books and reading, publications

What I Read In January

I haven’t kept a reading journal in a long time. Instead I let my bookshelves serve as a visual reminder of what I read. But after enjoying monthly book lists on other people’s blogs, I thought I’d try it here. My motivations are also selfish: I figure that sharing my monthly reading tally with the world will nudge me to do more actual book reading (as opposed to, you know, following a trail of article links across my Twitter feed). I’m already embarrassed about how short this January recap will be.

How I’m Reading These Days

For me, print is king. My parents bought me a Kindle a few years ago, which I used half-heartedly for a while. Now it languishes in a corner of my office, keeping company with other items I don’t use but want to find a way to recycle rather than trash. However, since I first became a mom about four years ago, I’ve spent more time reading things on my phone to pass the time while breastfeeding, waiting for a kid to fall asleep, and so on. Since I’m still co-sleeping with my one-and-a-half-year-old, reading on my phone is the only way to read before I go to sleep without waking him up in the glow of the lamp. Too often, I let myself scroll mindlessly through Twitter or Instagram because I feel too tired or grouchy or whatever to concentrate on a long prose narrative. So with the help of The Modern Mrs. Darcy blog’s “Great E-book Deals” newsletter, I’ve been stocking the Kindle app on my phone with irresistible books that can win out over the temptation to surf the Internet instead. Seeing the percentage of the book you’ve finished, as well as a time prediction for how long it’ll take to finish reading, is also a good motivator to keep reading, as Laura Vanderkam points out.

Still, my favorite place to read is on the living room couch with a real book propped up in my lap. For Christmas, my husband bought me a gas log insert for the fireplace, so reading next to the warmth and hum of the fire is extra cozy. When spring finally arrives, I’ll relocate my reading nook to the porch.

January Books

Caveat: I decided to include books I finished in a given month, which sometimes means I started them in a previous month. 

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

This was my Book of the Month pick for October. I was very excited for Egan’s new novel because I loved her previous one, A Visit From The Goon Squad. However, while I loved the evocative writing and the independent spirit of the protagonist Anna, my enthusiasm lagged in the middle of the book, when I couldn’t quite believe in some of the overly coincidental or predictable plot twists. I wish Egan had spent more time on the story of the first female diver in Brooklyn’s WWII Naval Yard rather than bringing in the mob and other more familiar themes.

Her Body And Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

I obtained a review copy from Graywolf Press and you can read about my positive reaction to this book in my write-up for Sunlight Press.

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, PhD

This is a life-changing book if you identify with the HSP trait. I mentioned it in my previous blog post on self-care.


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