My January Reading Wrap-Up

January wasn’t a great month for me.  It’s cold and dreary and my seasonal congestion is making me miserable.  I was supposed to have sinus surgery this month, so I spent the first part of the month stressing about the procedure, and then my doctor had to postpone it for six weeks.

I have friends who have gone through real family tragedies recently, so I realize this is a minor problem — one that at some point in the next six weeks will hopefully be taken care of.  I’ll let you know.  I basically hibernated this month and took a lot of decongestants. I didn’t exercise the way I should and I didn’t get out of the house much.  I did read a lot – but maybe my mental state influenced my reading, as nothing really wowed me this month.  I also wasn’t motivated to write about what I read (though I did write about last month’s trip to South America).

Sorry to be grumpy.  Here’s what I read in January:

  • The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
  • The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
  • There There by Tommy Orange
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham
  • French Exit by Patrick DeWitt
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman

My favorite read: The book I was most glued to this month was In the Woods, which I’ve been wanting to read a long time and still haven’t gotten out of my head.  And for pure enjoyment, I was quite impressed by The Duke I Tempted, one of the most original romance novels I’ve read in a long time.  French Exit was clever and thoughtful, as DeWitt always is, and There There was an impressive debut, but I can’t say I loved either book.

Most disappointing read: I wasn’t crazy about The Dreamers.  And while I enjoyed The Greatest Love Story, I think it may be better as an audiobook than a print book since it’s basically written as a transcript.  It felt clunky, compared to their live show which I absolutely loved.

Books for challenges:

  • Nonfiction: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
  • Read Harder Challenge: Spinning Silver (folklore), The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (humor)

What I’m reading now: I’m reading two ARCs; The Glass Diplomat by S.R. Wilsher, about the military coup in Chile, and The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer.

What’s coming up: From the library, I’ve got Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.

Added to my TBR: I spent some time generating book ideas for the 2019 Read Harder Challenge.  Part of the fun is identifying books that meet every challenge.  Here are some ideas for the easier categories – feel free to suggest others!

  •  An epistolary novel or collection of letters: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou (this one’s a stretch but it’s on my shelf)
  • A book by a woman and/or Author of Color that won a literary award in 2018: The Friend by Sigrid Nunez or Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • A book by a journalist or about journalism: Dopesick by Beth Macy or The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • A book by an AOC set in or about space: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
  • A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman: Human Acts by Han Kang
  • A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang or Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin
  • A cozy mystery: The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (is Maisie Dobbs cozy?  I’ve never understood the category)
  • A business book: Quiet by Susan Cain or Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Things that made me happy this month: as you can probably tell, not so much. My cats, sitting by the fire, wine. I enjoyed the movie RBG, I found myself fascinated by Marie Kondo based on two bloggers who found her method life changing (here and here), I explored book podcasts, and my husband and I burned through every last episode of The British Baking Show.  I also picked up a few Great Courses on photography, cooking, and gardening.

That’s it for me!  Hope you’re staying warm and reading something good.

  15 comments for “My January Reading Wrap-Up

  1. February 1, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Oh Deb I’m sorry – January really is the worst already without adding medical complications into the mix! Although it sounds like your self-care game is on point. So glad you enjoyed In the Woods; French is one of my favourite authors to read when I’m a little under the weather, because her writing is both gripping and utterly trust-worthy.

    • February 2, 2019 at 8:06 am

      Thanks Elle – I hope your winter is going a little better! In the Woods was really well-written and haunting. I struggled with not liking the narrator, but then I always think likable narrators are easy – it’s the unlikable ones that require more talent.

  2. Susie | Novel Visits
    February 1, 2019 at 8:53 am

    January seemed SO long this year. I guess it often does, but somehow it felt especially long this year. Sorry you were sick on top of all that. I hope February is much better all the way around. Happy reading!

    • February 2, 2019 at 8:09 am

      January did seem to go on forever! What I normally like about January is that everything slows down and you can just hibernate. But the weather has been brutal. I had a very nice December so I shouldn’t complain too much.

  3. February 1, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Sorry you had a rough month. I hope February is better for you!

    • February 2, 2019 at 8:09 am

      Thanks AJ! Hope you’re in a warm place. Happy reading!

  4. February 1, 2019 at 10:56 am

    I’m sorry about your January. But it sounds like you loved IN THE WOODS (as much as I did!); my favorite Tana French is FAITHFUL PLACE … which is probably in my top 10 fave books ever. 🙂

    • February 2, 2019 at 8:13 am

      Thanks Karen. Looks like that one is #3, so I’m not far off! I’m happy to see that Book 2 is about Cassie. I really felt for her.

  5. February 1, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Also … for your epistolary category: Peter Carey’s TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG. One of my favorites; it’s the “alternate story” to the usual tales of Ned Kelly’s vicious life, told in a letter to his daughter.

    • February 2, 2019 at 8:16 am

      Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve never read Carey but have Oscar and Lucinda on my shelf. This is going on my list.

  6. February 4, 2019 at 3:10 am

    January is always such a weird month. Just because other people had other things going on doesn’t make your feeling any less valid.

  7. February 7, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed In the Woods! I’ve read the first three books in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, and I’ve liked each one better than the last (Faithful Place is SO GOOD)! Thanks for the reminder that I want to read French Exit, since I really enjoyed The Sisters Brothers.

  8. February 7, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Good books and the Great British Baking Show are excellent ways to get through the slog of January. Hope February is better for you!

  9. Danielle Hammelef
    February 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I hope your surgery goes well and that it takes care of your problem. We also enjoy The Great British Baking Show here, though since my kitchen was ripped up mid-January, I try not to watch baking shows as I can’t bake myself right now and it makes me jealous. January was an excellent reading month as we had a few days where it was just too cold to venture outside as well as ice and snow storms.

  10. February 18, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    My daughter and I have been loving The British Baking Show too. It’s addictive!

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