Wrap-Up

2020 Reading Statistics

Well would you look at that. We made it to 2021!

While 2020 wasn’t the best year ever, it’s still fun for most book nerds like myself to reflect on our reading year. Before I get into my faves of 2020 and my goals for 2020 (stay tuned!) I thought I would share my reading statistics from 2020.

How was your reading year? Read anything good? Comment below!

Until next time,

Uncategorized

October 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

In a move no one saw coming, especially me, I actually read 99% of the books on my October TBR??

There were also a couple of additional reads thrown in there, and here’s what I thought!

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I said this in my Goodreads review, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as other seem to have. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed it. There are very important themes (allyship and racism) that are discussed throughout. But I thought the main characters were boring and therefore couldn’t really engage with the story. I would still recommend it and will be checking anything out Kiley Reid publishes.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Please don’t come for me but I was bored the whole time I was listening to the audiobook. But classics do that to me!!! It definitely does NOT denote the importance of this work in Black/LGBTQIA+/classic literature.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

This one was fine, but the characters were underdeveloped and things happened prettily conveniently to keep the plot going. A good spooky book for those who don’t like spooky (me!) but not a standout.

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst

This is an ARC I got to review for Booklist, so when that review is available I will post it here. This is about a three generations of women who visit Italy to try to reconnect.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This is my second Colson Whitehead that I have read this year (having previously read The Nickel Boys) and he will definitely be an author that I continue to check out. Whitehead is very skilled at writing compelling prose and dialogue in such a succinct manner. The Underground Railroad follows Cora, an escaped slave, as she attempts to travel to safety on The Underground Railroad that turns out to be an actual railroad.

Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy & Eliminate Fear by Richard Sheridan

This was my professional development read for the month. This was good but repetitive. Sheridan works in a different field than I do (software company vs. public library) so some of his suggestions are not super applicable to what I can do at this time. The main gist I got from this (which I get from a lot of leadership books) is essentially don’t be an asshole.

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

This is a slim memoir on Jones’s experience as a Black gay man in the United States. It is heartbreaking and an excellent listen on audiobook.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Ok this one was kind of a disappointment! I listened to this on audiobook because David Diggs (from Hamilton for the uncultured) narrates it, but he just did alright?? Instead of truly narrating, it sounded more like a recitation, and I just didn’t vibe with it. The story is captivating, about a community of merpeople that are descendants of pregnant African women thrown overboard from slave ships. This community has a historian who must bear the memories of the entire population, and the most recent historian, Yetu, decides they would rather not. Yetu then leaves the community and must deal with the consequences. The themes are important but repetitive. I would check something else out by this author though!

The Stone Sky (Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin

I don’t want to say too much since this is the finale of a series but here are some thoughts:

1) The series as a whole is A+. There is a reason Jemisin won a Hugo for each one.

2) I will read anything N.K. Jemisin writes.

3) Some parts of this novel went over my head and therefore I felt a little disconnected from the story, but overall I enjoyed this finale.

Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59 #1) by Attica Locke

This is the first in a series about a Black Texas Ranger named Darren Matthews who is investigating a potential racially motivated double homicide in a small Texas town. It was a solid mystery and I am looking forward to following Matthews to his next case.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This is a short novel about a woman who starts to find the deaths of her sister’s boyfriends suspicious. Her sister claims self defense, but when the third one shows up dead with knife wounds in the back, Korede starts to wonder what’s really going on. And when Ayoola gets caught up with a man Korede has feelings for, she wonders if it’s finally time to turn her sister in. This one packs a solid punch and was definitely a fun read. Weird to say about a serial killer novel, I know.

The Empress of Salt & Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo

A well written novella about a cleric who listens and records the story of a handmaiden who served an exiled empress. Short and interesting, but nothing that really stood out to me. I will be checking out the next one in the series though.

Call Me American: the Extraordinary True Story of a Young Somali Immigrant by Abdi Nor Often

This is a remarkable story about Abdi Nor Iftin, who dreams of going to the United States, but that dream seems out of reach when him and his family gets caught up in the Somali Civil War. Abdi gets to the Unite States eventually, but it isn’t necessarily the United States he had been dreaming of. An incredible look into an immigrant life. The writing was a little simplified, but the impact of the story still comes across.

