Welcome one, welcome all, to my December Wrap Up! Yes, it’s a little late, but it’s nowhere near as late as November’s wrap up was so I think we can count that as a win, right?
December was somehow simultaneously a stressful and uneventful month. As I mentioned in my November Wrap Up, we’re having building work done at our house which means that we’ve moved into my housemate Liz’s parents’ house whilst it’s being done. I’m so grateful for their hospitality but, you know how it is, at some point you just want to get back to your own house and home comforts.
Going back to my parents’ place for Christmas was good but the festive period didn’t feel all that festive because my grandma is really unwell in hospital so that’s made everyone a little bit unsettled. Still, it was nice to have a break from work, and now I’m writing this on the eve of having to go back to work tomorrow, I’m jealous of past me who had the holidays ahead of her. Still, let’s see what I got read in the final month of 2019, shall we?
In December, I read a total of 8 books – 7 fiction and 1 non-fiction – and 1 was a re-read (marked by *). This amounted to 1826 pages in total.
In terms of format: 4 were audiobook, 2 were paperback, 1 was an eARC, and 1 was an ebook. As for genre, 2 were classics, 2 were children’s, 1 was dystopian, 1 was YA contemporary, 1 was non-fiction/memoir, and 1 was contemporary romance.
Onto the books themselves…
The Wall by John Lanchester
Genre: literary fiction; dystopian
Read: 7th – 20th December
Review: This dystopian/speculative novel was… fine. In my opinion, it probably didn’t merit being long-listed for the Man Booker since I’m not sure it was entirely saying anything new or original, but its themes (immigration, border protection etc.) make it extremely “timely” for the climate it is being received in. Still, in terms of the novel itself, it was an easy read with interesting enough world/society building and the characters were likeable and funny, the ending just fell a little short for me.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Genre: young adult; contemporary
Read: 20th – 26th December
Review: This book was so damn adorable and absolutely a YA contemporary set in the modern day; its plot lines are dependent upon the artificial interactions and communities that are built thanks to apps and Twitter (particularly Twitter wars). I loved how in-touch this was with meme culture in particular and I could definitely believe the grilled cheese Internet war that emerged between the big corporate company and the little guy deli. The characters were lovely, funny, believable teenagers, and very likeable. (I’m on the blog tour for this one so I’ll be sure to have a full review up soon!)
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Read: 26th – 27th December
Review: I listened to the audiobook of this and I think it’s definitely the way to go, though it did mean I was unable to highlight passages that felt particularly poignant. Coates’ argument is premised on the idea of how the black body is used (and abused) by society, and this book is basically a letter to his son, advising how to deal with growing up with an often attacked body. Not exactly an “easy read” but certainly an important one.
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Read: 27th – 28th December
Review: An absolutely delightful audiobook, as read by Stephen Fry, and such an adorable read in this format. Paddington bear is a cute and curious creature and his life with the Brown family is one shenanigan after another, making for some very fun scenes to play out as you can see him sinking deeper and deeper into trouble!
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Read: 28th December
Review: It took a few times for me to pick this up to finally read it fully in December. The format feels very episodic, and each chapter feels like a vignette, a snapshot of the lives of the predominantly female population of the fictional northern village of Cranford. This had all the hallmarks of the Elizabeth Gaskell novels I love (North and South and Wives and Daughters) but in a practically bitesize book in comparison, so it felt weirdly comforting and familiar despite the dramatic storylines present in some cases.
Roomies by Christina Lauren *
Genre: contemporary; romance
Read: 28th December
Review: A re-read but one I enjoyed immensely. I previously read this on audiobook so I could still imagine the narrator’s voice for the characters and that made it all the more hilarious. I’d somehow forgotten how compelling the side characters are… which is nothing short of a miracle as Christina Lauren’s side characters are always absolutely wonderful and actually well-developed and integral to the plot. I think that element is actually one of the reasons I enjoy Christina Lauren’s books so much, since a lot of romance books choose to focus solely on the protagonists, at the detriment of building believable family and friends around them. (Full review from 2018)
Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
Read: 30th December
Review: This one was… odd. Certainly not my favourite E.M. Forster but still with elements which I can see are markers of his novels. There was a certain glib humour in this that I also recognised from previously reading Howards End and A Room with a View and, at times, the plot just got wacky and ridiculous and I loved it. However, I think you can tell this was Forster’s first novel and, for me, it just doesn’t quite work in terms of its themes, plot lines, characters, being meshed successfully together at the right tone.
Paddington Abroad by Michael Bond
Read: 30th December
Review: Paddington is back and just as adorable as in the previous stories. I’ll admit, I read this one to fulfil an Around the Year in 52 Books reading challenge when I knew I was short on time, but the narration provided by Hugh Bonneville this time was twee and the story was every bit the ridiculous and fun adventure (this time involving the Tour de France) that you would now expect from the little bear from Peru.
How did your December reading go?
What was your favourite book you read this month?
Please do share in the comments below and let’s chat books!