What I’m Reading Lately: December/January

Coming into 2015, I decided that one of my resolutions was going to be to read at least 20 books over the next 12 months. I love reading, and at any given time I have at least five books sitting on my bedside table that I’m in the middle of reading, and plenty more sitting on my bookshelf, in the living room, and in my purse.

Over the last few months, I’d taken to writing a reading goals post each month, with about three books that I planned to read that month; and what I’ve noticed is that those are almost never the books I end up reading. So this year, despite a resolution centered on reading more, I’m not going to be planning which books I’m going to read. Instead, I’d like to talk about the books I’m in the process of reading right now, in the hopes that it will motivate me to finish those books (I have a nasty habit of starting and never finishing books, because as much as I love to read, I love the feel of a new book even more).

reading list

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer

I bought this book on my iPad months ago, and never really got into it until the last couple weeks. I’m a little torn on my feelings about it because while I love the characters and the general storyline, jumping back and forth all over the place in a book drives me crazy.

The Interestings spans a couple decades in the lives of several friends who met as teenagers at a summer camp for the arts. Instead of following a linear or at least logical passage through their lives though, the author jumps all over the place – in one chapter, a main character is 5-years-old, and in the next you’re reading a sex scene taking place in the life of another friend 15 years later. It can be difficult to follow, and while I do sort of like the omnipresent feel of knowing where everyone ends up and how that ties into who they are at 14, 15, 16 years old, I think I’d prefer if the book were at least somewhat more consequential.

Sherlock Holmesby Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I have been trying for years to read through all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but have only ever managed to make it through A Study in Scarlet, Hound of the Baskervilles, A Sign of Four, and about 10 or so of the short stories. I make this even harder on myself by starting at the very beginning with A Study in Scarlet every time I pick the book back up.

I absolutely love adaptations of these stories – Elementary, Sherlock, and House are some of my favorite shows; so I know I’d love the the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Unfortunately, I sometimes find them difficult to get into, probably because of the writing as compared to writing today.

The End of War, by John Horgan

I just picked this book up yesterday at Barnes & Noble after work, and I’m already about a quarter of the way through just from the bus-ride home (the book is just under 200 pages, so if I’m being fully honest, a quarter is only a little over 50 pages).

The book reads more like a long research essay on our propensity as human beings to engage in war and how we’re just as biologically likely to engage in peace. I’ve always been bothered by the idea that we’re incapable of brokering a more permanent peace. In my lifetime, we’ve had about 10 years of peace between the first and second Gulf Wars (or the Gulf War and the War on Terror – whichever you prefer). And as much as I enjoy (some) dystopian novels (like Station Eleven), I’m ultimately really bothered by the fact that in every one of them, humankind finds themselves incapable of starting over peacefully. All that said, once I’m finished with this book I’ll definitely be writing a post about it.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talkingby Susan Cain

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’ve been working on this book for a little while now, and am expecting that it’ll be a while longer before I’ve finished. Like The End of War, this book is also research based, but it strikes me as being a little denser and harder to get through.

So far, I’m enjoying learning more about myself as an introvert, but ultimately I think I’m a little disappointed, I think because I put too much pressure on the book to “fix” me.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

I’ve been reading this book for about as long as I’ve been reading Sherlock Holmes, and it’s another one that I really want to get through but can’t seem to because of the writing. While the writing is easy to understand, likely because it was updated in relatively recent years, I think anyone who has read a book written before the 1900s would agree that it’s just different.

I also think that generally, romances are just not my cup of tea (unless they’re written by John Green, in which case give me all the books). For example, I’ve read all of two Nicholas Spark’s books, and I’m not impressed by either of them. I think this may be a personal problem with the idea of romance, but that’s a topic for another post.

So what’s on your reading list lately?

  • http://ellevee.net/ Elle Vee

    I don’t know how you can handle reading so many at once! I get so confused.

    Though, sometimes I wish I could bring myself to read more than one at a time as when they are bad I dread reading, even though I love reading.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I don’t get confused, probably because I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember reading – but it’s an awful habit, because it takes me a ridiculously long time to get through one book. I think I do it more out of boredom and a lack of patience than anything.

