Monday, May 3, 2021

What I Read in January

All the books I read in January 2021 I started this year with an ambitious (to me) reading goal: finally read 100 books in one year.

Years ago I'd read an interview by a well known author who was asked what helped them become a better writer. Their answer was to read a ton, "like 100 books or more a year." For whatever reason, that particular piece of advice has stuck with me. I've been reading over 50 books a year consistently for years, but the 100 mark felt kind of monumental.

However, I was reading fast enough to do it. It was not unusual for me to read 1-3 books in a week. It's just that some weeks I would get distracted by holidays, TV shows, crafts, other hobbies, etc., and reading would take a back seat. After hitting 80 books last year, I realized that if I just tried to get a little more intentional about it - I could probably pull it off. 

So, I'll tell you this much about my progress so far - as of the end of April (when I'm writing this) I'm almost on track. Maybe 1 or 2 books behind pace. (Thanks for that, Bridgerton.) But that's okay! Because whenever I feel like I've fallen a tiny bit behind, I just declare a reading weekend and I catch right back up. 

All of that to say, as I recap the books I've read each month I'm going to keep a running tally of how much closer I've inched towards my 100 books goal. (Wish me luck!)

Here's what I started the year with:

Outer Order Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin (3 Stars)
This was a re-read for me, but I started the year with that New Year motivation and wanted something to kick me into organizing/planning mode. I knew that this would be quick and invigorating. It is chock full of small, easy to execute tips for cultivating order in your everyday environments. It's not my favorite Gretchen Rubin book (I kind of love her to pieces!), but it is helpful and handy and I recommend it if you need a quick kick in the housekeeping pants!

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren (4 Stars)
Any time I review a Christina Lauren book I always want to start with, "It's Christina Lauren, just read it!" And while that's true, I'll also let you know that this one comes with a side of hollywood life, questionable betrayal, a before and after style young turned unrequited love, and a whole lot of family drama. Tate, the daughter of a very famous actor lives an undercover life. When she turns 18, she goes on vacation with her Grandmother and meets a boy named Sam that she falls head over heels in love with. Before the end of their trip, he ghosts her, and as she heals from the heartbreak and decides to follow in her father's footsteps, she locks Sam in box of distant and painful memories. Only, when she finds herself on set to make a movie with her father for the first time, she sees someone she never thought she'd see again. And then all the steamy-good Christina Lauren things happen to them. :)

By the Book by Amanda Sellet (3 Stars)
Okay, mixed feelings. I went into this book excited about all of it's bookishness but found a lot of it kind of cheesy. It did get better at the end, so it salvaged its third star. This story follows Mary, one member of a large, intellectual family. Raised by a par of college professors, Mary is obsessed with classic novels and tends to translate the world around her with the language of her beloved characters. She transfers into a new high school (public, for her first time) and tries to use her classic novel knowledge to make friends and understand her classmates. It's a little bit of a bumpy ride, but she finds friendship and romance along the way and it's cute overall.

The Dating Plan by Sara Desai (4 Stars)
This book was so great! Career-focused Daisy is tired of her meddling Aunties constantly trying to set her up. She finds a temporary solution to her problem by asking her childhood crush, Liam to pretend to be engaged to her. Turns out, there's something in it for Liam, too. He only gets his family inheritance if he's married. The two then embark on a good 'ol fake turned real relationship that is full of allll the good stuff. The highlights for me (aside from the angst and romance, of course) were the diversity of the characters and the depth and energy of the families. I loved the interactions they had with their wild Aunts and Uncles. Loved it!

Atomic Habits by James Clear (4 Stars)
This book was my morning study book for a while and I really liked it! It was perfect timing, really - I'd chosen Baby Steps as my word for 2021 (I mean, it's 2, but who's counting) to help me navigate my goals and life after the dumpster fire that was 2020. Outlawed by Anna NorthIt was helpful to see the encouragement and rationale behind taking things a little bit at a time and structuring your life for consistency. This book is a great stepping stone into self-help, or tackling any sort of goal in your life. 

Outlawed by Anna North (3 Stars)
I didn't love-love this book while I was reading it. I was never pulled back in to see what happened next, and I was often so bored and confused about who was who and what was really going on that I never really got attached to any of the characters. However, looking back at it, I really liked the premise and what it stood for. I think I just expected it to be different. Ada runs away from her home at only 17 years old because her infertility is raising witchcraft suspicions within her village. Her only chance at safety is to leave, and at first she finds herself in a monastery. She decides that life as a nun isn't really her thing, so she is sent along to a rebel gang of outlaws to see if they will take her in. Her experience with herbs and midwifery earns her a place in the gang, but life isn't easy for any of them. On the run, in constant search of sustenance, and guided by a mentally unstable leader, Ada and the rest of the gang find themselves in trouble repeatedly. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that I like where they lead Ada in the end, but the whole unsettled life of crime wasn't my favorite reading. I do love the discussion about the many ways women have found themselves discarded over the years as well as the desperations they've had to turn to just to live their lives. It has a great message - it just wasn't my favorite journey. (This cover, though!)

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (4 Stars)
Ooh this one was fun! Co-workers Lucy and Joshua work as rival assistants in a tumultuously merged publishing company. The pair battle each other at every turn, and are convinced that the other is at fault for their mutual hate. They end up making a bet relating to the promotion that only one of them will earn, and this game takes them on journey filled with confusion, drama, and a whole lot of enlightenment. If you love a good hate to love story, this one will stick with you! 

Blessings from the Other Side by Sylvia Browne (4 Stars)
I have a whole lot of Sylvia Browne books sitting on my shelf so I decided to start knocking them out. I received them all as gifts due to my interest in the woo-woo, spiritual world, but it's taking me forever to get to them! This book didn't have any earth shattering info for me (I've heard most of it before), but this was a comforting confirmation of our relation to the people we loved and lost, and those we may lose someday. Anything that encourages unending love and connection always feels right in my heart, so I loved this.

And that's it for January! It was a pretty solid start - 8-9 books is the goal in order to stay on track! It was a good list of backlist, BOTM, and some oldies I've had sitting on my shelf, too. 

8/100 Done! 

Back with February's stack soon.

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