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Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books–the Month of Meh

Did you see our beautiful new button, courtesy of Steph? It was time this linkup, the day our TBRs explode, got a new look, wasn’t it? 

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I’d hope to start off the first 2016 edition of Show Us Your Books with some amazing, incredible, YOU MUST ADD THESE TO YOUR TRB RIGHT NOW books. But alas, I don’t. Because of all the books I read last month, the highest I rated a book was 4 stars and that was being generous. The 7 I read weren’t bad enough to quit but not good enough that I couldn’t put them down. Which made me sad because one was Fates and Furies

Let’s talk about that one first and go from there (if you’re new to our little linkup, I’m wordy. There’s a TL;DR summary at the end, right before the list). 

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I was SO EXCITED to read this book after all I’d heard about it. The president picked it as his favorite book of 2016 for fuck’s sake. And then I started reading it. And my excitement dwindled almost instantly. It was such an average book. I did not find one thing special about it, unless you count the fact that Lauren Groff also wrote the plays that are featured in the book. The two main characters, husband Lotto and wife Mathilde, are two of the biggest assholes I’ve read, I cared absolutely nothing about either of them and it was a completely average, sad marriage. Lotto’s narcissism was maddening to read and thankfully, once we got to Mathilde’s portion of the book, the story improved exponentially. It’s actually what kept me going to the end. The study of their marriage was interesting but as far as books I’d recommend highly, this is not one of them.

Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott. This was another one I could not wait to read. I’d had in on my list for awhile and the library finally cooperated. I first started it and thought “wow, this author reminds me a lot of the chick who wrote You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine”, and that was a big fat DNF (oddly enough, she thanked Alexandra Kleeman in the acknowledgements so it kind of makes sense that I had that thought) since I hated everything about that book. However. This was had enough interesting characters and the plotlines were enough to make me want to keep reading to the end. It was a slow read because her pretentious writing style plucked all my nerves but not enough I wanted to throw the book against a wall. So that’s good.

After You by Jojo Moyes. Me Before You made me cry so many tears and started me on a binge read of Jojo Moyes, who is definitely my kind of author. And as far as sequels go, this one didn’t suck. The strength of her writing definitely carried the story more than the story itself. Louisa is not unlikeable, and her grief is definitely palpable throughout the story. But there was just so much going on. Too much. Dizzying amounts of plotlines. They all fit together but the support group, teenage girl who I can’t say much more about without ruining a big part of the book, a new love interest/boyfriend, family issues…too much. I get that it’s a reflection of actual life but for a 400-ish page book, it just felt rushed. 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I chose to read this book because I’d heard mixed opinions about it and I wanted to form my own. I do not have a problem with decluttering (when I’m not too lazy to actually do it); in fact, clutter increases my anxiety so I do what I can to keep the crap at bay all the time. And if you want to learn how to declutter and need a step by step process, this book is for you. For me, though, it was too fucking weird. Like, I do not, nor will I ever, thank my purse for the “hard work” it does for me during the day (no joke, she suggests talking to your stuff like it’s sentient. Nope, nope, nope. I’m not talking to shoes. I’ve got one foot in the crazy house; I don’t need to give my family reason to actually put me there). I also found her superior attitude a bit offputting but I’m hoping that’s just the way it came across in the translation and it’s not the way she actually is. I like her point that you should surround yourself with the things that matter and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t but still. I wasn’t blown away by her advice. Probably because I’m not her target audience. 

American Salvage and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell. These were collections of short stories, all about the people we pretend we don’t see or don’t want to think exist. People who are poor, rural poor. People who do meth (lots of people who do meth. This author REALLY likes that particular drug as a plot point). People who are lonely, abandoned, depressed. Women who are abused and cheated on and dying. And her stories are well written and some of them are quite good. The problem with her writing, though, is that her plots and character types are very repetitive. In fact, I’m having trouble recalling one specific story over another because they all sort of bled together. Except the titular story for Mothers, Tell Your Daughters because the lady who narrated that story mentioned 3 separate times that she drowned kittens. I hate her. 