  • http://www.gorjaeous.com/ Jae

    You know what’s funny [and ridiculous]? I challenged myself to read at least 30 books for 2015, and yet, I still can’t get past the last book I started reading in November. I don’t know how I’m going to achieve my reading goal, but it’s far from happening at the moment. /cry

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      hahah You still have plenty of time!! Maybe move on to a different book? Maybe it’s that the one you’ve been reading just isn’t interesting you.

      • http://www.gorjaeous.com/ Jae

        Or I just don’t have time to pick it up? Have you seen my reading status update on Goodreads? Hahaha!

  • http://www.rhymeandribbons.com/ Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons

    I love Conan Doyle- I know it takes time to get into and it’s not for everyone, but if you do get sucked in you’ll be a convert for life! x

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’ve definitely loved what I’ve read of him so far, so it’s definitely worth it! It just takes a lot of time.

  • http://agirlwho.com/ Alys @ A Girl Who Reads

    I did the same thing with Quiet – I expected something from it other than what it really was. If you read it just for information its interesting but that was about it

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who did that. I know now it was a mistake, because of course the book can’t change me or the world, but I guess I was expecting it to offer advice or solutions, not just information which, for the most part, I already knew. I think it’s probably a good book for someone seeking to understand what introversion is.

      • http://agirlwho.com/ Alys @ A Girl Who Reads

        Maybe we introverts should start giving a copy of the book to our extrovert bosses :)

  • http://clayxmatthewsxfan89.blogspot.com/ Jessica Marie

    I’m reading “The Gift of Fear,” which I think will take me some time to read – I’m reading it slowly so I don’t get overwhelmed with feeling. “The Best of American Travel Writing” and “100 Snowmen,” a children’s book. :)

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’ve heard of The Gift of Fear….I think we had it for my self defense class in college, but only had to read a chapter here and there – and I don’t think I ever really did, because it’s not as though it had any real bearing on the class. Maybe I’ll pick it back up and actually read it.

      • http://clayxmatthewsxfan89.blogspot.com/ Jessica Marie

        I’d recommend it. It’s a good FYI. People at City-Data suggested it to me after hearing about my stories with some people.

  • http://whatwecandotoday.wordpress.com Lina

    The End of War sounds interesting, I am gonna look into that.

    And whenever I haven´t looked into a book in a couple of weeks, I have a hard time finding my way back into the story and sometimes I really start over. But then I usually get bored when I remember pieces of the story again :D (Lesson learned: Read in your books at least once a week). I listened to the audiobook of Pride and Prejudice and crazily enjoyed it. Now that I´ve bought the book and already know the story, I cannot motivate myself to read anything else than my favorite scenes…

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      See, that’s exactly my problem – once I’ve been out of a book for a while I feel like I HAVE to start over, just to get my bearings.

  • Beks

    I’m working through Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, and I agree. her wording is a little wordy for the 21st century. But it’s interesting to see the comedy of manners play out over the course of her stories. Just things that were so familiar then, just aren’t anymore.
    I’m also reading Once Upon a Winter’s Night by Dennis K. McKiernan, at my sister’s suggestion. I wanted to write a fantasy story based on one of my favorite fairy tales, but I rarely read the fantasy genre, so I’m giving this a whirl. It’s pretty easy to get through, but I rarely make time to read. My goal is to read 2-3 books per month this year, and spend less time on social media, if I can help it.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      That’s a good way of putting it! I couldn’t quite think how best to word my difficulty with the writing in Pride and Prejudice. What I’ve read of it so far though, it’s funny and I am enjoying it.

      I’ve never heard of Once Upon a Winter’s Night – I’ll have to check it out!

      Good luck with your goals!

  • http://www.thegirlwholovedtowrite.com/ Chelsea

    Pride and Prejudice is a forever favorite of mine!

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Is it? I really hope I make it through the entire thing this year!

  • Christine Rosko

    I really want to read Pride & Prejudice and the Sherlock Holmes series. I see what you’re saying about slow reads though. I’ve tried reading Wuthering Heights several times and I never managed to make it through. I’ve read almost all of Jane Eyre except the like 50 or so pages. I think with that one I just don’t want to finish it. Why, I’m not so sure. I love your perspective on war and peace. I completely agree. You’ve kind of sparked my interested to read that book now.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Yeah – they’re definitely hard to get through, but from what I’ve read of Sherlock Holmes at least, I’ve really enjoyed it. Wuthering Heights I never even tried. Thankfully, it wasn’t required reading in my high school.

