January Reads

January was a great start to the year for me! Maybe I was thinking that there’s no way that I’m going to keep up this reading streak, but I don’t know guys… it’s become quite a habit within the past 6 weeks! Maybe I should’ve pursued running in the same way I pursued this habit but then again, I was a natural reader and I can’t say the same for running.

I briefly mentioned the other day to my roommate how I’ve accidentally read 6 books by mid-January and she nodded knowingly and said, “Yeah, that’s what happens when that’s all you do.” I love knowing which people think highly of my social life and which do not.

January Reads

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
my rating: 5/5

Contrary to what many people have said about Amy’s autobiography, I really enjoyed it. I’m hesitant to label it an autobiography and would choose inspirational/motivational (because we have genres like that these days) over it. Rarely do I read something that simultaneously calls me to action while making me embarrassed of everything I haven’t yet accomplished, but this did exactly that in ways that did not make any sense whatsoever. Halfway through, I wanted to join the nearest improv group and live in the nastiest apartment Austin had to offer. Jokes aside, Amy does seem like the nicest person who has spent more than two decades dedicated to her craft—all while loving every moment.

I would really stress that I recommend listening to the audiobook (free Audible trial) vs. reading it. I think Amy excels in the verbal rather than the written and there were many moments while listening when I wondered how it translated onto the page.

Favorite Quotes: 

  • “I believe great people do things before they are ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that—that’s what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.” 
  • “I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.”
  • “If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks… Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.”

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
my rating: 3/5

My first foray into any Kinsella book and I see what all the fuss is about. It was an entertaining and fast read; I left to book thinking wow, that was a new take on romance only to almost completely forget the plot when I came back to write this roundup. I remember liking it, though, and would recommend it for a enjoyable page-turner.

On Writing by Stephen King
my rating: 5/5

Not sure if I read the one linked, the 10th anniversary one, but this was another one of those autobiographies/self-help books that pushed the boundaries of convention. This book is definitely a catchall answer to the questions he’s been posed over the years, undoubtedly about the pace at which he writes, churning out book after book at superhuman speed. (Maybe my roommate would also like to say to him, knowingly, “Well, when all you do is write…“) I’ve gained a lot of respect for Mr. King through his demonstrated passion of writing. Did you know that he’s been submitting manuscripts since 15 years old?

Favorite Quotes: 

  • “One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.”
  • “I knew [instrument was not his passion], not because Owen stopped practicing, but because he was practicing only during the periods Mr. Bowie had set for him.”
  • “Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
my rating: 3.5/5

I went back. I liked this one a bit more than the other one, for sure. I know this because I was openly weeping during some of the parts and can still remember why. This book had a lot more character and it made me care more for its characters. Plot-wise it’s very typical romance in the way that it’s an average scenario turned lovey. More recommendable than the other one.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
my rating: 4/5

I was on a funny-women kick, ok? I wouldn’t hold this to exactly the same scale as Yes Please or Bossypants, but from reading this, I can understand how talented a comedic writer she is. There were many a moment where I laughed out loud from the way she said something and many a moment where I wished she were a blogger because she excelled in funny lists. But alas, she is not. It’s always interesting though, to see how a conventional person becomes unconventional—from Dartmouth to bombing all of the necessary internships to contributing writer of The Office. Wait, what?

Favorite Quotes: 

  • “I laughed because, as everyone knows, laughing is a great way to disguise heavy breathing.”
  • “There’s room for a little good scripted television and many, many reality TV shows about monitored weight loss. If the science were there to genetically clone Jillian Michaels, our network would just be different filmed iterations of obsess people losing weight, all day long.” 

Looking for Alaska by John Green
my rating: 2/5

Usually, I finish books not because I’m one of those obsessive must-finish-all-books type readers, but because it takes only the barest storyline to engage me until the end. That being said, this did engage me with the countdown at the top of the page.. until I reached the event and wondered where it would go from there. The answer: not really anywhere. And then I became an obsessive must-finish-this-book reader and finished it. I don’t think I’ll look for a J.G. book again anytime soon…

 A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
my rating: 4/5

Bill Bryson is the only person that can make 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail into a 300-page book that holds my interest. He seamlessly weaves historical facts into his humorous narrative, making me forget that I’m reading a book about someone hiking through parts of the Appalachian Trail… Bryson does lose some momentum in between part one and two, but by then, you’re too far in to quit.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
my rating: 3/5

Before picking up the book, I knew Park was Asian. Because she used a typical Asian last name as his first name. It’s also weird reading a first-person narrative of an Asian-American when the author is not Asian-American because it’s rarely done and when done, rarely done well. Especially all that commentary and stylized speech of his immigrant mother, who, after twenty-some years of living in the states still can’t pick up an auxiliary verb? Um, no, my parents do that fine, thank you. So do all the immigrant parents that I know.

