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.

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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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Reading Recap: July 2018

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!

ReadingRecapJuly2018

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Poetry Talk: Sublimity by McKenna Hight

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.

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Reading Recap: June 2018

One of my motivations behind carefully recording my reading statistics this year is that I hoped to identify certain trends that emerge.  I’m into my seventh month of record-keeping and have started to notice some interesting things.

The most notable detail for me is that, even though I finished less books than May, I read almost 1,000 more pages.  It’s interesting to think about quantity vs. length.

Looking at this month’s finished titles, it has also become apparent that, when I am busy and stressed, I turn to old favorites.  Even when I’m exhausted and don’t have the energy to read, I don’t stop reading.  I just revisit what I’ve loved in the past.  As C.S. Lewis puts it, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”  Some books are just as good as I remember, some grow and change with me, and others lose their shine.

Do you ever reread books?  Do they get old or are you always noticing new things?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

BeFunky-collage

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 8
  • Number of pages read: 3,974
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 4
  • Longest book: Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing-Brown
  • Highest ratings:
    • Paper Towns by John Green (5 stars)
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (2.5 stars)

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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