I lowered my reading goal this year to 30 books for my Goodreads Challenge, down from my usual goal of 40-45 books. Last year I read 42 books, in 2022 I read 60 books and 2021 and 2020 are a bit skewed because I was counting a lot of the books I was reading Forest at that time so those years come in at 110 and 188—and it looks like 2019 is skewed at 139, too. I mean, I did read them! Most of them might have been 20 pages long, though! hah!
The reason for lowering my goal this year was because I wanted to focus on some longer books I have piled up that are in the 500 page or more range and because I have some magazines I want to read that I’ve also been stashing. However, in January I launched right into reading a lot, after a bit of a drought in November and December. I ended up reading 7 books in January, though of course, some are audiobooks.
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang: I think this goes down as my favorite book from January. It’s cultural appropriation, plagiarism, friendship, and a reflection of real world author drama that has played out in recent years. The main character is someone you will love to hate and sometimes find yourself rooting for her until you are reminded why she’s the bad person to begin with. It’s a page-turner!
Big Thicket People by C. E. Hunt, Larry Jene Fisher, and Thad Sitton: This is mostly a photo book but there are a few written chapters at the beginning. Larry Jene Fisher was a photographer in the 1930s and 40s who resided in the Big Thicket and documented the lives of those who lived there. His photos ended up in the hands of Lance Rosier, one of the voices who fought to save the Big Thicket, and after Rosier passed the photos ended up at Lamar University in the archives. Hunt and Sitton came together to put this book together back in the 2000s, writing a summary about Fisher’s life and summarizing life in the Big Thicket during these decades. For anyone interested in Texas history this is a great book to read.
You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith: I really wanted to like this book but I was bored by it. You may be familiar with Smith’s poem Good Bones which made the rounds on social media several years ago. That catapulted her to stardom as a poet and she published several books and became quite famous. Meanwhile her marriage was imploding, with a cheating husband who was jealous of her success (they were both writers) and this book is a memoir of coming to terms with all of that. Except, I couldn’t stand how she wrote the book! I mean, I ended up hating her husband, which was, I think, the point, and the correct thing, but she kept telling us she wouldn’t tell us something and I’m like…why mention you aren’t telling us something? It drove me crazy! Just don’t mention it! I ended up abandoning it about halfway in because it was too tedious.
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: There’s not too much to say about this one, I should have read it a few years ago. If you aren’t familiar with Newport he’s a well known author and anti-social media and digital minimalism evangelist and there’s lots of great stuff in here. It’s good, you should definitely read it.
The Woman in Me by Britney Spears: You have to listen to this on audiobook because actress Michelle Williams narrates it and it is stunning. You’ll come away hating Justin Timberlake, and your mind will boggle even more on how she could have been put under her conservatorship. I still feel like something was missing from that story but it doesn’t matter, her family threw her under a bus instead of helping her when she needed help and then used her to make themselves rich. It’s just disturbing. I feel bad for her and her kids.
Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of the Planet by Ben Goldfarb: This is one I listened to on audio but wished I had read it on paper. There was so many facts and numbers that it was hard to wrap my brain around it coming through audio. I would have loved to have highlighted information to use later. Big takeaway: Roads = Bad. Stop building them. Definitely read this one.
What’s on your TBR right now? What did you read in January?