Books Read

January Reads

I slacked off a bit on reading in January. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, it was cold, we weren’t doing much of anything else, it was the perfect time to be reading. I just got lazy and sucked into a bit of streaming of TV shows I guess! But, I did finish two good books in January, so that’s better than nothing! Here are the two books I read and my thoughts on them.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. I have fallen in love with Kristin Hannah’s writing and I saw this at the library and thought it would be a good winter read. The story follows two sisters who couldn’t be more different – Meredith who married her high school sweetheart and takes over the family’s orchard business and Nina, a photojournalist who travels the world covering stories in war torn countries. Nina comes home when their father suddenly becomes ill and passes away. On his death bed, he makes Meredith and Nina promise they will try to get to know their cold, secretive Russian mother. Neither girl ever had much of a connection with their mother growing up other than listening to Russian fairy tales she would tell. Their father asks their mother to tell them the fairy tale one final time and to finally tell them the ending. It takes some time after his passing, but eventually their mother begins to open up and finally let the girls in on secrets from her past. Throughout the process, each woman learns something about herself and they all grow closer together by the end of the book.

This was a great story about family and relationships. It had a nice amount of intrigue about the mother’s secret history that kept you wanting to turn pages. Once again, I’ve fallen in love with Kristin Hannah’s writing style. I’ll be looking for another book of hers soon!

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. This was the chosen book for the beer book club I attempted to join this last month. More on why I say “attempted” in a little bit. Anyway, my library had a copy of this and it’s been on my to-read list so I was happy to give it a spin. This book follows a duel timeline. In present day it follows the character Marisol, who travels to Cuba under the guise of doing a tourist piece for her magazine, but in truth is there to spread her beloved grandmother’s ashes. The other timeline follows Marisol’s grandmother Elisa as an 18 year old in 1950’s Cuba, a time of turmoil and uncertainty and how her family ends up escaping to the United States. During her time in Cuba, Marisol works to learn more about her grandmother’s life in Cuba to help her best discover where her final resting place should be. She stays with her grandmother’s best friend and meets her grandson, who will teach her about Cuba – and about herself.

I loved the way this was presented, through flashbacks to Elisa’s life and back to present day as Marisol uncovers history and secrets of her grandmother’s past. I also enjoyed that there is a love story in both timelines. I also learned a lot about Cuba which was quite fascinating as well. It was overall an enjoyable read and one I couldn’t put down. I see that the author is releasing a second book that follows the life of one of Marisol’s aunts/Elisa’s sister. I’d be curious to see a different character’s perspective so I’ll be looking for that when it comes out!

Both books were quite good and actually had some similarities with love stories and history, so it was easy to flow from one book to the next. I didn’t plan it that way, it was a happy coincidence I guess!

And now a word about my “attempts” at book clubs. I really love the idea of book clubs – friendships and a chance to talk about books? Yes please. But, I have a hard time keeping up with them. Part of it is I feel a little like it’s school – I have to finish a book by a certain time. If it’s a book I didn’t choose it can feel like a chore. The other part is fitting meetings into my already somewhat busy schedule. Sometimes I have to pick and choose what I’m going to do and book club has been the easiest one to let go of. I’m thankful my Feminist book club has let me stay on as casual member. I get their book list and if I can make it to the meeting I’m always welcome to drop in, but I’m not pressured to do so. Otherwise I’ve decided to accept that maybe book clubs are just not for me, at least not right now. And that’s ok.

Have you read anything good lately?

8 thoughts on “January Reads

  1. Oh, both of these books look really good! I haven’t heard of either of these authors but always looking for new reads and love that history plays a pivotal role in both. Have you ever read Devil in the White City? One of my favorite historical fiction books EVER and it’s about Chicago and the world’s fair and a serial murderer and it is fascinating! I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama now and love love love it so much. Also that’s my reason for not joining a book club, too. I have a hard time with imposed deadlines!!

  2. Glad to hear you read a couple of good ones! I haven’t heard of Next Year in Havana but it sounds intriguing! I like the idea of book clubs too although until recently I was never able to make one work. Either I’d read the book and no one else would, or finding a time to meet would be too hard. Now I just do a “book club” with one of my good friends, and because it’s just the two of us it works out really well. We just get together when both of us have finished the book, and there’s no pressure to finish at a certain time. It’s great!

  3. Next Year in Havana sounds really good! I like online book clubs because they’re easier to fit into my schedule. I can watch a video or check a discussion when I have the time.

  4. I’ve always been a fan of Kristin Hannah (even though Fly Away was my least favourite book I’ve read in a long time). Winter Garden sounds great and I’m keen to give it a go.
    I’ve never belonged to a book club and they sound like fun. But I don’t like feeling like I’m back at school with homework!

  5. Both of these books sound so good! I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t picked up a book in over a month. I have my book club book sitting on our kitchen table, along with another I picked up at the library. I just haven’t been in a reading mood. I do like my book club, but I completely understand what you mean about the book choice and time limit. I often skip mine if I’m overbooked too.

  6. These both sound great. It makes me want to start reading again and then I just don’t get to any of my list and I feel sad. I need to find a way to make books apart of my daily life again. I am slowly finding times for this all.

  7. Two books are better than none, especially if you enjoyed them. I’m in a book club through my local library and I love it because you’re able to go even if you don’t read the book. It’s just fun.

    -Lauren

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *