Monsters, Mystery and Meditation: January TBR

Happy New Year!

New years are all about setting goals for me. I am an extremely goal oriented person, and although I may have faltered on a lot of my goals in 2020 (but who can blame me, really?) I’m optimistic about 2021.

One goal I did accomplish last year, though, was my reading goal. I set out to read 20 books in total last year—20 books for 2021—and I not only met that goal, I exceeded it with a staggering 31 reads. I know for a lot of bookstagrammers, BookTubers, and book bloggers that doesn’t seem like a lot. Just the other day, I saw someone post their Goodreads challenge where they read 366 books—averaging one book a day. That’s incredible, and I will never reach that level of commitment, but I am damn proud of my 31 books. I haven’t read that much since early high school. It was an amazing experience for me, and I hope to bring that feeling into the new year as well.

But, I’m also going to be realistic. I had so much free time to read last year because a global pandemic put me out of a job for most of the year. And while I’m grateful for the time I had to focus on myself and my hobbies, I’m very much looking forward to getting back into a normal work routine in 2021. Rather than setting out to beat my record of 31 books, I set my Reading Challenge goal at 21; 21 books for 2021. That way, if I beat my goal again I can feel just as excited as I did this year—but I also know I can realistically read 21 books this year, even with work.

That being said, I’m challenging myself to read four books to kick off the year. It’s pretty ambitious given my previous track record with TBR lists, but given that the museum I currently work at is closed for renovations and I’ve been given some unexpected time off this month already, I think I can do it.

My first read of 2021 is HOME BODY by Rupi Kaur. This is her third collection of poetry, and although I don’t really love her poetry as much as many others do, I’ve enjoyed MILK AND HONEY and THE SUN AND HER FLOWERS. I picked this newest collection up at Target one day—as I typically do, I’ve been banned from the Target book aisle until I can catch up on some of my existing collection—and I decided to start my year off with this quick, powerful read. As I’m writing this, I’m about 50 pages into the book, and although the topics are very heavy and at times explicit, I commend Kaur for her ability to grapple with such important topics on the page for all to see.

Next up, I plan to read LOVECRAFT COUNTRY by Matt Ruff. I’ve been dying to pick this book up since I saw the trailer for the HBO series that just came out last year. As a Providence native and the child of two formerly avid readers, I was raised on two horror icons: Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft. I’ve visited Lovecraft’s grave at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence more times than I can count, and have had my share of paranormal experiences in the process—just as he would want, I suspect. I even have a tattoo idea for a Cthulhu-inspired piece that I will get when I win the lottery or get a six-figure book deal—whichever comes first. I am a huge fan of Lovecraftian horror. But despite my admiration for his work, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Lovecraft was an awful racist whose fear and contempt for anyone who didn’t look like him influenced much of his work. This is a fact that I always keep in the back of my mind, whenever I read his work or think of his creations. So when I saw the trailer for Lovecraft Country the TV show—a story centered on a group of Black people that become embroiled in the magical horrors that Lovecraft himself imagined, produced by Misha Green, Jordan Peele, and J. J. Abrams—I knew I had to watch it. When I realized the show was based on a book, I had to get my hands on it. My husband and I have finally started watching the show and it’s just as weird and wild and important as I thought it would be, and I cannot wait to read the book this month.

After LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, I plan to read THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr. This is another book that was turned into a TV show, and it’s a period piece so I’m all about that. My mom watched the show and has been all but begging me to watch it, so once we’re done with Lovecraft Country I plan to start watching this show as well. Naturally, I have to read the book too. I’m actually really excited for this one because, from what I understand, it’s got a little of everything that I love—murder, mystery, and historical fiction. I also recently had an episode of the podcast My Favorite Murder on in the background while working where they talked about the real-life crime this book was inspired by, so I’m very interested to compare the real story to the fictional account.

Lastly, I’m really hoping to finish reading MIDNIGHT SUN by Stephanie Meyer this month. I’ve been chipping away at this one for quite a while now, but I’m really loving the nostalgia this book has brought me. Reliving my Twilight days as an adult has been so much fun, and I’ve really been treating this one as a comfort read. I haven’t even logged it on Goodreads yet, even though I’m a decent way into it, but I plan to do that this month and count the book toward my 2021 goal.

How are you kickstarting the year? What will be your first read of 2021?

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