January started out with a wintry blast with subzero temperatures and a proper snowstorm, but that snow quickly melted and everything dried out and turned into a ‘meh’ sort of month that has been so very dry both outside and inside. I’m really hoping that February proves to be snowier/rainier, as part of the state burst into flames over the weekend thanks to the dry weather.
In life, it’s been a status quo kind of month. I did a lot of reading, watched some television and a couple of movies, and mostly just stayed home or went for walks because pandemic. Will February prove to be a little more social? We shall see.
At least I got out a few times to take some nice photographs:
What I Read in January:
I read twenty books for a total of 7,128 pages in January, because January always gives me the ‘read all the books’ energy. And then I don’t do anything else, so I’m actually hoping to read a little less in February because I have other things I want to do. There are shows I want to catch up on, photographs I want to take, and I want to get back to watercolor painting again. Oh, and I have another long story to write. Lots to do this year.
- Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef, audiobook narrated by Vaneh Assadourian
- The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of the Great Detective in India and Tibet by Jamyang Norbu
- The Land of Stone Flowers: A Fairy Guide to the Mythical Human Being by Sveta Dorosheva, translated from the Russian by Jane Bugaeva
- Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden, audiobook narrated by Darrell Dennis
- Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Ueda Akinari, translated from the Japanese by Anthony H. Chambers
- A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables #1) by Alix E. Harrow
- Chasing Homer by László Krasznahorkai, translated from the Hungarian by John Bakti
- Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was by Angélica Gorodischer, translated from the Spanish by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Comfort Me with Apples by Catherynne M. Valente
- Heresy (Giordano Bruno #1) by S.J. Parris, audiobook narrated by John Lee
- Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
- Odin’s Child (Ravneringene #1) by Siri Pettersen, translated from the Norwegian by Sian Mackie and Paul Rusell Garrett
- Prophecy (Giordano Bruno #2) by S.J Parris, audiobook narrated by John Lee
- The Hermit of Eyton Forest (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #14) by Ellis Peters, audiobook narrated by Patrick Tull
- Sacrilege (Giordano Bruno #3) by S.J. Parris, audiobook narrated by John Lee
- The Forgotten Kingdom (The Lost Queen #2) by Signe Pike
- The Anglo-Saxons: The Making of England: 410-1066 by Marc Morris
- African Europeans: An Untold History by Olivette Otélé
- Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake #3) by C.J. Sansom, audiobook narrated by Steven Crossley
- Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel
- 65% of what I read was written by women, 35% was written by men
- Nationality-wise, 40% was written by English authors, 25% was by Americans (including a Sicangu Lakota author), and 5% each by Norwegian, Japanese, Argentinian, Hungarian, Tibetan, Egyptian, and Ukrainian authors
- 25% of what I read were works in translation
- 40% were physical books, 35% were audiobooks, and 25% were ebooks
- 35% of what I read were mysteries, 25% were fantasy, 20% were nonfiction, and 5% each were horror, romance, historical, and literary fiction
- 80% of what I read came from the library, while 20% was from my own shelves. So much for reading the unread books in my own collection.
- Publication years ranged from 1776 to 2021
My favorites of the month were The Land of Stone Flowers, Odin’s Child, Winter Counts, A Spindle Splintered, and The Forgotten Kingdom. They were all engaging stories with memorable characters that I want to continue following through the next books, and in the case of The Land of Stone Flowers, the illustrations were gorgeous.
Meetins with Remarkable Manuscripts was, unfortunately, the book I liked the least. de Hamel kept rambling on about his journey to where he was going (complaining at one point that he had to spend a whole three hours on a train to get to Aberystwyth, Wales), the layout of the reading rooms he went to, complaining about security measures (in place were priceless pieces of art are kept), and about having to wear gloves to handle thousand-year-old books. When he stuck to the subject, it was fine, but there were too many tangents. And he came off like a complete snob more often than not.
