I have begun many posts by yelling at myself, and this should be no exception.
I used to write wrap-up posts for EVERY MONTH OF THE YEAR, and now it’s 2022 and I spent all of 2021 not posting at all and in 2020 I wrote two wrap-ups to last the whole year.
And I may have been an English major, but even I know that math doesn’t work out.
But I’m bored of yelling at myself, so let’s just get into it.
Does anyone really like January?
There’s that bit in Little Women where Jo’s like “November sucks” and everyone’s like “Jo you’re a November baby” and she’s like “yeah, that’s how I know.”
I’m not a January baby but that’s how I feel about this hellscape month.
I did reactivate my Instagram, and start posting here again, and remain an insane person on Goodreads and Twitter. It’s a wonder what refusing to be alone with your thoughts can do for your content output.
Right now I’m in a state of bliss, as it’s 11:24 p.m. and I’m drinking wine out of a mug and writing a blog post in longjohn style pajamas, but if I look past the current moment (difficult) I’m aware that this month has been cold and sad and depressing, of the seasonal variety.
I don’t want to talk about my personal life or mental health, so what else is there…
Oh! Anyone ever notice men think they’re the first person to ever like movies? Every dude I’ve ever dated acts like they, specifically, are a “film nerd,” like they invented watching content in two hour increments.
Is this the content that keeps y’all coming back?
If not we are out of luck.
Tempting as it is to insert goals from summer 2020 here, when we all thought that the pandemic was a fleeting and bygone dream and that our protests would have an impact, let’s just start a fresh set of goals!
Damn. Maybe I should avoid writing my posts at night. This is depressing even for me.
Goals for February
Read all books by Black authors
Read 28+ books
Keep up my insane review process on Goodreads
Blog like three times idk
Post on Instagram 8 times maybe? Who knows
This is the most stressful month of work I have seen coming since I had one job instead of 3+, but that’s boring. Let’s not talk about that.
That’s all I got. Onto the main event!!! (As always, you can click on the cover or title to be taken to my Goodreads review.)
1. Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina
Read: January 1 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars
My first book of the year is a memoir…quick, everyone pretend like you’re shocked.
I am addicted to memoirs for their ability to make me feel smart while also reading like gossip sometimes, which are two of my favorite things.
This memoir tried to do very many things in a very short page count, but as someone who is constantly trying to do too much I can’t say that’s not relatable.
2. How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
Read: January 1-2 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2.5 stars
And so begins an ill-fated (and poorly conceptualized) undertaking henceforth referred to as the Romance Quest.
Or, in other words: I decided to try to read a romance novel, which I am very picky about, launching a series of misadventures involving me giving ratings between 2 and 3.5 and refusing to give up.
This was try 1.
3. The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann
Read: January 3 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars
Romance Quest, try 2: nevertheless we must persist.
This was a little better than the last one for me, but it also had the same problems I had with the other book I’ve read by this author.
Which was a YA contemporary from four years ago.
Honestly kind of impressive, for these things to endure across genre and time.
4. My Body by Emily Ratajkowski
Read: January 3 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
I don’t believe that extraordinarily hot people should also be allowed to be interesting and intelligent, for reasons of fairness.
Unfortunately Emily Ratajkowski did not listen to me.
This is really quite good, if you’re reasonable in what you expect.
I managed to do that for once in my life.
5. Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Read: January 4 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2.5 stars
After a brief celebrity memoir-based sabbatical to lift my spirits and cleanse my being, we got back to the romance quest.
You’ve heard of “back and better than ever,” now get ready for “back and worse than before.”
Because this was extremely disappointing.
6. Luster by Raven Leilani
Read: January 5-6 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
I have discovered that if you left me in a room alone with 300 literary fiction novels about extremely f*cked up and unlikable women, I would be pleased as punch and leading a blissful existence for all my days.
Or until I finished the books and had to be alone with my thoughts.
That’s a nightmare.
7. I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson
Read: January 6-7 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars
Once again I required a break from my suffering in order to resume this extremely ill-advised and unsuccessful romance quest.
Barely into the year and I’d already been disappointed in four installments.
This one, of course, being no exception.
At least the writing was fun. We have that to look fondly back on.
8. The Half-Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
Read: January 7 ✿✿✿ Rating: 1 star
It’d been so long since I had a 1 star read that I almost forgot what it felt like.
The unfettered joy of true hatred.
By which I, of course, mean the soul-sucking and life-defying effort it takes to finish a book that you hate.
How did I used to do this all the time???
