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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Reading challenge 2021 Check-in: January

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

Alphabet challenge

"A": Attenberg, Jami- All This Could Be Yours

"B": Berg, Elizabeth- Tapestry of Fortunes

Nonfic: Cheever, Susan- American Bloomsbury

Goodreads: Wilson, Kevin- Nothing to See Here

My easy challenges are an alphabet challenge, in which I check out a book from each alphabet section in adult fiction twice a month, a book from my Goodreads list once a month, and a nonfiction/YA/junior book once a month. I didn't start one of my harder challenge books this month because I still had other library books checked out from December. So, I thought I'd start easy, and I was doing really well until Jan. 6th, and then I hardly read anything but the news for about a week. But I ended up getting through my list.

I read a few other books, and checked more out at the library. It was hard to go to the shelves and try to get one from the A's but I managed it, but then I checked out three from the B's. I got one that I realized was on my Goodreads list, so I picked up another and then saw that it wasn't there because of the author's last name; it's a Best American Mystery stories collection. So I got a third, the Elizabeth Berg book.

I had a little trouble getting into All This Could Be Yours but I enjoyed it in the end. There were some things about American Bloomsbury that I wasn't crazy about, but I listened to it in the car and while I was knitting. It's short, 7 hours as an audio book. Nothing to See Here went by fast. It was funny, which I needed. I didn't think I was going to get through the last book, Tapestry of Fortunes, but it was pretty short, and I finished with a couple of days to spare.

All This Could Be Yours: This books switches perspective with each chapter, and two or three times it switched to someone not clearly related to the main story. I thought for awhile that a family with two adult children had three adult children because it wasn't clear that it had switched out of the family. I caught up eventually. It's a real #metoo book, about the damage a bad man can do, specifically in this case to his wife and kids. It's also about the women in his family with complicated feelings about him, about his work, and how he treats them.

American Bloomsbury: This is a group biography of Concord, Mass. at the time of Emerson and Thoreau. It keeps going into their romantic relationships and not talking about their work as much. I think it's supposed to make them seem more human, but I'd rather hear about their work. Also, at one point it said that the status of married women back then was almost as bad as enslaved people. I don't know from the narration if that is what one of those people wrote in a journal or article, or if the author had that opinion. Either way... it's a reach. I think she was making a point about their lack of legal rights, but it was not the same. Also, it's always describing the weather and the scenery. I guess it's possible to know about these things from journal entries and almanacs, but it doesn't add anything for me. I wonder if I'd like it better if I was reading instead of listening. I am learning a good deal about their personal lives. I learned alot about Margaret Fuller, who I'd always heard of, but only vaguely. She was pretty interesting. Reader: Kate Reading

Nothing to See Here: How can a book about two troubled kids be this funny? Actually, it's about one troubled 28-year-old and two troubled kids. Lillian has been asked by her high school best friend, Madison, to be a governess to Madison's two step-children, who burst into flames when they're upset. It's all light-hearted until Lillian actually meets the two children. She begins to question the whole arrangement and her role in it. This was really good. I went through it so fast. (Light-hearted has been underlined by spell-check, and one of the suggested replacements is light-heated, which for this book is pretty spot-on. But I'm keeping light-hearted.)

Tapestry of Fortunes: If this wasn't a challenge book, I'd probably have ditched it on page 25. Two characters having two different conversations used the word meaningful two pages in a row. The MC writes advice books and gives motivational talks, and I think this is self-help fiction. Lots of characters working through fairly shallowly-described problems and everything works out right for everyone, and even a dying character gets a sort-of happy ending. I don't read this sort of thing, something that might be described as feel-good or heart-warming very often, and now I remember why. But it was short and an easy read.

I've got three books checked out for next month's challenge reads already, and I like having something to give my reading some structure. I'm probably going to start taking two books off my Goodreads list each month instead of one. At the rate that I add books, two will at least make a dent. 12 in a year, plus a handful from the YA and nonfiction lists, won't make much difference.

I also still have a few books checked out from December. I tried a couple of them today and I don't know if I'll keep going, but I'm probably going to switch to The Midnight Library soon, and I'm looking forward to that.

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