Books I Read in December

Know My Name by Chanel Miller
I already mentioned this memoir on my favorite audiobooks for the year, but it bears repeating: I would recommend, and shove this into people's hands if I could. Listening to the harrowing account of a sexual assault victim, the realities of our broken justice system and misogynistic culture, was really hard to stomach. But her story is so important, not just because she was Brock Turner's victim, but because clearly the process is equally terrible and unjust for most sexual assault victims. It is eye opening and hopefully encourages activism and change. Not to mention the fact that her writing is beautiful - I'm not sure if I've ever come across so many brilliant and evocative uses of metaphor. Her comics are also so engaging and I can't wait to see what this amazingly talented woman's future holds. One of the most moving books I've read in YEARS.

Looking for something light and fluffy after Know My Name, I was drawn in by the cute cover and positive reviews. Alas, this story of a woman in dire need of straightening out her life and moving to the country didn't really work for me. There were several threads that I enjoyed: all of the yummy baking, Livvy's relationship with her boss Margaret, and with Martin's father. Honestly, I felt more love between the two of them than the weirdly fraught romantic relationship with Martin. I think it might have been a case of quantity over quality when it came to the plot. Your mileage may vary!

Conviction by Denise Mina
Even though I usually steer away from books described as thrillers, this came recommended by some of my more trusted sources, and even a favorite author: Elin Hilderbrand! When Reese Witherspoon chose it as one of her book club picks, I went ahead and grabbed it from the library before the avalanche of holds began. Mina's writing style was not at all what I was expecting and I found Anna's snarky and mysterious first person narrative to be delightfully engaging. Mina weaves in some astute observations about misogyny and the patriarchy without feeling forced. Conviction manages to be thrilling, dark, funny, melancholy and thought provoking in equal measure. Really glad I picked it up!

What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
As always, Hilderbrand writes such fun, frothy novels with the most amazing sense of place. I have been to the Virgin Islands and it's so transportive to read these books set on St. John, which she clearly holds very dear. As with the first book in this new series, I am definitely invested in the drama of the Steele family even more so - word of warning, this second book ends on quite a cliffhanger!

An Age Of License by Lucy Knisley
Knisley's graphic memoirs are SO ABSORBING and I'm really sad that I'm going to be out of new material soon! This travelogue details her adventures through Europe on a book tour and her anxiety about love and life, which were all very reminiscent of my early 20s. Her vulnerability about her hopes and fears set her books apart. And I thought I had a pretty exciting life of love, travel and city dwelling, back in my younger days. But I feel as if I missed having a love affair with a Swedish dude whilst taking in Paris! Dang! This was an absolutely fun whirlwind of a book.

Recursion by Blake Crouch
I approached this follow up to Dark Matter with some hesitancy, since I really enjoyed his breakout hit. But I shouldn't have worried - I was captivated by Barry and Helena's story from the start. Crouch, again, writes with great cinematic prose. There HAS to be a movie option on this, as well as Dark Matter. There are many parallels to Dark Matter, in addition to it's vivid storytelling, which I love in novels: the idea of multiple lives, whether through time travel or a separate universe, and true love in spite of the these roadblocks. 

Let It Snow by John Green (Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle)
This was the YA-est YA novel I've read in a looooong time. Silly dialogue and high school hi jinks complete with jocks, nerds and cheerleaders. It was cute and fun, though, with a nice dose of diversity and one of those fun 'ties all the characters together in a cool way' endings. Definitely a good pick for a snow day brain candy fix you can read in 24 hours. I think I preferred My True Love Gave to Me, a collection of holiday stories also including John Green's work.


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