Reading Nourishes Writing

January Reading Wrap Up (+ Mini-Reviews!)

Hello, happy writers! I have to admit, as we crash into a rather dreary and windy February, I’m torn between two states of mind: January lasted literally 800 years and How in the world is January already over???

January felt like a bit of a dud month to me. I didn’t get nearly the amount of writing and editing accomplished that I wanted to, and I had a hard time concentrate on writing in general. But! I did get a few things done! Sort of!

One of the achievements I managed in January was to read 8 books! There are a lot of bloggers for which 8 books in a month is standard, if even a low number for them, but for me, it was a pretty big deal! I averaged finishing about two books a week, which made me feel really good. I found that I was generally in a more creative place and attitude the more consistently I read, so I’m hoping to keep up with this pace throughout the year. Fingers crossed!

Now, onto the reviews!

Salt to the Sea Book Cover Cover to Wide Sargasso Sea Tree Grows in Brooklyn Book Cover

Dear Martin Book Cover Are You Sleeping Book Cover Strange the Dreamer Cover

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith — 5 stars

This book was a gift from my TBTBSanta!!! I absolutely adored it and couldn’t believe I had never read it before. This is an intimate, practically day-to-day slice of life look at the lives of a very poor family in early 1900s Brooklyn. It shined such a light on the daily, endless struggles this family and people liked them have endured — and the close-minded, dismissive judgement from people who are better off. A beautiful gem of a book, I highly recommend it.

Damn Fine Story, Chuck Wendig — 4 stars

Wendig is a brilliant, fun writer to follow on Twitter, and I really loved this book! It was a bit of a how-to guide on how to write stories for whatever your chosen medium, and imparted a lot of wisdom

Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys — 3 stars

I have to admit, I didn’t 100% get this book. The language was beautiful, but a bit dense, and I had difficulty getting into the right headspace and following everything going on.

Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff — Didn’t Rate

I didn’t give this book a rating, because it was definitely a popcorn book, lots of gossip and gloss but nothing very substantial. It was kind of cool to see so many people around the country reading the same book, though, even though we were all kind of reading it in a state of suspended disgust…

Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys — 5 stars

AAH. THIS WAS SO GOOD. I have so many thoughts, I couldn’t even know where to begin. It took me a little while to get used to the constantly changing POVs, but once I got the characters and their motivations straight, I could not put this down. It’s about several different refugees fleeing Poland in the height of World War Two, whose paths cross and merge and muddle as they travel to and obtain passage on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship we know is destined for disaster. This was an absolutely beautifully written story, with great, heartfelt character interactions, and a stirring thread of suspen woven through it. I also enjoyed the nod to Sepetys’ other book, Between Shades of Gray. SUCH good reads, both of them. <3

Are You Sleeping, Kathleen Barber — 3.5 stars

This was one of those mystery thrillers, a bit like Girl on the Train, where you know it isn’t the best written thing in the world, but it keeps you wondering just enough to keep you turning pages. The story lacked a lot of nuance and depth, but it was fun! I sped through this in two days, so it must have been doing something right.

Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor — 4 stars

liked this, but I can’t say I absolutely loved it. I feel like I need to read the second half of the story and see how it all wraps up before I can conclusively give my feelings about it. Basically, I finished this book and felt like the writing was absolutely gorgeous, the twists were good, the characters were enjoyable, but the story was a little slow and the style long-winded, and I felt like it could easily have been 50-100 pages shorter and more succinct.

Dear Martin, Nic Stone — 5 stars

It’s incredible how much meat Stone was able to pack into this actually very short book. I read this in a single setting one evening, and it was a wonderful, if emotionally heavy, experience. Just the next day, I had to read Kiese Laymon’s How To Kill Yourself Slowly In America for a class, and the subject matter, tone, and blunt, immersive writing style were very similar. I definitely recommend reading the two pieces in tandem.


That wraps up my January Reading Wrap Up! How many books did you chomp through last month? What were your favorites? Leave a comment, let’s talk!

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Christina is an aspiring novelist, who wanted to create a safe, fun place to share advice, inspiration, and motivation with other writers!

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