2016 Reading Wrap-up

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I’m way, WAY behind schedule in posting my reading wrap-up for 2016, but here it finally is! Overall, I had a really fantastic reading year–I discovered a bunch of authors that I want to read more and more from; I was able to pick up new books from writers that I already love; I listened to way more audiobooks than I ever thought was possible for me; I expanded the range of genres I tend to read from; and I had a lot of fun, which is the most important part.

Number of books I read in 2016: 95 (!)

Pages read in 2016: 28,877

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)BossypantsDeath My Own Way

Longest book I read in 2016: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (1,107 pages)

Most popular book I read this year, according to Goodreads: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Least popular book I read this year, according to Goodreads: Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano

#readmyowndamnbooks: 47 (49%)

Number of live author events attended: 4 (N.K. Jemisin, Marlon James, Alyssa Palumbo, Amelia Gray) (all were awesome) in addition to a wonderful small press book fair

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)A Brief History of Seven KillingsThe Violinist of Venice: A Story of VivaldiGutshot

Readathons I participated in: Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon (x2), Bout of Books (x2), 24 in 48 (x2)

% of books by female authors: 78.9% – I think I almost always tend to read more female authors than male in a given year, but usually I think I hover around 2/3 female authors. This year, I hit almost 80%!

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% of Adult Books: 80%. I wanted to include this in my stats because I was curious how much YA I was actually reading; sometimes I feel like I’m not reading enough adult literature, but the pie chart doesn’t lie–I’m clearly reading adult books the vast majority of the time.

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Books by format: Print books (75%) still comprise the vast majority of my reading, although I definitely added a lot to my reading totals by getting into audiobooks.

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2016 Reading Challenges:

Book Riot Read Harder 2016 Challenge

✓ 1. Read a horror book
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
✓ 2. Read a nonfiction book about science
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
✓ 3. Read a collection of essays
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
✓ 4. Read a book out loud to someone else
✓ 5. Read a middle-grade novel
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) by Catherynne M. Valente The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
✓ 6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
Notorious RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon
✓ 7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
Enclave (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre Enclave by Ann Aguirre
✓ 8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born (1980’s)
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
✓ 9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
Bossypants by Tina Fey Bossypants by Tina Fey
✓ 10. Read a book over 500 pages long
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
✓ 11. Read a book under 100 pages
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
✓ 12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
✓ 13. Read a book set in the Middle East
The Underground Girls of Kabul In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg
✓ 14. Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia
Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1) by Zen Cho Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
✓ 15. Read an historical fiction book set before 1900
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
✓ 16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color
Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
✓ 17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
✓ 18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
✓ 19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
✓ 20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette WintersonThe Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
✓ 21. Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels #3) by Elena Ferrante Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
✓ 22. Read a food memoir
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
✓ 23. Read a play
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
✓ 24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

 

2016 Colorful Covers Challenge

Red Cover
The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1) by Daniel O'Malley Shrill Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Orange Cover
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Yellow Cover
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Green Cover
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss Outpost (Razorland, #2) by Ann Aguirre Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Blue Cover
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders Enclave (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan

Purple Cover
Everything Is Teeth by Evie Wyld Bitch Planet, Vol. 1 Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Pink Cover
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler Love Poems by Pablo Neruda

Black Cover
The Just City (Thessaly, #1) by Jo Walton milk and honey by Rupi Kaur Confessions by Kanae Minato

White Cover
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay Trigger Warning Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Gray Cover
Landline by Rainbow Rowell Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll The Underground Girls of Kabul In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

Brown Cover
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard The Girl Wakes Stories by Carmen Lau Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Colorful Cover
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1 The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers

 

Short Story Collections: Thoughts, Goals, and TBR

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I love short stories. I really do. I’m continuously impressed by how much plot and emotion can be packed into such a small number of pages, and to me it really speaks to the skill of an author. I’ve recently started to recognize my love of short story collections and have been attempting to pick up more of them (and buy A LOT more of them), but when I gathered all of the short story collections I’ve read together on a Goodreads shelf, I was really not impressed by the number. It inspired me to want to pick up short story collections more often, and to set a solid reading goal for myself (as I laugh at myself for thinking I can actually stick to a reading goal) (No, but for real this time, I actually want to stick to this one) : to read one short story collection per month in 2017.

