January 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

In January I read 9 books, which is pretty on average for me. I read a mixture of genres in a variety of formats, and here they are below!

Uppity Women of Ancient Times by Vicki Leon

This was a carryover from 2019. Vicki Leon writes about forgotten women of history in a snarky, accessible way that reminds me that there are people out there who know how to make history fun. I have a couple of her other titles on my shelf that I hope to get to this year.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kang

Another carryover from 2019. This is the first in a series that follows a war orphan named Rin who earns her way into a top military academy in a fictionalized Asian country. There, she discovers an ability to talk to the gods that will either be her triumph…or be her ruin. I listened to this on audiobook and thought the narrator did amazing. I will definitely be reading the second in the series.

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Trainwrecks, and Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano

My last carryover from 2019. Chocano discourses, in a selection of essays, on society’s message to women on who we are *supposed* to be. Spoiler: be whoever the fuck you want. The most interesting takeaway I had from this collection is Chocano’s comment on how in the traditional hero’s journey, it’s a pretty straight trajectory, but in a heroine’s journey, it’s a spiral as we must struggle with being who we truly are over society’s expectation of us.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

This was my IRL’s book group pic for January. It’s about a woman who’s daughter is kidnapped and being held for ransom, and to get her back she has to kidnap another child. Interesting concept but bland execution. We all agreed the first half of the book was good but could have done without the second half. I listened to this on audiobook and thought the narrator did a good job though.

The Last Human by Zack Jordan

I received this as an ARC (advanced review copy) from Booklist to review, which you can read here. This is a science fiction novel that comes out in March with lots of interesting characters on an adventure. I found it really enjoyable and good for fans of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

River Runs Red by Scott Alexander Hess

This was a book I read for a committee I’m on at work. It’s historical fiction about a young man, Calhoun, who enters into an affair with an older architect named Clement. Another society guy, Belasco, has it out for Clement and threatens Calhoun with exposure of their affair. They get into fisticuffs and Calhoun ends up wounding Belasco in self defense. Belasco has Calhoun arrested for attempted murder. Shenanigans ensue. The representation is important but the writing was meh.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: a Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

One of my reading goals for 2020 is to read a professional development book each month. As a branch manager of a public library, I think it’s important that I develop myself as much as I develop my staff. Luckily, I’ve found a reading buddy at work to read with me, and for January we read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I liked the writing of this because it was simplistic but engaging. I find some management books to be like “fact…statistic…anecdote…tip….washrinserepeat”. With this one, because it read like a story I was able to engage with it more and take more away from it. It definitely made me want to evaluate my team and see where we could improve.

Lost at Sea by Erica Boyce

This is another ARC I received from Booklist for review, so when that review is available I will link it here. This is a contemporary set in New England about the ramifications for a seaside community when a beloved fisherman goes missing.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Finally, I finished the month of January with The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. I was first introduced to Amy Tan when I read her novel The Valley of Amazement a few years ago, and have been trying to read her backlist ever since. I enjoy Tan’s writing and I liked the different timelines, but overall the characters weren’t anyone that I had a deep connection with. I will still continue on with Tan’s backlist though!

So how did your reading go in January? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Let me know!

Until next time!


My 5 Star Reads of 2019

The following titles are the ones that deserved my coveted 5 star rating, because they engaged me, excited me, and enlightened me. Will these books be for you? Maybe, maybe not. But I’ll still tell you to read them :).

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I really liked Michelle’s message that she is always “becoming”. She’s always learning and evolving as a woman, a wife, a mother, etc. Her sense of self is inspiring. If you’re a fan of Michelle, then I definitely recommend checking this one out, especially the audiobook as she narrates it herself.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X is the story of Xiamora Batista, a teenager living in Harlem who is navigating what it means to be a woman both under the religious thumb of her mother and within her Harlem neighborhood. When Xiamora discovers slam poetry, her world is changed. Written in prose, this one is a MUST LISTEN TO on audiobook, as Elizabeth Acevedo narrates it herself in the style of slam poetry.

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West

*@thelibrarylush is my former social media handle

Am I biased because we share the same unique name? Maybe. But Lindy narrates her collection of essays on what it’s like to be big, loud woman in a society that wants to make women small and quiet. Infuriating and enlightening.

