Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Read-at-Home Report: January 2022 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

I finished 22 books in January, which is more than I read in any single month of 2021. I have decided to just read however much I feel like reading this year and not worry about trying to read under a certain number. I'm pretty pleased with the variety of these titles, and I no longer feel guilty about the fact that almost all of them were audiobooks that I listened to at triple speed. I regret nothing.  

Started in 2021

The Family Under the BridgeThe Ignatius Bible: Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson (3 stars) was my Christmas read-aloud with my six-year-old. We finished it just after the new year so it got counted as my first read of the new year. I also read most of the Bible in 2021 along with the Bible in a Year podcast. I fell behind over Christmas, so I didn't finish the podcast until the first week of January, so the Bible got counted as a 2022 book as well. 

40 Re-reads Before 40

A Separate PeaceTo Kill a MockingbirdThe Rainmaker

My big reading project this year is counting down to my 40th birthday in November with 40 re-reads. I kicked off the challenge with three favorites from high school. A Separate Peace (5 stars) was assigned reading in tenth grade and To Kill a Mockingbird (5 stars) in eleventh grade. Both were every bit as good as I remembered, though A Separate Peace was much more stressful this time around because I knew what was going to happen and was just waiting for the tragedy to occur. I read The Rainmaker (4 stars) in 9th grade for fun, and I was pretty surprised at how well that held up, too. The only thing that was different was that, with the benefit of age, I saw the main character's naivete much more clearly; to fourteen-year-old me, the twenty-something protagonist seemed so wordly and sophisticated.  


The Enormous EggThe Vanderbeekers of 141st StreetMozart, the Wonder Boy

I read The Enormous Egg (5 stars) with my six-year-old in the evenings. It was a re-read for me (thought not for my project) and it was fun seeing her reaction to it for the first time. At lunch time, I read aloud and also played some chapters from the audiobook from The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (4 stars) by Karina Yan Glaser. I had originally read this when it first came out, and since it doesn't have objectionable content, I decided to share it with my kids. They enjoyed it enough that I plan to preview the sequels to see if they are appropriate too. Mozart the Wonder Boy (4 stars) was the spine for our January composer study in our homeschool.

Challenges and Book Clubs 

ShakespeareThe Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian NationWait Till Next Year: A MemoirYou Can’t Be SeriousDeath on the NileThe Other Side of SilenceThe Girl Who Drank the Moon

I read Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (5 stars) for the #bardalongbooklclub2022 on Instagram, but really struggled to break into the discussion. This is a problem I have with most Instagram discussion groups, and I'm thinking of just quietly dropping out and reading the plays on my own for the rest of the year. This book was very enjoyable and I wish it had been around when I was in college. It covers everything I wanted to know and was not taught in my college Shakespeare class.

My local book club read The Benedict Option (3 stars). I had some issues with it, mainly because of the author's doom and gloom rhetoric about the future and because he didn't present a clear method for establishing a Benedict Option community. It was great fodder for our book club discussion, however. 

The theme for #WorldFullofBooks on Instagram was memoirs, and I read two. Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin (5 stars) reflects on her childhood as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and it reminded me so much of my dad who told many stories about the Dodgers when I was growing up. You Can't Be Serious by Kal Penn (4 stars) was mostly very funny - and the author's audiobook narration was entertaining too - but there were a few vulgar jokes that I could have done without so I only gave it four stars. 

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (3 stars) was the January read on the Close Reads podcast. I loved the discussions on the podcast, but didn't love the book. I'm coming to realize detective fiction may just not be my genre. 

I'm also doing two challenges with monthly prompts. The Read Your Bookshelves challenge is hosted by Chantel Reads All Day on YouTube, and the January prompt was a book with a quiet word in the title. My husband suggested The Other Side of Silence by Margaret Mahy (3 stars), and it was good right up until it took a bizarre turn 30 pages from the end. What a strange story. The Buzzword Reading Challenge is hosted by another booktuber, Books and Lala and the prompt for this one was the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. I read The Girl Who Drank the Moon (3 stars), which is also a Newbery winner. It was fine, but not very memorable. 