Racial issues aside… it still didn’t live up to its hype. I can see how people can empathize with the characters and become nostalgic for their own first high school love, but it failed to move me. Yes, the building of their relationship was much more thought out than that of Twilight, but after establishing that they like each other, I failed to see how their relationship could have progressed to the point that it did.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, book #1
my rating: 5/5

Granted, I’m only 1/3 of the way through the giant 1000-page book, but since he originally published it in three separate books, I think that warrants a congratulations. This first book was… absorbing. For absolutely no reason at all, I was intrigued to see where Murakami was going with these two narratives and how they were going to converge, evidenced by my Goodreads comment below.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 19.13.17

Although it wasn’t at all a plot-driven book, something gave it the momentum that kept me reading. We’ll see if this continues or if it’ll drop, like the second book in any YA trilogy.

Apparently, I like to buffer my more “serious”—as serious as I can get—reads with fluff books, which I also enjoy. Most of the books read in January were under 400 pages, which makes me think that I’m scared of larger books. This might be true. Maybe I’m scared of overcommitting myself and ruining my reading streak—what stops you from reading more so than an intimidating large book in which a “slow portion” can run as long as one of these books?

Anyways, here’s to hoping February is as good a time!

Blog note: I will be dropping down to two posts/week. Three is just too much and I don’t want to overwhelm all of you. Also, the following months or so may be spotty since I’m trying to see what I’m going to do next year.

What have you read in January? Any recommendations?

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  • http://www.melaniefontaine.com/ Melanie Fontaine

    I love how much you’ve committed to reading again! My boyfriend is a huge Murakami fan, but I’ve never really been able to get into it – but I haven’t exactly tried to hard, so maybe I should give it a go again? I find that I currently don’t really have enough patience for fiction and so kind of stick to “informational” reads and travel narratives. I finished Theroux’s “The Great Railway Bazaar” a couple of weeks ago, which I loved and I’m currently reading a couple of “Very Short Introductions” to topics that interest me. I also have another book lined about the more spiritual sides of Yoga, I guess, but I also have a lot of academic literature coming my way soon, so let’s see how that will go. Hope February will be a good reading month for you again! :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      I say try again with the Murakamis!! But also, approach them like you’re buckling down for the long haul—savor, don’t skim, kind of reading :p I totally get you on being short on patience for long fiction! I was the same way, but with Netflix instead of “informational” reads. But then I finished my first one and found it really rewarding. But to each her own, of course!

      Remember when I announced I was reading The Great Railway Bazaar in the summer? Never got past the first chapter. I’m a failure! But also that was when I wasn’t a “reader” so I will put it back onto the list (also because you loved it)!!

      I’m really impressed you managed to squeeze those in alongside your academic reads. That’s certainly what caused me to stop in college! Thanks Mel :))) <3

  • http://alexfahey.blogspot.com/ Alex Fahey

    Hmmm… let’s see- I just finished Outlander, and I am starting Dragonfly in the Amber- but you read those already. I would recommend Fangirl (same author as Eleanor and Park, but I liked it better)- if you’re into funny autobiographies Billy Crystal’s is amazing. Rachel Dratch’s was pretty good as well. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka. JK Rowling is pretty good.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha I need to reread them! And then forge on with the series. It’s one of those series where you forget the world after too long a break in between books! Are you going to continue with them until you catch up or take a break?

      My friend’s currently reading Fangirl, so I’m going to pick that up when I finish 1Q84—I’ll tell you how that goes :) I’ve never thought to read Billy’s autobiography, but I’m putting it on my to-read list now! Ah!! Thanks for so many recommendations, I can’t wait :)

  • http://www.clemandmarcella.wordpress.com/ Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld

    Wow, so impressive! Thanks for all the recommendations. My January reads were:
    Goldfinch, Run Like a Girl and I am Malala :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Marcella! Ooh! I want to pick up I am Malala for sure, since I’m riding out these kickass girl autobiographies. I’m really curious about Goldfinch but am unsure of how it will read… would you say go for it?

      • http://www.clemandmarcella.wordpress.com/ Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld

        I really enjoyed it, but it is verrry long, which means you really get to know the characters by the end!! I read an article saying that the average reader gets through 44% of the book before giving up (they tracked that via ereaders!)

        • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

          Haha oh yikes, I don’t know if I can do another long one right after 1Q84! I’m taking mini breaks in between the three segments, which is making it quite easy. Still putting it on the list though!

          I’ve always wanted in on the information they’re gathering with ereaders! I knew that they would pull something like this, I just want to know the findings too! Haha

          • http://www.clemandmarcella.wordpress.com/ Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld

            That’s the way to go – I read other books as I needed a break from it too!

          • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

            Yup :) But if it weren’t so clearly separated, I usually wouldn’t be able to jump from fiction to fiction unless I’ve finished it!

  • http://www.californienne.com/ Marianne

    Well I gotta say I was REALLY impressed when I saw how many books you’ve read in January. Then I saw how short they were and now ….I’m still impressed but slightly less so (haha just kidding I only made it through one and a half books this month – granted one was super long – so what can I say?). I read “Yes Please” recently too and I loved it! Although I might be biased cus I adore Amy Poehler. I’ve been wanting to read IQ84 because I like Murakami but the sheer length has so far deterred me… maybe I”ll give it a go.

