What I Read in December

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


End-of-year roundup time has come & gone, but I still have a bunch of December books to share with you - & one of them (The Girl Who Smiled Beads) would've made my "best of 2018" honorable mentions if only I'd finished it a little bit sooner! I must say, though: This is the ugliest batch of covers I've ever read. Those damn nonfiction books are messing with my aesthetic!

Here's what I read in December, officially hitting 100 books, plus one - & I'm halfway through a bunch of other books, though, too, so I expect decent numbers in January to start off 2019.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

After the end of Pinborought last's thriller, Behind Her Eyes, did me so dirty (like, genuinely, I was furious about it), it's kind of a miracle that I wanted to pick up another book by her - but when I saw that this one was available through my library, I decided I'd give her another shot. I'm glad I did, because I was really drawn into the story of Lisa & her daughter, Ava, who seem to be hiding from something. Just when you think you know what they're hiding from, the game changes. ★★★★☆

Twinkle, Twinkle Social Media Star by Kate Kennedy

My cousin sent me this book, written by a friend of hers - an adult parody on kids' fairy tales. Cute idea, right?! The rhymes don't always rhyme, but they
are incredibly clever, & the illustrations are almost better. One thing's for sure: Don't read this one to your kiddos. ★★★★☆

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay 

It took me a looong time to finally pick up this book because I knew it would be a difficult read. It was, in fact, a very smooth & easy read, in that it was incredibly well-written & each page made me want to continue to the next one - but much of the subject matter is, indeed, incredibly difficult to take in, including the graphic details of Gay's gang-rape at age 12. ★★★★★

An Abundance of Katherines by John Greene

I'm a big fan of Greene's writing, even though his stories are wildly improbable & his characters are overly quirky. Sometimes you've gotta suspend disbelief & enjoy! A friend told me this is her favorite Greene book, & it did not disappoint. Best friends Colin & Hassan head on an aimless post-high-school road trip that leads them to podunk Gutshot, TN, where they decide to stay awhile. The theme of story is "Will Colin break his streak of dating only girls named Katherine?" but it's really, at its core, about friendship - as most of Greene's books are. ★★★★☆

Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy

Hennessy works for Hearst, booking digital influencers for $100,000 YouTube gigs & the like, & in this short book, she shares what she knows about what makes influencers followable - & bookable. As it's primarily geared to & focusing on fashion influencers, this read was, overall, more than a little annoying, but it was also a lot helpful. It's given me some good idea for how to grow my online presence in 2019. (And I'm sorry that sentence is so douchey.) ★★★★☆

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War & What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya

Wamariya is a Rwandan refugee who left her home country at age 6, accompanied on by her older sister. Together, they traveled through various countries, by foot & by boat, trying to find a safe place; they stayed in multiple refugee camps & in the homes of kind strangers, her sister always hustling to be sure they had the connections needed to survive. Now a Yale grad & noted activist, Wamariya tells her story with grace & power, humanizing refugees & providing even the smallest look into the life of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people worldwide. ★★★★★

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Backderf, a Northeast Ohio-based cartoonist, went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer & was loosely friends with him - or as much, it seems, as anyone was friends with Dahmer, an oddball & an outcast. This graphic novel is, essentially, a memoir of Backderf's memories of Dahmer from that time, with some commentary about how bizarre it felt to reflect on their teenage years with one of the most notorious & depraved serial killers in American history. ★★★★☆

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher 

Long review coming: This book was my first Feminist Book Club delivery, & it was brilliant & techie, but written in a digestible, accessible, & down-to-earth way for those of us who don't work in tech. I had no idea of all these problems - like Google Photos identifying black faces as "gorillas," mobile ads targeting people in low-income areas with ads for for-profit colleges, or a gym chain in Britain where a woman couldn't get into the locker rooms because the locker rooms were coded by title, like Mr. or Mrs. - & hers, "Doctor" was coded as male. This book tackles problems small & large, including how they occur & how they can be stopped. Read this. ★★★★★

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant

My final book of the year has the worst cover of the year, too - what the hell is that?! - but it was a perfect read to close out 2018 & to hit 100 books. This is essentially a TED Talk distilled into a long-form brochure, but as I always say, if The Cat in the Hat is a book, so are adult short-reads. This one was actually sort of mind-alteringly, life-changingly important to me - & I'm not saying that to be dramatic. It is already impacting how I think about myself & my life & the world, thus impacting how I exist as a person in the world. It's worth the very quick read. ★★★★☆

This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes 

When Genevieve wakes up in the hospital, her YouTube star boyfriend, Dallas, is dead - & she can't remember the car accident they were in together. The man accused of causing the accident is being mercilessly tormented on social media, & Genna feels overwhelmed by all the attention she's receiving, both positive & negative. When she gets out of town to try to recover & recoup, she also remembers. So what next? An enjoyable YA read that really highlights the dangers of social media bullying. ★★★★☆

Tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past. You can also follow my bookstagram account!

My "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

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