Mood Reading


Love Stories in This TownFurious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper LeeEight Perfect HoursA Deadly EditionJulie of the Wolves

Finally, these are the books I picked up on a whim throughout the month. 
  • Love Stories in this Town (3 stars) was a collection of short stories that focused heavily on infertility and motherhood. Some stories were great; others not so much. 
  • Furious Hours (5 stars) is a nonfiction book about a true crime book Harper Lee started writing and never finished. It made me really interested in Harper Lee's life and also made me want to read more Truman Capote. 
  • Eight Perfect Hours (5 stars) is a romance novel, and I was really surprised by its emotional depth. I normally don't like books that rely heavily on coincidence but this one made me gasp in happy surprise and it is probably my favorite book of the year so far.
  • I DNFed A Deadly Edition (2 stars) months ago when I had the digital ARC from Netgalley but tried it again on audio this month. I ended up giving it two stars, and I'm probably not going to continue the series. 
  • Julie of the Wolves (3 stars) is another Newbery winner. It was not at all what I expected, and thought the writing is strong, the ending felt unsatisfying. 
  • Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne (4 stars) is a romance novel I had from Netgalley. It's based on My Fair Lady, except that the male character plays the Eliza Doolittle role. I like this author's writing a lot, and I appreciate that many of her romances are clean, but I didn't like this quite as much as her 2021 release, To Sir with Love.

As for the rest of the family's reading....

R. (22-month-old boy): 
  • Gus by Olivier Dunrea 
  • Trucks by Richard Scarry 
  • Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
  • Green Tractor by Kersten Hamilton 
A. (22-month-old girl): 
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar's First Winter by Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Breakfast by Eric Carle 
E. (4-year-old girl): 
  • Because a Little Bug Went Kerchoo by Dr. Seuss writing as Rosetta Stone 
  • Who's A Pest? by Crosby Bonsall 
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss 
  • Piggle by Crosby Bonsall 
  • The Adventures of Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
  • Come and Have Fun by Edith Thacher Hurd 
  • What Have I Got? by Michael McClintock
  • Thunderhoof by Syd Hoff
  • Chester by Syd Hoff 
  • Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner 
  • Mine's the Best by Crosby Bonsall 
  • I Am Better Than You by Robert Lopshire 
  • Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire 
  • Who Will Be My Friends? by Syd Hoff
  • A Fly Went By by Michael McClintock
  • Tales of Oliver Pig by Jean van Leeuwen 
(These are just some highlights. She read 40 books in January!)

C. (6-year-old girl): 
  • The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting  
  • Sarah Somebody by Louis Slobodkin 
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (still in progress)
  • First Grade Friends series by Miriam Cohen  
M. (8-year-old girl): 

  • Catherine the Great by Katharine Scherman 
  • The Flight and Adventures of Charles II by Charles Norman
  • Captain Cook and the South Pacific by Oliver Warner 
  • Stowaway by Karen Hesse (still in progress) 
My husband: 
  • The Lamplighter's Funeral by Leon Garfield
  • Mirror, Mirror by Leon Garfield
  • Moss and Blister by Leon Garfield
  • The Cloak by Leon Garfield 
  • The Valentine by Leon Garfield 
  • Labour in Vain by Leon Garfield 
  • The Fool by Leon Garfield 
  • Rosy Starling by Leon Garfield 
  • The Summa Domestica by Leila Lawler 

Up Next For Me

In February, I'm planning to read As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner with Close Reads (which could also count for the Buzzword Reading Challenge prompt of a book with a pronoun in the title), The Tempest with the Bardalong Book Club,  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje as one of my 40 re-reads, The End of the Affair by Graham Green for the #WorldFullofBooks modern classics theme, Amos Fortune Free Man by Elizabeth Yates as a read-aloud, and A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings, which I have on audio from Netgalley, and which will count for the Read Your Bookshelves challenge prompt of a book with love in the title. 

I'm adding this post to the link-up for An Open Book at 

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