Wednesday, January 5, 2022

An Open Book: December 2021 Reads

Happy New Year! With the new month, it's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book to chat about the books that carried me through the end of the year 2021. Let's dive in! 

Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office, by Brian Baumgartner and Ben Silverman

This was a super fun book that pulled from lots of interviews with cast and crew members. A couple of the stories I already knew, but there was a lot of fascinating new tidbits in here (I'm guessing a lot of the material in here is straight from Baumgartner's podcast, which I haven't listened to). I don't know how this compares to other books about The Office out there, but I really enjoyed it! Though, it did seem like there wasn't much mention of B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling in here, which was odd. But regardless, I really enjoyed this. It was a fun, fairly quick-ish read (since it's an oral history), and I thought some of the deep insights about the characters' development and the show's enduring presence in our lives were really great. 

Love in a Time of Homeschooling, by Laura Brodie

This was an interesting memoir about one year when a part-time college professor homeschooled her fifth-grade daughter. I was intrigued to learn about someone who was not planning to homeschool and ended up homeschooling, and it was also interesting to learn about people who intentionally short-term homeschool. The author's southern culture, and north-south tensions, were pretty fascinating to me, too. I also appreciated how she walked through the immense challenges of homeschooling and personality clashes. Overall, I thought this was a fun, interesting read, although I was "that reader" who wondered why???? the author would put her daughter back in public school after she so clearly outlines some of the school system's pitfalls (though I did somewhat understand her reasoning...but still...). 

Dune, by Frank Herbert

Admittedly, I picked up this book at the encouragement of others who were swept up in the Dune movie craze, and if there wasn't a major motion picture that I want to see based on the book, I may not have stuck with this. But I did! This book follows a young heir to a dukedom, Paul Atreides, as he and his family move to the planet Arrakis, a desolate, sandy, dune-filled place. As Paul strives to find his place in Arrakis and in the universe, he's caught up in political intrigue, treachery, and mystery surrounding the blue-eyed natives, the Fremen, as well as the mystical sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit. I thought this story was pretty interesting, and I enjoyed reading it for the most part, but I will confess that I was not a huge fan of the writing style. The omniscient narrator gives internal monologues for each of the characters throughout the story, which I personally could have done without, as it seemed to bog down the flow. The book also has a lot of fascinating worldbuilding, but that makes it really long. I'm guessing that both of these issues are resolved in the movie, so I'm interested to eventually watch it and see how it translates onscreen. 

The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni

This was a gorgeous Italian classic, written in the 1840s and set in the 17th century. It follows a young couple, Renzo and Lucia, as their marriage plans are thwarted by a tyrant and scoundrel in their village. Forced to flee from their home, they are separated and endure tons of misfortunes, like a plague, villains, and a cast of colorful characters. The story is fun, though slow-going at times, but I really enjoyed it. The book felt a bit like a Victor Hugo novel, however when the author goes off on historical tangents, he does so with great storytelling. It's a beautiful novel with lots to say about humanity, love, and forgiveness. I highly recommend this book! 

Thanks for joining me this month! I hopefully will write up a post or newsletter soon with some reading highlights from 2021; it was a pretty fun year for reading. If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments! 


  1. You are the 2nd person i know to read the betrothed. It sounds like such a huge commitment. I follow this blog for good recommendations of books.

    1. Thanks for sharing that blog! I will check it out, I am always looking for good books :) And oh my, I was very daunted by the had been on my list for years, then I finally asked for it for Christmas in 2020, and I didn't actually start it until almost one full year later. I'm very grateful I read it, and would love to re-read it at some point, but it may take mem a while to get around to that ;)

  2. I started - briefly started - the Betrothed a while back but had trouble getting into it. So, I should stick with it, shouldn't I? My son also started to read Dune in advance of the movie. I think he got sidetracked by school reading, but he went to see the movie anyway and really enjoyed it. Thanks for linking to An Open Book!

    1. I can understand the struggle; I think The Betrothed took me nearly two months to actually finish because parts are very slow and meandering. Very good, but tedious at times! And that's neat that your son enjoyed the movie! I'm excited to hopefully sit down and watch it soon, I heard that it was a very good adaptation of the book.

  3. I have neglected keeping up with blogs for a while, but love hearing about your reading adventures! Never read anything about The Office, so that is interesting to hear you mention. Love the show but haven't ever delved deeper into it. How interesting!