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2020 Reading Challenge: Week 1 (Guilty Pleasures)

By Sarah Adams Permalink



The first week of 2020 is officially over. Can you believe it? January is always a slower month business wise so I had some extra time for my favorite (well, only) hobby. I wasn't sure how I wanted to start out this challenge. I have a massive list of books on Good Reads that I want to try and it was a bit overwhelming choosing where to begin. Finally, I decided that after all the stress of the holidays and holiday orders, I deserved some guilty pleasure reading. 



I decided to start out 2020 with the newest book from my favorite nonfiction author, Caitlin Doughty. I've mentioned a few times in the past that I was very close to going to school to become a mortician. While that particular dream never came to fruition, I am still very passionate about death positivity and eco-friendly burials. Hence, my love for all things Caitlin Doughty. If you aren't familiar with Doughty's work, she owns a funeral home in LA and is also a huge proponent for natural burials and removing the stigma around death. Her first two books, Smoke Gets Into Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory and From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find Good Death are two of my all time favorite reads, so imagine my excitement when I randomly popped into a local bookstore right after Christmas and saw that Doughty had released something new. 

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? (spoiler alert: yes, they will) is much different than the typical, memoir style writing Doughty uses in her first two books. Instead, Doughty compiles a list of questions that children have asked her over the years about death. Each question is then answered in a 2-5 page summary. I'm going to be honest, this is my least favorite of the three books she's released, but a lot of that is because it covered information she's shared in previous books and/or information I already knew. That being said, this was an awesome book to read with Brady. 

"Wait a minute, you read books about death with your young child?!" Yep. Sure do. I don't want Brady to fear death so we talk about it regularly to ease any anxiety. Children are naturally curious about death, and given that this book is full of questions posed by children, Brady quickly scanned the table of contents and we read together the questions that interested him most. Doughty's style in writing about death is fantastic in that she is informative and fact based while also being light-hearted and funny. 

For those who want to dip their toes into the topic of death, either for yourself or with your children, then I'd recommend this book without question. It's an easy read and full of interesting topics that you may not have thought about before (such as what happens if your seatmate dies when you're on a plane?). For those who find the topic of death interesting and are ready for something a bit more in depth then I'd turn to her first two releases instead. Even still, I'm happy I chose to start out the new year with an easy, fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed.



Now onto my first novel of the year, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Before you yell at me, I know that The Handmaid's Tale is problematic in many ways. But one thing I've learned over the years is that it's okay to admit that some of your favorites are problematic and I'd be lying if I said I didn't love the first book and the series. Hence, the whole guilty pleasure thing. This book is a bit more difficult to review than the one above. Is The Testaments literary genius? Nope. Not even a little bit. But not everything needs to be. The Handmaid's Tale has a cult-like following that expected a lot of this book. If you go in with super high expectations then you are likely to be disappointed. However, if you want an engrossing novel that answers some of your burning questions after finishing the first novel and/or watching the series, then you are going to love it. The Testaments provides accounts from three characters, Aunt Lydia, Agnes Jemima/Hannah, and "Baby" Nicole. It is both an account of the rise of Gilead as well as the fall of Gilead from three very different perspectives. I'll refrain from saying too much more at the risk of spoiling anything, but know that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down and read it in less than 2 days. It wrapped things up in a neat little bow and while i know that these kinds of endings aren't for everyone or every book, it worked well here. The Testaments isn't a book that will be in my rotation to read again and again over the years but I would definitely recommend it to anyone seeking some closure from The Handmaid's Tale. 


I can't wait to hear what book you all started 2020 with. Comment below or send me a message if you read something that you loved so I can add it to my list. I'm tackling two memoirs for week 2, but I haven't made any decisions on what to read next for week 3. Help a girl out!  


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