January 2022 in Reading
Here we are, crashing through 2022. It’s been an eventful year so far, unpredictable to say the least. The weather has been cold, mostly gray, and my family and I finally experienced the seemingly unavoidable COVID diagnosis. Thankfully, the symptoms were minor and rather than feel downtrodden or putout, we focused on being thankful for some extra time together as we hunkered down and tried to keep our germs to ourselves.
While rich in family time, January was a good month for reading, too. I’ve been reveling in fiction more lately, starting the year off finishing Andy Weir’s spectacular Project Hail Mary. I greatly enjoy it when someone is both ridiculously smart and a good writer. Weir does such a good job of weaving science and story and keeping a strong pace throughout.
I love the Dave Grohl quote about no pleasure being a guilty pleasure. In that vein, I’ll proudly announce that one of my favorite movies of all time is Fried Green Tomatoes. So imagine my surprise when, at a library book sale a couple of months ago, I stumbled upon the book it was based on, Fannie Flaggs’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. I enjoyed the book almost as much as the movie, and found it to be a case of the movie actually being a pretty good rendition of the book. My only complaint is with the structuring of the book—the chapters are short, tend to jump a bit in time and character from chapter to chapter. Normally, this doesn’t bother me, but for some reason this time it kept me from getting really engrossed in the book. Still a worthy read, especially for $1 the library.
As for nonfiction, I finally read David Epstein’s Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. I’d started this one once or twice before, but never finished it. I’m glad I finally decided to pick it back up. Being someone who has accepted my disposition of roaming interests, it was interesting to learn about the benefits of my kind of general interest. From the perspective of a parent, it’s a good reminder not to forcibly pigeonhole your kid into any one sport or pursuit. Rather, give them some space and let them find what works for them. Range is on my list of Soon-to-Be Re-Read books.
I also finished Ryan Holiday’s newest, Courage is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave. I’ve read most of Holiday’s books at this point and have really enjoyed and gotten a lot out of them. Courage, however, misses a little for me. In his fashion, he illustrates the virtue of courage from the Stoic perspective, using various figures from history. He makes great points and pleads a good case, but I feel like an entire book on courage was a little much. He writes a few times in the book that it’s the first in a four-part series on Stoic virtues and I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to do one book on all four, even if it wound up a little longer than his normal 200-300 page manuals. Not bad, but not great.
I rounded out January and began February with Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers. What a great book, but also more than mildly disconcerting—especially considering it was published in July 2019, months before COVID-19 was a thing. I won’t give too much away aside from saying if you liked Stephen King’s The Stand (a comparison Wendig even refers in the book), I think you’ll enjoy this one as well. While it won’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy about our questionable future, it will at least help entertain the hell out of you in the moment.