This is the first post of a series (you might call it) of monthly posts listing the books I read during the month in question. So, this is my (belated) reading log for January 2020. And I dare say, I’m off to a surprisingly (in my own opinion) great start! I actually managed to finish every book from my book haul in December. Amongst other, that is.
First off, I guess you’re thinking: We’re in March by now and you’re writing a post about the books you finished in January?! Well, there is no excuse. Except that I first came up with this idea to post monthly updates on my reading rather recently. I fell upon another book blogger, Chapters of May, who’s doing the same every month, and I felt inspired. So there you have it. I found that it would be quite fun to keep track of my progress as I started the ultimate reading challenge in January.
So let’s dive in.
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit is the story about Bilbo Baggins and his quest towards The Lonely Mountain in the company of the well-known wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves. On their journey they face various sorts of danger, such as trolls, goblins, elves and none the least, the great dragon Smaug.
A cozy and nostalgic read, really grasping the essence of adventure and fantasy. Easily read (probably as it was initially intended for children) and written in a delightful and light manner. Bilbo is a likable character that grows on you just as he as a person grows throughout the story, becoming the true hero of the story.
See my full review here.
“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
A plane crashes on a deserted island, and the only survivors are a group of young boys. With the help of Piggy, Ralph is appointed leader of the boy group, and soon the boys must collaborate to be able to survive. However, before long disagreements start to smoulder and, little by little, the situation escalates.
Golding won the Nobel Prize in literature for it, and it really is a good novel. The innocence of children is put in stark contrast with the violent and cynic manner of the stranded boys. Quite disturbing, but quickly read and definitely recommendable.
“The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
Upon the yearly spring cleaning, suddenly the kind and rather naive Mole abandons his chores and sets off for adventure. He reaches the river, meeting the Rat. As Mole has never before been to the river, Rat takes him along for a ride in his boat. The first of many adventures with the likes of the egocentric Mr. Toad and the clever old Mr. Badger.
An all-through delightful and life-affirming novel. Grahame’s personification of the animals is splendid and he manages to incorporate teachings of moral and ethics throughout the story. If not for yourself, then definitely a read for your children!
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Starting as a bonds salesman in New York, the young Nick Carraway moves into an old house in West Egg on Long Island. His neighbor is none other than Jay Gatsby who lives in an amazingly luxurious estate where he hosts extravagant parties. One day, Nick receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties, and an unexpected friendship flourishes between them.
I was surprised by how great The Great Gatsby actually was. Having become acquainted with it in English classes in high school and then finding it rather boring (as far as I remember), I am certainly glad I picked it up. Fitzgerald manages to build up the story cleverly ending it with an actionpacked climax. I can and will definitely recommend this book.
“Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell
In an imagined dystopian future in the country of Oceania where the Party rules, we meet Winston Smith, a middle class workman at the Ministry of Truth. He rewrites history to fit whatever the Party says happens or has ever happened. And also, he secretly hates the Party. One day, Winston is approached by the Brotherhood, an underground resistance group trying to overpower the Party, and the true nature and loyalty of his surroundings are soon found to reveal themselves.
This is a crazy book! I mean, this is literally a scenario from your worst nightmare. Orwell’s description of life in Oceania is so vivid and incredibly shocking that you’re left in horror-struck awe. Add to this the psychological elements of paranoia and fear of discovery. A phenomenal book – crazy, but phenomenal. And thinking about it, actually quite contemporary in regards to our present day online surveillance societies.
“The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
In The Millionaire Next Door, the two authors analyse various studies in which they discover the true colors of the wealthy Americans. And they are certainly not who you would initially think. In the book, the common traits of wealthy people are outlined and discussed, and you are in for a surprise.
A quite interesting book. At times, very analytical and “number crunching”, though. However, the essence is useful, and the authors give it to you in a digestible and down-to-earth manner. You can easily apply the techniques in your daily life, if you are willing to put in the effort.
“Made In America” by Sam Walton
In 1962, the first Walmart store opened in Rogers, Arkansas, followed by a shockingly rapid increase in stores (in 1985, there were 800). Sam Walton had undoubtedly done it! The first Walmart store was a culmination of various variety store ventures throughout the previous 17 years. In Made In America, the entire story is laid out by the man himself. From taking over management in a local store as a 26 year old in 1945 to scouting locations for new Walmart stores in his personal helicopter years later, we are guided through his entire work (and personal) life.
In short, a perfect image of the American Dream. Throughout the book, Walton passionately elaborates his way of handling business, and he never shies away from admitting his mistakes. One cannot be anything but incredibly inspired by his story.
“Managing Oneself” by Peter F. Drucker
In this short book, Peter Drucker explains how to manage yourself, and in doing so fulfilling your true potential, whether it be in your everyday profession or whatever else you venture into. Asking questions about your strengths, values and how you learn, you are given the tools to find out how you can achieve excellence.
A straight-to-the-point, no bulls**t book. Of about 50 pages (and short ones, that is), this can be read within an hour, so there is really no excuse. And if you are willing to ask yourself the questions given in the book, you will be all the wiser.
“Artemis” by Andy Weir
In the 2080’s, Jazz – a porter and smuggler, living in the first and only city on the Moon, Artemis – is offered a lot of money to commit a crime, that if discovered, would send her straight back to Earth. Obviously, the mission is a failure, and while being on the run, Jazz discovers that a conspiracy to take over Artemis is unfolding. And all of a sudden, she is caught up right in the middle of it.
The second book of Andy Weir (author of The Martian) is, in my opinion, a pretty solid science fiction novel. It is not as good as The Martian, but nonetheless worth reading, or listening to. The idea of inhabiting the Moon, and what that would entail is quite interesting to me. And Weir manages to make it both realistic and scientifically accurate (at least, it seems so) without it being far-fetched.
“The Man In the High Castle” by Philip K. Dick
In an alternate version of history, where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan have won WWII, we are introduced to a cast of people primarily situated in the Japanese controlled Pacific States of America. The year is 1962 and the Nazi and Japanese suppression is everyday life. The story revolves around a banned book containing information that some people don’t want everyone to know.
I was actually quite excited to “read” this. But I must admit that I was left a little disappointed by the slow pace and unfulfilling plot. The premise is extremely interesting but unfortunately, in my opinion, the story and ending does not fulfill what is a great potential. Also, I did not particular like the narrator’s way of, well, narrating.
Reading Stats For the Month
Below, I have summed up my reading for January with total amount of pages and listening time. As is seen, the “Started” shows how many books I started reading but didn’t get to finish this month. It doesn’t mean that I abandoned them – I rarely do. They will feature in a future monthly reading log.
|Number of pages||2024|
|Average number of pages / day||65.3|
|Total listening time||24h 18m|
|Average listening time / day||47m|
Image by Glen Carrie on Unsplash