Notorious RBG: the Life & Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

This was a reread for me, but this time I listened to it on audiobook. To be honest, RBG reminds me of my beloved granny with her quiet strength and stoic poise, which is why I think I am so drawn to her. The audiobook was just as good as reading a physical copy, minus missing out on the illustrations and pictures. Still 5 stars.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Bri, a former underground rap legend’s daughter, wants to follow in his footsteps. She has to make it if her family is going to survive. Angie Thomas knocks it out of the park with the writing, and Bahni Turpin knocks it out with the audiobook narration.

Educated by Tara Westover

This one was HYPED UP last year, and with good reason! With a father that was distrustful of the government, Tara Westover grew up lacking the education most people take for granted. Educated is the story of how she overcame her zealous father to work toward and earn the education she so desperately wanted. Engaging and fucking bonkers. *Note to my father: thank you for not being crazy.

How Long ’til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

Exquisite. I don’t really know how else to describe this one. A collection of both science fiction and fantasy short stories that were poignant and mesmerizing. The audiobook featured different narrators for each story, which I think added a nice touch. My first N.K. Jemisin, but it definitely won’t be my last.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Frederik Backman

I absolutely adored Frederik Backman’s A Man Called One, so I knew I had to read anything else he comes out with, and this one did not disappoint. The story of a lonely girl who’s only friend is her granny, and the grand adventure her granny leaves her when she passes. The audiobook narrator does a fantastic job encompassing all of the different characters, and I think my favorite voice was Granny. Definitely made me miss mine.

Invisible Women: Data Bias In a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez

As my Goodreads review says, “fuck the patriarchy”. But seriously, this is research on how women, HALF OF THE POPULATION, are ignored when it comes to science, technology, government, architecture, healthcare, etc. Insightful and INFURIATING.

Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments! And if you would like to see what I’m reading throughout the year, let’s be friends on Goodreads!

Until next time!


2020 Reading Goals

With a new year comes the goal setting and/or resolution making. Below are the goals I hope to accomplish in my reading life for 2020.

  1. Participate in the Unread Shelf Project
  2. Participate in the Better Late Than Never Book Club being hosted by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner on Instagram. #betterlatethanneverbc
  3. Attempt the YALSA Hub reading challenge (the 2020 challenge should be announced in February.
  4. Read A-Z: read a title that corresponds with every letter of the alphabet (Beginning word of the title not including the word “the”)
  5. Read more diversely. My reading statistics for last year showed that I still read a majority of white authors, so I would like to read a minimum of 50/50 of titles that are by white and authors of color. I also read an abysmal amount of books that were about or featured a character that was LGBTQ+ and/or of different ability, so I want to increase those numbers.

Those are my main goals. I would also like to complete some rereads and read some professional development reads, but I’m not as focused on accomplishing those as I am on the ones I’ve mentioned above.

What are your reading goals for 2020? Let me know!

Thank you for stopping by!


Hello 2020!

Can you believe it?? We’ve made it. It’s 2020, so brace yourself for the “seeing clearly/perfect vision” puns. Although, I won’t lie, I can’t help but sing “I can see clearly now the rain is gone” when I think of 2020.

Not that 2019 has been a bad year for me personally. But I don’t know, something about a new decade is just exciting and fresh and I’m ready to just come for it!


One thing that I wanted to refresh for 2020 was my social media presence. For a long time I had all my handles as “The Library Lush”, and even had a couple of blogs with that name. But I think one reason I fell away from blogging under that name was that I just didn’t feel like “the library lush” anymore. In all honesty, when I created that name I was a lot more of a drinker than I am now, and I don’t know, I think I’ve outgrown it.

So here we are!

I wanted to get back into blogging because I love sharing what I’m reading and talking libraries. I love making connections with other readers and librarians. I feel like a blog will give me ample space to extol the virtues of reading and public libraries. And whatever else I feel like giving voice to! Hence the “books.library.life” subtitle to the blog.

Thank you.

Thank you for stopping by! If you’re new here, look forward to book reviews, reading lists, all things library, and much more. If you’re a returning reader from my now defunct blogs, thank you for coming back! Good to see you again. 🙂

Until next time.