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.
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?
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.
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!
- 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)
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.
- 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
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.
- 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)
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.
- 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.
July has passed us by and it’s time for another reading recap! This month, I wrapped up my summer grad school classes and dove into several of the titles that have been burning on my to-read list for months. Overall, it was a really solid month of books! I thoroughly enjoyed almost everything I read.
During June, I made a physical pile of books in my room I wanted to cover this summer. I’d stare at them longingly before I went to sleep each night, waiting for classes to be done so I could read them. When the time came, I was surprised that the first title I grabbed from the pile was The Great Gatsby. It ended up being the perfect palate-cleanser as I transitioned into summer break. The next title I picked up was Tomi Adeyemi’s debut, Children of Blood and Bone, one of my most highly-anticipated books of the year. For my morning Christian nonfiction, I had the delight of reading Rachel Held Evans’ new book on the Bible.
After such a solid month of reading, I’ve been waffling a bit on what I should pick up next. I’ve started three books in the past week and none have hooked me. What books have you read recently? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
When a dear friend tells you they’ve encased their soul in paper, it is best to tread carefully. Poetry is an intimate form of literature. To translate your inner trials, triumphs, and longings into language and is a brave thing to do. I deeply admire McKenna Hight’s courage in sharing her debut poetry collection, Sublimity, with the world. It’s an act of hospitality I’m honored to receive.
Before proceeding, I’d like to say a few things about my relationship with the author. Sometimes in life, you meet people and find instant kinship. You may only be around each other for a few days, but that’s enough to form what will likely be a lifelong friendship. McKenna, I think, is one of those people. We met four months ago during my brief Spring Break stay at Rochester L’Abri. She’s a writer from Atlanta and we bonded instantly over our mutual love for YA fantasy and Sarah J. Maas. During our short time together, we had some really intense discussions about faith, struggles, and how we are to live. Meeting McKenna was no accident and I value her friendship immensely.
As a blogger, bookstagrammer, librarian, and amateur book critic, it made complete sense to do a review of Sublimity. I use the word “review” lightly. This post is pretty long, as I get into some close reading, but that’s part of the fun. While it’s definitely possible to critique a work of poetry by its structure and adherence to literary form, poetry is hard to pin down. So much of a poetic work is subjective. Poetry is a conversation. It’s about immersing yourself in the figurative language and gleaning whatever you can. I don’t pretend to understand all of Hight’s poems. I don’t think understanding is the point. There is no concrete meaning to poetry and there is space for a thousand interpretations. Poetry is about the journey, so let’s journey together.
If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of Sublimity, you can do so at this link. Follow the author on Instagram @yawnsters.
I’m frugal with my five-star ratings, but any book that can make me cry deserves all the stars.
When I first read The Book Thief at sixteen, I didn’t see what the fuss was all about. It was good, but not great. I liked the writing, the story, and enjoyed the characters well enough, but it didn’t make an impression.
This time around, the book absolutely wrecked me.
I picked it up for one of my summer grad school classes and it was love from page one. I opted for the audiobook and soaked in every minute of my daily commute. Zusak’s writing is incredible. The characters are well-formed, with realistic development and motivations. The book’s themes about the power of words and the inconsistency of humanity are so well-implemented, I can’t get them out of my head. It’s taken me a month to sit and write out this review because there’s just so much to think about.
Reading The Book Thief as an adult was also a very personal experience. I’ve recently experienced several deaths and this book helped me grieve. I finished the same day I learned one of my favorite library patrons had died and the last fifteen minutes of the audiobook had me sobbing uncontrollably on my way home from work. I was a total traffic hazard. For someone who doesn’t cry often, this kind reaction is noteworthy. I haven’t connected with a story on this visceral a level in a long time.
Overall, this is the kind of book that you can’t look away from. It’s the kind of story that haunts you for years after reading and keeps bringing you back for more. It’s the kind of story that worms its way into your being. It sounds strange, but I feel a more complete person after reading this book.