I already missed January, but that’s OK. This month I’m currently reading Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue, which is a collection of feminist fairytale retellings (is there anything more in my wheelhouse than that phrase?), but I need to keep this going strong throughout the year. Short story collections are great because you don’t necessarily have to read straight through them; you can read one or two stories per day and get through one in a week or so that way. Because of that, I feel like one short story collection per month is actually a pretty attainable goal, and I’m going to hold myself accountable this time.

Here is the (embarassingly low) number of short story collections I’ve completed so far (it’s possible I’m missing a few? But I don’t think so): 10

Interpreter of MaladiesFragile Things: Short Fictions and WondersStranger Things HappenSmoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and IllusionsMagic for Beginners: StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesThe Girl Wakes: StoriesUnaccustomed EarthGutshot

As you can see, there are a lot of repeat authors here: the vast majority of short story collections I’ve read have been from Jhumpa Lahiri, Neil Gaiman, and Kelly Link. Because they are awesome. But this also does point to the fact that I really need to branch out to new authors in my short story reading. Amelia Gray’s Gutshot was one of my favorite books of 2016, and it was a total gamble on a new-to-me author who I ended up loving, going to see speak, and buying another book from. Carmen Lau’s The Girl Wakes was my absolute favorite read of 2016 and I found it at a local small press book fair. Branching out in reading always pays off.

My short story TBR list contains a lot of books that I already have on my physical TBR shelf, so this works well with the #readmyownbooks challenge. A lot of my picks are well-within my wheelhouse: female authors, magical realism, weird fiction.

Short story collections from authors I’ve already read and enjoyed:

Pretty Monsters: StoriesStone Mattress: Nine Wicked TalesWhat is Not Yours is Not YoursGet in Trouble: Stories

I have all four of these on my physical TBR shelf (yes, I have two unread Kelly Link short story collections on my TBR shelf. Oops.) and I keep meaning to pick all of them up and then not doing it. I actually did start Pretty Monsters at one point, but after the first story I never returned to it, and I felt like it was just sitting on my bedside table judging me, so I put it back on the shelf. As far as Stone Mattress goes, Margaret Atwood is one of my absolute favorite authors and I have no excuse whatsoever for not reading it yet. I’ve only read one book by Helen Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird, which I really enjoyed) and I have FOUR unread books of hers on my physical TBR shelf, one of which is a short story collection–What is Not Yours is Not Yours. I’m planning on saving White is for Witching for an October read, but I really have no excuse for not yet picking up the other ones.

Short story collections from new-to-me authors: The Other World, it Whispers by Stephanie Victoire, The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks, By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente, and A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel. I own physical copies of all of these except By Light We Knew Our Names.

The Other World, It WhispersThe Unfinished World: And Other StoriesBy Light We Knew Our NamesA Guide to Being Born: Stories

Apparently short story collections get the most beautiful covers in the world. I can’t even with these lovely rainbow situations.

And here are a bunch more! There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (what an amazing title, btw), Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill, Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis, North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud, The Color Master by Aimee Bender, The Last Animal by Abby Geni, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting, and And Yet They Were Happy by Helen Phillips.

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love StoriesBad BehaviorCan't and Won't: StoriesNorth American Lake Monsters: Stories

The Color MasterThe Last AnimalUnclean Jobs for Women and GirlsAnd Yet They Were Happy

 

I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this–what are some of your favorite short story collections? Have you read any of these? Do you ever set goals for yourself for reading short stories? Let me know!

List of All My Ongoing Book Series!

So here’s the second part of my analysis of what books series I’ve been reading–my ongoing book series! I’m only going to include ongoing series that I actually plan to complete; maybe I’ll do another post later about series that I’ve DNF’d (there are a LOT of them). It was really interesting doing this post; when I started I thought there were only a few series that I was technically in the middle of; it turns out that there are actually a bunch of them. I’ve listed the series and then where I’m at with each of them, with images only of the books I’ve completed in the series so far. It’ll be interesting at the end of the year to see which series I’ve made progress with during 2017 (hopefully a bunch, since I’m waiting on new releases for most of these).

Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Aimee Kaufman (2/3):

Illuminae (The Illuminae Fi...Gemina (The Illuminae Files...

Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (9/10):

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2)Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels...Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels,...Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5)Magic Rises (Kate Daniels, #6)Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels,...Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels,...Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas (2/3)

A Court of Thorns and Roses...A Court of Mist and Fury (A...

Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole (4/6)

Poison Princess (The Arcana...Endless Knight (The Arcana ...Dead of Winter (The Arcana ...Arcana Rising (The Arcana C...

Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (2/3)

The Fifth Season (The Broke...The Obelisk Gate (The Broke...

Kushiel’s Dart series by Jacqueline Carey (1/3)

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Tr...

Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers (2/?)

The Long Way to a Small, An...A Closed and Common Orbit (...

Checquy Files by Daniel O’Malley (1/?)

The Rook (The Checquy Files...

Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (2/3)

The Name of the Wind (The K...The Wise Man's Fear (The Ki...

October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (9/?)

Rosemary and Rue (October D...A Local Habitation (October...An Artificial Night (Octobe...Late Eclipses (October Daye...One Salt Sea (October Daye,...Ashes of Honor (October Day...Chimes at Midnight (October...The Winter Long (October Da...A Red-Rose Chain (October D...

Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire (1/?)

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayw...

Innkeeper chronicles by Ilona Andrews (2/3)

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chro...Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper C...

Lilith’s Brood trilogy by Octavia Butler (1/3)

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)

Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel (1/?)

Sleeping Giants (Themis Fil...

Thessaly trilogy by Jo Walton (1/3)

The Just City (Thessaly, #1)

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (6/?)

Saga, Vol. 1Saga, Vol. 2Saga, Vol. 3Saga, Vol. 4Saga, Vol. 5Saga, Vol. 6

Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman (2/?)

Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant D...Giant Days, Vol. 2 (Giant D...

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (1/?)

Binti (Binti, #1)

Hidden Legacy trilogy by Ilona Andrews (1/3)

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy,...

New Crobuzon series by China Mieville (1/3)

Perdido Street Station (Bas...

 

So, that’s all of my ongoing book series at the moment! Let me know which of these series you’ve read or are currently reading in the comments, and happy reading 🙂

 

All the Book Series I’ve Finished

So lately I keep seeing all of these adorable blog posts and BookTube videos where bookish people are tracking their completed and ongoing book series, and I started to feel left out. So this is post 1 of 2, where I’ll list all of the book series that I’ve finished (that I can think of!) My next post will track all of the ongoing book series that I’ve started but not finished yet. There are links to the Goodreads page for all of these series; let me know in the comments which you’ve read and if you track your series reading too! Maybe at the end of the year I’ll do a post updating my progress on series reading? That might be fun.

Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer

Annihilation (Southern Reac...Authority (Southern Reach, #2)Acceptance (Southern Reach,...

Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Sta...Living Dead in Dallas (Sook...Club Dead (Sookie Stackhous...Dead to the World (Sookie S...Dead as a Doornail (Sookie ...Definitely Dead (Sookie Sta...All Together Dead (Sookie S...From Dead to Worse (Sookie ...Dead and Gone (Sookie Stack...Dead in the Family (Sookie ...Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhou...Dead Ever After (Sookie Sta...

Maddaddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and CrakeThe Year of the FloodMaddAddam

Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend (The Ne...The Story of a New Name (Th...Those Who Leave and Those W...The Story of the Lost Child...

Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi: 3 books, 2 companion novellas

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5)Fracture Me (Shatter Me, #2.5)

Milennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson: I don’t count the fourth book

The Girl with the Dragon Ta...The Girl Who Played with Fi...The Girl Who Kicked the Hor...

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows,...Crooked Kingdom (Six of Cro...

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunge...Catching Fire (The Hunger G...Mockingjay (The Hunger Game...

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight, #1)New Moon (Twilight, #2)Eclipse (Twilight, #3)Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4)

Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdo...The Broken Kingdoms (Inheri...The Kingdom of Gods (Inheri...

Dreamblood duology by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon (Dreambloo...The Shadowed Sun (Dreambloo...

The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman

The Magicians (The Magician...The Magician King (The Magi...The Magician's Land (The Ma...

The Edge quartet by Ilona Andrews

On the Edge (The Edge, #1)Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3)Steel's Edge (The Edge, #4)

Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring ...The Two Towers (The Lord of...The Return of the King (The...

