April Summary, May Preview

April passed far more quickly than I thought it would! Though my home state didn’t have a shelter-in-place order, everyone was staying home anyway and most things were either closed or offered curbside service only, so most days I would go to work and then go home. Once a week I’d go to the grocery store, and most evenings I’d go outside for a walk at a nearby college campus. My Photo 366 challenge is still going on, and because spring has been sputtering to life over the past several weeks (no thanks to a couple of random snowstorms), I’ve been photographing a lot of flowers.


What I Finished Reading in April:

I finished fifteen books in April thanks to a strong last week where I read several short books on my days off. I was writing (a lot) during the first half of the month, so there was less reading going on.

Statistically speaking:

  • 80% of the books were written by women, 20% were written by men
  • 66.7% were by American authors, and the other 33.3% were by English authors. I need to diversify a little more…
  • 53.3% of the books were physical copies, 26.7% were ebooks, and 20% were audiobooks
  • Fantasy once again dominated the genres: 26.7% were adult fantasy, 26.7% were young adult fantasy, 20% were historical fiction, 13.3% were nonfiction, and 6.7% were science fiction, and 6.7% were literary criticism.
  • Because going to the library wasn’t really an option, I did a lot of reading from my own shelves: 53.3% were my own books, 40% (most of the ebooks and all the audiobooks) were from the library, and 6.7% were from NetGalley
  • Publication dates ranged from 1945 to 2020.
  • My least-liked book of the month was probably We Hunt the Flame, though I didn’t dislike it. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as the others.
  • My favorite first-time reads of the month were The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. My favorite rereads were Penric’s Demon and Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold and All Systems Red by Martha Wells.


What I Plan to Read in May:


Clearly, I’m diving back into Tolkien’s legendarium. I picked up The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun at the end of April, and from there I borrowed an ebook of Verlyn Flieger’s essays on Tolkien’s works, and now I want to read All the Tolkien Books! I have several volumes from the History of Middle-earth series, so I can tackle those. I’ve read a bunch of them, that’s going back to high school, so I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t remember which I have read, and which I haven’t read.

But I was shopping around on Barnes and Noble online last week and I found out that the big, hardbound-with-a-slipcase bind-up of all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth is going to be available in the US in October. There are three books spanning 5,000 pages of Middle-earth’s history. I had already seen it on Book Depository, but knowing that Book Depository is a subsidiary of Amazon makes me not want to shop there, so when I saw it available for pre-order from Barnes and Noble, I actually started to think about getting it. The set is not cheap, but given that I’d spend almost as much on the whole set of paperbacks, well, it made getting the upcoming box set made more sense. So I pulled a bit from my travel savings (not going to be using that this year) and used a bit from a small windfall. The money is set aside for the boxed set’s release in the fall. I want to see if I can get the boxed set through my local indie store, but I want to be able to walk in and talk to the proprietor. That won’t be happening for a bit, but there’s plenty of time before October to get it sorted out.

This is suddenly my most anticipated release of the year. A three-book, 5,000-page bind-up of unfinished background stories, poems, and first drafts. Tolkien fans. We be odd folk.

Not pictured in the above photo is Network Effect by Martha Wells, which is the first full-length novel in the Murderbot Diaries series. I have a pre-order coming from Barnes and Noble, but I want to reread the novellas before I read the novel, just to make sure I’m up on my Murderbot lore.

And a quick note about Le Petit Prince– I think I read the English translation back in junior high. My copy is in the original French. I haven’t read a book in French since I was in high school, but I remember enough to read news articles in French, so I’m going to start tackling some of the books I own that are in French (how many times can I say ‘French’ in a single paragraph? French, French, French).

I may also have a buddy-read for May, but I haven’t heard from my buddy-reader whether or not she’ll be up for it this month, so that might end up waiting until June. Which is fine. I’m in no rush.

Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life is (obviously) a biography of Thomas Cromwell, the protagonist of Hilary Mantel’s brilliant trilogy (Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies, The Mirror and the Light). Mantel herself recommended this, and given the depth of her own research into Cromwell’s life, that is high praise. I’m reading it for this month’s TomeTopple, hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes.

