My week in books

My reading this week was dictated by my library loan due dates and book clubs, but it turned out well for me! Books I finished this week:

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black Goodreads

An excellent end to a really fun fantasy series. I love the characters, the action, the writing… I especially love that it didn’t make me roll my eyes even once, and Holly Black knows how to stop a series before it just gets redundant. One of my favorite book friends suggested this series to me earlier this year, and considering I’ve now read and loved them all, clearly she knows what I like. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang Goodreads

I got this book for 2 reasons: 1) I loved Chang’s Three Souls and 2) the cover is gorgeous. The book itself didn’t disappoint, although I can’t say I’m as in love with it as I was Souls. Janie Chang writes beautifully and poetically. The story was a bit slow in parts, but overall I loved Lian’s story as well as the fantasy elements. I recently read about the Japanese invasion of Nanking, and that’s where this story starts. #bookserendipity ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali Goodreads

A very engaging story, if a bit repetitive and manipulative at times. I enjoyed the glimpses we got of the political upheaval in 1953 Iran and the subsequent years, and would have loved if the history played into this a little more than it did. I was rooting for Roya and thought the love stories very sweet. I absolutely loved the food and cooking in this book, even if I have been craving jeweled rice for days. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson Goodreads

This was my favorite fiction of the week. I liked it so much, I blogged about here on the blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi Goodreads

“One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism.”

Great information in this book. I appreciate Kendi’s writing style and his inclusion of his own experiences to show racism in many of its forms. I’m looking forward to his online event 7/20/2020. If you’re interested, here’s a link to attend. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander Goodreads

“The nature of the criminal justice system has changed. It is no longer primarily concerned with the prevention and punishment of crime, but rather with the management and control of the dispossessed.”

To say this book is eye-opening is an enormous understatement. I knew our justice system was broken, but I had never connected the dots to see how it truly has maintained a racist caste system in the United States. This book should be taught in American schools. This is a long quote, but an important one:

“The genius of the current caste system, and what most distinguishes it from its predecessors, is that it appears voluntary. People choose to commit crimes, and that’s why they are locked up or locked out, we are told. This feature makes the politics of responsibility particularly tempting, as it appears the system can be avoided with good behavior. But herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are sinners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives. In fact, if the worst thing you have ever done is speed ten miles over the speed limit on the freeway, you have put yourself and others at more risk of harm than someone smoking marijuana in the privacy of his or her living room. Yet there are people in the United States serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses, something virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world.”

This book is beyond informative. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking and will make you feel seen. If you only read one book about race in America, please make it this one. And then do something to help change this mess. The ‘war on drugs’ needs to end, and we need to stop saying we are colorblind and start caring about other human beings—we are all equal and deserve to live that way. By far my favorite nonfiction of the week…and the year so far. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have a little bit more flexibility in my reading this week since I’ve got my library loans under control. At least until a bunch more holds come in. 😬

Mid-year reading report

Because I’m obsessed with this sort of stuff.

Six months of this (years long) year are done, and it’s time to take stock of where I’ve been with my reading.

The stats:

(according to my meticulously maintained reading log)

From January 1 through June 30, I completed 109 books. My Goodreads goal for this year is 200, so I’m a bit ahead of schedule. Hooray!

Allow me to break that down a little:

  • 85 were audiobooks – I’ve listened to 44 days, 20 hrs, and 9 minutes of lit, but since I usually listen at 1.75 speed, a bit less in actuality
  • 25 were digital or print books – that’s 6761 pages read
  • 97 of these books were fiction
  • 12 were nonfiction, which is actually a lot for me
  • 81 books by female or non-binary authors
  • 15 books by Black authors
  • 13 books by non-Black POC authors
  • 32 #OwnVoices books
  • 14 books by LGBTQIA+ authors
  • 10 books in translation

I’m not really surprised at any of these numbers, but I do need to make a more conscious effort to read more POC. Goal for the rest of the year set!

I am participating in a ridiculous number of reading challenges this year. Of the 109 books read so far, 43 were for various challenge prompts. I’ve also read 11 books from the #1001Books to read before you die list, which I’ve been slowly working my way through for the last few years. I participate in a few different book clubs, and read 15 different books during the first half of the year for book clubs.

I’ve read 53 books that I already owned this year. 49 of those work for my #MountTBR challenge, meaning I owned them before 1/1/2020. Bad news: more than half of my books read so far did not come from the books that I already own. Good news: a whole lot of the new-to-me books that I’ve read came from the library: I’ve saved a whopping $814.27 so far in 2020 by using my library cards.

Unfortunately, I’ve also added even MORE books to my endless TBR owned books.. I’ve spent $504.55 on books and audiobooks this year, but that does include my year subscription to Audible and my monthly Libro.fm charges. I started the year with 715 books and audiobooks owned and unread (please don’t judge me too harshly), and as of the end of June, I had 745.

One might say I have a book problem. To that, I would say… and?

The best so far

Of my 109 books completed, 20 were actually 5-star books for me. That’s a very nice ratio, and shows just how great my reading year has been. Also fortunate for me: less than 20 were rated 3 stars or less, and I didn’t have single 1 star read.

With so many great books read, it’s hard to select my top 6 so far, but I’ve narrowed it down. Just don’t ask me to order them because I CAN’T DO IT. So, in no particular order, my Top 6 Reads of the year this far:

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I loved everything about this book, starting and ending with Marianne and Connell. Rooney has an uncanny ability to write characters that incredibly relatable in their humanness, and I absolutely adore her writing style. This book took me through so many feelings. The audiobook is fantastic, and the Netflix adaptation is one of the rare book-to-series (for me) that does not disappoint. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Jubilee by Margaret Walker

This classic is beautiful, powerful, and detailed. Walker’s semi-autobiographical saga of the life of Vyry, child of a plantation owner and one of his slaves, from slavery through the Civil War and into Reconstruction. Sort of like Gone With the Wind, but without the cringeyness and racism, and about 500% better. I highly recommend the audio read by Robin Miles.

The Institute by Stephen King

I suppose it’s possible that there will be a Stephen King book at some point that I don’t like. I’m just saying it’s certainly not this one. Another excellent, original story with King’s spectacular writing and characters I love. Nobody does this like King does.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

So, funny story: this was my June 2017 Book of the Month selection. Then it blew up and became wildly popular everywhere, so the hype made me skip it over for a long time. Well, the hype and the way I like to just let my BOTM books sit and age for a while. I really should have read it sooner, because it’s awesome. I loved the style, the stories, and all of the characters. Monique and Harry and Celia, but omg – I loved Evelyn so much.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

A non-fiction book made my top 6! I’m not going to say anything about this book that hasn’t been said before. This audiobook is absolute perfection. Michelle Obama is an incredible woman, and her story made me laugh, smile, and cry. I enjoyed every minute of it, even if it did make me miss the Obamas and gut-punch me all over again about what should have been. Inspiring and beautiful, especially read by the author.

The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne

I read this book because I needed a book set in Russia for a challenge, but when I started I had no idea it was about THAT period in Russian history and the last of the Romanovs. I saw where it was going early, but that didn’t stop me loving every second of it. Boyne’s usual lovely writing, epic historical fiction filled with romance and tragedy, and a fantastic character in Georgy, whose long life we get to experience in alternating timelines. This book is just perfect.

What are your favorite reads so far this year? Heaven knows I need more books on my tbr.

Until next time,