    This month I’ve read The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, part of the third Harry Potter book in French, and I’m part of the way through Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which I’ve read before but am revisiting…

    Let’s be friends on goodreads (although I don’t have much of a record yet): https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/13443694-marianne

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      You’re such a jerk :p I know, I was totally intimidated by the size but I think most of all was the COMMITMENT of 1000 pages. That means I can’t read any other fiction while working on this huge ass book! I need variety! But it’s been fine… I’m basically halfway through with it already and I think the third “book” is going to fly by.

      Omg, I want to start picking up the HP books in French so I can continue to improve but it’s so hard to get French things in the states! It’s usually Spanish…

      Added you on Goodreads (although I gave out my link in the post, I guess you want me to work for it? ;) )

      • http://www.californienne.com/ Marianne

        haha I’m sorry – on several accounts. I am a jerk. Also I’m apparently not very observant because I didn’t see the link to your goodreads account … Good job on getting halfway through IQ84 already!! Wow

  • http://www.slightlyastray.com/ Anna | slightly astray

    Oooh I’ve heard good things about 1Q84. I’m glad to hear you like it. Maybe I should pick it up. I’m really into long books at the moment because I hate it when stories end!

    One really good/interesting book I read recently is You by Caroline Kepnes… it’s about a psycho boy who gets the girl of his dreams by stalking her. Enough said! I picked it up because it was only $2 on Amazon kindle and I loved it!!

    I friended you on Goodreads, but I don’t know if you saw it!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Same! My friend was reading another Murakami and her description of his writing style intrigued me so I dove into this behemoth. I’m about 60% done with it, so I’ll tell you if it’s worth it or not!

      Ooh, Kepnes, her name sounds really familiar (although maybe I’m thinking about the character on Grey’s Anatomy?). I’ll check it out :)

      I didn’t get a request or anything! Checked all possible notification/friend things too :( Here, I’ll try friending you. What’s the link?

  • http://lanivcox.wordpress.com/ Lani

    Love Murakami. But not because I love what he writes, so much as how he writes.Green. Yup. Everyone says he’s the BEST YA author out there…you’ve made me skeptical. Bryson. Yes. He’s funny and I liked how he blended facts with story. Uhhhh, Yes, Please. Don’t you mean, Me, first?

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha exactly! I tried to describe what the first two books were about to my friend but really… couldn’t! Haha, people really say that?! Mm… no. My coworker recently read “An Abundance of Katherines” and told me it was equally boring.

      I saw Bryson give a talk last night!!! He was SO FUNNY it was basically like watching a subtle stand-up show.

      And ha, oh right. Me First. How could I have forgotten?

      • http://lanivcox.wordpress.com/ Lani

        Lucky you. I would love to hear Bryson talk.

  • http://ceciliaintherain.wordpress.com Cecilia

    I started reading IQ84 at some point too, and found it quite addictive, but I took a break from it and never got back into reading it so I have no idea what happened. I’m thinking I might start again with a shorter Murakami book to see what all the fuss is about.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha there’s such a fine line between break and then abandonment! And sometimes you don’t know when you’re putting it down, it’s for the last time haha.

      My friend was reading Kafka on the Shore and she said it was pretty good!

  • http://beertimewithwagner.com/ Jordan Beck Wagner

    I love Sophia Kinsella…any of her books are fun, quick reads! I actually really liked “Looking For Alaska”…so sad you didn’t! “Eleanor & Park” I thought was OK but Rainbow Powell’s best book, by far, is “Fangirl”…so good! I just finished reading “The Vacationers.” Thoroughly enjoyed it and made me want to go to Spain/warm weather. Currently reading “Paper Love” and it is living up to its hype. If you like mystery, history, true stories, etc…go pick up this book!!! Also, have you read “The Opposite of Loneliness”? You’ll cry and laugh and love life just a bit more. Best book I’ve read in years. Read it in a day, gave it to my friend..and she read it in a day!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Agreed! I’m just scared I’ll hit that point of Sophie Kinsella where all her characters and storylines start to seem the same. So many people are telling me to check out Fangirl, so I guess that’s my next read! I’ll add all those books you recommended on the list as well! We’ll see if we have similar tastes ;)

      • http://beertimewithwagner.com/ Jordan Beck Wagner

        Do the Shopaholic series with Sophie Kinsella! :) They do get a bit repetitive but the earlier ones are so good!

        • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

          Haha I’ve seen the movie and I usually don’t like reading books after watching the movie because I know what’s coming… is the movie close to the book portrayal, would you say?

          • http://beertimewithwagner.com/ Jordan Beck Wagner

            Ughhh, the movie annoyed me so much because the book is WAY BETTER!!!

          • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

            Ah, gotcha. Alright, I’ll see if I can read it even after watching the movie!

  • Laolu

    Hey Mish just discovered you blog!! Can’t wait to read all your posts now :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Hahah Laolu!! Do you have one?? :)