I’ve decided to start tracking numbers where it comes to both my physical TBR and what’s on my StoryGraph To Read Pile. Why? I don’t know. It sounds interesting. I have no idea what I’ll do with the numbers later on. I suppose I’m just indulging my own curiosity. Will I actually read what I own before I buy a bunch of new books, or will that number just stay the same throughout the year? Will my To Read Pile ever shrink? Who knows?
Physical TBR, January 1: 87
StoryGraph TBR, January 1: 206
Physical TBR, January 31: 83
StoryGraph TBR, January 31: 207
There isn’t much change on either end. I read a few books from my physical TBR, and got a few new books I’ve never read. And while most of what I read in January were books that were already on my StoryGraph TBR, I ended up adding the books I have left to read in the three historical mystery series I’m working on finishing up in the next couple of months: The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, the Giordano Bruno novels, and the Matthew Shardlake books. I should be able to get through The Cadfael books fairly quickly, as they are all relatively short, but the remaining Bruno and Shardlake books are 500-900 pages long, so those will take longer.
Why do I read genres with gigantic books?
Books acquired in January:
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. I by Arthur Conan Doyle (Barnes and Noble classics edition)
- The Rot (Ravneringene #2) by Siri Pettersen, translated from the Norwegian by Sian Mackie and Paul Russell Garrett – unread
- Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant by Tracy Borman (unread)
- The Atlas of Middle-earth (Revised edition) by Karen Wynn Fonstad – unread
I bought The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. I because I was on a Holmes kick earlier in the month, and because I’ve had the second volume for ages and wanted to complete the set. I think I’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes stories at one point or another. I ordered The Rot from Barnes and Noble (with a handy coupon) before finishing the first book in the Ravneringene trilogy, and I might get to it in February (we’ll see). I purchased Borman’s biography of Thomas Cromwell from my favorite used bookstore with some store credit, and my sister ended up buying The Atlas of Middle-earth for me because she owed me for tickets for a show we will (hopefully) be seeing in March. All in all, I didn’t spend very much money on books this month. Maybe $25 or so.
What’s on the Docket for February:
- The Road to Middle-earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology by Tom Shippey
- The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty #1) by Ken Liu
- She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
- The Tale of Despereaux, being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timoth Basil Ering
- The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reing of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford
- The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe by Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry
- Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang
It’s been years since I read either of Tom Shippey’s books about Tolkien and Middle-earth, and thanks to the recent teaser for Amazon’s upcoming Rings of Power series, I’m wanting to read All The Tolkien Things (not that it takes much for that), so I’ll be rereading those two books and the others I have on my unread shelf.
I’ve been wanting to read The Grace of Kings for some time, but I might trade it out for The Rot, as the third book in the Ravneringene trilogy comes out in March, and the last book in the Dandelion Dynasty series doesn’t come out until June. I got She Who Became the Sun for Christmas, and I want to get to it sooner rather than later. The Tale of Despereaux looks adorable, and has been sitting on my shelf for too long.
I’ve been reading a bunch of historical mysteries set during the Tudor era, so it seemed appropriate to pull The Watchers off the shelf, given that it’s about the spy network that Sir Francis Walsingham built during the first half of Elizabeth I’s reign, in order to seek out the various conspiracies to overthrow her and replace her with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. And I’m never opposed to reading about the Medieval era, so of course I want to get to The Bright Ages.
And last, but not least, Photography: The Definitive Visual History is one of the art books I’ve had for a long time, have flipped through, read random passages from, but never read cover to cover. I want to get through this part of my collection this year.
I’m sure I will fortify this list with plenty of audiobooks from the library, and if I get through these I have plenty of unread titles on my shelves to get to, so there will be no shortage of books for me.
In addition to all the reading, I’m planning to get caught up with the fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery before the second season of Picard premiers in March, continue watching BBC/PBS Masterpiece’s Around the World in 80 Days, and finish up The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+. There may be some other TV/movie watching going on, but those are the things I want to be sure to get to.
Aaaaand…. I’ve been wanting to get back to drawing and painting for a while now, so there will be some of that going on, too. Hopefully there will be some results worth sharing, as I haven’t done that for quite some time, and my skills will be rusty.
Those are my plans for February. What shenanigans will you be up to?