Refund: Stories by Karen E. Bender. What drew me to this collection of short stories was the financial/personal finance aspect that was advertised. Not falsely, I need to say, but not exactly accurate, either. There were some stories based around debt and job loss and recession, but there was one story with a woman teaching in an impoverished school that was put on lockdown and then she took one student to a sea turtle hospital or something like that and it was all very weird. She’s a good writer and I’d be willing to give her another chance, even if I didn’t love all the stories in this collection. It started off strong and then dwindled. Kind of like SNL does each episode. I also think she might be getting an unfair assessment from me as this was the 3rd consecutive short story collection I read and I might have had short story fatigue.

I did notice this about my choices this month: all the books not for work were written by women. So that’s cool.

TL; DR–I read a bunch of average, meh books this month. There’s not one I feel you must add to your list but a couple popular, trendy ones that you should read to form your own opinions. Specifically, Fates and Furies, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and After You.

Now it’s your turn! Bloggers, link up with what you read. Nonbloggers or forgetful bloggers, leave a comment with your favorite reads of last month. And don’t forget to visit a few new to you bloggers to keep with the spirit of the linkup!

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61 Comments

  1. Erin @ TexErin-in-SydneyLand

    My tbr list actually got shorter after reading this. I can’t read about drowning kittens, so that’s out. Pretentious writing style? No, thank you. Deleted from tbr. You & Steph are both “meh” about Fates and Furies. Too many books that I want to read to not take your two opinions into consideration. I hope next month is a better one for you.
    Erin @ TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…I show you my books, you show me yours 1.16My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Ha! I’m glad that I was able to help shorten the list. Sometimes it needs a culling.

      Reply
  2. Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage

    I felt basically the same way about The Life-Changing Magic, some good points and then a lot of things I was just said umm NO WAY to 🙂 We move so much that we tend to declutter often anyway. I hope January is a better reading month for you!! I had meh reading months. BTW I’m pretty sure I got the The Psychopath Test from your review…I really enjoyed that one, so interesting!
    Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage recently posted…Show Us Your Books: December 2015My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I haven’t read The Psychopath Test but I am HIGHLY amused that you associate that type of book with me because it makes perfect sense that it would come from me. It’s totally my kind of book.

      Reply
  3. Crystal W

    I do feel like something of “Life Changing Magic…” was lost in translation, or maybe just a cultural difference that didn’t quite transfer over. There needs to be an Americanized version that’s more like “Yo, you worked like an entire week to pay for those shoes, so you probably shouldn’t just toss them by the front door when you get home. Take care of them like a mofo adult!” That said, I do totally fold my socks in thirds now and they are so very pretty.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think that your Americanized version is PERFECT. I don’t, nor will I ever, fold my socks in thirds. I barely remember to fold the laundry so when I do, I’m not making the folding process last any longer.

      Reply
  4. Kerry

    When I heard After You was coming out I was like really? What is the point. The first book ended as it should have, maybe I leave that one to the end of my TBR pile. The Art of Tidying up would be the same for me, I want to read for the advice but won’t be talking to my stuff.
    Kerry recently posted…DIY Photo Project and Seamus UpdateMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I get why she wrote the sequel and as far as sequels go, it was pretty good but nothing to read with urgency.

      Reply
  5. Heather H

    I totally agree with the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up…I did take some very valid points from it because I need advice on how to declutter, but there’s no way I am ever coming home, emptying everything out of my purse, thanking it, and putting everything back in it the next day. I also don’t think you need to “thank” the things you are getting rid of for serving their purpose. haha. This month was a bit meh for me too reading-wise, but improving!!
    Heather H recently posted…Book Challenge by Erin 4.0 Book choicesMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      OMG, YES. The emptying everything out every day. WHY? Why is that necessary? It’s just way too much unnecessary work.