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcer...Harry Potter and the Chambe...Harry Potter and the Prison...Harry Potter and the Goblet...Harry Potter and the Order ...Harry Potter and the Half-B...Harry Potter and the Deathl...

Agent of Hel trilogy by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel...Autumn Bones (Agent of Hel,...Poison Fruit (Agent of Hel,...

Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris

Grave Sight (Harper Connell...Grave Surprise (Harper Conn...An Ice Cold Grave (Harper C...Grave Secret (Harper Connel...

Lily Bard series by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's LandlordShakespeare's ChampionShakespeare's ChristmasShakespeare's TrollopShakespeare's Counselor

Kenzie & Gennaro series by Dennis Lehane

A Drink Before the War (Ken...Darkness, Take My Hand (Ken...Sacred (Kenzie & Gennaro, #3)Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie & ...Prayers for Rain (Kenzie & ...Moonlight Mile (Kenzie & Ge...

Parable of the Sower/Earthseed duology by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower (Earth...Parable of the Talents (Ear...

 

And…that’s it! I think. As far as I can remember, anyways. I left out a bunch of series I read when I was younger and only included adult/YA series that I’ve read as an adult.

 

 

 

February TBR

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I avoided making a TBR list for January because I felt the hints of an oncoming reading slump and wanted to try to avoid it by not putting reading pressure on myself. It worked (sort of)–I did end up reading a lot in January, but they weren’t the books that I had really wanted to read; even if I didn’t really have a TBR, I sort of subconsciously did make one.

So for February, I’m back to making an actual TBR. I’d like to actually pick up books that I’m really excited about and have been really looking forward to reading and challenge myself to stick to that TBR as much as possible. (We’ll see how that goes.) I’d like to start by finishing the books I started but wasn’t able to finish during January, and finish by starting some enticing new ones. And, most importantly, I actually really need to #readmyowndamnbooks.

Currently reading and would like to finish in Feb:

Our Endless Numbered DaysEverything I Never Told YouLab Girl

I’ve been in such an audiobook slump lately (I’ve talked a lot in the past about how not being an auditory learner kept me away from audiobooks for a long time, but I’d actually gotten into a pretty decent rhythm with them until recently) and so I wasn’t able to finish Lab Girl by Hope Jahren within my checkout time from the library back in December; unfortunately I’m still on the wait list for it, so I’ll have to see if I’m able to get ahold of it in February. If not, it goes on the TBR for March. I’m about 1/2 of the way done with the audio of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and, since I just checked it out from the library for another two weeks, I am very hopeful about finishing it this month. The writing is really beautifully done; I don’t typically pick up books that are mainly character studies like this one is, but it’s really resonating with me so far.

I’m also part of the way through Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days (print, not audio) and honestly just haven’t been in the right mood to pick it up in awhile, despite the fact that it’s very good. It’s about a young girl who’s essentially kidnapped from her mother by her survivalist father, although she doesn’t see it that way, and about those events and their aftermath once she’s been returned home years later. I’m only about fifty pages in so far.

New TBR books for Feb:

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsLord of the FliesKissing the Witch: Old Tales in New SkinsSleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailThe Mothers

I’d love to pick up one of my Book of the Month Club picks during February (since all of them sound so good) and I think I’m going to start with the book that was voted 2016’s Book of the Year–All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. I really don’t know how I’m going to feel about this one, but I’m super curious from all the hype. I’d also like to pick up a classic at the beginning of the  year rather than keep procrastinating and never actually read one (like I did in 2016) and I recently ordered a copy of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, which is one of those books that it seems like everyone else got assigned to read in high school but I never did, and then I never picked it up later because I felt like I’d heard so much about it that it wasn’t worth reading. But I changed my mind and would actually like to read it now.

I also want to pick up at least one short story collection in February, and I think I’m probably going to go with Emma Donoghue’s Kissing the Witch, which is a collection of interconnected feminist fairy tale retellings. This sounds right up my alley and I’d meant to read it during Bout of Books, so now I’m actually going to get to it this month. Other TBR picks include Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, which I actually started last night and am really liking; The Mothers by Brit Bennet, because I do not want to be missing out on the amazingness that I have heard about any longer; and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which will be the next audiobook I start after Everything I Never Told You unless Lab Girl comes in first.

