I was in a reading rut until I came across the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge hosted by the Los Angeles City Public Library. The challenge was to read graphic novels through March and into early April. It was a fun way to get myself out of a reading rut.
I felt like most of the books I’ve read this year were intense and serious. According to my Storygraph, the majority of the books I read are informative, emotional, and reflective. 70% of my reading this year are non-fiction. I thought reading a light-hearted young adult book would lift things up and it did not do the trick. When I participated in the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge, I discovered how enjoyable graphic novels can be (even if the topics were not so fun and light-hearted). What I like about graphic novels is that it presents really hard and complicated topics into something that is easy to understand without infantilizing the message.
Does anybody like to collect quotes? I do. I don’t like to collect pretty squares of platitudes and save them to my phone; it becomes jumbled with all the things I keep on my phone and I completely forget about it until I need to declutter my disk space and end up throwing it away. For me, I believe favorite quotes deserve a better place than my phone, they deserve a page on my notebook. I like to keep this notebook in the living room as my “living coffee table book.”
Here are some books I finished in November going into December. I can’t believe I’ve gone through an entire year reading at least 21 minutes per day! Even after this year is over, I can’t imagine a day when I am NOT reading something.
Here are some books I’ve read in October and November. I’ve been meaning to share my October reads last month, but at that time I was prepping for Lana’s first birthday party and that same week I had a terrible stomachache. It was best to take it easy that week. Funny thing was that this week I was sick again, but I managed to complete my #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge post for October and November.
I can’t believe it’s already the middle of September! Here is a recap of the books I’ve read over the past month!
A Promised Land by Barack Obama (in audiobook, from the library) – This book covered his early life into the end of his first term in office. It’s probably the longest audiobook I’ve ever listened to. I found his trajectory into becoming the President very interesting. He did not come from a political dynasty that groomed him for higher office. Just a man with a very optimistic and idealistic vision and it got him very far. Each time I listened to his audiobook, I felt hopeful after each session.
Up until this year I have not read much but I think that’s because I tried to treat it like the way I would watch Netflix — binging it. As of this year, I started doing Gretchen Rubin’s read 21 minute in 2021 to help me read more. I found doing this practice manageable and sustainable because reading 21 minutes a day is achievable. Now I can’t imagine a day where I am not reading 21 minutes.
I’ve been reading more for the mental health benefits and how to process difficult emotions especially as I go through life as being a new mom. Also because of the pandemic as there are significantly fewer events and people are less inclined to go anywhere, reading has provided an escape where I can still have this sense of human connection and empathy. Reading is one of the simple pleasures that has centered me because there have been many moments when I have felt overwhelmed especially on some weeks when my husband is out doing army training.
I decided to participate in the #Read21in21 challenge for this year to help me build a daily habit of reading. Surprisingly, I have yet missed a day of reading. I squeeze time for reading by listening to audiobooks on the way home from work or read for 21 minutes before going to sleep. Here is what I read for January:
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life — until the unthinkable happens.
My take: I enjoyed listening to this audiobook during my drives home. I could definitely get lost in her words.
Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City. Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and – with a little encouragement from her friends – a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind. But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.”
My take: I’ve had this book in my Kindle for a while. I do need a few guilty pleasures in my rotation because somedays work can be brutal. I truly did enjoy this book, especially as a new mom of three months. There are times where I do feel I almost lose myself in caring for her, the books reminds me that I should care for myself too.
Books I read to Lana
In the beginning of the reading challenge, I use to count reading books to my daughter as part of the 21 minutes. I still read to her daily but it is extra reading on top of my daily 21 minutes.
Well-behaved women seldom make history. Good thing these women are far from well behaved…
My take: I’ve had this coffee book table in my living room for years. I enjoy reading it. Occasionally I read passages to her. There are some stories that are not kid friendly, but she does not know that yet.
What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? What if they never came out the way you wanted them to? Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to get the words flowing.
My take: I loved the artwork and metaphor. I would borrow this book from the library again when Lana starts to learn how to pick up a book and read.
Speed and self-confidence, that’s Astrid’s motto. Nicknamed “the little thunderbolt,” she loves to spend her days racing down the hillside on her sled, singing loudly as she goes, and visiting Gunnvald, her grumpy, septuagenarian best friend and godfather, who makes hot chocolate from real chocolate bars. She just wishes there were other children to share her hair-raising adventures with. But Astrid’s world is about to be turned upside down by two startling arrivals to the village of Glimmerdal: first a new family, then a mysterious, towering woman who everyone seems to know but Astrid. It turns out that Gunnvald has been keeping a big secret from his goddaughter, one that will test their friendship to its limits. Astrid is not too happy about some of these upheavals in Glimmerdal — but, luckily, she has a plan to set things right.
A chapter book I read to Lana. Personally, I enjoy it, it’s a fun book where she skis, sleds, and sings out loud even if it annoys a certain someone. I enjoy acting out the characters for her even though she may not understand what is going on yet.
My take: I am trying to avoid introducing Lana Disney versions of fairytales for as long as I can, so I am looking into other versions of fairytales like Perrault’s version of Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots. They’re messy, wild, and teach actual lessons.
Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.
My take: I would buy this poetry book to have as part of our bookshelf.
Chinese New Year is a time of new beginnings. Follow one little girl as she learns how to welcome the coming year and experience all the festivities surrounding it. Karen Katz’s warm and lively introduction to a special holiday will make even the youngest child want to start a Chinese New Year tradition!
My take: I don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, but my husband does. I thought this was a good first book to learn about CNY for Lana and me. I would borrow this book again when she starts to learn how to pick up a book and read.
I thought it would be fun to plan out what my next reads would be. Maybe I could explore a different theme each month? Here are the themes I came up with for the following months.
January: it was about getting my feet wet. So no theme here.
February: Books by Black authors
March: Books written by women
April: Books turned into films and TV series (Not that I’ve seen the films either)
May: Books by Asian authors
June: Social justice/America
July: Summer vacations
August: Books translated from a foreign language
September: Banned Books
October: Books written by Hispanic authors
November: Books written by Indigeneous people/Native tribes
What did you read in January? How do you decide what to read next? Comment below!