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?
Even though it’s not quite the end of November yet, I’m doing a wrap-up/check-in post because I feel like I’ve failed at everything in November due to some sort of good life things. I’ve also realized that I am not good at monthly challenges while on a ridiculous work schedule, so my fifth attempt at Nanowrimo will probably be my last. Until I get into better habits, I can’t sustain magically and seemingly overnight writing outputs of 1,700 words a day. I did finally get a job, and I’m back working at a bookstore, which is good for me because I feel useful but also a little bad because I have no control sometimes when it comes to buying new books. I also have access to physical arcs again, and I grabbed a few off the shelf that I’m excited to read! I also got some kind of illness last weekend that threw off all of my plans to read a lot and start updating my instagram more, but it’s life and sometimes I need to focus my energy elsewhere. I also purchased Pokemon Sword and Shield, and I’m excited to play through them both!
Here’s what I’m currently reading as of this posting:
- The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
- The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings, by Edgar Allan Poe
- Waiting for Tom Hanks, by Kerry Winfrey
- This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (I have a First Lines Friday post for this book this week!)
In October, I read ten books, but so far in November, I’ve only finished three.
- The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, by D.G. Compton
- Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
- The Ascent to Godhood, by JY Yang
- The New Voices of Science Fiction, edited by Hannu Rajaniemi
- Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, by Christopher de Hamel
- The Duchess Deal, by Tessa Dare
- The English Wife, by Lauren Willig
- Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard
- Recursion, by Blake Crouch
- A Darkness Strange and Lovely, by Susan Dennard
- Strange and Ever After, by Susan Dennard
- The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White
- The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
Now, onto books received, grabbed, and purchased! All arcs are courtesy of the publishers, including the ones sent to my store, and I’ve received no compensation for reading them or for their future reviews/features. I’ve been visiting Goodwill lately when I drop off things to donate, and I picked up some books there as revisits and research for pacing for writing geared for younger readers.
ARCS (release date)
- Vagabonds, by Hao Jingfang (April 14, 2020)
- Fate of the Fallen, by Kel Kade (November 2019)
- The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott (September 2019)
- A Queen in Hiding, by Sarah Kozloff (January 2020)
- The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, by Ken Liu (February 25, 2020)
- Things in Jars, by Jess Kidd (February 2, 2020)
- Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, by Temi Oh
- Velocity Weapon, by Megan E. O’Keefe
- Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, by Rebecca Roanhorse
- The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells
- The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen
- Fortuna, by Kristyn Merbeth
- The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
- The Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo
- The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo
- Redwall, by Brian Jacques
- The Babysitter’s Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea, by Ann M. Martin
- The Babysitter’s Club #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, by Ann M. Martin
It’s a LOT. I also accidentally forgot to update my address on my Bardugo preorder so it’s at my old place and I just need to contact my former roommates and see if they can mail out anything else that’s been sent to the house, because I think some other books have been sent there even though I’ve updated my address everywhere I can think of!
What are you reading currently? Have you started planning out 2020’s reading goals? I’m working on figuring out new images for the blog for the new year/decade, and hopefully getting back on track with my reading and online life.
Hello, friends! I can’t believe it’s October already. September seemed to fly by while also dragging along? I only read five books this month. My average for the month is usually around 9-10 books, so part of me is just like ??? where did the time go? I started working for a temp agency halfway through the month and that’s exactly when my reading tapered off. Everything tapered off – reading, blogging, social media usage. I started reading a lot of things halfway through the month and later, but I never stuck with it long enough to finish. Now I have about eight books that I’m working my way through (physical and digital), and I’m going to use October to finish those off and get some spooky reads in.
In September, I read:
- Three Flames, by Alan Lightman
- The Widow of Pale Harbor, by Hester Fox
- Mysteries of the Middle Ages, by Thomas Cahill
- Embers of War, by Gareth L. Powell
- The Silent Companions, by Laura Purcell
I am decently pleased with what I read for the month, and I caught up with everything that I had started in the summer because I was determined at one point to “start fresh” for the season. I enjoyed Embers of War even though I kept misplacing the book, and The Silent Companions is a title from my earlier Top Ten Tuesday list of books I’ve avoided reading (I’m currently reading two more from that list, and this list is serving as my TBR for October!).
I haven’t bought many books due to not having consistent work and needing to save money (and not being at a bookstore once a week for work also helps), but I did get the following with some gift cards as well as a publisher gift:
- Call Upon the Water, by Stella Tillyard (thank you, Atria!)
- Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (preordered last year?!)
- Bringing Down the Duke, by Evie Dunmore
- Flamecaster, by Cinda Williams Chima
- Nocturna, by Maya Motayne
- Roar, by Cora Carmack
What did you read in September? What was your favorite read of the month?