Welp, we are officially a full month into 2022. And I have to say… it has not been the best start. At least for me, personally. I thought I knew where my life was headed going into this year and now I really, really don’t. Anyway, even though my life isn’t in an awesome place right now, I did read some pretty great books. And that’s really what this post is about, so let’s talk about them.
What I Read
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman – ★★★★★
I decided to start my year of reading whatever the hell I want with another Fredrik Backman book. And that was an excellent choice. Because I loved this book. It’s a really slow thriller about a failed bank robbery that turns into a hostage situation at an apartment viewing. I obviously loved this. No surprise there, because it’s Fredrik Backman. I just loved how this had the structure of a thriller, but was so much about the characters themselves and their lives and relationships. Just a really lovely story.
And in case you were headed to the comments to ask: no, I have not watched the Netflix adaptation. But I did try. It honestly wasn’t bad, and I think I might have enjoyed it had I not read the book. However, they made a lot of very small changes that took a way a lot of what I loved about the book. I do want to try watching it again when the book isn’t as fresh in my mind, though.
Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire – ★★★★★
I’m pretty sure this is the first time I have read a book in the Wayward Children series the month it’s released. I preorder all of them, and then they sit there, unread, for months. But I started this one pretty much as soon as it arrived at my house. And I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
If you’re not familiar with this series, it follows children who have traveled through doors to other words (think Narnia) and for whatever reason came back to our world. Now they’re all at a boarding school together because their parents have no idea what to do with them. Each book in the series basically follows a different character – either in the world they traveled to, or back in our world. This one follows Cora, who became a mermaid behind her door. But something happened in a previous adventure where she and some of the other students traveled to a different world and now she is haunted by monsters.
So she decides to leave the school that lets her embrace her experience and go to a different one that is designed to make you forget. Basically, this is all about learning to love yourself and it’s just a great story. A little bit of a departure from the other books in this series, but I think that just proves how much can be done with this idea. Loved it!
Atomic Habits by James Clear – ★★★☆☆
I picked this up at the beginning of January as part of the whole “new year, new me” kick. I do want to focus on developing some better habits – with work, reading, and my personal life – this year. I’d been hearing about how amazing and life-changing this book is since it came out back in 2018. I thought it was… fine. It really didn’t teach me anything new. I realized I already do a lot of the things this book suggests, just not necessarily in a particularly deliberate way. And there were some suggestions in this book I didn’t particularly agree with (like using public humiliation to incentivize maintaining habits).
I don’t think this book was that amazing and it certainly didn’t change my life or really even give me tools I didn’t already have. It honestly just gelt kind of gimmicky. When people use the fact that their lives are better than most people’s to make money, it kind of rubs me the wrong way. And I got a little bit of that vibe here. This did help me be more aware of the ways I already form habits and maybe I can approach those in a slightly more productive way. But that’s pretty much all I got out of this book. Definitely do not get the hype.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – ★★★☆☆
I have such mixed feelings about this book. To be honest, I did pick this up expecting it to be a cute little read. Luckily, before I actually started it, I read somewhere that it was kind of sad so my expectations while I was actually reading this were not completely out of the ballpark. This book was definitely kind of sad. I definitely connected to the main character – in a we’re both pretty weird and neurodivergent way – and just wanted so much better for her. Which, of course, gave me anxiety.
This was a weird little book. I finished it in a day, and felt a little sad about it afterwards because the ending was so bittersweet. Even though I didn’t love it, I do want to check out more by this author (Earthlings in particular caught my eye). I think if you liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you might like this one as well.
Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden – ★★★★☆
I’ll just say it right up front: this book is absolutely not for everyone. But I like weird books, and this one sounded really great. Good enough that I may or may not have ordered a special edition before even reading it and now own two copies (which is exactly what happened). I didn’t love this one as much as I was hoping to, but it’s just one of those books that I didn’t completely identify with. There’s actually nothing I can pinpoint that I didn’t like. I just think I didn’t connect with the main character as much as I wanted to.
