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.
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.
- “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?
- “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?
- “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.
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?