Book reviews are fun because they give you a chance to discover titles you might not learn about on your own. For our Book Review Roundup in January 2024, I’m organizing books by theme: Hobbies, Personal Stories, Inspiration, and for Adults-Only. Are you wondering what to read next? Which ones will intrigue you? You can click on the link to Amazon and get them quickly, or visit your local bookstore (they also need your support).
Hobbies: These books are just for fun
COLOR Your World:
Do you have a friend or family member who loves adult coloring books? Know someone who left New York and is still wistful about the Big Apple? Brooklyn Bound: A Coloring Book Illustrated by Mikayla Sherfy (Ulysses Press 2023) is a fun little gift idea for them (or for you). Every Brooklyn neighborhood is included with at least one illustration. Color up a storm with lots of brownstones along with little details that make it clear it’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Coney Island, etc. It’s said that coloring lowers your stress level (and who wouldn’t want to do that?!) ! So get those colored pencils, markers, watercolors, whatever you like, and start making these adorable illustrations come to life. Get This Book
If you’re feeling a bit sad, This Book is Literally Just Pictures of Tiny Animals That Will Make You Smile by Editorial Staff (Smith Street Books, October 2023) will turn your frown, upside down. The slim, hardbound book is full of baby animals from fuzzy chicks to little bears, sloths, goats, zebras and so much more. There is no text, and there doesn’t need to be. The Square book with a bright yellow cover contains everything you’ll ever want to feel better. There is an entire series of these books, and this is the latest one. Buy one for every friend.
PERSONAL STORIES: These books are written by authors who share a very personal view of themselves with you. Their stories will inspire you.
A Book About (Her) Boobs:
Are we obsessed with breasts? Some people are. A Boobs Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me and You by Leslie Lehr (Pegasus Books May 2023). The author starts at childhood and recounts her ups and downs (literally) with her relationship with her boobs. She also survives breast cancer, re-marries, and hopefully lives happily ever after. It is clear that she is someone who was and is keenly aware of how she is viewed by others.
The author opines on why women particularly are obsessed with their breasts. They are never quite satisfied. But mainly, it is her story of how her breasts shaped who she was, is and will be. The author write from a chummy, personal point of view. She also views her situation(s) with some humor and a unique point of view. To quote: “…When I Googled “breasts,” I got chicken recipes and disease; when I Googled “boobs,” I got porn. Then I started to see a pattern… Breasts can attract, nourish, or in some cases could even kill you.” Wondering what to read next? This is a great book! . Get This Book
Disability Won’t Keep Her Down:
There is probably little more distressing than following someone’s physical decline. And, what it is really like to live with a disability that you can’t hide? Rough Waters: From Surviving to Thriving with A Progressive Muscular Dystrophy by Heather C. Markham (Making Waves for Good Publishing, July 2023) is a chronicle of a woman’s slow decline from active to a wheelchair. She knew something was wrong for a while. At age 30 however, she received a life-changing diagnosis that would end her walking days much sooner than she’d imagined.
That said, before you feel sorry for the author, you also have to know that she decided not to let her physical limitations define her. She became a para suffer, she won Miss Wheelchair Kentucky, and she is pursuing her passion for photography and helping others to manage physical challenges. As such, the book is mostly empowering. The overall message is that everything is a risk, but anything is possible if you make it so. Get this Book
INSPIRING BOOKS: Wondering what to read next? These books can help you get through the Winter Doldrums and also Meet Your Goals
Every Year is A Good Year:
Do you or someone you know have a big birthday coming up? Then it’s time to be inspired by The Swayze Year: You’re Not Old, You’re Just Getting Started by Colleen AF Venable & Meghan Daly (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2023). Each page starting at age 35 and up to 100+ offers information and inspiration to embrace whatever age you’re at with joy and possibilities. Each year features a well-known (or not-so-well-known) fabulous person and what they did or accomplished during that particular age.
Whatever your age and whatever your interest, you’ll find people who did amazing things with their lives. Patrick Swayze got his big role in Dirty Dancing after a bunch of flops, and he was 35. Keep it going. You might become a marathon runner at age 100 like Fauja Singh who racked up 8 world records in a single day. Keep this paperback book and read it on your birthday, and anywhere in between. Let it inspire you to embrace each year. Get This Book
Words of Advice and Wisdom from Oprah and Rihanna
The words of celebrities tend to empower us. and there are plenty of “in their own words” books out there. When it comes to Oprah Winfrey, some think she is one of the most influential women in the world. Rhianna is a Pop Star that millions of people idolize. Therefore, I’m suggesting Oprah Winfrey In Her Own Words, Edited by Anjali Becker and Jeanne Engelmann (Agate Publishing, May 2023), and Rihanna In Her Own Words, Edited by Kristina Dehlin and John Crema (Agate Publishing July 2023) for your new year new you inspiration.
Each of these ladies has a claim to fame and success, but they are very different. What I found most interesting about looking at these two books together, is that of course Oprah opines mostly about success, life lessons, and business. Rihanna talks mainly about fame, music, and fans, and Fenty Beauty. Both are entrepreneurial women with some sound bytes you might want to use as affirmations. Depending on what your goals are, their words and wisdom might help you get through the rough spots. Get Oprah Winfrey In Her Own Words and Rihanna In Her Own Words
For Adults Only:
Warnings: do you like erotica and wonder what to read next? The last two books in this book review have lots of descriptive sexual content including liaisons with strangers, one-night stands, BDSM, Bondage, and more. Wondering what to read next? These are well-written and fun to read, but they are only for mature adults.
Kink and Self-Acceptance:
Transland by MX SLY (Arsenal Pulp Press 2023) isn’t for everyone, and not appropriate for most young people due to graphic sexual and fetish content. Although the non-binary author MX SLY’s preferences are way out of my comfort zone, the story is less about fetish and kink and more about the author’s journey to understand themselves. There are a lot of frank descriptions of BDSM and interactions in the fetish community. For some, this would be shocking and for others, intriguing and informative. On the other hand, the book is well written and did keep me wondering how they would end the book. Would there be a happy ending to all the searching through kink? It is nicely written. If you are interested in reading about someone’s transition from almost loathing to acceptance and maybe even love, you’ll want to pick up a copy.
Sexy Stories To Heat Cold Days & Nights:
Sexy Strangers by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Cleis Press September 2023) is what the book is about. The stories are erotica, bringing people together sexually in different and surprising situations. The sexy stories are well-written. If you’ve ever fantasized about an impromptu romp with someone you don’t know, the book will satisfy that fantasy. The stories are well written, but it might not be for everyone and certainly not appropriate for younger readers. Still, I found myself curious, turning the pages to see what the next couple was going to meet and what they were going to do. Get This Book