January: A Monthly Round-Up

January came and went in a flash, as far as I can tell. I was sick for a solid chunk of the month, so maybe that's what made it fly by; something about losing two weeks to the couch and The Crown made my sense of time a little wibbly-wobbly.

Despite said setbacks, though, it was a good month for reading:

January Reading:

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed: A YA novel that explores the life of an Indian-American Muslim teenager grappling with her parents' expectations of her, her desire to be a filmmaker, and the racist aftermath of a terrorist attack in her home state of Illinois. Excellently done, perfect readathon material.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg: I (regrettably) did not get into The Toast while it was still available, and I kick myself all the more for it after reading Ortberg's delightfully subversive, dark retellings of classic fairy tales. She plays with gender and familial roles and classic elements of storytelling in ways that make me super excited for this book to be available in the big, wide world. Book will be out in March 2018; review to come in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Another YA novel, another author writing about lived experiences of racism and hate in modern-day America--this time in the aftermath of a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. 

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson: I've gotten unexpectedly into endurance sports in recent years, and leapt at the opportunity to read Hutchinson's well-research book about the links between mental and physical performance as it relates to endurance. Book is out in February; review to come in the Frederick Steeplechasers newsletter (and on this blog).

A Dangerous Crossing by Ausma Zehanat Khan: I've really enjoyed Khan's Inspector Esa Khattack and Detective Rachel Getty series, and this new volume was no exception. As with the earlier books in the series (I reviewed Among the Ruins here), Khan sets a compelling whodunit-style mystery within the context of a greater geo-political crisis--this time the Syrian refugee camps in Greece. It's heartbreaking, it's honest, and it's excellently done. Out in February, review to come in Shelf Awareness.

The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn: This book was really fucking weird, in a good mind-bendy-dystopian kind of way. The premise has been used before: for no obvious reason, a goodly portion of the world's population has just... vanished. But unlike others of its kind (The Leftovers, say), the world left behind after the Rending is not familiar at all. Schwehn brings new ideas and new energy to the age-old dystopian question of what it means to survive, and whether survival alone is really ever enough. Recommended. Out in February, review to come in Shelf Awareness.

The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath: I put off reading this for a long, long time because... well, I don't exactly know why. But I'm sorry I did, because Plath's novel is excellent. It bore into me in unexpected ways, and the crisis of self that her protagonist faces felt eerily, uncomfortably familiar. Maggie Gyllenhaal's narration of the audiobook is spectacularly done. A+, highly recommend, will read again.

Dubliners by James Joyce: I read Joyce's story collection in college for an Irish lit class, but there's something about revisiting works outside of a school reading deadline that is deliciously necessary. I read this one with Stephanie, and we both agreed it was a) fascinating, if a bit soul-crushing, and b) far more accessible than either of us expected it to be. If you haven't read Joyce because you've heard too much about Ulysses to want to try him, consider reconsidering. Dubliners is surprisingly engaging, and well worth the effort.

January Writing:

One of my goals for 2018 is to get back to writing more (which, given how little I wrote in 2017, is a pretty low bar to set for myself). I'm also hoping to share more of what I'm writing across channels, so here's a taste of what I penned this past month:

Going Through the Motions, Getting Back in Gear // setting the intention of intention for 2018, and finding a rhythm for my days

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with a Book (or Four) // recommendations of black authors writing about race in the United States

Novels Epistolary and Beyond // novels that break the traditional linear narrative style)

Essays on Feminism, Race and Identity // adapted from a list I wrote on this blog

An Interview with Fiona Mozley // on the unexpected announcement that her debut, Elmet, was shortlisted for the Man Booker

And the rest of it:

Watching: The Crown, Godless

Digging: the Insight meditation app, Bullet Journaling

Racing: No races planned for February, though I'm training for a 50k in March

Baking: I pulled off a chocolate souffle per Julia Child's instructions, and made some super-thin but still excellent Feel Better Cookies from Julia Turshen's Small Victories

Grateful for: The IRL friendships borne of the bookish internet world, and the #24in48 weekend spent in conversation/company with Kristen and Rachel and all the bookish love


How about you, darlings? What was the best part of January? What are you reflecting on at the end of this month, and looking forward to in February? What else should I try to include in these round-ups, if anything?

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