I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by! I’m glad to have read as much as I have though, and I’m working on incorporating more works by non-white writers and am really excited to read some of the titles I bought in June and July. I have been struggling a little bit with my place on the internet and what I want to do with my blog/Instagram, and a lot of this came from the allegations coming to light in the SFF community. I had promoted some of those writers and now feel weird about having done so without being more aware. And then there was the whole terrible hosting of this years’ Hugos that reinforced our need to move forward and do better as a community. I know nobody is perfect, and no piece of writing is free from bias, but I know we can do better as writers and readers to promote a healthy perception that allows for growth and change.
Now onto the reading!
In June, I read:
- Normal People, by Sally Rooney
- The Glass Magician, by Caroline Stevermer
- Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
- Midnight Robber, by Nalo Hopkinson
- Where Dreams Descend, by Janella Angeles
- Head Over Heels, by Hannah Orenstein
- Witchmark, by C.L. Polk
- Little Weirds, by Jenny Slate
- Romancing the Duke, by Tessa Dare
- Medieval English Lyrics, ed. Thomas G. Duncan
In July, I read:
- How to Be an Antiracist,by Ibram X. Kendi
- A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas
- Branwell, by Douglas A. Martin
- The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories, ed. Jay Rubin
- The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
- Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, vol. 1, by Naoko Takeuchi
- March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women, by Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jane Smiley
- What Cats Want, by Dr. Yuki Hattori
- The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey
Some of my favorite reads were Mexican Gothic, The Fire Next Time, Little Weirds, and Witchmark. I can’t stop thinking about Mexican Gothic and I’m going to be recommending this for a long time. I’m looking forward to reading Moreno-Garcia’s other/future work, and I have Gods of Jade and Shadow and Certain Dark Things on my kindle already! I haven’t really read anything from my personal challenges, and I’m looking at the calendar thinking there are only a few months left of the year, so I need to get on those!
What have you read in the last month that really stuck out with you?
I really dropped the ball in February and March, but with everything going on and a small uptick in hours at work tied up with literally everything else going on in the world, blogging didn’t feel like much of a priority. However, now that I am at home 99.9% of the time with lots of time on my hands, I’m making an effort to schedule some posts out and keep my blog and Instagram updated a little bit more. I also got Animal Crossing at the end of March and have been playing that quite a bit as well.
In February, I read:
- The Contact Paradox, by Keith Cooper (4.5/5 stars)
- An Illusion of Thieves, by Cate Glass (4/5 stars)
- Show Them a Good Time, by Nicole Flattery (3/5 stars)
- Mistress of the Ritz, by Melanie Benjamin (3/5 stars)
- This Earl of Mine, by Kate Bateman (4/5 stars)
- Upright Women Wanted, by Sarah Gailey (5/5 stars)
- The Genius of Women, by Janice Kaplan (4/5 stars)
- Bonds of Brass, by Emily Skrutskie (4.5/5 stars)
In March, I read:
- Nottingham, by Nathan Makaryk (4/5 stars)
- Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us, by Simon Critchley (5/5 stars)
- How We Fight For Our Lives, by Saeed Jones (5/5 stars)
- A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness (4/5 stars)
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (5/5 stars)
- A Study in Scarlet Women, by Sherry Thomas (4/5 stars)
- The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel (4.5/5 stars)
Overall, I was really happy with the reads I chose for the last two months, and I’m hoping April will be better! I’m carving out time each day to focus on reading, because schedules are still a little necessary.
January felt like a weird month, a long month that felt like several years nested into the days, and just… L O N G. But I also didn’t get as much reading done as I would have hoped (even though eight books is a respectable number), or anything really, and honestly I’m okay with that. January and the pressure of performing in the first month of the new year is too much sometimes, and I think, especially for me who is currently working in retail, I need that time and space to give myself permission to do nothing at all and just unwind from the stress of the holidays.
I also started off the month with a disappointing read, so I think that threw off my whole reading excitement for a while. I’ve also been really into reading literary criticism/books about books and history, and I have a feeling this trend is going to continue for a while. But I also know I have a tendency to get stuck on certain subjects and genres, so I’ll see where it goes!
In January, I read:
- On Nineteen Eighty-Four, by D.J. Taylor (1.5/5 stars)
- Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics, by Stephen Greenblatt (5/5 stars)
- Things in Jars, by Jess Kidd (4.5/5 stars)
- A Beginning at the End, by Mike Chen (4/5 stars)
- Astro Poets: Your Guides to the Zodiac, by Alex Dimitrov and Dorothea Lasky (4/5 stars)
- How to Watch a Movie, by David Thomson (1.5/5 stars)
- What a Difference a Duke Makes, by Lenora Bell (3/5 stars)
- The Map of Knowledge, by Violet Moller (5/5 stars)
I also finally acknowledged that I am 1000% a mood reader and I don’t think I’ll be setting myself monthly TBRs much anymore, unless I do have obligations or definite reads I want to get to. I’ve also been a little better about writing reviews and getting posts ready. I want to try to post at least four days a week, with reviews and other things, and I think I have a few ideas for consistent posts that will help be sure I do hit that four posts a week mark.
