While being busy moving from Spain to my new place in the Netherlands, I still managed to finish five books in January. Nina Lykke's Estado de malestar was the December book at Spanish book club Bookish, while Helly Acton's The Shelf was my January choice at Rare Birds Book Club. I also picked up Walter Tevis' The Queen's Gambit (inspired by the Netflix show), Sally Mann's Hold Still (as I'm obsessed with memoirs) and Jordan B. Peterson's 12 Rules for Life (recommended by my brother). None of these books was worth five stars in my opinion, and some even disappointed me.
The Queen's Gambit - Walter Tevis ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This coming-of-age story about a woman in the world of chess is definitely worth to read (or watch as it recently has been turned into a Netflix series). The story doesn't only portray the struggle of being a female chess player in a men's world, but also shows the protagonist's fight with drug and alcohol addiction. Losing her parents at a very young age, you can just see her trying to find her way in life without the right kind of guidance. Also, I don't know a lot about playing chess, but it was still fun to read about game strategies.
Estado de malestar - Nina Lykke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I hadn't yet subscribed to Bookish at this point, but I liked their December book so much that I bought it myself. This book has been translated from Norwegian into Spanish and therefore includes a lot of dark humour typical for the country. The story is about a general practitioner who finds herself in a mid-life crisis after her marriage starts to crumble. The stories of her patients who went for a consultation were an absolute joy to read. One of the other highlights of the book was Tore, the "talking" skeleton in the protagonist's consulting room. It was also funny how the protagonist was spending her evenings binge-watching Outlander while drinking box wine, how it seemed like her husband Bjørn was only interested in cross-country skiing, and how she never managed to convince her husband to not put wooden spoons in the dishwasher.
Hold Still - Sally Mann ⭐⭐
I'm normally a huge fan of memoirs, but this book just didn't do it for me. The author is first and foremost a photographer and not a writer, but I also couldn't be bothered by the pictures she included in the book. Sally Mann's pictures of her nude children caused controversy almost three decades ago. In the majority of this book, she tried to defend her choices for taking those pictures which became pretty annoying and boring at one point. It also felt more like an autobiography than a memoir as it depicted a large part of her life which wasn't all that exciting to be honest. This book just wasn't for me.
The Shelf - Helly Acton ⭐⭐⭐
I decided to pick this as my January book at Rare Birds Book Club as I was looking for an easy read during a stressful period. I certainly got what I asked for. The protagonist of this story ends up on a reality TV show where women get dumped on live TV and move into a Big Brother type of house. The women have to complete several tasks in order to prove to the audience they are worth being in a relationship with a man (I know, it is terrible). If you consider this book to be a satire of reality TV and of a women's role in a relationship, then the over-the-top characters and storylines are justified. If not, the story is just too ridiculous. It's a light, fun book with the oh so important message that you yourself need to dictate who you want to be, not society, nor your friends, family or partner.
12 Rules for Life - Jordan B. Peterson ⭐⭐⭐
I have some mixed feeling about this book. It definitely contains a lot of interesting, useful information, but I couldn't be bothered by the author's elaborate explanations based on the bible and several philosophers. Because of this, I skimmed through a lot of parts of the book which felt a little bit like cheating to me. If you do find these things interesting then I would definitely recommend reading this book. This one just wasn't one of my favourites.