December 2017 Month in Review

January 1, 2018


Oh my goodness, that was crazy.

Somehow, December caught me in her clutches when I wasn’t looking. Life took over and dragged me along like a limp doll no matter how hard I ran to keep up.

The winter holidays were in full swing, obviously. Not only did we celebrate Hanukkah with my family and Christmas with David’s, but we attended many holiday parties which covered Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, and a repeat of Thanksgiving. We also made many many cookies with many many friends and family members. I swear, we gained 12 pounds each this month due to cookies alone.

Work was chaotic. Apparently, as we get towards the end of the year everyone needs something from my role. This was my first Q4 in this job, and while I love my job, I will need to work harder next year to ensure that doesn’t happen. It was a lot of stress and late nights. Not ideal– but now I know and can be prepared for next year at this time!

Relatedly, the work I was doing with my non-profits also ramped up. That, plus work, plus holidays, plus wedding planning, plus the usual book clubs meant Jackie didn’t have a lot of free time. She was happy but exhausted.

Finally, December is always my favorite book club month. Most of my book clubs did White Elephant book exchanges and we all celebrated more festively than usual. One of my book club members does Silks with the Madison Circus Space. This means the Science Fiction/Fantasy book club all went to the Nutcracker Circus and he was AWESOME. In general, I think circus work is amazing. At some point, I might try it out.


List of Reads

I thank all the road trips for me managing to get this much read in my chaotic December. Audiobooks are amazing. But watch out for poor narrators!

December Books:

Read 11 total books


MUST READ this month:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – I previewed this a bit in my Top 10 Reads of 2017 post, but at the time I wasn’t done with it. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is my absolute favorite book from 2017. It’s a brilliant character study which explores both lighthearted and dark moments of humanity. I highly recommend the audiobook. 6 stars our of 5. FOR SURE. Full review to follow.

Meh. I wasn’t into it this month:

Annihilation   I know, I know… The whole world seems to love this book. David and I listened to the audiobook on our way home from Christmas. I almost fell asleep. Three times. Now, I think it might be the audiobook narrator more than anything (a bad audiobook narrator will ruin amazing works of literature), but I still don’t think I would enjoy it even if I had read the book on my own. Once I’ve parced through all my feelings you’ll see a rant-y review. I can’t wait to discuss with everyone!


Challenge Updates

  • Overall 2017 Reading Challenge: 130/110 (118% complete)
  • 2017 Listopia Challenge: 18/15 (120% complete)
  • Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge: 19/24 (79% complete)
  • Popsugar 2017 Challenge: 42/52 (80% complete)
  • The Great Newbery Challenge: 30/95 (31% complete)

Throughout the second half of this year, I found that I was losing interest in the yearly reading challenges I had picked up. While I do love Read Harder and Popsugar, my time with them is done. No longer am I excited to check off all the books on this list. My mood reading and book club schedules have consistently trumped what is on these reading lists.

Instead, for 2018, I will continue my Great Newbery Challenge and do reading challenges which allow me to interact more with others. I hope to find a few which will keep me interested throughout 2018!

You can follow my Yearly Reading Challenge updates more regularly here, and for The Great Newbery Challenge here.


Tsundoku Life

It wouldn’t be tsundoku if I didn’t have a gigantic pile of books and bookish things going on in my life!

On the Blog:

While I more-or-less took an unplanned hiatus from blogging in December, I tried really hard to keep coming back to my blog. I ended up getting more posts published than I thought this month, somehow! Putting this list together always makes me happy. 

Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday

Other Posts

Considering my more-or-less complete absence from blogging in December, I feel like I did a great job getting posts up! My goal this year was to get two posts up every 7 days. I *almost* managed to pull that off! I think I’ll pat myself on the back for that.