Comfort Me With Apples by Cathrynne M. Valente – ★★★☆☆
Now this is another weird book I was very excited about. And it is very weird. It’s about a woman who lives in a world where everything is totally perfect and everyone loves her. But her husband tells her not to go into their basement since there are things there that are dangerous. But then she starts finding weird things around her house. A lock of hair in her dresser that is definitely not hers. A finger bone in her knife block. Which just sounds like a fun Stepford-y thriller, right?
Wrong. That’s totally what I thought this was, and what I was in the mood to read. The first half really had those vibes and I was excited to see where it was going. And even when it started to get even weirder, I was totally into it. But when I started to see the twist coming maybe a little over halfway in, I was not excited about it. I kept reading in the hopes that I was wrong, but it went in the direction I thought it would and then just kept going. Basically, I wanted a creepy, weird thriller and not a disconcerting biblical allegory. Five stars for the first half, one for the ending, so I went with the average. I’m still bummed about this book.
White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad – ★★★★★
Last year, I read and loved Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall. I’ve talked a lot about how I learned a ton from that book. And it really made clear to me that, eve though I consider myself a feminist, I still have a lot to learn. So I was very excited when I came across this one, because it checks two of my nonfiction wishlist items for the year: it’s another book about feminism and race (and how white feminism generally does not work for everyone and that’s not okay). But it’s also about race not just in the context of Black people.
Now, racism absolutely affects Black people and there’s a lot we need to fix and learn there. However, I realized the majority of the anti-racism reading I have been doing didn’t address other people of color and wanted to explore that a lot more. This book is by a Lebanese author and explores racism against a lot of different minority groups. Which is awesome, and absolutely needed. Definitely a great edition to my reading list, and I am very glad I read it.
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams – ★★★★☆
Finally, we have this book. Which I kind of picked up on a whim when I was looking for a new audiobook to listen to. It’s about a girl who works in a library and discovers a handwritten list of books to read in the back of one of the books. Instead of throwing it away, she keeps it and decides to read the books on the list, because why not? When a man comes into the library looking for books to read as a way to connect to his deceased wife, they connect. And basically start a sort of little book club.
This was really heartwarming and fun. Honestly, not my favorite, and it was probably closer to a three-star read until the very end. After that, I just couldn’t put in the same boat as my other three-star reads this month. Definitely makes me smile when I think about it now, and I think it was really good. That ending changed the whole book for me (if you’ve read this one, you’ll understand). I’m glad I gave this one a shot.
What I’m Currently Reading
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
After kind of a shitty month, this book just sounded like the perfect read. Because hibernating and doing absolutely nothing for a year sounds amazing right now. And that’s exactly what the main character of this book does. So, since I do not have a massive inheritance like she does, I will live vicariously through this book until something changes. Hopefully soon.
What I Watched
If you haven’t watched Encanto, what are you even doing with your life? Seriously though, this movie is amazing. Lin Manuel Miranda is the musical king, and this story is so perfect. I identified with it so, so much (mostly Luisa and Bruno, which probably says a lot about me). This is pretty much my new comfort movie already and I have watched it many times. Including while I type this.
Ozark season 4, part 1
I need part 2 right now because this was so, so good. And it ended on a cliffhanger. Such a good show. If you haven’t seen it and you like dark stories, definitely one to check out.
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window
This is a satire that pokes fun at movies like The Woman on the Train and The Woman in the Window (both of which, coincidentally, were based on books). I love Kristen Bell, so I was definitely going to watch this. And it was so bad, but in a fun way. Definitely succeeded at doing what it was trying to do.
My January posts are kind of beginning of the year, discussing my goals for my own reading and for this blog, and just basic stuff like that. Which isn’t the most fun. But this post got a lot of love (seriously, thank you all so much), so I thought I’d share it in case you missed it.
I like setting goals for myself every year, because they force me out of my comfort zone and give me reasons to keep reading and learning things I might not have if I wasn’t keeping track. It has worked extremely well for me, and I am excited about this years goals and seeing where they take me.
And that’s it for January! Overall, a pretty good reading month. Hopefully February is just as good. I definitely have some fun things planned.
What was your favorite book this month?
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