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Winter 2020 Reading Round Up

Winter can be cruel, especially in the Greater Chicago Area. But it's not all bad!

For a while our little home full of love was a winter wonder land. I say, "for a while," because we didn't take down our Christmas tree until after Valentine's Day.


But another perk to winter is that with it being so cold there's nothing stopping you from staying warm, with a cup of tea and a good book!

I will say, I didn't read as much as I thought I would, and I missed my Goodreads Challenge by a few books. But that's okay! It was the holidays, and time with family and friends has been limited since moving half way across the country so I decided that as much as I would love to have some personal time to read what I want, I would regret not taking the time I had with them to be in each others' company.

Even now, I don't regret for a moment that I spent that time throwing a winter wonderland movie night for my nieces and nephews, or taking them to see Christmas lights, or trying to fit in as much time with friends as possible.

But I did get some reading in! So here's my reading round up for Winter 2020!

1. Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake

I can't stop raving about this series. But even though the fourth, and final, book in the series was released in September of 2019, I couldn't pick it up until December. I was so excited for it, I pre-ordered it from my local independent bookstore (that's right! you can pre-order from independent bookstores and help out family owned businesses) which I don't do often, especially with my determination to borrow more than I buy. But I was so nervous for it all to come to an end. Not that I didn't trust Kendare Blake to write an amazing finale, but I didn't want it to end! Seriously, what would my life be like without new installments of this story to look forward to? I can since confirm that I have survived, but there is a huge hole in my heart from knowing that there won't be another book in this series.

2 & 3. The Van Alan Legacy & Misguided Angel (Blue Bloods #4 & #5) by Melissa de la Cruz

So I've been working my way through this series from when I was in high school. That's right, HIGH SCHOOL! I only learned around the time I started blogging that there were more than three books in the series so I had to go back. This fun vampire YA novel continues to be a quick and enjoyable read. I’m actually a bit sad that it'll be a while before I get to the next one, since I have some blog tours coming up that I need to focus on, but maybe I'll get to finish the series this year!

4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This book has been on my shelf for quite some time, and it's been in my reading jar since I've had it. My reading jar is an old mason jar I decorated with some ribbon that has tiny pieces of paper with the names of books I actually have on my bookshelves written on it. When I can't decide what I want to read next, it forces me to read a book that I have purchased at some point and actually read it. So when it was my turn to pick the book club pick, I of course was stumped and left it up to the jar! It took a few tries, because I wasn't going to ask book club to read "Reinventing American Healthcare" with me. But we landed on this!

The book was fun, and I enjoyed it, although with the holidays I didn't end up finishing in time for the book club meeting. Most of us didn't actually, the holidays can become hectic like that. But it was a cool story, and it felt mysterious without being a thriller or your typical mystery.

5. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

So this was a book club pick for my first book club, back home in NJ. I still read along with my girlfriends even if I can't make the meetings in person. And usually after the meeting I'll add my two cents to the group chat and if it's a particularly exciting book, we'll sometimes start gushing before we've even set a date for when we're meeting!

With this book, I read a bit of the first chapter and when to go look up when the book was written. About a decade ago. Once I saw that I had a bit of an "ahhhhhh" moment. From that point on I took everything in the book with a grain of salt. I told myself that because that's what the author thought a decade ago doesn't mean that's her stance on feminism and being a woman now. Because a lot has changed in a decade. People who normally would not have the platform, have the opportunity to share ideas that are more inclusive of different experiences of what it is to be a woman. We understand women's experiences, noting that it can intersect with other parts of their identity, leading to vastly different experiences. So was it an interesting read, yes. But do I think this is a must read for women? I think there are many things that are more up to date on how to smash the patriarchy and be more inclusive.

6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I will say, this might not be the best book to read right now, as it's very depressing. But also I felt a little bit like this is actually the world we live in. I don't know why for some reason I had expected that a book that is a must read and taught all over and warns against this kind of dystopian world, would have made it so that we actively don't end up like this. But I couldn't help but think throughout the whole book how difficult social mobility is today and how it only seems to be getting more and more difficult. I hate the idea of must reads, and usually books on those lists don't actually live up to it. But I will concede that this is an important book to read. But not just to read, to think about and consider in what ways we mirror this world, and what we need to do to stop it.

Black History Month

An important part of Winter is Black History Month. I try to read from a diverse group of authors and genres throughout the year, but there are some months like February, where I am extra intentional. So in the month of February I only read books by Black authors. It is my way of celebrating and supporting Black creatives.

7. How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

It's not often that I give a book five stars. This is one of those books. This memoir was so beautifully written. I didn’t know exactly what to expect and I didn’t know a lot about Saeed Jones prior to reading this. I knew that Jones is a gay Black man, but this memoir isn't just about being gay, or Black, or gay and Black. I think the best way to describe it is that this memoir shows a level of vulnerability that I didn’t think was possible from a human being. I certainly could never be capable of being so open.

8. Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Yes please! Give me all of the Pride & Prejudice retellings! This was such a fun retelling. It takes place in modern day NY, and the characters are high school aged, so I was really looking forward to seeing how some of the storyline would play out in this completely different time and space. I really loved how it was done. I finished it in probably 24 hours. I shouldn’t have but, oops! Highly recommend.

9. We All Need Therapy by La'Mar Neal

The poems in this collection cover a large variety of experiences. I think everyone could connect to at least one poem if not more. And yet none of the poems feel like the vague one liners that I see so much of today. They all feel so incredibly authentic. I’m usually not crazy about collections of poems but this one I highly recommend.

I finished this book about a month before putting this blog post together, and I still think about "Bootstraps" from time to time. Truly, there are poems in here that will stay with you long after you've finished reading it.

10. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

This book has two parts, first, a letter from Baldwin to his nephew. This letter was heartfelt and though it touched on the obstacles facing black men, it came across as hopeful. The second part, an essay, read a lot like a run on sentence making it hard for me, personally, to pay attention and for anything to stick long term. It actually made what is a short book difficult to get through. I am looking forward to reading his other books though!

Some of the books in the picture above didn't get read in time for Black History Month and trickled into Women's History Month. I actually removed The Bluest Eye from my TBR all together. Before reading, I remembered the episode of Sabrina where the school has banned the book. I couldn't remember why it would be banned though, because Toni Morrison is such an amazing writer. So, I did a quick look and I felt the book would have been more sad than I could handle. It wasn't an easy decision to give up on reading a book by someone so incredible, but I had to remind myself that there is a time and place for reading to make us uncomfortable, and to get us to think outside of our own personal experience. But, that doesn't have to be all the time, and right now, wasn't the time for me.

In addition to the awesome books listed above, I participated in two blog tours! If you missed them, you can still catch my blog posts for Annie Beaton's Year of Positive Thinking by Mink Elliot and A Reason to Grieve by Mick Williams!

I'm a bit late to post this reading round up, but I'm hoping that if I post it, Winter really will be over.

Fingers crossed!

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