Reading Recap: February 2020

Welcome back for another monthly recap!  It’s funny because February is the shortest month of the year… and I still managed to read over 4,000 pages of books.  What can I say?  I live a wild life.  (By wild, I refer to playing the dangerous game of “just one more chapter” and staying up way later than intended.)

During the first half of February, I pounded through several YA fantasy novels, including the first two installments of Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers series and the conclusion to Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology.  All were solid, 4-star reads, with great world-building.  YA fantasy is the genre of my heart and it was wonderful hanging out with so many good stories in a row.  Plus, there’s a special satisfaction that comes with finishing three 500-page long books back-to-back.

I also read this year’s recipient of the Newbury Award, which is given for outstanding writing in a children’s book.  New Kid by Jerry Craft made history because it’s the first graphic novel to receive the award–a huge step forward for the genre!  Naturally, I got myself on the holds list as soon as I could.  I really enjoyed Craft’s novel.  The characters were well-formed, the art easy to follow, and Craft handles the struggles of fitting in and racism very well.

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January Reading Recap

Since publishing my list of favorite books read in 2019, nearly everywhere I go, people make comments about three things: the amount of books I finished last year, the quality of my selections, and how much they want me to write more.  “Amelia”, my friends say, “tell me what I should be reading.”

Well, friends, here I am… but I’m not going to tell you what to read.  Instead, I’m going to tell you what I’m reading and you can do with it as you chose.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Once or twice a month, I’ll do a book-related post.  I’ll list the books I’ve finished, mention what I’ve covered for book clubs that month, and share some casual reviews.  I’ll end the reviews with a recommended audience–that way, you can see if it’s something you’d like.  I’ll also include links to all the titles’ Goodreads pages so you can track things down on your own.

Sound like a plan?

Let’s go.

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Favorite Books Read in 2019

Hello, long-neglected blog.  I may not have been writing this year, but I’ve been reading and it’s time to look back and pick my favorites.

First, here are some big-picture statistics about my reading this year:

  • Total books finished: 140
  • Total number of rereads: 24
  • First time reads: 116
  • Total pages read: 42,329
  • Average rating: 3.79 stars
  • Most active month: June with 18 books and 5,291 pages
  • Least active month: November with 7 books and 2,729 pages

For a complete list of titles, ratings, and formats, download my Excel spreadsheet by following this link.  Or you can check out my 2019 shelf on Goodreads.

A few words about my reading habits… I’m an eccentric reader.  Driven by mood, I pick up whatever book catches my fancy and usually read 6-10 at once.  I have designated books for designated times or places, which helps me cover a wide variety of genres and titles without confusing them.  There’s always a book for reading after breakfast before I finish my coffee. I always have an e-book on my Kindle that I’m only allowed to read at the gym.  (Motivation for exercise that actually works!!).  I usually have an audiobook I play while driving and washing dishes. Then, there’s book clubs. I lead two and am a member of two more. My friends poke fun at me for being over-committed in this arena. (They’re not wrong.)

On to the books!  Many of the titles I’m about to talk about are worthy of critical acclaim, but they’re on this list for one main reason: I liked them.  These are the books that moved me this year.  They are the ones I’m still thinking about.  This isn’t necessarily a list of recommendations. Maybe you’ll like these titles. Maybe you won’t.  My tastes might not match yours and that’s okay.

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Reading Recap: January 2019

You probably thought, after last year’s intense reading challenge, I was done with monthly reading recap posts.  I did too.  It turns out, though, I read a lot of really good books this month and want to talk about them.  I don’t know if I’ll do a recap every month.  It depends on my schedule and how much I want to talk about things.

I won’t bore you with statistics (those will come at year’s end–I’m keeping a spreadsheet), but I did finish ten books this month.  This adds up to 2,857 pages.

Every morning, right after breakfast, I spend 15-20 minutes with some kind of faith-based nonfiction.  This month, I flew through three books.  Right away, I finished The Sacred Enneagram by Chrisopher Heuertz.  I’ve heard Heuertz on the Sleeping at Last podcast and heard good things about the book.  While I didn’t think it was that well written (portions were redundant and there were too many Wizard of Oz references), I walked away from the book thinking a lot about contemplative prayer (which I have now adopted into my regular spiritual routine).  I then breezed through The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequiest, which offered an accessible introduction to sacred practices.  Contemplative prayer came up again, which was super interesting.  Finally, I read my fourth Richard Rohr book, The Naked Now.  This one was on Christian mysticism, breaking down dualistic thinking, and practical ways to develop contemplative practice.  I found it intriguing how each book flowed seamlessly into the next, the themes building upon each other.

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2018 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Well, friends, I have officially completed my big New Years resolution from 2018!

At the start of this year, I launched an ambitious challenge to take careful statistics of all the books I read. Along with recording information for all the books I finished, I published a series of twelve recaps, creating an index with my thoughts on each title.

In 2017, I read more books than I ever had before (over 220), but I wanted to know more. How many pages do I read in a year? What formats do I usually read? Of everything I cover in a year, how many are rereads? What about quality vs. quantity? If I read a bunch of short, easy books in one month, does that mean I’m more productive than a month where I read less, longer ones? Are there any trends that emerge?

Because I’m a total nerd, these are the things I think about. This year, I was determined to find answers. Plus, setting a “read X amount of books this year” goal is just too easy.

Throughout the year, I recorded in a notebook everything I read including title, author, a very subjective rating on a five-star scale, and some quick thoughts. At the end of each month, I pulled my stats together, noted emerging trends and observations, and wrote a mini-review for each book. (The reviews got more elaborate as the project went on.)