      Reply
  6. kathy @ more coffee, less talky

    since i started work again, i haven’t had time to read much! i’m not usually a few-chapters-a-night kinda gal either; i’m a binger so if a book isn’t doing it for me (read: i am not blowing through the chapters), then it’s a book that won’t rate very high and i haven’t come across a book that’s made me do that in a while.

    to that end, i am reading a book my svp gave me (Saturn Run) that has a “Martian” feel to it and so far, so good!
    kathy @ more coffee, less talky recently posted…more confessions not on HumpdayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m going to look into Saturn Run because if it’s like The Martian, well, that’s good enough for me. Plus my husband needs a few books to read because he’s getting on my nerves. When I’m reading and he has nothing to read, he talks as if I don’t have a book in front of my face. No. JUST NO.

      Reply
  7. SMD

    You know my feelings on Fates and Furies.

    I really love the title Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, but I will likely not read it.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s a great title but I don’t think it accurately conveyed the subject of the book. I’d recommend American Salvage over that one. And she has a novel that I’ll read because I enjoy her as a writer.

      Reply
  8. Nadine

    Wait wait wait. Talking to your purse?!?!? WTF???? And why are you the first person who has said anything about that in their review??? I have read so many people’s review on that book and not a one said something about talking to your items. Do they think that is normal and perfectly acceptable??? Are we the odd ones out here? What???
    Nadine recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Yep. She suggests that you thank your items each and every day for the “work” they do for you. It’s become a HUGE joke in my house. Even my child is in on it. Yesterday she thanked an empty olive jar before I tossed it into recycling. It was funnier than it sounds.

      Reply
  9. ellesees.net

    i like the idea of “does it bring you joy?” but the thanking my socks? um, no.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      RIGHT?! It’s ridiculous. The socks don’t give a shit. BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW. BECAUSE THEY’RE SOCKS.

      Reply
  10. Carly

    I read Fates & Furies this month too and I definitely agree with you, the ‘fates’ portion was so difficult to read I almost quit two or three times. Despite everyone seeming to love Life Changing Magic, it’s never really appealed to me, mainly because I feel like I already know how to declutter my life, it’s just making the time to do it? But after reading your review I’m even more sure I probably wouldn’t love it as much as most people.
    Carly recently posted…Show Us Your Books (the first two)My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I had to force myself through the fates portion of the book. I truly don’t understand this book’s popularity.

      Life Changing Magic definitely has a target audience and I’m not it. It’s not a bad book, per se, it’s just not for me.

      Reply
  11. Linda sheridan

    I instagrammed Lola’s books for the day and tagged you and Steph ! I videoed Steph reading to her probably before she was a month old. I will read to her every day she is with me! I am not a good reader now because I read my phone!!! I am also afraid to get immersed in a book because I will stay up all night and I need my sleep. Lol. Keep on reading!
    Love. Steph’s. Momma

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Reading to babies and kids is so much fun!

      Reply
  12. Sara

    I love that you mention writing style… I was actually really put off by one of the books I read this month because I felt the writer was too sympathic to the main character and it just sounded whiny. Then I realized I was probably just being harsh because of the parallels with my own life, lol… But yes, it can be off putting!!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Writing style is important to me in a book. If I can’t handle the writing style, it’ll affect my enjoyment of a book. BUT. If the plot and characters are good enough, I can overlook it. To a point.

      Reply
  13. Jessica @ Pleas(e) & Carrots

    I actually really liked After You! I didn’t expect a sequel to Me a before You but was pleasantly surprised!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It worked okay as a sequel and I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought. It was just so busy, plotwise.

      Reply
  14. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    It sucks when you have a month of just blah books that you read! I’ve heard lots of things about Fates and Furies, and it sucks that the characters were just totally unlikable. Sometimes that works for a book, but when it makes you not want to read it, that’s not a good thing. Hopefully January is bringing you some much better reads already!
    Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders recently posted…Nashville- The Athens Of The SouthMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Given the two books I’m currently reading, this month is going to be WAY better.

      I was so disappointed by Fates and Furies but I think that might have been a failing of me succumbing to the hype.

      Reply
  15. Michelle

    Can’t give enough credit to Jojo Moyes and her After You book. Love, love that author and her novels. Always keeps me on my toes. Thanks for the party. New to this one and adding to my list of book review link ups.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      She is a great author! I’m glad she has a big back list of books for me to binge on!

