The arrival of January brings another month of reading to an end. December was a relaxed month in many respects, as I cut back on my goals to focus on enjoying the final month of the year, while also working on finishing up tasks such as my milwordy challenge. Even so, I made sure to make plenty of time for reading. After all, though my TBR has shrunk over the last three years, there are still plenty of books that need to be read. So, I do my best to read a designated number of books each month. One exciting development this month was that I finally got a library card – something I haven’t had for years. So, while I still plan to focus mostly on my owed books, this gives me the opportunity to read other books that I’m curious about without buying them. This December 2021 reading wrap-up highlights the books I read in December and what I thought of them. Perhaps it will inspire you to do more reading in the future.
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December 2021 reading wrap-up
This was one of those books that I forgot most details as soon as I finished. What I can recall is I never really felt any connection to the story or characters and merely wandered through it hoping it would get better as it went on but was left disappointed. Honestly, I probably should have added this one to the DNF pile but I stuck with it. There is one more book in this trilogy and I’m not sure if I will read it or not.
I listened to the audiobook and quite enjoyed the narrator, Nancy Wu. This was quite an interesting book, focusing on a woman who has worked at a convenience store for 18 years. It highlights how the people she works with along with her work environment have shaped her over the years, including the way she dresses and speaks.
I enjoyed seeing how Keiko transitioned throughout the book. She was confident in her job, knew it was where she belonged despite pressures from others to find something else. The knowledge that her family sees her as broken and in need of fixing was something I connected with. I loved how she recaptured herself at the end and embraced who and what she was. The pressures of conforming to a “normal” life played a small but important role in this story and honestly, it showed that you don’t have to conform to what society or family thinks you should do in order to be happy.
I think one of my favorite parts is at the beginning, showing when Keiko was a young child. The two incidents, one involving a dead bird, and the other with two boys fighting at school, show that she is different in many ways but I loved her ways. Her practically could sometimes be called gruesome but that’s simply the way she thinks and looks at life.
There was one small part that I felt wasn’t fully explained but overall I really enjoyed the book. It was a surprisingly quick read, coming in just over 3 hours long.
Fun fact: The author works part-time at a convenience store.
It took me a bit to remember everything that had happened previously and then fell into the flow of the story once more. That is one downside to not reading an ongoing series for a while, you lose your spot, and then when you pick it up again few things make sense. Once I was back into the story, I really enjoyed it. There has been a buildup to something big coming and while it hasn’t happened yet, more hints are sprinkled throughout this volume. I am really looking forward to what happens next.
I have enjoyed several of Rumiko Takahashi’s series, so when I found out that Mao was being translated to English, I was very excited. The world in which this one is set is split between modern-day and the past – a theme that is found in some of her other works, such as InuYasha. I can already tell that this is a series I will enjoy because this first volume held my attention throughout its entirety. The two main characters, Nanoka and Mao are so different and yet similar in many ways. It will be very interesting to see how the story progresses.
Wow, were these two volumes amazing! The ending of volume 9 caught me completely off-guard and was such a huge cliffhanger that I was glad I already had volume 10 ready to go. Now, a lot of what was mentioned in previous volumes makes sense, but when that cliffhanger ending came up I was initially blown away by it. Then it all began to make sense as I thought back on conversations between characters and all the events that led up to this moment. Volume 10 did a fantastic job of bringing everything together and explaining events in even greater detail. Now I am really curious as to what will happen next in the series.
I first heard about Goodbye, Things several years ago but only now got around to listening to the audiobook. This book is mostly a guide on how to declutter and embrace minimalism while sharing the author’s minimalism journey. It also touches on the history of minimalism in Japan, rules to be followed, some tips. He also talks about another famous Japanese declutterer, Marie Kondo, throughout the book. I did learn a few new things about decluttering from this book and I think it would be a great read for those not only starting on their decluttering/minimalism journey but those who have been going for a while and need extra help to reach their goals.
The second book in the Wolfblade Trilogy. This one was quite slow throughout – it took all month to read it. Only in the last 100-200 pages did I feel like the slow events finally added up to something happening but even then the book felt sluggish. In a way, it felt like too much was happening at all times and thus the story was bogged down by so much stuff. Perhaps it was the plethora of drawn-out paragraphs that seemed to lead to nowhere that gave it this slow aura. While this wasn’t a great read, I will give the final book a try and hope that the pace and story pick up.
This book follows most of the events of the main book, 5 Centimeters Per Second, with a few differences. Instead of the first and last sections being from Tohno’s perspective it is instead Akari who we get to see from her perspective – though they do share the final part together. The middle section is from Tohno’s perspective instead of Kanae’s. This allows us to see more in-depth into the story as a whole, while also seeing aspects of it through other characters’ eyes. There are a few new additions to the story on top of the perspective switch, which bring it further to life. I will say it was a bit of a slow read, but still enjoyable as a whole. I do wish that the entire book was from Akari’s perspective instead of jumping around to others. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit and if I remember correctly, parts of this one do make it into the movie.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this book. It was strange in many ways. I listened to the audiobook version, which was only 4 hours long – however, I found the narrator spoke quite slowly, but thankfully I was able to speed it up. The story revolves around Kazu’s life, focusing on events that occurred in Japan after World War II up to the announcement of Japan hosting the 2020 Olympics. It’s a story about life, death, homelessness, being poor, and the struggles of life. I can’t say that I ever truly got into the story and had it not been so short, I doubt I would have finished it.
Having watched and enjoyed the Studio Ghibli version of this story, I was eager to check out the original story. I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. We get to see Kiki grow so much from the beginning. Not only that, but the world becomes clearer as well. We get to see Kiki and those around her go through a year of her life, performing the necessary training that a witch must go through and finding her place in the world. Kiki is far from perfect, especially at the beginning, but that’s what makes her character so appealing.
The one disadvantage to reading the original story after watching an adaptation, is you come to expect certain scenes but then they aren’t there. For example, I was eagerly awaiting the scene with the dirigible however that one wasn’t in the book. Yet there was a similar scene that I can see was the origin of the dirigible version in the movie. I will say it’s worth reading this book if you enjoy the Studio Ghibli movie as you get a better look at Kiki and the town she lives in.
I remember hearing a lot of talk about this book over the last few years and was intrigued by it. So I decided this month I would check it out, however, I also chose to go into the story not knowing what it was about. Often time it’s the premise that will draw me to pick up a book, but for this one, I decided to not know anything ahead of time. I listened to the audiobook version and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The narrator was fine, she gave a semi-unique voice to the few characters in the story. It was the story itself I’m not sure about. Listening to it, the flow of the story seemed good. I think I am still confused about some aspects of the book. Overall, I would say it was an okay book.
December 2021 reading wrap-up stats
- Books read: 12
- Books purchased: 1
- Books gifted: 6
- Books purged: 1
- Books DNF’d: 0
2021 reading stats
- Books read: 142
- Books purchased: 24
- Books gifted: 18
- Books purged: 32
- Books DNF’d: 7
I hope you enjoy my December 2021 reading wrap-up. What did you read in December?