Mid-Month Check In: January 2017

So far, so good. January has been kind to me and I’ve been able to more or less keep up on the reading challenges I’m participating in this year.

The set tasks I have for this month are:

  • a nonfiction about technology
  • a YA or Middle Grade book by an author who identifies as LGBTQ
  • set in the 1970s – COMPLETED
  • person of color memoir – COMPLETED

For the set in 1970s challenge, I read one of my favorite books so far Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. The story starts off with the mysterious death of a biracial young woman, Lydia. And from there, we follow the various family members as they come to terms with their loss. Interwoven lyrically among the chapters are reflections from each character of how they came to this point in their lives. Ng’s book is a beautiful look at the challenges of being the ‘other’ in a society, which supposedly has embraced you but in reality, still looks at you with suspicion and incomprehension. When I think back on this book, I am simultaneously moved and horrified at how familiar the difficulties of the Lee family feel.

Moving on from one story of grief, I went straight to another story of grief. This time, a memoir from Sonali Deraniyagala titled Wave. Deraniyagala’s memoir is a raw account of her grief after the Sri Lankan 2004 Tsunami swept away her family: parents, husband, and sons. I wrote about this book briefly over at Castle Dune, but my reaction was essentially this: her anger at her loss will resonate with those who have lost a loved one suddenly, but the fact that much of the book focused on the destruction of her identity as a mother meant I couldn’t connection 100% with her. I felt for her loss, but I couldn’t feel her loss.

I still have to read the nonfiction about technology (Extra Lives by Tom Bissell) and the YA or Middle Grade book by an LGBTQ (author Huntress by Malinda Lo) for the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge. But they are both on my shelves, and I have plans to finish them during the #24in48 Readathon this weekend.

And by the magic of audiobooks, I actually finished an entire series! Granted, these are Middle Grade books so each one was approximately ~300 pages long, or about 6 hours on audio. This series was Princess Academy by Shannon Hale and I do recommend listening to the audiobook version; I listened to the first two, which are full cast productions, but read the last as an eBook since I couldn’t find it on audio. I liked the first two books of the series much better than the conclusion; the last book felt subpar in the execution of its plot. While I loved getting more backstory for some of the characters, the ending felt rushed and I wish Hale had written a longer, more nuanced, book.

For nonfiction, I finished Hidden Figures, which is indeed excellent and made me excited for the movie. However, this is not the book for people who are primarily looking for a book filled with the tensions of the space race. Shetterly spends the majority of the book exploring the societal and political conditions of the time, and really only spends the last few chapters of the book on the space race.

Other books read in the first two weeks of January include: Matilda (audiobook narrated by Kate Winslet) by Roald Dahl, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon by Mark Hodder, and Something New by Lucy Knisley.

And that’s it! I’m in the process of planning my TBR for the #24in48 this weekend. Since this is the first time I’m participating in a Readathon, I’m making a big deal out of it.

See you all at the end of January! Or earlier if I have enough brain cells to put together a post after the Readathon.




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