January Reading Roundup

Welcome to a new feature on my blog, the monthly Reading Roundup! Check in at the end of the month every month for a run through of the things I’ve read, a more in-depth review of my favorite read of the month than I share on Goodreads, and my other favorite things for the month!

This Month’s Blog Posts

I’ve got two blog posts for the month of January that you can check out just in case you missed them on my social media platforms!

Year in Review: 2019 and all the changes that came with it

A (Cold, Broke) Boston Girl’s Guide to Little Women

What I read this month

2020 got the year off to a strong start when it came to reading! I’ve read 22 books, several of them for classes as I started my second semester of graduate school. Check out my Goodreads page for reviews of each of the titles listed!

Books for Class:

  • Forever. . . by Judy Blume
  • Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  • Piecing You Together by Renee Watson
  • Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
  • Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll

Books for Fun:

  • Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind them All by Laura Ruby
  • Famous in A Small Town by Emma Mills
  • If You Lived Here You’d be Home by Now by Christopher Ingraham
  • The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
  • Space Struck by Paige Lewis
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
  • The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Septys
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer all by Jenny Han

Audiobooks:

  • Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Review: Circe — My favorite book of the month

Image sourced from Goodreads

“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.” As readers come to learn, that word is witch. And just like witches throughout history that follow her, Circe is vilified for her gender and her work.

Madeline Miller’s Circe was released in April of 2018, and had been on my reading list for a while when I finally placed a hold on it in October of 2019. Finally, when I got back to Boston after winter break, my hold came in and I began to devour Miller’s nearly 400 page exploration of Circe’s character and history.

Told from Circe’s first person perspective, the novel goes deep into Greek mythology. Fair warning, I was totally a Greek mythology Kid long before I ever read Percy Jackson, and once a Greek Mythology Kid, always a Greek Mythology kid. Because of that fact, I went into this novel thinking I had a pretty solid background, but I still gleaned lots of new information about Greek Mythology. I don’t think you need to know Greek Mythology to read this book because Miller makes it super accessible and at the end of the day the Greek gods and goddesses are just as dysfunctional as any family in modern day American media.

My favorite part of this book was the way that Circe balances outward pressure with inner strength. She is forced into a passive role for a variety of factors, and spends so long living inside that role that it seems to become her identity completely. When finally breaking out of that passivity, Circe makes a choice that she will come to regret but that eventually she will come to terms with her actions and claim her magic for her own rather than sitting back and blending into the walls of her father’s palace. Despite a drastic shift from passive to active, an exile, and years of experience Circe remains grounded in herself which serves as a nice reminder that no matter how me much we change, we also always stay the same.

This is an epic tale that spans thousands of years, but is still insanely relatable when it comes to loneliness, love, and the way that the world will try to bring you down. We may not all be immortal goddesses, but there is magic in all of us, and Circe shows us that.

Runner’s up for favorite book of the month:

  • If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now — This memoir by Christopher Ingraham perfectly encapsulates why I want to return to rural America.
  • The Topeka School by Ben Lerner — I finished this book a couple of weeks ago but when I think about it, I’m still so intrigued by how it was put together and how it ultimately ended. A book about a KS extemper in the late 90s who wants to be a poet was a good read for a KS extemper from the late 2010s who is a poet.

My favorite non-book things

I engaged with a lot of media and things outside of books this month, and I think narrowing those down into a few favorites will be one of the most difficult (and fun!) parts of writing this monthly blog post as I consider what to share with you.

For example: I’m leaving out the final season of The Good Place even though I love this show and think everyone should watch it because I won’t have actually watched the final episode when I share this post and I wouldn’t feel right including it before I actually finish it.

The ALA Youth Media Awards

I went to campus early on Monday, January 27th to hang out with other children’s literature students and to watch the ALA Youth Media awards which includes the awarding of the Printz, Newberry, and Caldecott awards among various other.

This year I wasn’t super familiar with any of the Printz honorees, but I was stoked to see a graphic novel (New Kid by Jerry Craft) awarded the Newberry because graphic novels are such an important form of literature for young people. I can’t wait for my hold on New Kid to come in so I can read it and celebrate.

A complete list of winners can be found here!

NPR Podcasts

I hope I’m making my speech coach, Craig Brown, proud with this item on my list.

I work on campus in a job that doesn’t require me to interact with other people (and in a cubicle that faces a corner in a space with no windows) so I’ve started listening to a lot of podcasts while at work. This month, I’ve introduced various NPR Podcasts into my routine. I listen to Up First on days where I don’t have a chance to read the news before I get to work. My favorites are Pop Culture Happy Hour, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and Ask Me Another. I’ve also listened to some Fresh Air and Life Kit as well.

Sex Education

Season Two of Netflix’s Sex Education dropped this month and I’ve been working my through it over the last week by watching one episode every night. When I was sick last January, I binged Season One, so I couldn’t resist tuning into season two. This show hits so many good emotional beats about all spectrums of life and sexuality and is also laugh out loud hilarious. I highly recommend both seasons of this Netflix original.

My first embroidery project

One of my goals for 2020 is to get into embroidery, so when I got back to Boston after Christmas Break, I picked up some supplies at Micheals and jumped into my first project. It took me a week of working on it every night to actually finish, but I’m in love with how it turned out and I’m already brainstorming my next project.

That’s it for the first Reading Roundup, see you back in February for the next installment!

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