January 2021 Wrap-Up!

What? January? You’re probably thinking that your feed has glitched if you are still seeing posts from January, but alas, you are fine. Here I am, forever being late with wrap-up posts. I shouldn’t be, considering I had this drafted a month ago, but here we are (at this point it’s more of a record for me than a legit blog post.) January started out pretty strong, as I decided I was going to read at least 1 short story every day of the year (I’ve since given myself off one day a month, but only because I accidentally missed a day and almost couldn’t live with myself). That led to me finishing 7 different short story collections that I never would have read otherwise. This project was created with the intention that I would finally prioritise all the short story collections I’ve got saved on my Goodreads, but would probably never read otherwise. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far, although now that we are into February (and now March – what is wrong with me?) I am slowing down a bit (in January I averaged at least 5 per day, but now deep in February and I haven’t read more that 1 per day in over a week). Anyway, so far so good, but it does mean I’m not reading as many novels, which is a shame. ANYWAY, if you managed to read that ramble, here are the books I finished in the month of January!

How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

This was a really cool collection, and a spontaneous 7-day skip-the-line loan from Libby. Obviously I’ve never read a book with a focus on people from Laos, but I loved that that’s what connected all the stories. What’s also impressive is that even a month later, I can still remember and differentiate between them, which I can’t say the same for the other collections I’ve read. I’ll certainly read more by Thammavongsa.

Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

I feel like the waits between Jenna’s books are always getting longer and more gruesome. But this one was definitely worth it. I really truly loved it, all of it. I liked it a lot more than Love & Luck, which is a huge shock, believe me. It’s over 500 pages, but I easily could have done it in one sitting, although I always want to savour things when they’re this enjoyable. I know we just got it, but I’m anticipating the next in the series already.

A Good Man is Hard To Find & Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor

I had never heard of Flannery O’Connor before this project, but between someone else on Goodreads doing a similar project and reading her stories, and the short story filter on Libby, I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t really enjoy this much at all. There may have been a few here and there that I didn’t mind, and I do like southern fiction (although not southern gothic fiction, it seems?), but this just fell flat overall.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Will I ever be able to read a Raven Cycle book without gushing about Adam Parrish? Probably not. Anyway, I love him and this series and I WILL READ THE RAVEN KING SOON I SWEAR.

Sit by Deborah Ellis

I’ve quietly become a big fan of Deborah Ellis and her stories. She wrote The Breadwinner trilogy that I discovered a few years ago (thanks Angelina Jolie) and I’ve since realised she wrote a lot of the historical fiction books I read as a child. I quickly snatched this up and tried very hard not to read it all at once. I loved the theme of chairs and how varied the stories still were, even under this theme. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for anything else she writes.

Uglies: Cutters by Scott Westerfeld, Devin Grayson, and Steven Cummings

The second Uglies graphic novel, and surprisingly, I liked this one a lot more, even though Pretties is my least favourite of the original trilogy. I liked how it paralleled the story, whereas the first graphic novel served as more of a prequel. I also think the plot lent itself better to the format in Cutters versus Shay’s Story. It doesn’t look like there will be more, which is a shame because I wouldn’t mind it.

Strange Planet & Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle

These were absolutely delightful, as expected. I’ve followed Nathan on social media for a while and thought the books would just be a repeat of what he posts there, but there’s more that he doesn’t post and it’s totally worth a flip through.

The Backstagers, Vol. 1: Rebels Without Applause by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh, and Walter Baiamonte

I was hoping that I could recommend this to a friend who is also getting more into graphic novels and who also happens to work in theatre, but alas, I do not think I will be doing so. I finished it, which was a miracle. I didn’t really enjoy it at all, otherwise.

Fangs by Sarah Andersen

In a trend that seems to be happening more and more to me lately, for some reason my library has the German e-book instead of the English one, which doesn’t make any sense at all, but I did eventually get a physical copy. Anyway, this was pretty cute and as a big fan of Sarah Andersen’s comics, I wholly approve of the golden retriever/black cat dynamic.

March: Book One & March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

I first read March four years ago for my Slavery/Freedom/Civil Rights field school, and while I did know there were sequels, I can’t believe it took me this long to read them. I love the how this graphic novel series tells the two stories as a parallel, as it really emphasises how big of a moment January 20, 2009 really was. I would encourage everyone to read this series by John Lewis, particularly now.

Harry Potter: Christmas at Hogwarts: Magical Movie Moments by Jody Revenson

A little short and a bit disappointing on that front, but I liked the dive into the design choices made for the Harry Potter films regarding Christmas. I don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied enough with the translation of this series from page to screen.

While Mortals Sleep: Unpublished Short Fiction by Kurt Vonnegut

I read a graphic novel version of Slaughterhouse-Five last year and became absolutely obsessed. I haven’t gotten ahold of a copy of the novel yet, but did get to read this short story collection as part of my project. And I really loved it. It’s weird and strange, and I’m pretty sure the first story is a romance between a man and a refrigerator. I can’t wait to read every other weird thing Kurt Vonnegut has written immediately.

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’m laughing knowing that I actually have read this. While I really enjoyed Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, reading the entirety of his written repetroire was never one of my goals. If it wasn’t for this short story project, this would definitely have gone unread. That being said, while I liked two or three of the stories, I definitely found some slow as well.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Other Stories by Karen Russell

I used to have this on my TBR. And then I took it off? For some reason? Anyway, I’m very glad to have read it now and I suspect before the year is out I will have read the rest of Karen Russell’s short stories. They’re very good.

Magnetic North by Jenna Butler

I wish I could scream from the rooftops for everyone to read some of Jenna Butler’s work. I am forever grateful for the friend of mine who hosted Jenna on their podcast, because without that I never would have picked up Magnetic North, which is probably one of the most beautiful works of poetry I have ever read – and I don’t even really like poetry. If anything made me want to visit Svalbard, even though I thoroughly hate the cold, Jenna did it.

Daisy Miller & Other Stories by Henry James

Here’s the dumbest reason for me picking up something by Henry James, even though his work has never interested me before: Julia Roberts mentions him by name in Notting Hill. Which is the dumbest reason. Anyway, this had four whole stories in it, and I was lukewarm to most of them. Probably won’t pick up something by him again soon.

So there you have it, January reads! Although, it’s been so long now that January feels like a lifetime ago. Stay tuned for February’s wrap-up, which will either come tomorrow or at the end of March. I like to be predictable. It’s not a bad start to 2021, and I’m really looking forward to the year ahead!

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