January is almost always a good month for reading for me. It's cold, we're stuck in the house, and my Goodreads yearly reading challenge tally has been set back to zero (nooooooooooooooooooo!). This year is no different- I breezed through thirteen books this month (although two years ago, I managed to tackle twenty or twenty-one. Yay, stress-reading!), but something feels different. Reading feels really exciting these days.
And that excitement stems from the amazing What Should I Read Next podcast. I'm new to podcasts, only having really recently started listening to them. What Should I Read Next is my second podcast; first was Let's Talk About Sects, which is great if you like weirdo cults and extremist groups. I listen sometimes when I'm making dinner, but more often, I turn the podcast on when I get into bed. I used to listen to BBC radio as I was falling asleep; there's something very calming and soothing about the British accent and the hushed vocal tones that made it easy for me to pass right out (and coming from someone who has struggled with insomnia on and off her whole life, this is huge). But after the 2016 elections, the news just got so awful that I could no longer relax enough to fall asleep. I loved the idea of podcasts, but the podcast apps I tried would stop playing after one podcast, and so I just gave up, until I discovered Podbean. Podbean plays the podcasts from newer to older or older to newer, without stopping, which was just what I was looking for.
What Should I Read Next has revamped my reading life entirely. Reading is such a solitary activity that it sometimes feels we're the only ones doing it. But Anne Bogel's podcast has helped me to feel not so alone in my constant reading. Other people are just as obsessed with turning pages and cramming the world into their head via the latest bestseller as I am, and that alone has sparked some serious joy for me. If you've never listened to this podcast, I can't recommend it enough. I often fall asleep long before the end, but I do go back and listen to what I've missed!
So I've had a great reading month. I've spent the last two years trying to read down my skyscraper-high Want To Read list on Goodreads, which has meant that I've plowed through a metric book-ton of nonfiction (I started at 332 books; with a crapload of reading under my belt, cleaning up the list to remove a few things that no longer interested me, and putting a few other items not available to me via the library into my Bookmarks for later, it's down to 97 books!). I'm now totally jazzed about reading more fiction and even trying some books in new-to-me genres. This is going to be a great year for reading!
Here's a list of all the things I read this past month.
1. Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity- Emily Matchar
2. The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom- Helen Thorpe
3. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea- Barbara Demick
4. This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost- Carolyn S. Briggs
5. The Cult Files: True Stories from the Extreme Edges of Religious Belief- Chris Mikul
6. The Magdalen Girls- V.S. Alexander
7. Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper- Hilary Liftin
8. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids- Kim John Payne with Lisa M. Ross
9. Switch and Bait- Ricki Schultz
10. A Crazy Kind of Love- Mary Ann Marlowe
11. The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage- Chris Kurtz
12. How Does It Feel to Be Unwanted?: Stories of Resistance and Resilience from Mexicans Living in the United States- Eileen Truax
13. I'll Be There For You: The One about Friends- Kelsey Miller
So how did I do for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge this month?
A book I've been meaning to read: The Cult Files came from my Goodreads list, so I can cross that one off!
I'm always fascinated by why people leave religious groups, so Carolyn S. Briggs's This Dark World fits that category.
Mary Ann Marlowe was a new-to-me author; I'm glad I stumbled upon her at the library.
And you know, I've put some thought into it, and I'm going to count The Adventures of a South Pole Pig for the genre outside my comfort zone. I still really don't care much for animal stories, but this really was adorable and I'm glad I took the chance. I'm still planning on challenging myself in other genres this year. Probably no more animal stories, though. ;)
Four categories crossed off in a month isn't half bad. We'll see how long it takes me to get to the rest!
I don't think I could even pick a favorite out of these if I tried. Reading was such a joy for me this month, both thanks to Anne Bogel's podcast and the authors who wrote these amazing books. I can only hope the rest of the year goes as swimmingly (begone with you, evil lurking reading slumps!).
How did your reading month go? Do you find January to be a great month of reading, or do you get hit with a nasty case of the winter blahs? What have you read and loved this month?