      Reply
  16. Lauren

    After You is still on my list but you aren’t the first person to have said it’s “meh.” Perhaps with expectations that it isn’t going to make me ugly cry into my Kindle, I’ll be okay with it? I had never read a Lauren Groff book before trying Fates and Furies. I did not enjoy it, but I didn’t really get beyond his first meeting with his wife. I felt like there were too many words, and not in a good way. Some of your reviews are making me LOL this morning. I too hate the drowning kittens woman, so I will not pick that book up!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      There were definitely too many words and Lotto was a fucking asshole. To the point that I hated him.

      If you go into After You understanding that it is not at all Me Before You, and in fact could be a stand alone book (with the exception of a few references to the first book), you’ll be fine.

      Reply
  17. Jen

    Thanks for hosting the link up! I have a couple of your books on my to-read list.

    Reply
  18. Brittany Pines

    I have all these books about tidying up and organization…and I never, ever read them, haha!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      This was one of only a couple I’ve read that I can remember. I read it mostly because of the hype; I didn’t have high learning expectations.

      Reply
  19. kristen

    i agree about after you. i was so conflicted with that book, it didn’t feel like a sequel and there was a lot going on. i do love moyes though, so i enjoyed it.
    i’m intrigued by fates and furies, a lot of people read / reviewed it today but i’m not sure if it’s for me. we’ll see. i had a bit of a meh book month as well, hopefully next time is better!
    kristen recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think the fact that there was just so much going on is what made me not love it. And I’m not a huge fan of Louisa, either, but I was happy with her choice at the end.

      Reply
  20. Amber

    I felt the same about After You. I was SO excited about it. I even bought it. And it just was missing the magic of Me Before You. It was entertaining enough, but I found myself skimming a lot.
    Amber recently posted…Hey, It’s Okay Tuesday!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It was definitely not as magical as Me Before You. I don’t think I was expecting it to be but the fact that it could be a standalone book made it less of a sequel and more of a follow-up, if that makes sense.

      Reply
  21. Gwen

    Such a bummer when you’re so excited to read a book and it doesn’t live up to expectations. I likely won’t be reading Fates and Furies. I will still read After You…eventually. I’m SO glad to read your take on Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I haven’t read it but it seemed weird to me, and the thing about thanking “things?” Um, no.
    Gwen recently posted…Gila’s Favorite Books of 2015My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I feel like everyone’s gushed over Tidying Up but it just wasn’t that for me.

      I would pass on Fates and Furies, too, unless you’re really curious about it. Then read it. But the first half is tough to get through.

      Reply
  22. Nancy @ NY Foodie Family

    I had your same feelings about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I recently finished After You and it will be in my January monthly recap. I liked it a lot but agree with the many plot lines. And you already know about my feelings of Fates and Furies. Sorry you had a meh reading month. Hopefully, this month will be better!
    Nancy @ NY Foodie Family recently posted…December 2015 ReadsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      So far this month seems to be improving so that’s good! I really wish she would have focused Louisa’s life a little more in the book. And some of the situations were just nonsense (like her being present at the shooting. WTF?)

      Reply
  23. Kelly

    I keep hearing good things about Jojo Moyes and need to add her to my author list.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      One Plus One and Me Before You have been my favorites of hers thus far (that I’ve read).

      Reply
  24. Kristin

    I’m reading Tidying right now. I just need to get Scott on board with throwing away half of what we own (yeah, right).
    Eh, I wasn’t overly impressed with “After You” because I didn’t love the first one. I just read it to say I did basically.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      My husband HATES throwing things away. My daughter, too. It makes me insane.

      Reply
  25. Ericka @ A Quiet Girl's Musings...

    I read The Life Changing Magic… last winter. I agree, there were parts that I just said, “Nope, not happening.” and I modified it. I did actually tell a beloved, but desperately worn out t-shirt “thanks for the fun times, old friend,” right before I chopped it up into dusting cloths. LOL!
    Ericka @ A Quiet Girl’s Musings… recently posted…$1.4 BillionMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Haha! I love that!