Part of my motivation for the month-by-month approach was to stop periodically and think critically about what I was reading. I certainly didn’t read much highbrow literature this year (don’t worry, Tolstoy, once I’ve recovered from grad school I am coming for you), but that’s no reason to turn my brain off completely. When noting my thoughts, characteristics like writing quality, character development, world building, themes, etc. were at the forefront of my mind. These were so helpful! For books that weren’t great, I could always find something to appreciate. For the best books, I was able to express WHY I found them so enjoyable. This was integral in helping me understand why I enjoyed certain books over others.

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Reading Recap: December 2018

It’s finally here, the last recap of this year’s reading challenge.

December was a mixed month for books.  Life has been absolutely insane for the past few months and, as a result, I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like.  Since my job transition and grad school semester ended, I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things.

My main take-away this month is I’ve rediscovered my trick for getting myself to go to the gym: designating a book on my Kindle that I’m only allowed to read while working out.  I’ve explained this to a few people recently and they keep looking at me like I’m crazy.  But it actually works!  I’ve been tearing through Sarah Dessen’s older novels and they are keeping me on the cardio equipment longer and longer each time.  So I’m not only working out, I’m actually enjoying it!  It’s a win-win!

Dec 2018 Reading Recap.jpg


Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 7
  • Number of pages read: 2,470
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 0
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns
  • Highest rating:
    • The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns (4.75 stars)
    • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Screenplay by J.K. Rowling (3 stars and that is being generous)

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Reading Recap: November 2018

November has come and gone and, with it, it’s time for another recap.  It’s weird to think this is my second-to-last one before my year-long index is complete.

I have been another painfully slow reading month.  I’m making it through less than half the books per month as the beginning of the year.  I’m definitely frustrated with myself, but life has been so busy and when I sit town to read, it has been so hard to focus.

Still, this month’s list has a lot of high ratings.  I may not have finished many books, but I loved almost everything.  I got to revisit one of my all-time favorites in Pride and Prejudice, delighted in the epic finale of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, and enjoyed some quality poetry by Lin Manuel Miranda.

Nov 2018 Reading Recap


Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 5
  • Number of pages read: 2,120
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 1
  • Number of rereads: 1
  • Longest book: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
  • Shortest book: G’Morning, G’Night by Lin Manuel Miranda
  • Highest rating: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Lowest rating: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurine Goo

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Reading Recap: October 2018

Wow, I’m running behind on my reading recaps.  Also wow, my reading has slowed down so much this fall!  With all the craziness on my plate, I’m less likely to be found reading and more likely to while away the evening hours screwing around on my phone and going to bed early.

This month, I unintentionally read only female writers.  I also read primarily YA.  Considering I haven’t been following new releases in the genre that closely this year, this took me by surprise.  Looking at the list, there’s a lot of fluff here.  But it was enjoyable fluff that distracted me from a hectic fall.  For that, I’m grateful.

Oct 2018 Reading Recap


Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 5
  • Number of pages read: 1,975
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 1
  • Number of rereads: 1
  • Longest book: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
  • Shortest book: The Path Between Us by Susan Stabile
  • Highest rating: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
  • Lowest rating: Wildcard by Marie Lu

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Reading Recap: September 2018

Oh, man, I struggled to get through books this month.  It took ages to get through a single title.  Life has been absolutely crazy and it’s impacting my reading life.  A new job, new semester of grad school, and variety of other factors and responsibilities leave me exhausted at the end of the day.  I’ll read a few pages, then put the book down in favor of my Facebook feed.

My first foray into the work of Agatha Christie slowed everything down.  The Murder at the Vicarage sucked up over a week of my life, keeping me from the books I actually wanted to be reading, which was very frustrating.

Looking at this month’s list, I notice an equal blend between YA, adult fiction, and faith-based nonfiction.  Thinking about this month’s list, the books that really stand out are the nonfiction.  This surprises me, as my go-to brain candy is usually fluffy YA.  But there’s so many avenues of personal research I want to pursue right now.  Sadly, grad school gets in the way of most of that reading.

Sept2018 Reading Recap.jpg

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 6
  • Number of pages read: 2,148
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 1
  • Longest book: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  • Shortest book: The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns
  • Highest rating: The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (2 stars)

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Reading Recap: August 2018

With August comes the end of summer reading.  In my last month’s recap, I mentioned a big stack of books in my room I hoped to cover before starting up grad school again.  I made it through everything in my pile except A Room of One’s Own.  After four years away from Virginia Woolf, I thought I was ready to return to her again.  (I even wrote her a break-up letter back in 2014).  Alas, I was wrong.  I guess our reunion will have to wait.

Something I noticed this month was a lack of quality YA and an increase in nonfiction.  Of the YA I read, none really captured my attention.  They all took longer For nonfiction, I read an in-depth analysis of Harry Potter, a book on the Enneagram, and made it halfway through an excellent collection of essays about walking.  (The walking book will have to wait until my next school break to finish.  It’s fascinating, but slow.)

After sitting on my to-read list for many years, I finally got to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern!  I was so excited about this one, it was my book club pick for the month.  I absolutely loved it.

AugustReadingRecapCollage.jpg

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 10
  • Number of pages read: 3,127
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  • Shortest book: Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
  • Highest rating: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastain

Some notes on my stats:

  • Audiobooks are included in total page count.  It takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, so I count them
  • My ratings are on a 5-star system and are ridiculously subjective

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.


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