So that’s what I read! Definitely the most I’ve read in a month this year and lots of good stuff read. Let me know what you read in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wrap-Up

September 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

In September I read 11 books, which ties with July for the most books read in a month so far in 2020. I did have a week off work in September so I’m sure that helped. Here are the books I read!

A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up In America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper

I read this one for a committee I’m on at work. This is a memoir about the author’s childhood spent on the China Lake missile range where both of her parents worked on missiles. It was interesting because it’s not every day you grow up on a missile range, but the narrative dragged at times and was also disorganized.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Bookstagrammer (@Iansreads) I follow was hosting a readalong for this one, and I had an old ARC (advanced review copy) of it so I figured the readalong was a perfect time to read it. This follows an Indian family who has immigrated to the US in like the late 80s/early 90s and is mostly told from the point of view of Hadia and her younger brother Amar. Themes include immigration, family dynamics and finding your individuality and your own voice. I listened to it on audiobook for the most part and liked it, but I thought it moved too slowly for my taste.

Lies In White Dresses by Sofia Grant

This is another book I had to read for the committee I’m on at work. It’s a historical fiction about “the Reno cure”, which was when women in the 1940s & 1950s would go to Reno, Nevada to get a fast divorce. You follow two characters who are on their way to Reno to get a divorce. It was an easy read but pretty forgettable.

Freshwater by Awaeke Emezi

This was my second book by Akwaeke Emezi. I read their young adult novel Pet earlier this year and loved it so I knew I wanted to check out their debut novel. Freshwater is about Ada, a Nigerian woman who experiences having a fractured self. You’ll have to read the novel to find out the why, but trigger warning for rape, self-harm, and eating disorders. I really enjoyed this one as well and am so impressed with the power Emezi can wield with their prose in such few pages.

The Dark Library by Cyrille Martinez

This is an eARC I received for review for Booklist, so when that review is available I will post it here. This is a very short novel (less than 200 pages) about readers and libraries that features anthropomorphic books. The book is due to be published on October 20th.

Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

This is a book I picked up for 2 reasons: it fit the prompt (read a young adult book by a female author) for the September meeting of one of the book groups I’m in, and it was featured as a title for the YALSA Hub Challenge. This is Nikki’s memoir of her childhood and teen years written in poetry. I appreciate the vulnerability Nikki shared and I liked the audiobook because Nikki reads it. But I’m finding the more I read it that I just do not vibe with poetry (unless it’s Elizabeth Acevedo) so I didn’t love this one.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The same Bookstagrammer who hosted a readalong for A Place For Us also hosted one for Americanah, so I thought that was the perfect time to pick this one up. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a lauded author and this is probably her best known novel. It follows Nigerian students Ifemelu and Obinze who meet in primary school and fall in love but then go their separate ways for college. You then follow the paths they take for like the next decade. I really liked this one but thought it was too long. I will say that a lot of commentary made about being Black in America in 2013 (when the book was published) is still very much relevant today.

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

This was the book for the September meeting of a small supervisor book group I’m in for work. This is my second Patrick Lencioni and I like how accessible his writing is. This book wasn’t mind blowing but it does give solid advice.

Waiting For the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

This is another eARC sent to me by Booklist for review. It’s a debut novel about a woman who’s been running from her past, but gets called back home because of the discovery of a dead body. It is also features themes on immigration and environmentalism and is set to publish on January 12, 2021.

What If I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits For Culturally Effective People by Verna A. Myers

I picked this up because I want to be a better ally. This is has a lot of good tips and advice, and while I think individuals can definitely read this (obviously I did), it did seem like it was written as more of a tool for organizations or groups to use.

The Obelisk Gate (Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin

I started reading The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin in August and am obsessed. I knew Jemisin was an amazing writer because I had read her short story collection How Long ’til Black Future Month and loved it so I was like give me more. And so far this trilogy does not disappoint! The writing is just *chef’s kiss*. I can’t say too much about The Obelisk Gate since it’s the second in a series but just know you should read it.

So how did your reading go in September? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Let me know! For my actual star ratings on these books or more information on them, make sure to follow me on Goodreads!

Until next time!

Wrap-Up

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!