      I hope you will read The End of War! It’s so good so far and while it is definitely research based, it’s actually surprisingly easy to read.

      • Christine Rosko

        Wuthering Heights is one of those books that I really want to get through but she makes it so difficult! I’m definitely going to look into The End Of War.

  • http://megancstroup.blogspot.com/ Megan @ Semi-Charmed Kind of L

    Wow, that’s impressive. I cannot read more than one book at one time! (Well, for the past few months I’ve been reading A Storm of Swords along with other books, but that’s just because those GOT books are so dang long!!) I am also an introvert and have been wanting to read Quiet; thanks for helping me manage my expectations. ;)

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Ooo don’t be impressed. It’s an awful habit that I really need to break, because it takes me so much longer to get through a single book. It’s more a matter of getting bored with the book I’m reading or being too impatient to wait once I’ve gotten a new book. hah

      And Quiet is a good book, but I think mostly for people who don’t fully understand what introversion is or how their friends/co-workers who identify as such might feel. I am learning from it, but I guess I was expecting more of a solution type of thing.

  • http://www.kati-rose.com/ Kati Rose

    I recently wrote about my book goals for 2015 for the very same reason. Your biggest problem is mine. I love browsing bookstores and buying new books and I just love books. I have so many sitting around that are half read and I choose 10 and am determined to read through them in their entirety this year! I hope you and I both have good luck meeting our goals :)

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Good luck getting through your 10 books in 2015!! We can do it hahah

  • http://www.sagetheblog.com/ Cassie Lee

    I need to read that one on the introverts! Sounds just for me haha

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I hope you enjoy it, Cassie!

  • http://beaslouise.wordpress.com Beatriz

    Ooh I love seeing what other people read! I’ve read Sherlock Holmes and Pride and Prejudice but not the others. Just found your blog & loving it by the way~


    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Thanks, Beatriz! I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog :)

  • http://theladyerrant.com/ Kelly

    I love Pride and Prejudice! But honestly, I don’t know if I’d like it if I literally hadn’t grown up reading it. I think the first time, I was 7 or 8, and I just kept reading it for years. Nineteenth century comedies of manners just seem so. . .tame. But I do like that it’s a legit character driven love story, not like an “OMG you’re so hot and I am too, let’s bang” kind of instant chemistry thing that’s all over books and movies these days.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Oh my gosh that is the single best description of romantic comedies I’ve ever heard!

      That’s pretty cool that you’ve read Pride and Prejudice so many times. I’ve always loved reading but I cant imagine reading this whrn I was that young!

      • http://theladyerrant.com/ Kelly

        Haha, honestly, back then all I got was that they didn’t like each other and then they got married. I don’t think I really appreciated most of the nuances until I was 14 or so, but I always liked it for some reason.

  • http://blog.lovemanythings.net Crystal Ward

    So glad to see I’m not the only one who can’t get through Pride and Prejudice! I read and enjoyed Emma, but for some reason I just have never been able to finish this one, and it makes me feel like a freak.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      My roommate and I always talk about how we can’t seem to get through it, as much as we both want to. I haven’t read any of her other books either, but a lot of them can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store on my iPad book app, so I’m hoping to read them!

  • http://www.aweekendcrossing.blogspot.com/ Marla Rogers

    Omg I’m doing this exact same thing, reading 20 books this year. And I also posted reading goals last year and regretted that because I ended up going for other books. I think “while reading” updates is great idea! I can’t wait to read your reviews :] The End of War sounds REALLY interesting, I may just have to pick it up myself!

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Ahh yay! Good luck to you :) It was SUCH a great book! I finished it within a couple days, so I’ll be writing a review of it soon!

  • http://becomingadorrable.com/ Becca Dorr

    Tim read the Sherlock Holmes books, or is in the middle of them, and he’s really enjoyed them. I haven’t read any of the stories in YEARS!

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’m glad to hear he’s enjoyed them! They’re so difficult to get into, but the ones I’ve finished I’ve loved!