What I’ve Been Reading: January 2019

Every month I share a quick review of the books I’ve finished and the podcasts I really loved.  

I didn’t start off this year with a specific numerical reading goal in mind.  For the past few years I’ve set my goal at 60 books, knowing I would easily read that many (and more).  It was a little ridiculous, but it felt like a huge win to so clearly knock it out of the park like that.

In 2017 I read 73 books and in 2018, I read 91.

I decided to make my 2019 reading goal less numerically based and concentrate instead on getting to the poor, neglected books on my own bookshelves that tend to go overlooked in favor of the new, shiny books from the library.  (Also, library books have a definite deadline attached, that’s helpful to me.)

I have a whole stack of books I already own that I’d really like to get to this year. What would you recommend that I read first from this stack?

But can I tell you a secret?  I have a fairly ambitious clandestine reading goal this year. I’d secretly really like to read 100 books in 2019.  It seems like such a monumental accomplishment to me.  But I’m keeping it on the down low. (Does it count as being “down-low” if I announce it on a blog? )

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.  And, as always, I’d love to hear what’s on YOUR nightstand!

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

This was a well-told story. I’ve discovered that I love narratives that switch back and forth between two (or more) perspectives.  This book fits that bill.  It’s about the power of love and the importance of family.  It’s based on a horrifically true story of Georgia Tann, the mother of adoption in the US. Unfortunately Ms. Tann’s motives were not all above board and over about 30 years she stole 5000 babies from parents who loved and wanted them. and sold them for adoption.  The book doesn’t dwell on her story, but on a fictionalized family affected by her.  I’ve been inspired to learn more about her.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Pretty funny in spots, a little overly stereotypical in others.  It was a fun, quick read. Just what you’d expect from Jim Gaffigan.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

It took me a little while to get into this one.  I didn’t feel super attached to the characters for much of the book, but the last 1/4 or so was more interesting to me. It takes place during the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1793 and paints a pretty realistic picture of what life would have been like during such a scary time.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

Love the premise of this book: writing letters to the books that have influenced your life.  Some of the letters were laugh-out-loud funny, a few of them were too crude for my taste.  All in all I really liked it.  And there was some strong language.  I’m usually able to glance over bad language in most cases.

The Dry by Jane Harper

Intense. I don’t often read murder mysteries because I tend to get too invested in the story.   This one sucked me right in.  It’s full of difficult themes and really horrific crimes.  The storytelling is compelling and the characters are multi-faceted.  Kept me guessing.

Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Fun, beautifully illustrated little book. Perfect for a quick cozy, mid-winter read. And perfect for the cold, cold mountain valley we live in.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I’m still slowly working my way through the Harry Potter series on audiobook.  This is a re-read for me, but it’s been quite a long time since I read it.  I was surprised at how much I had forgotten. Jim Dale is my all-time favorite narrator.  And this is a delightful world to visit again.

Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson

This was a read aloud for our History curriculum.  It was just okay for me.  It took us a long time to get through because none of us really loved it.

Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Lasy year’s Newbery award winner.  I didn’t love it like I was hoping to, but it was still an enjoyable book with lovable characters.   I love a book told from multiple perspectives and this story features four main characters.  It covers a lot of great themes, but especially bullying.  It’s good to make you aware of how the people who are bullied feel, as well as why the bully acts the way they do.

Little Britches by Ralph Moody

This was a book club read.  I was certain I had read this before, but I must have only started it and never finished because  a lot of the story was new to me.  It’s a similar feel to Little House on the Prairie, but maybe even a better fit for older readers.  It’s a great look into the lives of a family trying to make a life as ranchers.  Awesome examples of great parenting abound in this book. 


My 14 year old and I have been listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text lately.  I was a little worried, based on the title, that it might be sacrilegious. So we listened to the first episode cautiously.  But it’s actually quiet delightful.  It’s a deep dive, chapter by chapter, into each of the Harry Potter books.  One chapter per week studied through a specific theme (love, curiosity, courage, etc.).  Both my daughter and I LOVE it.
I also recently discovered the He Read, She Read podcast.  It’s a fun take on a book recommendation podcast.  And I can’t get enough book recommendations!

What have you been reading/listening to lately?