Today, I was startled by the realization that I haven’t done a proper wrap-up post since October, despite the fact that the entire point of this blog is to talk about the books I read. (Whoops) So, here is my January wrap-up, featuring everything I read and posted this month!
Like usual, this post will be divided into three sections: Reading, Blogging, and Goals.
I read 13 books in January, somehow. (well, I deleted YouTube off my phone. I think that has something to do with it.)
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak ( YA, contemporary)– this book was just very strange… I honestly did not know what to rate it when I finished it.
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (YA, contemporary, romance)– this was sitting at the oft-neglected bottom of my TBR, and I decided I was in the mood for a light, quick YA contemporary for a boring Saturday morning. It was entertaining, but the reason I rated it badly was because it had one of the most obvious reveals I’ve ever read. I wasn’t expecting a mystery, so this wouldn’t have been a problem if the main character hadn’t been so painfully oblivious to what was right in front of her for the entire book.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (classics, adventure, sci-fi/dystopia)– I was supposed to read this for school last year, but the pandemic interrupted. I finally got around to it this year, and it was interesting but I was not a fan of the writing.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (classics, cozy mystery/detective, thriller)– I’ve challenged myself to work my way through the entire Hercule Poirot canon, and what better place to start than book one? I rated this installment 3.5 stars because Hastings is one of the most annoying narrators I have ever encountered.
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie (classics, cozy mystery/detective, thriller)– Book two, featuring Hastings, again, bringing in some unnecessary romance and commentary! This one was really enjoyable, but the plot was convoluted.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (MG, dark fantasy, horror)– I finally got around to reading Coraline, slightly apprehensively, and I didn’t find it scary. However, I liked the writing style and the atmosphere. (I haven’t read enough horror to be a very reliable judge of much else)
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (general/adult, historical fiction)– Before We Were Yours features the history of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a dark part of history that I had never heard of before reading this book. Fronting as a charitable orphanage for those less fortunate, the society literally kidnapped children from poor families and essentially sold them to wealthy adoptive parents. This book was pretty good, but there were a lot of loose ends that were never resolved.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (classics, short story, gothic/horror)– This is a classic short story, published in 1892, about a woman whose controlling husband and physician prescribes a “rest cure” to ameliorate her mental health problems. Locked in a lonely room with no company except the yellow patterned wallpaper, her sanity slowly begins to deteriorate.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (YA, sci-fi, romance, adventure)– I wasn’t sure if I liked this book at first; the humor was meh and the plot was a little confusing, but around 60% of the way through, it started getting really good (and pretty creepy). I especially liked the AI… who knew you could make such a complex character out of a computer?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (general/adult, contemporary)– This book was really great. I’m still trying to decide between giving it 4.5 stars or giving it 5 stars. There was no unnecessary romance, Eleanor’s characterization and character arc were amazing, and the way her backstory came together was extremely well-executed. Contrary to what some of the cover blurbs say, though, it is definitely not a “funny” book
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (classics, cozy mystery/detective, thriller)– this has officially replaced And Then There Were None as my favorite Agatha Christie book. Whatever you do, DON’T spoil this for yourself. I have never been so happy about the ending of a book. It was brilliant.
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin– Most Dangerous recounts the story of Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers to the public. It follows Ellsberg’s life, the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers and the government’s rationale for the war, and even the Watergate scandal. I read this because I loved one of Sheinkin’s other books (Bomb), and it was worth the read. I just regret listening on audiobook, because I couldn’t take notes or highlights (which is what helps me remember what I learn from nonfiction)
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson– This was one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I have ever read. I was glued to my Kindle, and I learned a lot of things I don’t think I will soon forget. It follows the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, a famous classical composer, intertwining the history of the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution through World War 2, and focusing on the symphony Shostakovich wrote while living in Leningrad during the siege.
In the spirit of the new year, I managed to revive my blog this month (it was kind of floundering in the fall). I started trying to post twice a week whenever possible, and although I missed a few days, I published seven posts this month:
(… and today’s post)
I’m currently three away from reaching 400 followers (counting email), so I hope that will happen in these last two days of January, but if not, it will be my February goal.
Since it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these wrap-up posts, I’m going to instead update on the reading/blogging New Year’s resolutions that I enumerated in my Reflecting on 2020 post.
1) Read at least one nonfiction book per month
I read two this month, so, so far so good.
2) Read more books that I think I will like, not just what’s popular
This is not the most measurable goal, but I think I am doing better with this than I was last year.
3) Use Goodreads to reflect on my opinions of a book
I have been doing this one! It’s now a habit for me to post a quick mini-review on Goodreads when I finish a book, and it actually has helped me remember a lot more about the books I read.
4) Read 60 books
I’ve actually bumped this up to 100 now, since I realized I’m completely addicted to reading at this point and I was way ahead of this goal in January. If it doesn’t happen, well, too bad.
5) Read less YA
I’m succeeding with this resolution as well! Out of the 13 books I read this month, only three were YA (unless you count the nonfiction, which I don’t. Both of the nonfiction books I read this month were YA nonfiction, but I usually can’t tell the difference between YA nonfiction and adult nonfiction, and I’m only counting this goal for fiction books)
6) Read a wider variety of genres
I haven’t finished enough books this year to really measure this goal, but I think I did a decent job with this in January.
7) Think more deeply about the books I read
Again with the unmeasurable goals!
8) Post more consistently
A sort-of success… I posted more often, although not necessarily more consistently.