January TBR:

  • Our Shared Shelf  – The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • Kids Lit – TBD by TBD
  • West Side Stories – TBD by TBD
  • Brunch Books – Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carrier
  • VACB Book ClubGood Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett AND Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club: The Paper Magician by Charles Holmberg
  • The Great Newbery ChallengeAmos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
  • #AnneReadAlong2017:  Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery

Blog Projects

#AnneReadAlong2017 is wrapping up.  Officially, the read-along is over, but I’m a bit behind. Oops! Plus, I have quite a few reflections on Anne Shirley and LM Montgomery’s work to share yet. It’s been a ton of fun getting to know Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf and lead this with her. She’s done all her book reviews, so check those out! We have plans for an awesome giveaway to end this read along, too. Keep an eye out this month!

I am preparing for 2018! I know, I know– today is January 1st. 2018 is here! But I haven’t quite made the time to really reflect on 2017, what I learned, and how I can adapt my life from those lessons. I have a few awesome posts scheduled coming up which help outline my goals for the new year and share my philosophies on goal settings. I love planning and pondering all my aspirations. I just need to make certain I have time to do so!


While I was more-or-less absent in December, the time away made me appreciate my blog so much. I have certainly missed blogging and the community it provides me enough to realize I have to prioritize this for my own self-care. If I’m going to learn this lesson the hard way, this is a perfect time to do so– expect to see some awesome year start/end posts coming soon! I cannot wait to start 2018 and take advantage of the momentum I can feel building up…

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

Jackie B.

Jackie B Forman

What do you think?

  • What amazing things happened to you in December?
  • Have you ever gone on an accidental hiatus? How did you react to it? How did you recover?
  • Have you ever taken circus lessons or considered it? Share your stories!
  • What reading challenges will you be participating in next year? Why?
  • What are you most excited to read in 2018?


  • Laila@BigReadingLife January 2, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Oh no! This makes me sad about Annihilation. I loved that book, like went insane for it, and I’m not a hardcore SF reader. It just hit that sweet spot of “Lost” and “X-FIles” type plotlines that I love – creepy, WTF-is-going-on sort of stuff. I loved the whole series. But if you’re not feeling it, I won’t guilt you into trying it again! 😉 To each her own!

    • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 11:59 am

      This makes me sad about Annihilation, too, Laila! Honestly, I think that it was a bad narrator which ruined it for me. I’m working on my review; hopefully we can chat a bit more in the comments for that post about what you loved and what I missed. A poor audiobook narrator has made me hate some of my favorite books of all time.

      I’ve never seen Lost or the X-Files; I don’t really watch television. I am with the creepy element and the WTF is going on idea, but I don’t see pictures in my head. So a lot of the description was lost on me. I can understand the concepts and the ideas being shared, but I still have no idea what the Crawler looked like. I think that also really limited my interest…

      Which book in the series is your favorite?

      • Laila@BigReadingLife January 5, 2018 at 8:43 pm

        Some of the descriptions were confusing, I’ll give you that! I think Vandermeer left a lot up to the reader to fill in the blanks. I think the second book in the series was my favorite, because it dealt with the organization behind Area X- and it gave us people to root for and care about. I honestly don’t know if I would have liked these so much if I’d listened to them. Hard to say.

        • Jackie B January 8, 2018 at 4:37 pm

          I have started drafting my review – hopefully I can put to words my thoughts articulately! I’d love to compare my experiences with others. If enough people can convince me, I’ll totally pick up book two. 😉

  • Helen Murdoch January 2, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    I got myself a copy of Eleanor Oliphant and cannot wait to read it. I’ll have to wait until February though after I am done reading the round 2 Cybils books.

    • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 9:38 am

      I cannot wait for you to read it, either. I definitely want to chat through this with you. 😀

      How have I never heard of the Cybils awards until this very moment!? These look awesome! Tell me about your involvement in it, Helen; I’m super curious.

