December Reading Recap and 2019 Challenges

Finished out the year strong, with 223 total books; wrapped up the Pop Sugar Challenge and my reading challenge for work. 20 of those books were completed in December (with 1 DNF); 8 fiction/12 non-fiction.

Completed in December:

  1. The Things They Carried (fiction, paperback). This was part of a (very heavy) module on perspective and the Vietnam War for my Stories and Creative Leadership class. Not a book I’d have picked up on my own, for certain, but it fit nicely within the context for this course.
  2. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (nonfiction, audio). I did not know going in that this was the book that kicked off the barefoot running movement; I picked it up solely because it was a book about running, and was available at the library. It was entertaining, I guess? Not really something I’d recommend.
  3. SAFe 4.6 Introduction (nonfiction, ebook). I’m completely fascinated by this method of scaling Scrum; it’s definitely best-suited to large enterprise applications with multiple interconnected projects, which means I won’t likely have a chance to use this anytime soon, but it’s nice to have in my back pocket.
  4. Appetites: A Cookbook (nonfiction, hardcover). Oh, Tony. I wrote my final paper for Stories and Creative Leadership on Anthony Bourdain. Doing the research tore my heart apart, especially this one, which he wrote for his daughter.
  5. No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach. (nonfiction, hardcover). A beautiful journey in candid photographs from the first few seasons of No Reservations, including the fated trip to Beirut.
  6. What if it’s Us. (fiction, ebook). I’m still squeeing over this book, which starts as a meet-cute between two teenage boys at a post office. As I noted on Goodreads, I can’t remember a book that captures the rush and awkwardness of love as sweetly and as honestly as this did. PERFECTION. A++, would recommend.
  7. The Bobby Gold Stories (fiction, hardcover, DNF). I hadn’t read any of Bourdain’s fiction prior to this, and I don’t know that I’ll try anymore. This felt forced and awkward, and completely devoid of Bourdain’s signature flair.
  8. We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time (nonfiction, audio). I happened to pick this up at the right time, not knowing that this book was encouraged by Bourdain and released under his imprint. What Chef Andrés did for the people of Puerto Rico is positively beautiful; the fact that it was at all necessary is absolutely disgusting. Puerto Rico is part of this country. Its people deserve the same  relief aid as any other citizens.
  9. Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (nonfiction, ebook). Neil Gaiman writing about Douglas Adams and HHG, including its ties to Doctor Who. It’s like my inner fangirl commissioned this book. If you’re a fan of HHG or Douglas Adams, I highly recommend it.
  10. Becoming (nonfiction, ebook). I absolutely loved how candid this book was. It felt like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long, long time, and getting to hear all the amazing things right alongside the little annoyances like their spouse leaving his dirty laundry everywhere (and deciding to run for president). This book wasn’t necessarily heartwarming or inspirational, but it was positively refreshing. I hope for her sake that Michelle is now enjoying the quiet, orderly life at home with family that she craved all those years in the political spotlight.
  11. How the Dukes Stole Christmas (fiction, ebook). I adored the first two stories, liked the second, and disliked the last, which seems on par for a collection. This did kick off a chunk of time where all I read was historical romance, so that was a fun way to spend the holidays.
  12. Crooked Heart (fiction, paperback). Like so many book club picks, this was not something I’d have chosen for myself; it’s definitely not something I’d revisit. If you’re a fan of WWII stories and complex but unlikeable characters, you might enjoy this.
  13. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (fiction, ebook). I can see now how much Sarah MacLean has improved as an author since her first series, but this was still entertaining enough that I read all three books in the series in one shot. I did love seeing how her other series connected into this one. Funny, feminist historical romance.
  14. Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (fiction, ebook). Unsurprisingly, the sequel to Nine Rules.
  15. Collaborative Leadership: Building Relationships, Handling Conflict, and Sharing Control (nonfiction, hardcover). Meh. Mostly dry and tedious. Collaboration was much better.
  16. Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature (nonfiction, hardcover). I wanted this book to be, effectively, what my Stories and Creative Leadership class was. Instead, this kind of fell flat for me. It’s not bad, it just not what I wanted.
  17. Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (nonfiction, audio). Once my paper was done, I decided to listen to two of Bourdain’s books, both read by the author. This was post-Beirut, post-fatherhood Bourdain…I cried. A lot.
  18. Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart (fiction, ebook). The third in the series, and probably my last historical romance for a bit, mostly because I’ve hit the end of MacLean’s catalog.
  19. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships (nonfiction, ebook). I became really interested in NVC after reading John Lewis’ book Walking with the Wind earlier this year, so I grabbed a spot in the library’s hold list for this one. There were definitely good tidbits in here, but this seemed to be more of a therapeutic/fluffy take on NVC than Lewis’, so I plan to keep looking.
  20. Kingdom of Needle and Bone (fiction, hardcover). I wanted this book so badly I accidentally pre-ordered it twice! Imagine a world where a doctor providing vaccinations to children is as controversial as a doctor providing abortions is today. Protests, bulletproof glass windows at the office, the whole she-bang. Now imagine that world from the perspective of someone who writes absolutely chilling medical-driven horror, and you have a small peek at what Mira Grant has done here. A++, would recommend.
  21. The White Darkness (nonfiction, ebook). A look at exploration and what drives the people who put their lives on the line to do so. Well-written and a quick read.

So what’s next?

I spent some time over the holidays cleaning up and consolidating my TBR lists, and realized what a diverse list of books I have on my lists and on my shelves. Instead of taking on canned reading challenges, my goal is to read through as much of my TBR as possible. I’m defining that as anything added to my Goodreads to-read shelf prior to the first of the year (so that I can’t cheat by adding new things to the list and reading them immediately), and/or any books I already own. Things on my Litsy to-read shelf don’t count, because I had to draw the line somewhere; neither do my library wishlists.  It will never be exclusively TBRs, that would be more frustrating than I want, but I’m going to try to keep that percentage high.

I don’t have an particular number in mind this year – I kept my Goodreads reading goal at 100, but that’s normal for me. I don’t know if I’ll have more reading time or less this year, between school and hopefully some other changes coming along, so the plan is just to read.

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