Thoughts on my December 2021 Reading

Overall, I completed reading 201 books last year. Of those, ten were books I reread and six were NetGalley titles for review. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t reread more, especially in the days after losing my Shadow cat. I may write more about my complicated relationship to grief soon. For today, however, I will write a few thoughts about the ten books I completed in December.

The Book List

Railhead by Philip Reeve (2015). 312 pages. Fiction, series (book 1). Library e-book. I forget exactly how I found this title, I thought it was on a list of SFF about trains, but I can no longer find the link. While reading I felt caught up in several of the characters and their motivations. The world building caught me too. This was a strong start to a series, and I remember I didn’t have much of any opinion after reading Mortal Engines. I guess I read Reeve in the month of December. So far, however, I am unable to get as caught up in the second book, Black Light Express. We’ll see if I finish this series.

Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert (2021). 256 pages. Non-fiction. Library audiobook. I was fascinated by Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction and this short volume is equally thought provoking. Choices we make “for the good” can have effects that weren’t anticipated at the time. It doesn’t mean we should lose hope, but there are potential consequences. As one example, while the reversal of the Chicago River was an engineering marvel, it’s caused unexpected ecological challenges over the years.

Hex on the Beach by Kelley Armstrong, Jeaniene Frost, Melissa Marr (2021). 253 pages. Fiction, short story collection by multiple authors. Library e-book. This was a good collection and exactly the type of brain candy I needed to read.

Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C Slaght (2020). 368 pages. Non-fiction. Library audiobook. This was an interesting read because Slaght discusses his field work in great detail. I was curious to learn how that related to his work today, however while it touches on policies, that’s all it does as he’s not worked much with owls since his dissertation. This is a region of the world I know little about. My knowledge with owl in general is even less — I dissected a pellet in 6th grade and that’s about it. This telling of fieldwork — the good and the not-so-fun-parts came alive as an audiobook (narrated by the author). I wish, due to my current interests, it touched more on policy and why this sort of micro research is beneficial for global policy, but that’s not the point of the book. It is beautifully written, and I enjoyed it.

How Stella Learned to Talk by Christina Hunger (2021). 272 pages. Non-fiction. Library audiobook & e-book. I came across this technique in a social media post by Mary Robinette Kowal, one of her cats was talking! I’ve always said it’s on me to understand what Dot is trying to communicate; so I rushed to learn more and placed library holds which were soon filled. It’s brilliant and simple and one of those “I wish I’d thought of it” techniques. Hunger doesn’t hold back; she shares her tools and along the way lays out a groundwork for working to communicate more effectively with your dog (or cat). I’ve been applying the lessons even without any AAC (I’m working on acquiring some).

What fascinated me most was how Hunger built on her newly minted status as a certified speech pathologist and applied it a novel situation outside her formal training. To me this is the sign of a good program, she had the skills and more importantly the confidence to try something completely new. I also love that she is reluctant with social media and seems genuinely surprised by the attention this project has brought.

Related: Today I completed a bonus course with Fear Free Shelters on Feline Enrichment. Dot is living a life with improved communication and enrichment opportunities!

The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA’s Double Helix by Howard Markel (2021). 576 pages. Non-fiction. Library audiobook. This was an informative read/listen. I’m fascinated about all of it, from how I never heard of Franklin as very much into biology high school student in the late 90s to the old boy’s science network. (That I was never handed The Double Helix is a whole other topic for me to ponder.) I’m now reading/listening to The Code Breaker, and I had to stop so I could rant about the bad light Franklin was portrayed with and how that needs to be changed.

On The Edge by Ilona Andrews (2009). 309 pages, Fiction, series (book 1), reread. Library e-book. I didn’t intend to start rereading this series, but it was a fun way to end the year and begin a new one. I’d recommended the series to the library for e-book licensing over a year ago and they did, and I was automatically placed on the hold list.

Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews (2010). 447 pages. Fiction, series (book 2). reread. Library e-book. I’d forgotten how much I liked this series and how skilled they are with intertwining characters and world building. I’m thankfully the library had the second book available as soon as I finished the first.

Shards and Ashes by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong (2013). 384 pages. Fiction, short story collection by multiple authors. Library e-book. Some stories were better than others but overall, it was an enjoyable read.

Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (2011). 372 pages. Fiction, series (book 3). reread. Library book. I stopped by the library for some other books and was able to get the final two books of the series as paperbacks. I think this book might be the favourite of the series.

Current Reads

I already finished The Edge series this week and am picking through an eclectic list of titles. Some are from the library in paper or digital form. I’m also trying to read from my own shelves. Here are a few of the books that currently sport a bookmark.

  • True Dead by Faith Hunter (2021). 359 pages. Fiction, series (book #14). Library book.
  • Women scientists in America: struggles and strategies to 1940 by Margaret W. Rossiter (1982). 439 pages. History; Women’s Studies. Library book.
  • The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson (2021). 536 pages. Science; Biography. Library audiobook.
  • Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin (2019). 172 pages. Sociology; Technology. Library audiobook.
  • Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter (1975). 214 pages, Mystery. Book.
  • How the other half eats: the untold story of food and inequality in America by Priya Fielding-Singh (2021). 326 pages. Sociology; Nutrition; Public Health. Library book.
  • Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals by Pablo Casals, Albert E. Kahn (1970). 314 pages. Memoir; Music. Library book.
  • Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran (2011). 273 pages. Fiction; Mystery, series (book 1). Library e-book.

My reading goals for January and the entire year are the same as always, enjoy what I read!