So, my TBR is a little ambitious but I do feel like it’s do-able, although I could always get distracted and pick up something different (let’s be honest, I totally will). But at least some of these are definitely getting read this month! And I’m totally going to hold myself to #readmyowndamnbooks only this month, except for audiobooks.

 

What are you planning on reading in February? Let me know!

January Reading Wrap-Up

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My reading in January was really weird and moody. I read mostly graphic novels and YA, which is not typical for me, and also stuck mainly to library books, which is also not typical. I can’t really say that I was in a reading slump because I did finish twelve books, but it felt like it; I struggled to focus on any book that required a long attention span, and the majority of my reading took place during Bout of Books in the first week. That being said, I did enjoy a lot of what I read in January even if it wasn’t mind-blowing, and I did read one amazing book that turned out to be my first 5-star book of 2017.

So here are my stats:

# of books read: 12

#readmyowndamnbooks: 1 (eek!)

Audiobooks: 1

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 1

✓ 6. Read an all-ages comic.
Relish My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Instead of ranking my reads by awesomeness and star ratings like I usually do, I sorted my January reads into categories so that I can talk about them more easily.

Alex + Ada, Vol. 2 by Jonathan LunaAlex + Ada, Vol. 3 by Jonathan LunaGiant Days, Vol. 1 by John AllisonGiant Days, Vol. 2 by John Allison

So I kicked off the month by finishing Alex + Ada, a graphic novel series that I did not actually realize was a trilogy until I got to the third and final volume. I…was OK about this as a trilogy. It seemed promising at first, and I tend to like anything that’s near-future science fiction, but the whole thing felt overly simplistic. The ethics of artificial intelligence is such a fascinating discussion, but I feel like Alex + Ada barely scratched the surface, plus I HATED the ending.

I also read the first two volumes of Giant Days, which is another graphic novel series that I’ve heard a lot about. I liked this one more than Alex + Ada; it’s about three girls who met at their first year of college and depend on each other to navigate all sorts of challenges and craziness. It’s cute and fun and I’ll definitely continue with the series, but I’m saving Volume 3 for the next readathon (probably Dewey’s, in April).

Poison Princess by Kresley ColeEndless Knight by Kresley ColeDead of Winter by Kresley ColeArcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles, #4)

January was also the month that I got sucked into Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles series. This is a YA series that basically takes every single YA novel cliche and jams it into one story: there’s magic, an apocalyptic event, a love triangle, zombies, people magically being pretty and not smelly despite the lack of showers and the overabundance of dirt and dust in the post-apocalyptic landscape, references to Greek mythology, and a competition between teenagers to the death. I don’t love this series; I’ve given each book three stars out of enjoyability, but it’s not that they’re particularly well-written. They’re just addicting, despite the fact that all of the characters are basically terrible. Our story follows Evie, who has the magical powers of Poison Ivy plus the ability to shift between a blond and a redhead, and who is trying to survive the apocalypse and the competition between twenty or so teenagers who each represent cards of the Tarot deck (yep) while choosing between two love interests who both have serious issues. There’s Jack, who is basically Alcide from True Blood except much meaner and Cajun and not a werewolf (although I totally thought he was because that was the only YA trope missing form this story) and Death, who is basically Eric from True Blood mixed with Eric from True Blood during that one book where he lost his memories and acted super weirdly. I started these books thinking that they were a completed trilogy and then halfway through found out that it was an incomplete six-book series. Oops. So now I’m waiting on book 5, although I absolutely hate how book 4 ended and may end up abandoning the series if book 5 doesn’t do something big to make up for how terribly the plot is going.

Relish by Lucy KnisleyMagic Binds by Ilona AndrewsUnmentionable by Therese OneillMen Explain Things To Me (Updated Edition)

Other things I finished:

Relish by Lucy Knisley (4 stars) – very enjoyable food memoir with cute illustrations. I’m planning on picking up her other graphic memoir, which focuses on wedding planning, for the next readathon.

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews (4 stars) – finally got to this one! This was the 9th book in the Kate Daniels series and I’m incredibly sad that the next book will be the final one. It was definitely better than the previous few books and it looks like things are heading toward an epic conclusion for Kate. I just love these characters so much. Please, Ilona Andrews, don’t let any of them die in the last book.

