I do not think I ever had a wrap up up this late. I debated if I even should still post it and while it’s a bit weird to have a December wrap up go up two days before the January wrap up, I also didn’t want to miss this month because I had a pretty good reading months with three five star reads and only one book I did not really enjoy.
Books I read in December:
I began the month with Just One Night by Lauren Layne (3 out of 5 stars) which was fun but not really all that remarkable. Then I finished the brilliant Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (4.5 out of 5 stars). I am a huge Sally Rooney fan and this book worked for me the same way all her books work for me. I thought it was structurally brilliant with its introspective email chapters and the more aloof third person chapters alternating and give different lenses through which to understand her characters – and her characters are what shine as usual. I didn’t love this as much as Conversations With Friends but more than Normal People I think and I cannot wait to see what she does next, or rather what variation on her theme she dos next. Afterwards I finally finished For The Wolf (Wilderwood #1) by Hannah Whitten (3 out of 5 stars) which took me basically half a year. I adored the beginning with its lush and description heavy writing and its emphasis on atmosphere before all. But after a while I found it indulgent and weirdly vague in what was going on. I also do not love plots that hinge on people just not using their words. The ending intrigues me enough though to want to read the second book in the series. Then I read my first Joan Didion: The Year of Magical Thinking (5 out of 5 stars) which was just as good or even better than I thought it would be. The prose is impeccable, the thoughtful use of repetition and returning to earlier themes and ideas is perfect and the emotional punch is harsh – there is a reason she is counted amongst the best stylists. I want to read as many of her books as possible. Afterwards I finished the very disappointing Fen by Daisy Johnson (2 out of 5 stars) – I was so sure I would love this, as I enjoyed both of her novels but I found this repetitive and sad and weirdly sex negative in its outlook. Then I read another extremely brilliant book: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (5 out of 5 stars). I have not been able to stop thinking about this book but at the same time I have trouble putting my thoughts and feelings into words. This is brilliant. I knew very little going into this book except that I will read anything Emily St. John Mandel writes and as such the book surprised me again and again. It is losely connected to her most recent two novels, Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel, and I love her extended universe so much. She does this better than David Mitchell, whose writing I also adore, and I cannot wait to read whatever comes next. This book is both perfectly structured and compulsively readable, and as always her characterwork is beyond compare. So yes, I loved this. My final book of the year was The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) by Andrea Stewart (4 out of 5 stars) and thankfully one I liked a lot. I thought the premise was excellent and original. There were a couple of really effective reveals as a result of Stewart not being afraid to lean into the creepiness. I did think the book had pacing issues and differently exciting plotlines but I really enjoyed how they all come or did not come together. The cliffhanger really makes me anxious to get to the next book in the series.
Favourite of the Month:
I really had an exceptional reading month. Both The Year of Magical Thinking and Sea o Tranquility surpased my already high expectations. But it is the latter that really blew me away in every possible way. I will have to reread the whole lose trilogy at some point but right now Sea of Tranqulity might be my favourite of the three. It’s better than Station Eleven? Blasphemy but also probably true. She really is on top of her game.
I read seven books, all of which were written by women – one memoir, one short story collection, two fantasy novels (both first in a series), two literary fiction, and one romance novel.