Best Reads of January 2019

February 13, 2019 in Books

Every summer we’re flooded with articles shouting “TOP SUMMER READS!!! Take these books to the beach/lakehouse/any warm, relaxing place!”

But where are all the winter reads at? Winter isn’t a popular time for reading, probably because nobody has time until summer vacation rolls around. Luckily for you, I was able to squeeze some books into my very busy January. Here’s what I read that you should check out.

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

I was so excited to finally get my hands on this book— thanks to Sophia for sharing it with me and sparing me from the 800 person long library holds list. Ask my husband how fast I read it (days? It was probably days).

Obama offers many wonderful thoughts and ideas on working motherhood and the “having it all” mentality, but it’s very much a “this happened, and then that happened, and then we went here, and then we did this” type of book. Don’t get me wrong, it was still really interesting to learn about her life and her family. I think I expected something different, something less linear and more introspective.

Her reserve is understandable given the amount of unwarranted and truly mean criticism she’s received as a black woman in the public eye. I wish she could have felt safe to share more of her private life and thoughts (although, of course, I know we’re not entitled to them). Becoming is still a very worthwhile read.

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

I discovered author Drew Magary after I went looking for this year’s Haters Guide to the William-Sonoma catalog (link is to last year’s, unfortunately he suffered an injury and there is no 2018 hater’s guide). I never knew he was novelist, so finding these books was a happy surprise.

What would happen to the world if we discovered the cure for aging? The Postmortal is a post-apocalyptic novel that takes a realistic approach to societal changes caused by immortality. Things end about where you’d expect (mass inequality, plagues, families separated, etc) so it’s definitely not a light read.

The Immortalists

I technically read this at the very end of December, after I wrote my 2018 book post (shhhh), but it’s too good not to share. I’m pretty picky about “family” novels– some are so dull! The very slight supernatural twist in this book makes it worth reading.

The Immortalists is a sweeping family drama about four siblings who go to a fortune teller and find out the exact date of their death. They’re left questioning if the prediction is real and, if it is, how they should live their lives knowing that the clock is ticking.

The Hike

I liked The Postmortal so much that I decided to see what else Drew Magary has written. The Hike is a fun read – a postmodern twist on The Odyssey – and a great book if you need a break from heavier reading.

I wasn’t keen on the ending: it felt too neat and predictable. The whole book was a page turner though, with an interesting surprise in every chapter.

Honorable Mentions

I started a few nonfiction books that I couldn’t finish before they were due back to the library, including Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly (so, so good) and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. They are both worth a look or, if you don’t have time for the full book, both authors have written articles on similar topics.

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