9. I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib
Read: January 10 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars
Always a good sign when you’re in the I’m Behind On My Reading Challenge And I Need To Read A Graphic Novel Immediately stage not even two weeks into the year.
Almost like I have a completely unhinged goal or something.
Anyway. This did what I needed it to.
Also it has a red white and blue color palette, which is pretty cool if you ask me.
10. Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
Read: January 10 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
First of all, and most importantly, Katie Kitamura is such a cool and perfect name that my brain is telling myself it has to be made up.
But my brain is just being a hater.
Anyway, I’m actually really excited to write this review (for once), because this is the rare book that made me do literary analysis in real time. And for former English major and current loser nerd me, that’s best case scenario.
11. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
Read: January 11 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
NGHI VO SURPRISE GREAT AUTHOR OF THE YEAR.
Can’t say “favorite” since so far she has produced two four star reads, and I normally wait for at least one five star, but for me??? Two four stars??? When one is a fantasy (a genre I have become all but illiterate in) and the other is a retelling of one of my favorite books ever (a recipe for disaster)???
Kinda miraculous if you ask me.
12. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (reread)
Read: January 6-11 ✿✿✿ Rating: 5 stars
Book so nice I reread it twice. (Which is to say, read it thrice. Insert whichever you think is funnier. If you think neither, I know, but don’t tell me.)
And it only just came out in September. True mentally ill behavior. (It’s true and I’m diagnosed so I’m allowed to say it.)
Anyway. I’ve screamed about this book so many times on so many platforms that you probably know the drill by now.
13. Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho
Read: January 12-13 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2.5 stars
I don’t know if you know this, but if you pay the $14.95 / month to be subscribed to Book of the Month, you get your pick of a book for that cost and then you can get up to 2 past books for $10 each. The big fancy hardcovers.
I’m not sponsored, but I did make a rule for myself that I can only buy books I’ve already liked with exclusively this exception, so I’m passionate. Anyway this book didn’t work for me but the purchase process did.
14. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Read: January 12-14 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
Am I particularly feral or does everyone get completely destroyed by books about family?
Books about moms? I’m wrecked. Books about dads? I’m gone. Books about found family? I’m having fun but I’m also ruined? Books about siblings? Worst of all.
I knew this book would be my cause of death and I was right. But in like, a positive way.
15. A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
Read: January 12-16 ✿✿✿ Rating: 1.5 stars
Would it really be a wrap-up from me if I wasn’t giving a truly heinous rating to a popular YA fantasy?
But honestly, I thought I would like this one and instead it was a four day slog to finish. So you can’t be mad at me. I’ve punished myself enough.
Also it’s just like…really bad? So no one should be mad at me anyway. As usual, I am right.
16. Animal by Lisa Taddeo
Read: January 14-16 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
With huge relief – like audible sigh levels – we return to our comfort zone of disturbing literary fiction about gross and horrible women.
I feel so at home ❤
I wrote down so many quotes and excerpts from this I assume it qualifies as probable cause for a litany of major crimes.
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell (reread)
Read: January 14-16 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
A lil back to back animal moment. Pretty cute.
I picked up this book because my copy of it was delivered to my parents’ house, I had no other reading material, and I am physically incapable of being on a train without a book in my hand (even if I spent its duration looking out the window and having my main character moment), but it was an unexpectedly slow read.
Always apropos, though.
18. All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
Read: January 14-16 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
I don’t think you can tell because of how my headers are stylized, but I promise I wrote bell hooks all lowercase.
I unfortunately was only spurred to finally getting to some of hooks’ writing by her passing, but I both wish I’d gotten to it sooner and am glad I finally did.
She is as brilliant as everyone says, and also this book is like giving yourself a big hug.
19. Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson
Read: January 17-18 ✿✿✿ Rating: 1.5 stars
I really, truly wish I could tell you this book is good.
That’s partially because its synopsis includes the words “When fate and tacos bring Ramón and Julieta together,” which is hilarious, but mostly because its cover is very beautiful.
But unfortunately it is terrible, and it felt mean that I had to read it, even though I am the person who was making myself.
20. You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
Read: January 18-19 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3 stars
One of the shakier entries in my forays into Lit Fic About Women Who Suck, but not enough to dissuade me from the belief that I have found my calling, and it is reading about ladies no one but me would want to know in real life.
Fortunately, I am obsessed with complicated girls. Someone I was dating once had a roommate they hated because she was mean, and I met her once and immediately became obsessed with her. (She is unaware of my existence.)
21. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (reread)
Read: January 19 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
Obviously if you read two graphic novels in all of your life, it should be this and Maus.
