Can you even believe January is over already? I didn’t actually even realize it until I went to put something in my bullet journal and realized it was February. Like I had to make my spreads for February. What a bizarre feeling. January did not go as expected AT ALL.
I ended up reading 25 books in January which, granted, isn’t as many as months before. BUT when I made the goal to read less, it was less about the number of books and more about the mindset. I wanted to put less pressure on myself, to feel less like I had to read. To bring back some of the flexibility I’ve been missing since almost when I started. Maybe not the first year, but certainly the last three.
In terms of reading, January was all over the place. I read some books that I absolutely did not get along with, and some that disappointed me, badly. I think what I learned in January was that if a book isn’t working with me – which could be just my head space at the moment, not necessarily the book – I need to put it down. That feels so bad for me, especially as a reviewer, but for a reader, I definitely need to get better at doing that.
That being said, I also was surprised by a few books which really swept me away. Ones I had no expectations for and ones that ended up just being so enjoyable and fun. I decided that ‘enjoyability’ has to be a factor in my reviews. I have a set of criteria, but I want to add this category. I think it’s under-appreciated: the pleasure of a book that just sweeps us away. At the end of the day, those are the books that lodge themselves in our heart. No matter if the ending doesn’t answer all questions, or if the characters needed a bit more work.
I’m going to be focusing less on star ratings this year. Instead focusing on how I felt about the books and less about the absolute numbers. I find that the numbers can just be really misleading. Sometimes there are books that I’ll always remember that are three stars, or some that I think are well written and good, but not ones I’d re-read. 2021 is the year of attempting some changes.
Favorite Middle Grade: The Comeback by E.L. Shen
Favorite Romance: January just reminded me about how much I adore Alyssa Cole’s books. It’s not necessarily one book in particular, just how much I appreciate her characters and the Reluctant Royal series.
- Prepped by Bethany Mangle: I need to read more Prepper/Survivalist books. I loved the conflict between dreams and family.
- A Pho Love Story by Loan Le: Talk about a charming story about family and rivalry and secrets.
- It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood: The narrative voice in this one was SO fabulous and detailed.
Favorite Fantasy: Fable by Adrienne Young: I just needed a good betrayal and treasonous high seas adventure story.
Favorite Historical Fiction: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo: Talk about a book that basically made me cry. I dare you not to.
Favorite Science Fiction:
- Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell: I want more SF romances please – I loved the main characters in this one so much!
- Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers: A slice of life SF story about humanity’s past and their future.
Goals and Challenges
I was able to read 52% Queer books/characters which I am OVER THE MOON about! Talk about smashing that goal. And now promptly forget about it because I am not sure if I can match that pace for the rest of 2021. For BIPOC characters/authors I read 48% which is just shy of my goal, but considering that I read fewer books, I still feel good about it.
As for challenges, I made absolutely no progress on them. Talk about a great start to 2021….