      Reply
  26. Christina

    I’ve had Infinite Home on my nightstand forever and keep putting it off. It’s probably time to return it to the library. I want to read Tidying Up to form my own opinion too. My sister read it last summer and told me all the stupid stuff, but said she did like holding each item and asking if it really brought you joy. I want to de-clutter this year, but don’t have that much attachment to stuff so it might not actually help me. I didn’t love After You either, but really liked Fates and Furies.
    Christina recently posted…Life LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I have certain things I’m attached to and hang on to those but for the most part, especially with clothes, I’m fine with letting things go. So I know I wasn’t her target audience. It wasn’t a bad book, necessarily, just not for me.

      Reply
  27. Alexandra C.

    I haven’t read any of these… though I have been wanting to see what the fuss is about with The Life Changing Magic… We’ll see I’m on hold for it at the library. Don’t know how much I’d like the ones with meth as a plot point.. ew. BUT I really need to hop on that jo jo moyes band wagon. Everyone loves it. XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    Reply
  28. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    Fates and Furies is on my list and there definitely seems to be a love or hate response. A couple other friends just read it and were meh about it too. I’m on the waiting list at my library, but admit it’s not a book that I keep rechecking to see where I am in the line. I was also interested The Life Changing Magic of Cleaning Up but I’m kind of a slob. Okay, not kind of but a serious slob. So I probably really ought to read it. I’m completely behind surrounding yourself by things that matter, but I suspect she might annoy me in the same way Martha Stewart does. I’m anxious to see what others have read as you guys are giving me so many good suggestions and I LOVE it!
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…7 Ways I’m Choosing to Live My Best LifeMy Profile

    Reply
  29. Alison @ Puppies & Pretties

    It is always disappointing when you have such high hopes for a book and it just falls flat. That is one reason why I am always leery to read books that get tons of publicity that it is the next “it” book. Far too many times it just doesn’t work for me.
    Alison @ Puppies & Pretties recently posted…December ReadsMy Profile

    Reply
  30. Kristen

    It sucks that you’ve started 2016 with a lot of “meh” books. I feel that way too (especially with one book that I only rated 1 star because it was just so boring and awful). Last year I started strong with a 5 star book that even made it onto my list of top books of 2015. I was hoping this year would be the same.

    I do have some Jojo Moyes books on my “To Read” list, though, and I’m glad to see that you enjoy her so much. (I know Kristen does as well. It’s always promising when a couple of your favorite bloggers really enjoy and recommend things!)

    The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up doesn’t sound like my kind of book at all, but I had to laugh when I read that she suggests thanking objects for their “hard work.” I can’t imagine I’d ever be able to do that with a straight face! Haha.
    Kristen recently posted…From the Bookshelf: Recently Read – January 2016 EditionMy Profile

    Reply
  31. Jody Laffer

    Good read – and inspired to pick up my book now and get to the friggin end versus throwing it against the wall.

    Reply
  32. Teh Megan

    After You is definitely on my TBR list and I was the same way after I read Me Before You. It’s been so long since I read it that I might have to skim through it again to be able to give After You my best focus.
    Teh Megan recently posted…Confessions {1/13}My Profile

    Reply
  33. alyssa

    Fates and Furies seems to be on a lot of lists this month. I gave up on the audiobook—too many characters too soon, I couldn’t keep up while driving. I want to give the book book a shot though, but I won’t expect much from it.

    Good to know about Infinite Home too. I’ve been waffling on whether to even seek that one out.

    Reply
  34. Rose @ Ramblin' Rose

    Both you and Steph gave Fates and Furies less than favorable reviews so I might skip it which is sad because I was really into it. I loved her first book, Monsters of Templeton.
    Rose @ Ramblin’ Rose recently posted…December BooksMy Profile

    Reply
  35. Pingback: January Edition: On My Bookshelf

  36. Pingback: February Bookshelf: The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed this Month

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