Speaking for myself, this is one of the first graphic novels I ever read and every single one after the fact paled in comparison, which may provide some answers on why I am the way I am.
I would love to think I have an excuse.
22. Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
Read: January 20-21 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2.5 stars
Yet another failed entry in the Romance Quest.
I don’t know what number we’re at here, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the 107 range. Just based on emotional impact and my proximity to complete breakdown.
And I know I’ve said many times at this point that I love lit fic with unlikable characters.
I want it on the record that that is not true of romance.
23. Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
Read: January 20-21 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
I kind of just want to give you all a lovely quote from this book here and be done with it…
But also the quote is too long to fit my structure…
And also it’s at the very end and it’s like a lovely gift for finishing.
So maybe you should just read this.
24-28. Everything I Know About Love, The Other Black Girl, Conversations with Friends (reread), These Violent Delights, Housebreaking
These are all the (varying levels of fun) books I read in my (ill-advised) 24-hour readathon. So you can read that post if a) you’re curious and b) you haven’t already, a combination of events that seems unlikely.
29. Black Love Matters by Various Authors
Read: January 24 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
This is an extremely good essay collection on Black romance by Black authors that I highly recommend all of you read.
It is officially out as of 2 days ago, as I write this.
That’s all I have to say.
Just filling space now.
30. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Read: January 25 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars
Most of the time when people say they don’t read classics, I don’t understand it.
But then I read books like this one and I’m like ah. Okay.
I can’t wait for two months from this moment when I can’t remember anything about this.
Memories already fading and it feels so good ❤
31. Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Read: January 26-27 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
AND WE’RE BACK ON THE LOVING CLASSICS TRAIN.
Did you guys know about this book????
Tell me you didn’t.
Because if everyone knew about a sapphic vampire story that came out 25 years before Dracula except for me I’m going to be heartbroken.
32. Heart & Seoul by Jen Frederick
Read: January 25-27 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars
You guys are very kind to me, and it is for this reason that I must assume that you either forget or do not know that I am the dumbest person alive.
For example, I often accidentally request ARCs of sequels, and then I have to read the first book, and then I don’t like the first book (because I am me), and then I have to read the second.
And that’s just part of my daily life.
33. The Seas by Samantha Hunt
Read: January 29 ✿✿✿ Rating: 4 stars
Some literary fiction with a beautiful cover to provide temporary respite, building my defenses back up between bouts with the dreaded Romance Quest much in the same way I imagine, like, hiding in a bush in a shooting-based video game functions.
In other words, this was good, but that doesn’t change the badness around it.
Even though, again, look at that cover. Seems like it should have healing powers.
34. Seoulmates by Jen Frederick
Read: January 28-30 ✿✿✿ Rating: 1 star
Well. Here we are.
The last stop on our Romance Quest for the month, and the LOWEST OF LOWS.
I believe it is my god-given right as a reader to see a pretty cover and a pun title and expect to find a fun read.
The inability for the publishing industry to live up to this standard is the reason I will be protesting. Stay tuned for details.
35. Shoko’s Smile by Choi Eunyoung
Read: January 28-31 ✿✿✿ Rating: 3.5 stars
It was at this point that I had to accept that I was in a reading slump, that in fact I had been in a reading slump and forcing myself to finish 250-page books over multi-day periods was neither disproving that nor helping me get over it.
But I, again, have an insane reading challenge, so I kept it up.https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4511630914?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
We all have our crosses to bear.
36. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Read: January 29-31 ✿✿✿ Rating: 2 stars
Because I am addicted to Goodreads, if I were to, hypothetically, somehow manage to forget to mark a book as read until, hypothetically, this exact moment that I went to write about it, that would, hypothetically, not be a point in that book’s favor.
Additionally, and hypothetically, I am very glad we live in this year and not 2003, if only for literary selections. I know I’ve said this type of thing about, you know, the eighteenth century before, but same logic applies, it turns out.
So my average rating for the month issssssss…
As always, drumroll please…
Womp, womp. This is lower than my usual of late, but that’s okay.
We can blame it all on romance quest.
Well, I’ve only posted twice so far this year, which seemed like kind of a lot until we put it like this.
Whatever! An excuse to link again to two posts I have already linked to multiple times.
So! There we have January.
Bit of a hit you over the head quantity month over quality, but I guess you get what you pay for. And what I am paying for, metaphorically speaking, is forcing myself to read a book per day by anyone’s definition of the entirety of the near future.
Also, it’s 3:41 a.m. and I should probably take a look at my life choices. And schedule this post for a reasonable hour.