  • Grab the Lapels January 3, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    I swear, each year Christmas gets more and more meh with my family. I counted: my parents watched five movies on Christmas day. That’s just not how I like to spend me time. We don’t see my husband’s family due to some issues there, so it’s all very low-key. I read a bunch of graphic novels at the end of 2017 to hit the 70 books I said I would read on Goodreads. The last several were NOT good, so I was disappointed. The disappointment included The Coldest City, the graphic novel on which the film Atomic Blonde was based. I LOVED ATOMIC BLONDE. I love her more than Wonder Woman and thought of her more as a feminist icon that Wonder Woman. Was I the only one???

    I’ve never taken a hiatus from Grab the Lapels, but I have gotten down to one post per week. Sometimes a post would be on Monday and the next post would be on Friday…of the next week. So, yeah, it seems almost like a hiatus but wasn’t? It all depends on what’s going on with classes and grading.

    • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Meh christmas is not my jam. I like David’s family well enough, but they are similar. They wake up on Christmas Day, open gifts, and just watch TV all day long. NOPE. This was my third Christmas with them, and I came prepared this time. I brought cookie ingredients, so it was easy to convince the 2- and 5-year-olds to help me make those instead of watch TV. I can’t stand that much screen time. I will admit, during the week we were there, I sat in the formal dining room probably half the time people were watching TV just reading alone. I couldn’t take the noise!

      I never saw Atomic Blond. In fact, this is the first I’ve heard of it! but it sounds badass. I might need to check that out. XD It’s a shame you were disappointed in The Coldest City. I find that happens to me as well, but rarely. It’s so interesting when the film/TV show is better than the original text it is based off of… Often, the stories are just cleaner. They have a chance to improve upon what already exists.

      I took a haitus when I went to Croatia this summer, since I didn’t have internet access for three weeks. This time, I posted at least one blog post a week, which doesn’t *feel* like a hiatus. And honestly, I doubt most people noticed other than the blog hopping aspect. But I felt it. Which I think is what really matters. I knew I wanted to do more, could do more, but I wasn’t. Does that make sense?

      • Grab the Lapels January 5, 2018 at 1:47 pm

        I remember that hiatus. You gave is all good warning and took pictures, if I remember correctly. And didn’t you have a post about which books you took with you?

        I’ve tried getting my family to do other stuff at Christmas. We went to the movies one year, but my mom complains it makes her want to feel asleep (but she watches movies at home instead…). We went roller skating one year; turns out my dad is awesome at it and I didn’t know. We used to decorate cookies, but my mom has gotten more and more paranoid about sugar (I’m like Dumplin’ and she’s like Dumplin’s mom–only much worse). So, yeah. Different plan for next year.

        • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 2:27 pm

          Yes! I did put together a list of what I was going to read during the haitus. And I gave a report out on how it went when I got back. So, yes, I guess a scheduled hiatus is different than an unscheduled one?

          Hahaha! Oh, wow. I hope that the relationship you have with your mom is better than Willowdean’s relationship, though. It’s really cool you learned your Dad is an awsome ice skater! Is this due to years of practice you never knew about, or is he a natural?

          No matter what you do next year, I hope it’s AWESOME.

          • Grab the Lapels January 5, 2018 at 3:48 pm

            Oh, I meant roller skating! I think he went when he was younger, but he can ice skate, too.

            • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 4:16 pm

              Haha! No, that’s on me. I was the illiterate one. You DEFINITELY typed roller skating. I just was thinking Christmas and reading far too quickly. Roller skating is a skill I expect all our parents can do. It was part of the era. 😉

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom January 4, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Yup. Your blog still hates me. BUT I will not give up!

    • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom January 4, 2018 at 6:29 pm

      It sounds like you had a wonderful holiday season! I think I gained 5lbs just from Christmas cookies on Christmas day… lets just say my jeans are mad at me right now lol

    • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom January 4, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      For someone who went on an unplanned hiatus you sure got a lot done lol

    • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom January 4, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      Kuddos for reading 130 books this year!! That is awesome 🙂 I was hot on your trail with 120.

    • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom January 4, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      I cannot wait to read your review for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. For you to dub it your favorite book of 2017, it must be special!

      • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 11:56 am

        I am so proud of you for not giving up! Thank you. That means a lot to me.

        I did have a wonderful holiday season! My jeans are soooo mad at me. Plus, I have a wedding dress to fit into in three months! I’d best start working on my tummy a bit, right? Right. 😉

        In retrospect, I don’t think I should really classify my time away as a hiatus. I still did a lot! And I never stopped blogging. I just wasn’t able to blog hop and I broke all my routines around blogs and reading. Emotionally, that was quite challenigng. So, while I feel like I was incredibly abscent and did nothing all month, I did do things. Just… not what I wanted to. Does that make sense?

        Woo!!! 120 books is a huge accomplishment! I don’t shoot for high numbers like this intentionally. The GR Reading goal doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. I just keep reading. Right? Right. This is why we are both aiming for fewer books than we read this year for next year. 😉 100 each!

        I really love Eleanor Oliphant. I wrote my review but I’m… hesitating to post it. I get anxious that I’ll over hype something and people won’t love it the same way I do. But that’s silly, right?

  • Annemieke January 5, 2018 at 1:48 am

    Oooh you still posted and read so much this month despite of how busy you were. That is pretty great!

    I’ll be curious to see what you will think of Good Omens!

    • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Thank you so much! I tried really hard because I didn’t want to be on a proper hiatus. I feel like I had just gotten everything in a good place with my blogging. Acknolwedging a hiatus would not have been good for my blogging mental health. Just pushing through!

      Have you read Good Omens before? I am patiently waiting for the audiobook. I’m super excited!

      • Annemieke January 5, 2018 at 1:16 pm

        I got halfway through but I had just given birth a few weeks prior and it just wasn’t the right time for me to read it haha. I want to restart it though at some point.

        • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 2:41 pm

          Oh, I’m certain that giving birth sorts interrupts everything you were doing prior to that point in your life! O_o I hope you have a chance to finish it some day.

  • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks January 8, 2018 at 2:38 am

    I really don’t know how you manage all you do, cause I seem to be doing much less, so I am not surprised you were away for a bit. Although I’m so glad you are back 🙂

    Also, I’d really like to read The Paper Magician 🙂 will be very curious about your review! And, oh! Good Omens! I should be reading that like right now.

    I am terribly behind on that readalong too xD but other bookish responsibilities have crept up on me..

    • Jackie B January 12, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      Haha– I do all these things because I never manage to get any of them done. 😉 Seriously, you’re doing a TON with your blog right now!! You shouldn’t ever feel like you need to compare the amount of work you do to anyone else. Why? Because you have no concept of what is easy for them which is challenging for you, and the reverse. Plus, the number of things we do should not define us. The depth and passion we put in these things should. You are ROCKING all these blog chats right now and I just cannot keep up. I am blown away.

      The rest of your comment just sounds like we need to do another buddy read! I am open to suggestions… 😉

  • theorangutanlibrarian January 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Hope you had a wonderful holidays! Sounds like you had a pretty busy month- I hope it’s calmed down for you now a little. And you read loads too- I also have to say I’d like Latke the lucky dog would be great for my nephews 😉 You do have to prioritize your own self care- never feel bad for not getting to bloghopping (honestly, I’m seriously struggling with it right now, cos of various things, so we all go through it) Happy new year!

    • Jackie B January 13, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Blog hopping is defintely time consuming, but I love doing it. It’s just hard to prioritize amongst everything else. Life is calming down some, which is super exciting for me. Things are about to get super hectic with my wedding planning, so I’m read for other things to calm down and give me more time for that!

      Latke the Lucky Dog was a gift to one of my friends who recently had their first child. It’s an adorable story, for sure!

      • theorangutanlibrarian January 13, 2018 at 1:31 pm

        Yes me too 🙂 I definitely agree- and a lot of the time I want to read it properly though, so I can’t always fit it in. Ah that’s great! I hope it all goes well 🙂

        Aw lovely! 🙂

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