What I Read in December 2016

Ooh, the final month of the year and my last chance to hit my target of 75 books for the year. Did I make it? Didn’t I? COURSE I DID. On 31 December, naturally. Though I guess if you read my review of 2016, you knew that already. I racked up a few more reads after I returned to Edinburgh for the holidays, making up for my rather lacklustre reading efforts throughout September, October and November. So, without further ado, here’s what I read in December:

What I Read in December

Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn
Finished on 16 December – Paperback

If I was a petty person, which I obviously am, I would blame this book on my lack of reading progress throughout November. I took it to Lisbon with the intention of ditching it when I was done. BUT IT WAS SUCH A SLOG AND I DIDN’T MANAGE IT. Took me weeks to wade through this bad boy – Jesus Fuck that’s some dense, descriptive writing – but the premise (and one of the characters who I adored) was enough to pull me through it. A couple of carnies decide to breed their own family of freaks for their circus by subjecting the mother to drugs and radiation during pregnancy, and it only got more fucked up from there. Thanks to this book I’ve been dwelling on the use of description in writing, but I’ll save that diatribe for another time.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Original Screenplay, by J.K. Rowling
Finished on 21 December – Hardback

Oh my goodness, I absolutely loved reading this. I bought it in Livraria Lello, the gorgeous bookshop in Porto, Portugal, that allegedly inspired J.K. Rowling. The book itself is a thing a beauty, liberally scattered with 1920s-style drawings of mythical creatures, which made it even harder to resist. I rushed through it because I wanted to finish it before going to see the actual film. And you know what? I think I preferred reading the screenplay. Obviously the movie is good, but it wasn’t as big and vibrant and colourful as the world I constructed in my mind. Although I did spend almost the entire book thinking one of the main characters was a little boy rather than a grown man, because I somehow missed the ‘adult’ part of ‘her adult children’. Whoops. Anyway, it’s a good, fun, quick read.

Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Red Dwarf Book 1, by Grant Naylor
Finished on 24 December – Audiobook

I had been meaning to read this for literally years – easily over a decade. I’m a huge fan of Red Dwarf, having grown up with it. I remember lying in front of the TV in my vest and pants when I was a kid, resting my chin in my hands, watching this with my family at 9pm on Friday nights. I didn’t understand most of the jokes, but I enjoyed it anyway. It’s probably the TV series I have watched the most times in my life and I seem to pick up on more and more of the jokes every time I watch it. Anyway. THE BOOK! It’s narrated by Chris Barrie, one of the main actors in the show, and my god, he does everyone’s voices SO WELL. I’m glad I never read this book when I had it sitting on my shelves all those years ago, because listening to it on audio is definitely the way to do it. If you’re a fellow dwarfer, I think you’ll love it – going on a deeper diver into the characters’ lives is fun and interesting.

Girl Up, by Laura Bates
Finished on 26 December – Paperback

THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT BOOK. I want to thrust it into the hands of every teenage girl in the western world, and probably into the hands of all teenage boys and grown men, too. Bates addresses so many crucial issues that teenager girls and young women (and older woman too, if we’re honest) grapple with regularly. It’s a book about female empowerment, being the sole possessors of our own bodies, the fact that women can enjoy sex too, and tons of other stuff. Put simply, it shoots down all the bullshit the media and this damned patriarchal hegemony we live in have jammed down our throats all our lives. I am just itching to give this book to my niece on her thirteenth birthday. Still a while to go though, given she turns two this weekend.

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
Finished on 27 December – Paperback

Only a few days of the year left and I still needed to finish two books, so I snatched my copy of Steal Like an Artist off the shelf and devoured it. It’s a super quick read, but so so good. I think I agreed with every single thing Kleon said and I really love his way of looking at creativity. It’s refreshing to read something so pragmatic and down to earth after hearing so many authors claim that inspiration comes from some divine spirit or that ideas are living beings and whatever other bullshit is the flavour of the week.

Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher
Finished on 31 December – Kindle

I started reading this the day after she died. I didn’t even realise she was an author before then, but after seeing so many outpourings of love for her and her work and her badassery on Twitter after her death was announced, I knew I needed to know more about her and her life. Wishful Drinking is a brief, hilarious and incredibly honest look at some of the main events of Carrie’s life. She’s a damn good writer and sharp as a katana. I wish I’d taken the time to learn more about her before her death. I feel sad now. I instantly downloaded two more of her books upon finishing this.

My December Book Statistics

Books read: 6

Fiction: 3
Non-fiction: 3

Audiobooks: 1
Kindle books: 1
Physical books: 4

Progress towards goal: 75/75 – CHALLENGE COMPLETED.

I loved writing this column throughout 2016, so I’m definitely going to keep doing it in 2017. I’m unofficially aiming to hit 75 books again this year, though my real goal is simply to read every single day. I figure that way I could end up reading MORE than 75 books, given that I did NOT read every single day last year. However, there’ll be less graphic novels involved (since I’ve already devoured Attack on Titan and will be travelling for most of the year, which doesn’t mesh well with reading comics), so it should be more of a challenge to hit 75 this year. Bring it, books! I’m going to read you every god damn day!

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