arbitrary number, this means a lot of books! In the past, I’ve done sort of quarterly book updates, wherein I corral all the books I’ve read and blurb a little about them and how I felt and share it. Because there’s nothing as pleasing as sharing an awesome read with people. Or a particularly bad one. But with all these books, quarterly won’t do. So I’m going to aim instead for monthly.

And look – it’s February! Which means that it is time for January’s round-up. You can check this post for the way/reasons I rate things. Otherwise, here we go!

4-Hour ChefThe 4 Hour Chef by Timothy Ferriss
3/5 This was my first foray into Ferriss’ mad, mad world – not my last, as you can see below – and I was both impressed and annoyed. He has a lot of good info in here and you can tell he poured a lot of time, effort, and soul into writing this, but… but damn is he all over the place. It reads more like he found a bunch of interesting facts and tidbits and methods and rammed them all into the book without really making sense out of them. It was discombobulating, to say the least. I don’t know whom I’d recommend it to, because I’m still not sure what it was really all about.

In the WoodsIn the Woods by Tana French
4/5 I was introduced to French through the second in her Dublin Murder Squad series and, after thoroughly falling in love with the Likeness, knew I had to read the first one. This story about a detective’s unraveling of his past, a case, and his sanity echoed the same richly evocative words and tones of the Likeness, but it couldn’t quite hold up to the sheer gorgeous gratuity – and it may be wholly unfair to compare the two. That said, it’s an excellent book. And I’m going to read the rest of the series, even if French murders my cats.

Breakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
4/5 Oh, how ignorant I was of this book – I sincerely thought Tiffany’s meant an actual cafe of some sort, not the jewelry store. This was surprisingly good, although mostly a character sketch about Holly Golightly. I did love how she was portrayed as both ephemeral and ridiculous, but that scene with the cat at the end really cinched it.

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4/5 Another classic I was wholly ignorant of. And surprised by. Jane is a strong female character without going overboard or being ridiculous, and still managing to fit in with the morals of her time. I loved her sass and spirit, even if the plot itself was wanting and somewhat, ah, deus ex machina-y. I’d like to try Austen next, although I’ve heard that liking Bronte may mean Austen is a no-go.

Four Hour BodyThe 4 Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss
3/5 Another Ferriss book, very similar in vein to 4 Hour Chef, and with the same faults and charms. I got less out of 4 Hour Body than I did Chef, but mostly because I’m already doing a lot of the things he instructs. At least, in this case, I feel more able to pinpoint who his intended audience was.

The Dog StarsThe Dog Stars by Peter Heller
4/5 Literary sci-fi! In this post-apocalyptic world, whoever is still alive must surely be a scoundrel, and so for Hig it’s a dog-shoot-on-sight-dog world. Until he meets a girl. Of course. I liked this a lot and the only reason it got a 4 instead of a 5 is because it sometimes got bogged down by its own literariness, i.e., it tried too hard at certain points. But it was funny and poignant and I might have – did – cry.

The Old Man and the SeaThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
3/5 Oh, Hemingway. When you say it’s about an old man and the sea, you really, really mean it. This is – sadly – my first introduction to Hemingway and I can certainly see the appeal in his short, quiet sentences and simple words. The Old Man and the Sea is beautiful and stark and sad and hopeless. Mostly hopeless.

Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
3/5 I’m glad to have read this book now instead of in high school like most of the rest of the world. It seems that most teenagers either loved or hated it, and I certainly would have fallen into the latter camp. Even now it’s hard to decide just how to rate this book, because on the one hand I still didn’t like it. But on the other hand, it captures the immature voice and style of a teenager traumatized by the inauthentic and terrified of becoming an adult quite perfectly.


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