Hey, managing to get this done before the end of August! General life update: still in lockdown and daily cases in NSW will probably reach 1000 per day in the next week (update: I started writing this on Tuesday or Wednesday and as of Thursday we have reached more than 1000 new cases). That’s really about it. I’m fully vaccinated and can’t go further than 5km of my house. Other things I did in July: watched a lot of Olympic gymnastics.
Hello, everyone. I’m still in lockdown, so I can’t say that there’s a lot going on at the moment other than a failed vaccine rollout and a couple of hundred new cases a day. The Olympics have been a pretty good distraction though. Lockdown started at the end of June, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t read anything towards that end of the month. What is time? I may have asked this a month ago, I don’t remember. I swapped my day off this week and it completely warped my sense of time.
It’s nearly the end of June, so it must be time for the May wrap up! Without further ado, let’s see if I can remember anything about what I read in May. It’s probably been a month since I started writing this post, I’ve been in lockdown again for the past three weeks. I read a whole book today!
Book of the Month: Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee
I took a writing workshop with Bri Lee in 2017, several months before this book was published. I bought it the week it was released in 2018 and only got around to reading it this year. I knew that this was a book about Bri’s experience as a clerk for a judge in Queensland’s District Court and that it was related to sexual assault/harrassment, but that’s it. I was captivated the entire time and I’m pretty sure I finished reading it at 2am. During Bri’s year as a clerk in the District Court, she travelled around the state with her assigned judge, who presided over several sexual assault cases. Bri captures her disgust that alleged perpertrators aren’t being convicted, and it brought back memories of being assaulted as a child, by someone she trusted at the time. What follows is an account of her bringing charges to her assaulter, with the knowledge from experience that it was unlikely to work in her favour. Read it.
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars and Ruins of the Empire by Michael Dante DiMartino, Brian Konietzko Irene Koh and Michelle Wong
I finished watching The Legend of Korra at the end of April and the first thing I did was look up the comic book continuation. One thing that the Avatar world has established is that actions have consequences (e.g. Aang created Republic City on Earth Kingdom land, which informed the Book Four plot of the show) and we see this continue into the comics.
In Turf Wars, Korra and Asami go on their vacation to the Spirit World and begin their relationship, which is lovely. Meanwhile, everyone else is dealing with the spirit portal that Korra and Kuvira opened up in the Book Four finale. There’s a political story that I love, too. The only thing I had an issue with is Bolin becoming a cop, because I don’t want that for my sweet boy. Thankfully he retired at the end of the story.
Ruins of The Empire is exactly the kind of thing I love. What happened to the Earth Army after Kuvira surrendered to Republic City? Well, not everyone was on board with that plan. We even got to see the “re education camps” that we were only mentioned in the show. While they weren’t precisely the horror I was expecting, there was mind control involved so that the Earth Army could control the free elections. This story also has flashbacks to Kuvira’s upbringing and her time living with the Beifongs, and I liked that Korra needed to work with her. This world is at its best when former enemies work together (the Book 4 episode when Korra visits Zaheer is one of my favourite scenes in the whole show).
Romancing Mister Bridgerton and To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn
I’m slowly continuing my read of the Bridgerton series, which varies in quality. However, Romancing Mister Bridgerton is my favourite of the series so far (unsurprising, given that friends had told me the same). One of the great things about the Bridgerton series on Netflix is that it’s given us some insight into the non-Daphne and Simon characters, including Penelope, who I adore. Colin isn’t the brightest, but what’s important is that Penelope loves him. And after quite some time abroad, he falls in love with her and it’s wonderful. Penelope also isn’t revealed to be Lady Whistledown until partway through this book, which drives the narrative forward, as Lady Danbury offers a reward to whomever unmasks Lady Whistledown and Colin’s certainty that it’s Eloise (that is, until he discovers it’s Penelope).
I was also interested in Eloise’s story, because she’s such a firecracker in the show, although due to what I said about the show, she’s less prominent in the books. I liked her story, but not as much as Colin and Penelope’s. Sir Phillip is a man who has so many many issues and is afraid to spend time with his children because he doesn’t want to be like his own father. Eloise wrote to him when his first wife, a distant Bridgerton cousin, died and they started a correspondence. Then, when Penelope married Colin, she wanted something for herself and ran away.
