January 2020 Wrap-up | Part 1: Overview

I’m a bit late for this post, but better late than never! Welcome to the overview of my first monthly wrap-up. January hasn’t been great for the world, but one tiny bright spot is that personally, it’s been a great month reading-wise. This January, I was able to finish 19 books (!!!) out of my goal of 75.

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I’m going to relish this while I can, because I’ll only get to read this much again in December…

Anyway, since I tend to babble on endlessly and I don’t want to dump everything in a single post, I split my wrap-up into three parts: an overview (Part 1), fiction wrap-up (Part 2), and a nonfiction wrap-up (Part 3). For this post, I’ll talk about the patterns across all the books I’ve read this month and what I felt about my reading overall.

Here’s a snapshot of my January 2020 in reading:

Screen Shot 2020-02-01 at 11.56.49 AM
Books I’ve read this January 2020. That blank space beside The Turn of the Key REALLY bothers me, but I didn’t have time to finish the book I was currently reading, so… I gotta live with it.

Also, because I love numbers and graphs (only when it comes to my reading lol), here are a couple of pie charts summarizing my January reading.

2020-01 fiction nonfiction2020-01 fiction2020-01 nonfiction

Some impressions:

✨ I read more fiction than nonfiction. I’m happy about this since I already read a lot of academic stuff for school, so I prefer my reading life to be as different as possible to counterbalance it.

✨ I picked up a lot of mysteries and thrillers this January. I only discovered how fun mysteries and thrillers could be last year, after I read my first Christie book. Despite that, I don’t think I viscerally felt the “mystery/thriller” craving until this month, and I guess it reflects how I’m really coming to love the genre.

✨ I was able to read across a variety of genres. I was surprised to find most of my interests represented here in my January 2020 list. For the longest time, I felt insecure about my tastes because I thought it made me seem inconsistent. Aren’t people just supposed to be predominantly ‘YA’ or ‘literary’ or ‘nonfiction’? But then this month, I’ve begun to reframe ‘inconsistent’ to ‘eclectic’, and considered that this eclecticism could reflect my interest in a number of topics rather than an inherent personality flaw. This year, I want to embrace my own tastes and resist the urge to confine myself to being predominantly one kind of reader – and reject the idea that there can be one kind of reader in the first place.

✨ Overall impression: quantity over quality? I’m very much a mood reader, so I don’t consciously set reading goals and just reach for whatever I feel like at the time. I think my reading this month reflected that urge.

This has its upsides and downsides. The upside is that I get to scratch my book itches all the time. This wasn’t always the case – back in college, reading was closely tied to homework and requirements, so I faced anything with text with a diffuse sense of dread. It was so bad that I read less than ten books during my four years there. It was only after college that I began to miss reading, but I wanted my experience to be as un-college-like as possible: I wanted to have fun while reading, and to not police my tastes. So I gave myself permission to read all the genres I’d avoided because my professors didn’t deem them worthy of study – self-help, YA fantasy, YA romance, historical/paranormal/sports romance, murder mysteries, domestic thrillers, etc. – and only thing requirement I had was that I’d stop reading once the book stopped being fun to read. And it was a success! I had a lot of fun and I learned to love reading again.

But the downside to this approach is that I’ve neglected the other reason why I fell in love with reading – which is to be intellectually challenged, or to learn something new, or to see something from a different perspective. After all, there’s also pleasure to be taken from encountering an inventive novelistic form or a perfectly written sentence. To use the trite dichotomy, reading not only nourishes me emotionally but also intellectually, and I don’t think I’ve read much books recently that do the latter.

So, something I want to try this month is to be more aware of my reading moods, and to deliberately choose books that don’t necessarily satisfy my immediate book craving (YA, romance, thriller) but might be intellectually rewarding in the end. That doesn’t mean I’m going to abstain from so-called genre fiction altogether – I just want to be more conscious of creating a balance between my two reading needs.

In sum, my reading was off to a great start this January, but I think there’s still room for experimentation and improvement.

Aaaand… That’s it for this post! Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a round-up of all the fiction books I’ve read this month. Hope you stay tuned. 🙂

Up Next

Part 2: January 2020 Fiction Wrap-up

Part 3: January 2020 Nonfiction Wrap-up

What did you think of your reading this month? What were your January reading goals, and were you able to meet them? What about yourself as a reader this month that surprised you? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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6 thoughts on “January 2020 Wrap-up | Part 1: Overview

  1. I sometimes think of last year (ie, my first year of book blogging) as a weird experiment in only reading romance – up until that point, I’d always read really widely (with a lot of romance, but also other things). And so I am trying to read some other things, but I tried to read “The Turn of the Key,” and it was SO STRESSFUL and also kind of boring? And it made me remember that this is why I love romance so much.

    And now a recommendation! If you’re just getting into mysteries/thrillers, you should definitely check out Tana French. She writes some of the most beautiful murder mysteries. That may sound like an oxymoron, but I can’t think of how else to describe them. I haven’t read her latest, but I highly recommend any of her books about the Dublin Murder Squad. They are technically a series but each book follows a different character and stands alone.

    1. “Stressful and mind if boring” pretty much describes it! It was a letdown for me too, especially with all the hype around it. I find that romance is still my go-to comfort read—last year when grad school was particularly stressful I read a lot more romance than I used to, just to keep reading even when I felt too exhausted for anything else.

      Ah, “Into the Woods” is on my TBR! I’ll bump it up now with your recommendation. “Beautiful murder mystery” is a pretty intriguing definition. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Literary Elephant

    19 books!! What a great month! 🙂
    Best of luck with your goal to balance your reading between mood reads and rewarding reads, that sounds like a great project and something I also struggle with! I actually felt last year like I leaned too far towards reading intellectually stimulating books, to the point that I just wasn’t enjoying my reading as much as usual even though what I was reading felt worthwhile. It’s a challenging balance to pinpoint!

    1. Thank you!! 🙂 It’s interesting that you veered towards the other end! On a slightly tangent note – I’ve always been wondering ever since I read your Booker wrap-up if you’d read any ‘palate-cleansers’ so to speak in between, just to break the pace? (E.g. thrillers, mysteries) Or is it more your style to really stick to the list of books you plan to read? 🙂

      1. Literary Elephant

        Hmm, good question! 🙂 If I’m trying to read all of the titles in a certain amount of time (like completing a longlist before the prize announcement) I can push through quite a few of them in a row if I need to, but I definitely stay more engaged with what I’m reading if I’m switching genres often! Anything that’s different from my last read tends to work for me. I wasn’t trying to read the Booker longlist before the prize was announced last year, so I did read a lot of other books in between in that case; but I will try to read the Women’s Prize in March before the winner announcement so I expect I’ll be reading more of those back to back! Otherwise with lists that aren’t “timed” I do prefer to break them up to prevent genre fatigue.

      2. Ooh that’s interesting! I get the breaking things up to prevent genre fatigue—sometimes you just need something of a palette cleanser, or else you’ll just get sick of the genre. Best of luck to reading the long list for the Women’s Prize! I’ll look forward to your thoughts on them 🙂

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