January 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

What a great start to the new year and to my #2019ReadingChallenge goal of 52 books! I started off ahead of schedule this month and am excited to keep it going. Below are all of the books that I read in January in order of rating, highest to lowest. I also threw in some stats that I plan on tracking throughout the year.

If you’re worried about spoilers at all, read my disclaimer here. The gist is that I will never intentionally spoil a book or its ending, but when giving a brief summary and my overall thoughts, I’ll be covering the basic plot which you may prefer not to read. In that case, stop after you see my rating!

This month’s quick stats:
6 books
2,136 pages
4 authors (1 female)
2 nonfiction | 4 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
6 books
2,136 pages
4 authors (1 female)
2 nonfiction | 4 fiction

Book Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 163
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Brief Summary: This novel follows a middle-aged man named Tony as he reminisces on stories from his childhood through early adulthood. He recounts his experiences making friends, losing friends, and dealing with the consequences of his actions that are affecting him to this day. I’d go into more detail, but trust me when I say it’s better not knowing ahead of time.

My Thoughts: This book is short but packs a real punch. To me it was very reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower: introspective, nostalgic, a little slow-rolling, with an ending that took me by surprise and left me thinking about it for days afterwards. This book is for you if you want a quick read that will provoke some self-reflection and a little bit of mind f***-ery.

Book Title: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 527
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: Rachel and Nick are a young adult couple living in New York when Nick decides to bring Rachel home to Singapore to meet his family. There, Rachel finds out that Nick’s family is “crazy rich” and filled with all kinds of family drama. We get to read about it not only from Rachel and Nick’s perspectives, but through the perspectives of other family members as well.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book for what it is: a light-hearted, comedic novel making fun of family dynamics. I flew through it (despite being over 500 pages long) and actually laughed out loud a couple of times. Did it change my life? No. Could you just watch the movie and be fine? Yes. Did I still have a great time reading this book and do I consider it a good use of my time? Yep!

Book Title: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 479
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: More family drama between Nick, Rachel, and their families. New family members are revealed and bring in their own host of issues.

My Thoughts: Typically I don’t love book #2 in 3-book series. Book 2 is usually filler material, setting everyone and everything up for the finale. Not with this series, though – because the genre isn’t mystery, thriller, or action, there’s nothing to set up for, so it was equally as enjoyable to me as book 1.

Book Title: Rich People Problems
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 541
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: You guessed it: more family drama surround Nick and Rachel! I would give more information, but it’s not worth spoiling if you haven’t read the first two books in the series. This one has a LITTLE element of mystery in it, which keeps you intrigued to the last page. 

My Thoughts: A great wrap-up for the series. I was completely satisfied with the mystery reveal and sort-of twists implemented into the story line. If you liked the first two books, you’ll like the third for sure.

Book Title: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
Author: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Genre: Self-Help
# Pages: 226
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Brief Summary: This book is primarily told by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook, author of Lean In, all-around inspiring lady) as she recounts her experience losing her husband, Dave. She speaks about her struggles with grief and the concrete steps her friend Adam Grant (psychologist and author) shared with her to recover from the trauma and thrive throughout her life afterwards.

My Thoughts: Truthfully, it was not what I expected – and most of that is because I did not do much research on the book prior to picking it up. I have read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, which is all about becoming successful as a female in the professional world, and I really loved it. I thought this book would be similar, but instead found it focused much more on personal tragedies, loss, and grief, than on adversities you might encounter in the workplace. Had I known that, I might have begun this book with a different mindset and given it a higher rating… or I might never have read it. I do think it gives some useful strategies to get through times of loss, and for that reason will likely reread it in the future or recommend it to others going through tough personal situations.

Book Title: One Nation Under Taught
Author: Dr. Vince M. Bertram
Genre: Nonfiction/Education
# Pages: 200
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Brief Summary:America is in a little bit of an education crisis is comparison to other well-developed countries in the world, and the author of this book provides evidence of that as well as his solution: Project Lead The Way (the program Bertram founded that teaches engineering to high-school students).

My Thoughts: I love the premise of this book – as an engineer myself, I totally see the need for more STEM graduates and think that a book to educate on that topic is a great idea. However, this book turned into a 200-page advertisement for PLTW. It’s not that I don’t support the program, because I do, but this book just seemed to scream at me “here’s all the terrible stuff America is doing to its students and here’s how I’m going to single-handedly fix it.” Not quite as inspiring as I hoped it would be.

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