How was your January?
I can’t believe it’s 2020. Every time I write the date down, I’m in a little disbelief. But here we are! It’s a new year and a new decade!
Every year, I set a goal for 100 books, and I’m continuing my 6×12 challenges (six thematic challenges of twelve books) with the #20in20books and #theunreadshelfproject challenges I’m doing on Instagram! What I want to do more of this year is read what’s actually on my shelf, because I’ve consistently bought books thanks to working at a bookstore, but I keep reading everything else and some of the stuff I have been excited for just languishes. I also want to finish reading series because I am the absolute worst at reading the first book and buying the rest and never finishing it? I don’t know if it’s some weird little anxiety relating to things ending or if it’s because I am also ultimately a lazy reader, but I want to change this.
The thematic challenges for the year are:
- Science Fiction
- Penguin Classics
- NYRB Classics (I keep giving myself this challenge and failing, but 2020 is my YEAR)
- Books About Books (I miss being in school and reading criticism, so this is my attempt to get back into it)
- Middle Grade (Like the YA challenge I gave myself last year because I didn’t read enough, I’m going the Middle Grade route this year)
The twenty titles I picked for #20in20books are:
All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders
Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
The Idiot – Elif Batuman
Enchantress from the Stars – Sylvia Louise Engdahl
An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter – Theodora Goss
Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant
The Queens of Innis Lear – Tessa Gratton
The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nooks & Crannies – Jessica Lawson
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin
Jade City – Fonda Lee
Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee
Middlegame – Seanan McGuire
Torn – Rowena Miller
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos – Dominic Smith
The City Stained Red – Sam Sykes
Creatures of Will & Temper – Molly Tanzer
A Study in Scarlet Women – Sherry Thomas
Deathless – Catherynne M. Valente
I wanted to pick a wide variety of titles, things that I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and things that I know I’ll enjoy reading for various reasons. They’re all fiction, and some of them will work for the various challenges I’ve given myself, too! I will be making separate pages for these challenges this week, so it’s easier for me to track them digitally!
For the blog, I want to revamp the theme, update it now that this one is a couple years old, and really do some in depth information updating, because some of this is so outdated now. I want this to also serve as a functional archive for challenges and whatever else I do, but I need to figure out what I want to add here and how to organize it.
What reading goals have you set for yourself in 2020?
The holiday season in retail is so draining, and I’m finally here to do a little recap of my reading in 2019!
I set out with my usual yearly goal of 100 books and read 110! Most of them were self-chosen this year rather than a higher majority of review copies, and I found myself enjoying my reading a bit more than I did the year before, which is good! I have been a little more selective in the review copies I choose/receive/download because I know I only have so much time in which to read. I also set out with six mini-challenges to accompany those 100 books, and I did… okay, overall. I wanted to do a whole year of Hugo/Nebula award winners with its own instagram page and everything, but some personal stuff began happening a few months into the year and I moved from the east coast to Colorado, and needless to say, with my books packed up in boxes and the stress of moving left me no choice but to abandon that and possibly pick it up again on a smaller scale in the future. I really loved the idea, the concept, and the graphics I created for it, but I also realized how much work it is to maintain momentum for a yearly challenge with monthly lists included, so I have gained a lot more respect for those who manage to do this month after month, year after year.
So, here are the results for those challenges:
- 12 Hugo/Nebula winners: 2/12
- 12 Romance: 12/12 (easy, fun reads, and over the last two years my perspective has changed on the genre a LOT)
- NYRB Classics: 1/12 (lol, I do this every year and always fail, why? I love these editions)
- Classics (in general): 4/12 (I also do this every year and manage to fail. I have SO MANY classics on my shelves??)
- Historical Fiction: 9/12
- YA: 12/12 (In 2018, I bought a lot of YA but didn’t read enough of it, and I succeeded at this one in 2019!)
If I’m going to give myself a grade, I got 67% on this personal assignment, whoops.
Overall, though, I’m happy with the number of books I read. I had a few months throughout the year where I read less than average (I try to go for nine or ten books a month), but life happens and I still hit my goal.
I’m still working on a new design for the blog because I’m getting a little tired and uninspired by this one, so keep your eyes peeled for some blog updates in the near future, especially with information and challenges and maybe becoming more organized. I’m also working on a favorite reads of 2019 post (this is more difficult than I anticipated!) and a 2020 goals + challenges post!
What were your favorite reads in 2019?