What I Read In December

The final month of 2019! And I'm going to share not only what I read, but my reading data for the year! For the month of December, I read 16 books. Well, three of them were graphic novels, so say what you will about that, but I count it.

I also reached my goal for the year to read 90 books! First, it was 45, then I beat that goal, so I changed it to 70, but I beat that goal too, so I made my goal 90, and I only just beat it on the second to last day of the year. I'm very proud of it, especially since I only started really reading books this year in July or August.

I read 26,700 pages, with 31 five star books, 30 four star books, 15 three star books, 8 two star books, 2 one star books, and if you're counting--that isn't quite 90--because I also read 4 books that I didn't rate.

This year for books was incredible, because my tastes changed quite a lot. I read half of my favorite books this year, and I got four new favorites this month.

#1 - Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson - YA fantasy - 4/5 stars

This one was a big, thick book that was quite worth the read. It is set in a world where the hero of prophecy has failed and the Big Bad emperor has won. The world-building is phenomenal and original, with a complicated society, and well-thought-out fantasy aspects. The characters as well are all superb. They are all developed well and they're all so likable and lovable. Especially Kelsier, Vin and Elend. It lost a star because of unnecessary length, but it's still a great start to a trilogy that I'm going to continue. Recommend for teens and adults.

#2 - The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway - Literary - 4/5 stars

I avoided this book for a long time because... I thought it would be boring. Long story short: it wasn't. It's slow, but emotionally rich. It's short and in my opinion it never lags. I was entranced by Hemingway's plainly written style that let the story take full reign. Recommend for anyone.

#3 - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Sci-fi - 4/5 stars

Bradbury's style is quite opposite from Hemingway, in that the prose is mystifyingly poetic, and a large part of the weight of the story. The imagery and emotions could not be so powerfully portrayed without Bradbury's use of some of the most fascinating prose I have ever read. Yet, the story that the prose conveys is even stronger. It's message is frighteningly close to our own reality and it will have you thinking and processing it for days. Recommend for teens and adults.

#4 - Beowulf - Epic Poem - 4/5 stars

I read the version translated by Seamus Heaney, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It is a mythic and folkloric tale of Beowulf and his fight with many beasts. It is one of the oldest works of English literature, with timeless qualities of heroism and courage strongly portrayed. Recommend for teens and adults.

#5 - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - Mystery - 5/5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. My early days of Hardy Boys and middle-grade mystery burnt me out, so that I haven't read a solid mystery in a very long time. This book is easily the greatest mystery book I have ever read and an instant favorite. Of course, that might change since I am definitely going to be reading much more of Christie's work. I can't say very much because of spoilers, but she pulled off the execution fantastically. A new favorite. Recommend for teens and adults (especially fans of mystery).

#6 - The Book of The Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr. - Fantasy - 4/5 stars

I do not like animals in my books. And The Book of The Dun Cow doesn't have a single human, only animals. I did not think it would be a good fit until I read it. This book is my exception for the no animals rule. It is grisly, earthly and beautiful. It is how Christian fiction is supposed to be written. Recommend for teens and adults (it is sometimes marketed as children's fiction, but it gets a little graphic sometimes)

#7 - Everyman: A Moral Play by anonymous - Play - 3/5 stars

Read this one for school. It's an interesting thing, and it's decent in its message, but it has a few pitfalls where it teaches Roman Catholic doctrine instead of purely Biblical ideology.

#8 - The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - YA classic - 5/5 stars

This book was the invention of the young adult genre, and there was a reason why. Thematically, this book is surprisingly nuanced and important, and the reason that young adult exists. I loved it. All the characters were real and fun and messed-up. Their relationships were wonderful and heartwarming in the way that outcasts band together. It faced life in the streets in a mature way--never disgustingly hyper realistic--but gritty and honest. A new favorite. Recommend for teens.

