I was planning on including this in my January State of the Union post but it was all just becoming too long, so I may play it by ear each month, if I read a lot it gets it’s own post, if I don’t read a lot then maybe it may get put in the State of the Union posts. I didn’t read as much as I normally do in December, but it was still more than I have read in a while. And I think I have a good mix of crazy popular books and more under the radar books.
First up in December was the uber-popular Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins-Reid, this is the book that began the Taylor Jenkins-Reid fandom and the Taylor Jenkins-Reid cinematic universe that now also includes Malibu Rising, Evelyn Hugo, and Carrie Soto. As I usually do, I put off reading this because it got so popular, but with the show coming out in March and how much I enjoyed Evelyn Hugo and Malibu Rising I knew I had to come back to Daisy Jones and I am so glad I did.
This book was a phenom for a reason, the way the story is told, as a fictional interview of the remaining members of the band, with a twist as to who the interviewer is at the end. It is vaguely Fleetwood Mac inspired, but the glamour and “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of the 1970s and a party girl groupie turned pop-rock icon coming together to form one super group for a fleeting moment in time, because nothing that good can ever last. It’s a story about addiction, love, loyalty, and artists.
The way that TJR is able to develop characters is truly remarkable. She creates characters that we should hate, that are objectively not good people, but are so complex, so human, that you can’t help but adore them. Daisy Jones, Billy Dunne, and everyone else are incredibly complicated, incredibly talented and the story-telling device of the interview highlights how we all view ourselves as both better and worse than we really are.
I love these Chanel Cleeton books about the Perez sistera, they aren’t anything life-changing, but they are enjoyable. This book is about the eldest sister, Isabel, the calm sister. The one who feels like they have to live up the pressures of the family, to make the family secure in the society of their new home in Miami (aka classic eldest sister energy). In this book she has recently married a boring man who will secure their position in society after leaving Cuba, but they aren’t in love. Meanwhile, it has been ages since they have heard from the second sister, Beatrice, the most complicated sister, a spy for the CIA, an activist against Fidel, and a former twin, their brother was killed by the Castro regime before they left Cuba. She even missed the youngest sister’s birthday, which is very unlike her. So Isabel uses it as an excuse to get away from her husband for a bit and go to Barcelona. Where she not only discovers what she wants, but also secrets her mother has been keeping for decades.
These are enjoyable, easy reads. They are very escapist, set in Barcelona, Havana, and Miami, however while they are easy reads they do not shy away from discussing the politics of the times they are set in. This book delves deep into the Franco regime, both the Fascist takeover he lead and his governance of the country. And then at the end, there is a beautiful twist, where families that crossed paths in times of distress end up reuniting in peace generations on, in only the way a book can.
This book has been recommended everywhere this year, and for god reason. It is the story of a family with secrets so deep and so buried that they could destroy it forever, or bring it back together. There is a specific way that families can wound each other and themselves that cannot be done by anyone else. This book weaves generational trauma, women’s issues, class and race together into a beautiful story about family, loss, and fear.
It is also completely unbelievable that this is a debut novel. I cannot wait to read what Charmaine Wilkerson does next.
My sister gave me this book for Christmas and I am so glad she did because I probably never would have picked it up and it is fantastic. This is the first thriller that I have read in ages that I have not been able to guess the twists on (except for one, I totally called who the hotel manager was going to be). This is a gorgeous book about grief and a very fun read.
I really want to read more translated books, the way that translation is done, the way that authors in other languages write changes the way we experience stories, the way we picture the story that I think help to expand the way we think and the way we experience the world. It allows us to experience other cultures without travelling nor language barrier.
I really enjoyed all of the books I read in December and have so far been enjoying all the books I’ve read in January, it’s been a great period of reading. I’ve just been reading whatever strikes my fancy, not feeling like I need to be reading classics or “important” books, just reading to read. Like when I was a kid, and it’s been so great.
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