Unmentionable by Therese O’Neill (2 stars) – Ugh. This was disappointing. I listened to this on audio; it’s an account of what life was like for women in the 1800s, and the premise is sort of like “what if you were the protagonist of a classic novel?” I feel like it just really failed in its execution; the information was given for way too broad of a time period, and all of the information was focused on what it was like for wealthy white women, mostly in America, and ignored everyone else. Things got really repetitive and the narration became SUPER annoying about halfway through. I know a lot of people have liked this one, but for me it was a definite letdown.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (5 stars) – this was absolutely fantastic and should be required reading. Solnit’s prose is beautifully complex, and her essays are very purposeful and well-executed. She raises a lot of very important points and expresses herself perfectly; I kept pausing to think about what she was saying and to re-read really beautiful sentences. I actually brought this one with me when I went to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, and I thought this was a really great pick in light of the current political climate. Highly recommend.

 

What did everyone else read this month? Let me know!

January Book Haul

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Here are the books I’ve picked up in January! Some are from this wonderful used bookstore in Washington D.C. (Carpe Librum), some are from a library used book sale, some are from Book of the Month Club, and I picked one up at the Strand’s pop-up store in New York.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit – I picked this one up while visiting a friend in New York at one of the Strand’s pop-up locations; I figured that it would be a timely read given the current political situation. It’s a very short collection of essays discussing violence against women, misogyny, and the importance of feminism.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood – I picked this as an extra selection in my Book of the Month box for January. This was chosen as BotM’s Book of the Year, and it’s described on Goodreads as “a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.” I’ve seen a lot of amazing reviews, and feel like this is something I’m really going to like.

Lucky You by Erika Carter – this was my Book of the Month Club pick for January–it’s the story of three friends who decide to go live off the grid. I’ve been hearing from reviews that the characters are very unlikable and that it’s quite a sad story, but as I tend to have unpopular opinions about a lot of books, it may just work for me.

The Incarnations by Susan Barker – this was a used bookstore find that I’ve been hearing great things about. It was published in 2014 and is about a man who finds a series of letters that seem to be about his past lives and believes he is being watched by someone who has known him throughout all of these lives.

The Lover by Marguerite Duras – this is a very short novel (I think I heard about it on Flavorwire’s list of recommended short books) that focuses on an affair between a young French girl and an older Chinese man. Also, Roxane Gay gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, so there’s that.

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett – I saw this in a used bookstore and remembered that I really wanted to read it, but had no memory of what it was supposed to be about. Goodreads says: “Feverish and forthright, Pond is an absorbing chronicle of the pitfalls and pleasures of a solitudinous life told by an unnamed woman living on the cusp of a coastal town.

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – this one sounds amazing, and I’m so excited that I found a copy at a used bookstore. From Goodreads, it’s “a reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of an amazing woman. Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. Narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the legendary Pandavas brothers in the Mahabharat, the novel gives us a new interpretation of this ancient tale. “

And Yet They Were Happy by Helen Phillips – I was browsing the sites for a few independent publishers that I like and stumbled across this book which was on sale for $5 (shipping included!) on Leapfrog Press’s website. It’s a collection of short stories, all of which are only two pages long, which are supposed to be quite weird, creative, and varied. I’m really looking forward to this one.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – this novella was a freebie in this month’s Book of the Month Club box. I’ve read all three of Gillian Flynn’s previous books–Gone Girl was by far my favorite–and I’m looking forward to picking up this little book, probably during the next Dewey’s Readathon.

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I also picked up these four books at my library’s used book sale for $1 each. This book sale was actually kind of a letdown for me; I feel like I usually have better luck and find more books that I’m super interested in. Instead, I really wasn’t finding anything, but I did pick up these four, which were more impulse buy-ish compared to the books I typically pick up. However, after asking around on Bookstagram I’m especially glad I picked up It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, as a lot of people seem to really love it and it sounds like a book I’d really like. The others I’m more on the fence about, but will definitely give them a shot.

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Also, my friend got me these two awesome-sounding books: one is a collection of literary-inspired cocktail recipes, and the other is a recipe book inspired by Gilmore Girls.

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers