What I read in January

I started off my reading with two fiction and two non-fiction books this year.

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova (★★★★★)

This is a story about a pianist with ALS and the havoc the disease causes for his entire family. His ex-wife, a pianist herself, steps up as his caretaker. The story beautifully written, detail-oriented (we sometimes feel like we’re in the room with him, his thoughts, and his failing body) and simultaneously explores the progression of the disease and the aftermath of his failed marriage and the regrets and hopes he has, as the end of his life is approaching.

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride (★★★★☆)

If a memoir about coming out as transgender isn’t enough in a climate where transgender people still face discrimination and non-acceptance, Sarah McBride takes on Washington politics as an advocate for transgender rights, while falling in love, getting married and losing her (also transgender) husband to cancer at the age of twenty-four. I mean, if you’ve been through that, you can pretty much handle anything, I’d assume.

I felt myself rooting for her in every aspect of her life throughout the book and hope she’ll continue to spread hope. Through her candid openness and honesty, I feel that I have a better understanding about some of the complexities and nuances of being transgender in America today.

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon (★★☆☆☆)

This book was okay, the plot intriguing and sporadically engaging, but overall I just couldn’t really get into Kwon’s style of writing. It’s not bad per se, but the narration was split between three people (in alternating chapters) who meet at prestigious Edwards University: Will, who recently left a Bible college, Phoebe, a Korean immigrant who his coping with her mother’s death, and John Leal, the leader of an extremist cult. However, in each chapter, the narrator is  actually just one and the same person, Will, who is writing about the other two from his perspective. While we do get a bit of insight about Phoebe (his girlfriend), John, the cult leader that Phoebe starts to follow, mostly stays in the dark and it made for an odd, broken up flow of narration. I often felt like I wasn’t getting the “whole story” (maybe that was the point?).

This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America by Jeff Nesbit. (★★★★☆)

You guys, I can’t say that I enjoyed this book, but it’s a book everyone should read. Science is real, climate change is real and we are all in this together. The sooner people get that, the sooner we can all advocate for our planet. Jeff Nesbit is not a scientist, so his book is easy to follow even for non-scientists. While engaging, it honestly isn’t the greatest writing either (sometimes I felt things were obsessively repeated for no other reason as to get another “citation” in), but he touches on all the important parts that we’ve all heard about: from animals nearing extinction, disappearing glaciers, more capricious weather (more severe flooding, droughts, fire, and wind events) to desertification, water and food scarcity, and emerging conflicts.

Since I work in science and am directly plugged into what’s happening to the aquifer system in California’s Central Valley, I know this is not all fear mongering. These things are happening right now.   Nesbit talks about what’s going on in the world (including the military conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Somalia) with an urgency that should make everybody sit up and take notice because riots and wars and refugee crises are intricately connected to the changing climate of our planet.

What did you read in January? Anything you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment, and then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.

  1. Tomorrow Will Be Different sounds heartbreaking, yet powerful, and I’m pretty sure I need to read it. Plus, I just love that title.


  2. I’m glad you liked “Every Note Played” – I also gave that book 5 stars and I am pretty stingy with my 5 star ratings! It was such a well-written book and really shows you how awful ALS is. :(

    The best book I read in January was “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. I was so sad when the book was over. It was such a great reading experience. She’s so relatable! So I highly recommend reading it!!

  3. Every Note Played sounds like a good read, I haven’t heard of it so I’ll have to add it to my list. I’m curious about the other ones too and I agree that This Is How the World Ends is an important read.

  4. I have not heard of any of these books, but I am so behind on reading these days. They all sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I read Where The Crawdads Sing and I’ll Be There For You: The book about Friends. Loved the first, and liked the second. The Incendiaries is on my TBR, but I have issues with alternating narrators as well.

  6. Ooh, thank you so much for these reviews/ you did some great reading in January. I’d love to read Every Note Played and Tomorrow will be Different. The book about climate change looks great, too—it’s so sad what is becoming of this planet but hope people are starting to take notice. I mean, are they? I’m not so sure, but I do know there is a need for books like this one.

  7. Tomorrow Will Be Different sounds good – I’m currently reading a book about a family who had two twin sons and one of them is trans.

  8. I’ve read „Vergiss kein einziges Wort“ a historical novel which takes place in Silesia after WWI and covers events and life until the 60s. I think you might enjoy it. I’ve learnt a lot about life back then but maybe it was especially interesting for me as my grandmother was born in that area.

  9. I think I really need to read This Is How the World Ends, even though it will probably give me nightmares. If only we could get it in the hands of climate change deniers, though!

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