I rounded out 2017 with a solid month of reading in December. I know December can typically be a crazy month for people with all the shopping and the parties, but I try to keep my December sacred. I know I don’t function well when my social life is all over the place, so I said no to some parties (most notably, my work Christmas party) and did just about all of my shopping online the weekend after Thanksgiving, allowing myself to slowly wrap the gifts as the month progressed. All of this also allowed for plenty of reading time as I finished nine books, one of which ended up on my top 10 list for the year. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Top Read of the Month
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (★★★★★) – I was determined to read this book in December, because I was pretty sure it was going to easily make my “Best of 2017” list and I was not disappointed. I wasn’t a fan of Gay’s book, Bad Feminist, but she completely sold me with this novel that is all about what it means to live as a fat person in today’s fat-phobic society. I could relate to so much of what she wrote in this book. I’ve had many of the same experiences, the same thoughts, the same feeling of wishing I could be that rah-rah-body-positive-all-bodies-are-beautiful person, but not exactly being there. And I think that’s what I appreciated most: this was not a book about body positivity, it was not a weight loss book. It is simply a book about what it means to be fat. And it’s the best nonfiction book I read in 2017 – a book I want all of my friends who struggle with their weight to read. (And I think it’s a book that those who don’t struggle with their weight could do well to read to gain a new perspective.)
Top Romance of the Month
Neanderthal Marries Human by Penny Reid (★★★★☆) – This novel is the continuation of Janie and Quinn’s story, who I met for the first time a few months ago when I read Neanderthal Meets Human and fell completely head over heels for these two. I was both excited and not excited to read this book because a) hooray for more Janie and Quinn and b) ugh, do I really want to waste precious reading time on a romance sequel? The good news is, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it was totally worth diving back into their world, as there was some unfinished business that needed to get resolved, such as Quinn’s strained relationship with his parents. This novel follows Janie and Quinn after they are engaged and planning a wedding, and it is as delightful as the first novel. Penny Reid really knows how to write quirky characters that are so darn lovable.
Other Notable Reads
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (★★★★☆) – All of the girls in book club raved about this book, and after reading it, you can add me to the list of someone who absolutely loved this novel. It’s a tough novel to read because it deals with a very difficult subject matter (I can’t be any more specific than that as it’s a spoiler, but sensitive readers who have to be aware of trigger warnings should probably stay away from this one), but Colleen Hoover writes it beautifully. There’s humanity to it. One of my favorite things about the novel is the letters the main characters writes to Ellen DeGeneres. These are basically diary entries, but she frames them as letters to Ellen because it’s easier for her that way. These letters are simple in their language, but complex in their content, and it was such a unique way to tell the backstory. Anyway – It Ends With Us is a story that really needs to be read, in my opinion, and I encourage anyone to pick it up.
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny (★★★★☆) – This is the second book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and I loved it so, so much. There’s something so comforting and cozy about these novels. I’m already beginning to feel like the people of Three Pines are near and dear to me, and there’s no getting around the fact that Gamache is a truly sensational character. This novel follows the investigation of the death of a newcomer to town – someone nobody truly liked because, well, she was wholly unlikable. So there’s the question: who wanted her dead? The townspeople because she was such an awful human being, her husband for the insurance money, or someone else entirely? I guessed the “whodunit” pretty quickly on, but it was fun how Penny unraveled it all at the end.
The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean (★★★★☆) – Another fantastic Regency romance from Sarah MacLean and I’m getting very worried that I’ve almost read all of her novels. What am I going to do with myself when I don’t have a MacLean romance in my queue? This novel begins a new series of hers, although the main character was referenced in a previous novel, so it felt more like a continuation. This novel follows Sophie right after she’s publicly shamed her brother-in-law after she caught him kissing a woman who is not her sister. Sophie becomes scorned by society and flees in the night, masquerading herself as a boy and riding on the back of a carriage. Turns out, the carriage she’s on belongs to infamous rogue, Marquess of Eversley, and thus begins their story. A story that has the most perfect enemies-to-lovers trope, a feisty heroine that I just adored, and a grumpy marquess who cannot help but be charmed by Sophie. It was perfection.
Other December reads: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis (★★★☆☆), Rising Strong by Brene Brown (★★★☆☆), New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan (★★★☆☆), Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (★★☆☆☆), and Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis (★★★☆☆).
What was the best book you read in December?