Reading In The Roaring Twenties: Kicking Off The New Year With Old TBRs

The end of the year is upon us! I can’t believe 2019 is finally coming to a close. I know I’m not alone in feeling like this year was incredibly long. But, all in all, I think 2019 was a great year.

Some personal wins in my life this year include getting engaged to the love of my life, starting grad school to pursue a Masters in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and getting a 4.0 my first two semesters! It’s been an eventful year for sure.

As far as reading goes, I definitely did not hit my goals there. But that’s okay! 

I tend to get so caught up in the GoodReads Reading Challenge every year, stressing myself out about the goal I set in January. I’ve only been doing it for a few years now, but so far I haven’t been able to reach the goal once yet. But again, that’s okay! 

This year, as of December 31, 2019, I’ve read 11 books. That’s 11 more books than I read for fun during college! That’s 11 or 12 new stories that I got to experience this year. That’s 11 new voices, new perspectives, new ideas being introduced to me this year. That’s 11 new adventures I went on this year. 

And that’s huge

At the end of the day (or year) it doesn’t matter how many books we read. What matters is that we read at all. That we traveled to new lands with our favorite protagonists. That we helped solve mysteries. That we experienced romance and passion through the protagonist’s eyes. The stories we gather by reading are far more important than the number of books we read in a year. 

That being said, I will still set a Reading Challenge goal for 2020 because I like quantifiable goals. I like having a number set in place because it creates a kind of scale, a line of progress. For me, that’s beneficial regardless of whether I reached that goal or not. It’s not for everyone, though, so if your 2019 reading challenge has been doing more harm than good, don’t feel pressure to set a goal for 2020!

In 2020, I’m setting the same goal I did in 2019: 20 books. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it–I’m finishing grad school, getting married, and moving 400 miles away next year, so it’s going to be a crazy twelve months. But I think 20 is a good number to aim for, a more attainable goal, and creates a good spectrum. No matter what, even if I only finish one book in 2020, that’s one more story under my belt!

January’s Catch-up TBR

I’m kicking off my 2020 by playing catch-up with my TBR! As of today, I have 7 books in my “Currently Reading” shelf on Goodreads. My goal for January is to knock these books out and finally finish all of my accidental DNFs. For this post, I decided that instead of listing off the books and their synopsis, I wanted to talk a bit about the books in my own words. This is, in a way, a little exercise for myself to recall the stories I’m going to be diving back into, but also a less stale way of introducing my TBR!

Let’s get started…

  1. Wilder Girls by Rory Power

An all-girls school on an island off the coast of Maine. A mysterious illness that’s causing mutations in the residents. Secrets hidden within the trees behind the walls of Raxter School for Girls. The main character, Hetty, braves the world the Tox has left behind to find her best friend–and, for all intents and purposes, her girlfriend–Byatt. This is a queer horror story that I’ve been loving since I started it, and I’m so excited to have some free time coming up to finish it up!

This is number one on my TBR. I’d hoped to finish it before December came to a close, but alas a sinus infection decided that wasn’t going to happen.

  1. Behind the Shattered Glass (Lady Emily #8) by Tasha Alexander

Lady Emily Hargreaves is trying to enjoy a quiet life in the country with her family–which has grown by three since the last book Death in the Floating City. The tranquility of her husband’s childhood home is abruptly shattered when a neighbor comes screaming into their home before dropping dead. The Hargreaves must solve another mystery that intertwines two worlds–the lofty lives of the English aristocrats, and the downstairs world of their staff. 

I started this one a while ago and haven’t had the chance to really dive into it. I downloaded the e-book to read during my downtime at work, but alas I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had the time for it. I’m hoping to knock this one out next!

  1. Mesopotamian Myths by Henreietta McCall

This book is a short collection of Mesopotamian myths–as the title would suggest. I bought it last year for research for my own book, but haven’t had the chance to finish it. There are a ton of interesting stories and I’m excited to finish it!

  1. Foucault’s Archaeology of Political Economy by Iara Vigo De Lima

This one is another book I purchased for research, and is incredibly dry, as one may assume an academic textbook would be. Regardless, there is a wealth of useful information in this book that I’ve been meaning to explore further, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

  1. Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton

Cliff Hubbard is a giant. He’s a big guy. A big guy in high school. A big guy in high school who lost his brother to suicide. Cliff’s nickname is Neanderthal at school because of his size, and the first half of the book sees Cliff struggle with his anger and the pain of losing his older brother. Things change when the ~popular~ school quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman, returns to school after a car crash saying that he talked to God and God said he needs Neanderthal’s help to make their high school suck less. With nothing left to lose, Cliff agrees. 

This is where I left off about a year ago. It’s a cute coming of age book–one of my favorite genres–and I really love the way it deals with Cliff’s emotions throughout the first portion of the book. I think it’s so important that we get representation in books of male characters learning how to process their feelings in a healthy way, and so far this book is absolutely killing it in that area! 

  1. The Deeds of the Disturber (Amelia Peabody #5) by Elizabeth Peters

Rumors of curses flood the British Museum after a mysterious death occurs that is seemingly related to the Nineteenth Dynasty mummy on display. Amelia Peabody is skeptical, though, and pursues her own investigation into the mysterious deaths–yes, plural, as the “mummy” claims more victims. Tensions rise as Amelia fears her beloved husband may be on the murderer’s hitlist, and she must act fast to find the killer before the killer finds them. Add to that the introduction of her horrid nephew Percy, who I’ve read nothing but terrible things about online and already hate even though I’m only 51% of the way through the book, Amelia has a lot on her plate during her off season back home.

This book has been staring at me angrily for months. It’s not that I don’t want to finish it–I absolutely do, I love this series–but the story is much slower than the others I’ve read so far. Maybe it’s the setting back in England, or maybe it’s the side stories, or maybe it’s how much I hate little Percy, but I’ve had a hard time getting into this one. I know the next one is amazing, though, so I’m hoping to push through and finish this one by the end of the month!

  1. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Aza Holmes has intense anxiety, OCD, and an overwhelming desire to help her mom out. When a billionaire goes missing–seemingly running from the law–Aza and her friends, including the billionaire’s son, begin searching for traces of him. Aza went into it for the money–a cash reward for information that would cover the cost of college and take a load off her mom’s plate–but as she bonds with the fugitive’s son, her old childhood friend, she begins to question the morality of her intentions. 

This is another one I started over a year ago. I bought it right when it came out–I even got a signed copy at Target the week of its release–because I loved John Green as a teenager. I ugly cried at The Fault In Our Stars. Looking for Alaska almost took me out. An Abundance of Katherines was adorable, and Paper Towns was my favorite coming of age story growing up (possibly because I drove a minivan like the main character, but that’s neither here nor there). I started reading it right away…and then I forgot about it. I loved it as I was reading it, though, because Aza is so relatable. As someone who struggles with anxiety and OCD, I loved being able to see myself in this character. I’m excited to finish this one!

What will you be reading to kick off 2020?


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