Reading took a bit of a backseat for me last year; I didn’t read very many new books that I loved, and that in turn made me want to read less. However, the end of December saw a deluge of excellent book recommendations, which allowed me to start January 2014 off strong, book-wise. There are a number of great books I can’t wait to get to on my reading list, but here are the books I read in January.
This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong
I read John Dies at the End in December 2012, and had vaguely heard of a sequel in the works. But I had completely forgotten about the entire series until I saw This Book is Full of Spiders on display during the Christmas rush. Judging from the last book, I knew the plot could get a little dark (and violent!), and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to read something like that at the time. I read the first page to gage what kind of story it was (it had been a while since my last Wong novel), and I immediately found myself hooked.
It rides off the zombie apocalypse genre, except that there aren’t technically any zombies – but there are a lot of supernatural absurdities. The author is also a writer for Cracked (my favourite time-suck website), and wrote this excellent piece on suicide which I only read recently (he also writes about other things that are not suicide).
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
This seems to be the book everyone was talking about in 2013. I was hesitant about reading it, because last year was riddled with me picking up non-fiction books, finding them too boring to hold my attention, and then never reading them again. But when Hayley G Hoover announced that she was picking Lean In as her first book of the Answerly book club, I thought “eh, why not – people have been raving about it, and I might as well see why”. I’m glad I finally picked it up, because I found it incredibly engaging and thought-provoking.
Essentially, we need more women in power, bit the realities of the workplace today, as well as the way society has conditioned women to think and behave prevents that. Sheryl Sandberg is an incredibly accomplished business woman in the world of tech; she has worked for World Bank, Google and Facebook, and she draws on her extensive experience, as well as the experience of other women, colleagues, and statistics to discuss the reality for women in the workplace.
Lean In starts an important conversation about women and you should read it! All of you!
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
I’m a bit late to the zombie party, but I only realised how much I enjoyed the idea of a war against living corpses after reading This Book is Full of Spiders. People have been recommending this book to me for years, so when my hunger for zombie novels was whetted after finishing Spiders, my immediate reaction was to pick up a copy of World War Z and start reading it as soon as possible.
It is just as great as everyone said it was. The narrative is told through a series of interviews from survivors of the Zombie War, and some of them could be read as stand-alone vignettes, but together they paint a vivid image of a modern world, not too different from our own, having to deal with the outbreak of a zombie virus. It explores the theme on both a political and personal level, and it does it excellently.
After finishing the book, I read a few one-star reviews on Goodreads that complained about it not being a real novel because of it’s structure, and there being a lack of character development. While there is some validity to their concerns, I hardly think that those make it a bad book. I would argue that WWZ is more of a commentary about war and the power of fear, and the book’s structure only lends to that purpose.
I recently picked up Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (another oft-recommended author/book), and so far it’s enjoyable. My friend Des also recommended the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness and Jam by Yahtzee Crowshaw, which I hope to pick up while still riding the zombie/apocalypse high that I am currently on.
Got any book recommendations? Let’s make 2014 the Year I Read A Lot More!