Book Challenge: January 2014

I resolved to buy no new books during the month of January and to read one book each month that I had not yet read but that I already owned (previous to January 1, 2014).

It’s is now February 1. I haven’t bought a single book since before Christmas! I have a few stories I want to download on my Kindle app, and I might order Ransom Riggs’ Hollow City today, but I’m also in the middle of reading four books right now, so I’m not in any real hurry. That part of my resolution was successful, as was my vow to read at least one book I already owned.

I also read 13 books, which puts my far ahead of my goal to read 60 books this year, and I’m halfway through another one that I expect to finish today.

Here’s the roundup for January:

Books I owned previous to Jan. 1:

1) Chronicles of Avonlea, by L. M. Montgomery. I thought I’d read this already, I but I think I actually just read the first story because I remembered none of the rest of the stories. The Anne of Green Gables series are some of my favorite books ever, and I like this glimpse into other aspects of Avonlea and the surrounding communities. Montgomery is quaint and faithful and descriptive, and her writing is a refreshing change of pace from the stuff I usually read.

2) August: Osage County, by Tracy Letts. A PulitzerPrize-winning play that has been adapted to a film starring, among others, Benedict Cumberbatch. My friend John read this book a long time ago and has been raving about it. He gave me a copy about a year ago and has been pestering me to read it. I finally did, and man, is it good and crazy. The play focuses on a family brought together by a death. They’re all dysfunctional, but it’s funny and tragic at the same time.

3) The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams. The second book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy that isn’t actually a trilogy. Funny and quirky and smart and delightful.

4) Dial H Volume 1, China Mieville. I own the entire series (which is only 15 issues), but I had not kept up with reading them. Now that the series has concluded, I read the first volume of collected issues. Mieville’s writing is strange and unique, and I love it, but I also recognize that his writing style is not for everyone. I hate that the series was canceled by DC, but I don’t think it was as successful as they’d hoped it would be. Still, I highly recommend this. It’s funny and weird and smart. 

5) The Umbrella Academy in Apocalypse Suite, Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. This six-issue series is delightful. It’s the story of seven children (most of whom have special abilities) who were adopted and raised as a dysfunctional group of superheroes. When they are older and their father dies, they reunited for the first time in years, with (naturally) disastrous results. I absolutely love Gabriel Ba’s artwork, and Way’s story is unique and wonderful.

Library books:

1) The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson: The first in a series about ghost hunters in modern-day London. An American girl named Rory moves to England to attend a boarding school and gets involved in a mystery involving a contemporary Jack the Ripper. The book blends a little bit of Victorian London into the modern-day city, and I like Rory’s tenacity. This is different than anything else I’ve read by Maureen Johnson, and I’m eager to read the sequel!

2) Zone One, Colson Whitehead: literary fiction/zombie novel. I wished it could have been better. Here’s my review on Goodreads.

3) Just One Year, Gayle Forman. A companion novel to a book I read last year. Features world travel and Shakespearian plays and fate and romance. A nice, light read.

4) The Madness Underneath, Maureen Johnson. The sequel to The Name of the Star featured a plot twist at the end that broke my heart. And now I have to wait who knows how long for another book to be published. Again, this is why I should always wait until a series is finished to read the books. Will I ever learn?!?

5) Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell. What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? Trust me, it lives up to the hype!

6) Bimbos of the Death Sun, Sharyn McCrumb. My friend Shea (who used to be referred to as “my thesis advisor”) recommended this. McCrumb is an Appalachian writer, and this book is a fun, quirky novel about a murder at a sci-fi convention. It took me a few chapters to get involved, but once I finally did, I had a great time picking out the geek references and trying to figure out which sci-fi nerd actually did the deed. I’ll be reading the sequel, called Zombies of the Gene Pool, soon!

Other books:

1) I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go for the fifth time and still found myself tearing up (though not full-out crying) during the final chapters. This is such a beautiful, wonderful book, and I don’t know how many more years it will take until everyone I know reads it.

2) Insurgent, Veronica Roth! FINALLY! I borrowed it from a friend and read it quickly, of course. I found Tris to be a bit annoying at times because I hated the choices she was making, but I also felt like the ending redeemed much of that. I’ve read some reviews that people thought the ending was too predictable, and it’s true that I did figure out what was going on earlier. However, even books with “predictable” endings can be well-written because it’s often more about how the writer gets to that ending rather than what’s there when we arrive. I have Allegiant in my stack of books to read, but first I want to read the short stories about Tobias that Roth has published and then I’ll finish out the series.

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