#9 - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Literary - 4/5 stars

I was excited to read this one for a long time, but when my brother read it and disliked it, I was both disappointed and desperate to prove him wrong. Well, I proved him wrong, and I really liked it. Fitzgerald's prose is beautiful and elegant. His characters are all human, with motivations and flaws and secrets. It is not a happy story, nor a fun one. It is a story of pain, love and the American dream, told in the honest words of Nick Carraway, a distanced friend of the rest of the cast, all seeming insane in one way or another. Recommend for teens and adults.

#10 - Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale - Graphic Novel - 3/5 stars

Fun, quirky fairy-tale retelling. Nothing spectacular about the art, but it looked nice. The characters were great, with sound character-arcs and refreshing growth and change. Didn't blow me away, and still suffered from mediocre dialogue like most graphic novels. Recommend to children and lovers of fairy-tales and fairy tale retellings.

#11 - The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey - Mystery - 4/5 stars

Another book that I read out of my revitalization of interest in mystery books. Not your average mystery though. It's about Detective Alan Grant lying in a hospital bed reading history books. Sounds boring? Well that's what you would think, but it's page-turning and very interesting. It's about Richard III, but it's also a lot more than that. It's an investigation of truth and history through the very educating lens of The War of The Roses. I cannot tell you how weird it is to have history become so interesting. I like history, but this takes it farther than that and inserts a wonderful theme as it's discussed. Recommend for teens, adults, mystery-enthusiasts, and history-lovers.

#12 - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Literary - 4/5 stars

I read this only two days before Christmas, to get myself in the Christmas spirit. I sure received a lot of Christmas spirit, and Christmas spirits. It's a fantastic story of redemption and forgiveness. It's about the holidays, but it's a moral story that relates to any time of the year. Upon a definite re-read in the future, I'm sure it will become a five-star book. Recommend for everyone (the prose may be a bit hard to read for those not used to classic literature, but it's a fantastic book)

#13 - Hawkeye: vol. 1 by Matt Fraction - Comic - 3.5/5 stars

Fun and awesome. All I could want out of a comic book. A scrappy hero with a strong moral compass and wicked skills? Check. Amazing art style? Check. (At least for the first two stories). Recommend for teens and fans of comic-books.

#14 - The Arrival by Shaun Tan - Graphic Novel - 5/5 stars

The best graphic novel I have ever read, at least until I read more of Shaun Tan's work. I use the word "read" loosely though. There were no words, so it is astounding that he achieved the level of story-telling that he did. His art is both beautiful and stylistic. And it gives an emotional tale of family, culture, country and immigration. What I'm trying to say is: go read it. It only takes like 15 minutes. Recommend for everyone.

#15 - Fiddler's Green by A.S. Peterson - His-fic - 5/5 stars

The first book in the Fin's Revolution series, Fiddler's Gun, is largely what converted me to reading historical fiction. I loved the first book and I don't know why I took so long to read the second book, because it was even better. It is a true duology (a two book series, also one of my favorite words), and one of my favorite series... ever. The excellence in writing just blows me away. Not just the wonderful prose and trademark dramatic humor, but the excellence in technique of dramatic story telling. I'm not talking about melodrama. I'm talking about molding of emotions, characters, situations to affect the reader in the most objectively excellent way. I just love this series. Also, there's pirates. Recommend for teens and adults.

#16 - Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - Sci-fi - 5/5 stars

Jurassic Park was the gigantic BANG that ended my reading year. It was some of the most fun I've had while reading a book in a very, very long time. Instant favorite. Everyone knows the premise. Mostly everyone has watched the movie. It's one of the few times that the movie is almost neck-and-neck with the book. But in my opinion, the book wins out. It has an incredibly more complex disaster that overpowers the island; so much more goes wrong. It's just plain thrilling and terrifying and so so much fun. Besides all that, it has a complex theme and demonstrates amazing technique in pulling it off. Recommend for teens and adults. (Plus I got a very beautiful edition of this book for Christmas and it's just so Nice to look at.)

And, that's the end! The end of the year, the decade even. I'll pick this back up at the end of January, and I hope you enjoyed my reviews. Happy New Year everyone.

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