Recently Read: January

January is such a great month for reading. It’s too cold to go anywhere and gets dark out too soon, so the best solace is to curl up in bed with a good book. Here are a few of the books I read this month that I really enjoyed (especially the last one). What did you read this month?

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller

In this memoir @kimberlyraemiller shares what it was like growing up the daughter of hoarders. The detail and vulnerability are shocking. It can be hard to talk about family secrets, especially when wrapped in so much shame but Kimberly handles their story with honesty and love. I loved her other book “Beautiful Bodies” which I’ve posted on here before and this one was a great selection for this month’s memoir reading challenge. What memoir are you reading for January?

YOU by Caroline Kepnes

The writing in YOU is really straightforward and bold. It all begins in the East Village where MFA candidate and aspiring writer Guinevere, known as Beck to her friends, walks into a bookstore where Joe Goldberg works. He’s captivated by her beauty and does what anyone else would do: he googles the name on her credit card. As his fascination grows, he moves from stalker to boyfriend in a series of highly calculated steps. He invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life and step by step removes any obstacles that stand in their way until Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. It’s a terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation. If you’re looking for a page-turner – this is it! 

It’s Not Dark Yet by Simon Fitzmaurice

If you’re looking for a quick memoir to finish off this month’s memoir reading challenge, I highly recommend “It’s Not Dark Yet”. Young Irish filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with ALS in the middle of a budding career and a new marriage. In his memoir, Simon shares his life before and after the diagnosis as a talented filmmaker, husband, and father of 5 children. “It’s only important that you remember that behind every disease is a person. Remember that and you have everything you need to travel through my country.”

What We Loose by Zinzi Clemmons

This a young woman’s coming of age story set in Philadelphia and Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition to addressing race, sex, family, country, and identity, a common thread throughout the book is the loss of her mother and how that impacts all aspects of her life. She feels caught between two worlds – not quite American yet not quite South African. After losing her mother Clemmons struggles to find her way while learning to live without the person who most profoundly shaped her existence. This is an extraordinary book and I highly recommend it as a must-read for 2018.

The Only Girl In The World by Maude Julien

I just finished this memoir last night, and just….wow. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a memoir and this *actually* happened. Maude Julien grew up in a secluded manor in Cassel, France with insidious parents who manipulatively controlled and brainwashed her from an early age with the goal of raising their child as a superhuman being.

They constructed strict training regimes that included holding onto an electric fence for 10 minutes without flinching, being regularly locked in the cellar overnight to contemplate death while rats scurried at her feet. Irregular and irrational punishments for taking pleasure in anything, showing any emotion, or daring to have an original thought.

She was forbidden to leave the property and for 8 years never saw another soul other than the workmen, one who raped her repeatedly for 10 years, and her abusive music teacher.

While reading this book I was routinely horrified and shocked that this level of abuse, manipulation, and injustice went on for 18 years until Maude was finally able to escape. This story is an incredible testament to the power of the spirit to overcome suffering and to Maude’s own resilience and strength of character.

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