So that’s the plan for May. I might end up sticking with this, I might not. We’ll see how it goes. I also have a lot of writing to do, plus work (hopefully) getting back to something like normal. But I’m feeling upbeat about things (assuming I don’t delve too deeply into the news), so I think it’s going to be an okay month.

13 thoughts on “April Summary, May Preview

  1. Those photos are really, really great! They’re so refreshing. ❤ And wow, you have a great list this May! Looking forward to reading your posts. 🙂

  2. Oh hey! That’s me! Yeah. Buddy read. I’ma email you. 🙂

    Your photos. ❤ They are gorgeous! My favorite is the final one in all the purples. I'd 100% buy a print of that. You have *talent*. Keep up the awesome work! Now my real question is — do Mina photos count as part of this Photo 366 challenge?

    I can relate to needing to broaden my author horizons. Of my 37 books read this year, only 5 are authors from outside America. And of those 5, only one is African. Looking ahead, my book club reads are shockingly American and white. So. Yeah. Diversity. I'll need to make that happen more or less on my own.

    I fully support spending all the dollars on this rediculous Tolkien Middle Earth History boxed set. It'll be gorgeous, it'll make you happy, and you'll read it about 1.5 billion times before you die. You will have zero regrets. And I hope that your local indie bookstore can help you get it, too!

    Here's hoping May slows down– but only so we can enjoy the good moments.

  3. *lol* Yup, Buddy Read. Whenever. I’m in the middle of, like, five books, soo……

    Mina photos definitely count toward the Photo366! And I’d be happy to make you a print of the purple ones. Just email me if you want to go ahead with that. 🙂

    I think my range of diversity is even worse……. If I read some of the unread books on my own shelves, it’ll help.

    *lol* Well, I know who won’t be talking me out of any bookish purchases! I’m pretty sure my indie bookstore will be able to get it. She found ‘Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth’ for me a couple of years ago, and that wasn’t a common sort of book. I just don’t know when I’ll be able to walk into her store.

    Cheers to May and the good moments it will bring! I hope there will be a lot of them!

  4. Hahaha. And most of those books are Tolkien, I’ve noticed. Keep up the awesome work! I cannot imagine reading so much Tolkien at once — I’d mix up all the Elven names. But, you’re re-reading a lot, I’m sure.

    Oooh, that would be amazing. Email coming shortly. 🙂

    I miss being able to walk into a bookstore and talk to someone. Our Indie bookstore is doing a bang-up job with shipping out orders. They have already blown out their Q2 and Q3 sales expectations, but are sooo far behind on filling orders. I’m glad the world isn’t forgetting the little guy in all this chaos.

  5. You only mix up the Elven names the first five or six times! *lol* It really helps that I’ve been listening to The Prancing Pony Podcast. Their discussions have really helped me see the things I missed the first several times.

    I miss being able to walk into bookstores, too. I mean, one of our Barnes and Noble stores is, technically open, but with shortened hours, and only 10 people are allowed into the store at a time. Not a great environtment for perusing the shelves.

    That’s so great to hear that your local store is doing so well! Sounds like your community realizes what a boon a bookstore is, and are showing their appreciation!

  6. Maybe I’ll figure out the Elven names eventually. Lord knows all that comes easily to my husband. He is always mentioning one elf or another and making fun of me for not recalling them all precisely. Silly.
    Precisely. we only have the one indie store (plus 2 Barnes and Noble stores, 2 Half Priced Books, and 1 local book resale store) — they host literally all the author events in the city, so the community always rallies to support them. They are inconvenient for me to get to, as they are downtown near campus and nowhere near decent parking… but I still order from them whenever I can. It’s a really cute store.

  7. Definitely silly! All those Elves can be had to remember, especially if you add in the armies of them from the Silmarillion!

    Just the one indie shop among all the big box stores? Go them! I would go out of my way to shop there!

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