Here’s the stack of reads I tackled in December!

December Reads

I read fewer books than usual, but I’m pretty sure that I read more pages this month than I did over the summer. I finally feel back in my reading groove.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2002) by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2005) by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) by J. K. Rowling

What you need to know: As I said last month, if you haven’t read all of the Harry Potter books by now, go out and get them immediately!

As I mentioned in November, I meant to read all of the Harry Potter books before the first part of the Deathly Hallows movie came out but couldn’t figure out which box they were packed in. So I finished them up in December. The books have kind of a holiday feel to them, so it worked out well. These were really good to read while 100% pregnant because they are childrens’ literature and I’ve read them (multiple times) before. I needed something that didn’t require a lot of thought since I had taken to falling asleep on books in the middle of a chapter.

Book 4 is my favorite. The tournament and the World Cup are just too much fun! And who doesn’t love dragons and merpeople? Awesome.

Book 5 is probably my least favorite because I’m not a fan of Harry’s (rather whiny) internal conflict. Don’t get mad; I get it. The internal conflict needs to be there and is brilliant from a standpoint of aging Harry. In light of the struggles he faces in the book, his behavior is perfect character development. That doesn’t mean I have to love every minute of the actual reading of it.

I love Book 6 because my favorite part of the series are the classroom and school scenes. This book is packed full of the “side notes” and minor characters that I loved throughout the series. This light heartedness is needed before the final serious installment, which we are prepared for with the very sad ending of Book 6. I also love that this book adds new depths to the series’ villains.

The depth that is added to the villains in Book 6 is given to the heroes in Book 7. No one is all good or all bad; it is the choices made that makes the characters who they are. I cried even more than usual through this reading. I blame the pregnancy hormones (though I usually cry when I read it anyways).

I Know This Much is True (1998) by Wally Lamb

What you need to know: One of the many times I have to grudgingly admit that Oprah is right (Oprah Book Club 1998) .

This book centers around Dominick Birdsey, a man whose life is falling apart. His identical twin brother suffers from severe schizophrenia. Dominick tries to balance taking care of his brother with his falling-apart relationships and his complicated feelings about his childhood. Learning about his family past and forcing himself, with the help of his brother’s psychiatrist, to be honest about his feelings past and present guides Dominick into a breakthrough of his own.

I am going to read another of Lamb’s books, She’s Come Undone, at first opportunity after reading this. There are so many interesting twists and plot turns (many of which are pretty darn screwed up; definitely R rated) that you don’t even notice the honesty and depth at the core of the book until it kind of sneaks up on you. It is cliche to call a character’s journey life-changing, but in this case Lamb really pulls it off.

Warning: Don’t Wiki this book; it gives away all of the twists in the plot summery.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) by Michael Chabon

What you need to know: You don’t have to be a comic book nerd like me to enjoy this; it is more about complex human emotion than it is about superheros.

This takes place during World War II in America and centers around two Jewish cousins, one of whom escaped from Czechoslovakia, who invent a comic book superhero during the birth of the medium. The novel includes tons of interesting side bars outlining the birth of the comic book, training of magicians and escape artists, and the development of surrealism in New York (there is even a crazy party at Salvador Dali’s). But the real reason this is a masterpiece is Chabon’s dealings with deep human emotions and conflicts including survivors’ guilt, family obligations, self-identity crisis, PTSD, severe anger, and abandonment.

I actually found this book on the ground while walking home from a movie with Jake and our friend Justin after seeing a movie downtown last summer. How good can a book be if someone just leaves it lying around? Well the front said it won the Pulitzer, so I knew it couldn’t be half bad. I took it home on good faith. (I considered leaving it for whoever dropped it, but it was about to rain so it was either adoption or ruin). I was not disappointed. I finished this in two days in the hospital while I was nursing Jonas. Reading is the only way I can stay awake during nightly feedings. I have a feeling I’ll be getting a lot more reading done in January thanks to our new little milk monster.