My year in reading has got off to a good start. These are the books I finished in January.
The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
This was our book club pick and I had to read it fast, so I downloaded both the Kindle and the Audible versions, which helpfully sync so you can alternate. The audio was great, and because this story, set in ancient England back when the Saxons and the Britons were battling it out, has the mythological feel of a fairy tale, it was nice to have it read to me. Themes: memory, forgiveness, what makes a marriage work. I loved the characters and was anxious nothing bad would happen to them. 7.8/10.
The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I started this book way back in 2012, then got distracted by moving to America. I finally picked it back up over Christmas, and really enjoyed the first quarter, which is set on graduation day at Brown in 1982. But, I dunno – after that it got a bit weird, and I found myself distracted by wondering which parts were drawn directly from the author’s experience. I wanted more literature, more discussion of the marriage plot, less science, and more actual romance – doomed or otherwise. 7/10.
Dryland, by Sara Jaffe
I got this as part of my Book Riot Quarterly Box, and knew I wanted to read it straight away. It’s the ’90s, and Julie is finding herself drawn to the swimming world, which swallowed up her brother years ago. This short novel captures the raw emotions of adolescence so well – figuring out your relationship with your parents, friendship, your sexuality. Set in Portland, where it is constantly raining, it was so evocative, and the writing is lovely. 8/10.
Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
This is a great little book about creativity and inspiration. Just what I needed at he start of my writing year – I need to go back and reflect and make notes (and lists!) and put some of his very good advice into practice. 8/10.
Up to this Pointe, by Jennifer Longo
Ballet books are one of my kryptonites, so I overlooked the fact that this is partly set in Antartica, where Harper Scott escapes to find herself or lose herself after (not a spoiler) her dream of dance crumples. And while I loved the parts in San Francisco, the Antartica chapters were enjoyable too, and the descriptions of the penguins almost made me cry. I enjoyed how likeable Harper and her friends and family were, too – a refreshing change from mean girl ballet novels. 8.2/10.