The Dawn Chorus by Samantha Shannon
I can’t remember exactly what prompted me to read this novella. Maybe I was scrolling through Samantha Shannon’s instagram and wanted more Bone Season, then realised I hadn’t read this yet. Either way, it was a nice bridge between the book that just came out and the one previous, as well as spending more time with Paige and Warden during their time in Shaol. There were a few things that stood out, such as a certain character who reappeared in the fourth book. I wonder if I would’ve picked up on it had I read it earlier. We’ll never know.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Before I get into this book, some background. My parents came up to visit in early May and my dad was reading it. Then my parents said I could read it, as long as I brought it back with me when I visited for the June long weekend because mum wanted it to be her book club book. That didn’t happen because Melbourne had a snap lockdown and now I’m in lockdown and they’re actually in another snap lockdown that started today – I offered to send it down, but she said that would’ve been too expensive. Also my grandma wants to read it – she lives in a retirement village. The Thursday Murder Club is about a group of septuagenarians who live in an upscale retirement village. They meet on Thursdays to discuss and solve cold cases – not for glory, but for fun. Then the business partner of the village’s owner is murdered and they have a live murder on their hands. They also make friends (and sometimes get in the way of) the local police. It’s a lovely story about friendship, solving mysteries and most importantly, the evils of capitalism. The second in the series is coming out later this year and I may not buy it straight away, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
- At least one Australian book each month, preferably from an underrepresented community – Eggshell Skull
- Translations – N/A
- Non-fiction – Eggshell Skull
- Read more books on the TBR shelf – Eggshell Skull
- Seek out more variety in writing type, try to read more poetry, beginning with novels in verse – N/A
- #OwnVoices – There’s been discussion about the use of this term and how useful it is. So I might alter this one a bit. The Legend of Korra comics are written by white men, but drawn by women of colour. There’s also criticism about how both this and The Last Airbender are about Asian characters who are largely voiced by white actors, a thing we need to think about when we engage with art we like. That’s probably the closest I got to reading stories by and about people of colour/queer people/people with disabilities
It turns out that when you start a new job, you don’t have as much time for reading. This is something I knew, but after having been out of work for 6 months, my level of reading went down. My reading goals are built around what I read, rather than how much, but it’s an activity I really enjoy, so I’m working out the best way to fit it into my new routine. So, it was a quiet month, but I read some things I really loved. Let’s get to it!
March was a busy month, reading-wise. I didn’t have a lot else going on, and I was continuing my Grishaverse reread for Rule of Wolves. I also read a lot of YA fantasy, then needed a break and ended up reading an old favourite. Anyway, onto the books!
“No mourners. No funerals.” – Six of Crows
I read a lot of books last year. Some of the books in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse were the most fun. I don’t think of myself as a genre reader, but it turns out I’ve been reading a lot of YA fantasy over the last two years. The Grishaverse was the first high fantasy I’d read in a while that had me excited about a particular world since I read the first two Throne of Glass books (I gave up on that one after book four). I borrowed Six of Crows from the library in late September and had finished all of Bardugo’s novels (including her adult fantasy novel Ninth House) by the end of October. I liked some of them so much that I bought my own copies. This post is going to be an overview of the universe, followed by thoughts on specific books, then some Rule of Wolves theories (and hopes) before it comes out next week. I might save some tv adaptation thoughts for another time.
February is already over. I got to read a book I’d been waiting for, as well as wading a little further into the romance genre with the help of some friends.
Content Warning: some of the discussion in this post relates to eating disorders, sexual assault and suicidal ideation from relevant books.
How was everyone’s January? I spent the first week at home with my family before driving back to Sydney, and it was mostly good. In terms of reading, however, it was a little skewed towards rereads, which I didn’t anticipate when I started out, so this is going to be a shorter post than some of last year’s, when I read just as many books, but most of them for the first time.
I posted my 2020 Reading Reflections yesterday, which I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks and how that fits into my intentions for 2021. I could’ve published something that was twice as long, but I wanted to focus on statistics that betrayed my preferences. It gave me some things to think about, beyond the total number of books I read. The factors that influenced my intentions this year were the following:
- Most of the books I read were from the US or UK, and all the books I read were originally published in English.
- I only read one non-fiction book.
- Prose was the most common form of writing.
- 15% of my books were #OwnVoices, which needs some further investigation on my part.
So, here are my 2021 reading intentions:
- Read at least one Australian book per month. Half of these need to be from marginalised voices in the Australian community.
- Read at least two translations.
- Read at least three non-fiction books. I have a few on my Owned TBR list (that I added to the Goodreads spreadsheet), so I’ll start with those.
- Read more of the books that I already own. The aforementioned Owned TBR list is 43 books long.
- More variety in writing type. Prose was the most common, followed by comics. I’m going to try and read poetry, starting with a novel in verse. I didn’t read or study a lot of poetry, so it’ll be a mostly new thing for me.
- Increase the amount of #OwnVoices books and actively seek them out.
In case you’re wondering, my “number” goal is 60, and I’m going to see how I go with the Read Harder challenges as well. I just went over them and “read a book set in the Midwest” is very US centric, so I might leave that one out. If I happen to read a book set in the Midwest I’ll count it, but it’s definitely the least interesting of the prompts.
2020 was a strange year for so many reasons, but mostly the pandemic. After finishing 24 books in 2019, I set myself a goal of 30 in 2020, which I’d completed by the end of March – I changed the goal to 50, which I completed in October, finishing the year with 72 books read. I’m part of an online book club, and recommendations from people I trust with similar tastes has definitely led to me reading more books that I’ve enjoyed. Also for the first time I kept track of my reading through Book Riot’s reading log, which collects information about the books I read beyond just the number, like Goodreads. You can find their 2021 reading log here. So I’ll go through some insights of my reading habits from last year.