2017 Reading Update 3

My third quarter reading update is coming almost directly after reading update number 2 because the second one was so late, but I'm glad to say I'm back on track with this update.

I can't believe that three quarters of the year have gone by, and I'm already starting to think about 2018 reading. 

 Some of my to-read books, not entirely related to the content of this post.

Some of my to-read books, not entirely related to the content of this post.

First, because I am a huge nerd, some stats (as of October 1, 2017):

Total number of books read: 107

  • Adult Novels: 28
  • Young Adult Novels: 7
  • Children's Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 8.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 8.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 12
  • Graphic Trades: 23
  • Poetry Collections: 11
  • Audio Books: 5

Number of books read in Q3 (July, August, September): 27 

  • Adult Novels: 10
  • Young Adult Novels: 1
  • Short Story Collections: 1
  • Nonfiction Books: 5
  • Graphic Novels: 2
  • Graphic Trades: 2
  • Poetry Collections: 1
  • Audio Books: 5

Where I got books from this quarter:

  • From the library: 70%
  • Gifts (including gift cards): 11%
  • Bought myself: 15%
  • Borrowed From Friends and Family: 4%

Total number of books I acquired in the first three quarters of 2017: 58

  • Percentage of those books that I have read so far: 52% (not great, but not awful!)

I knew my reading this quarter would slow down a lot. I was moving and traveling and generally didn't have a lot of time for reading. Because I was away from my beloved library (and from my bookshelves) I did a lot of my reading digitally. The Overdrive app became my best friend and I downloaded a bunch of books onto my iPad, and even listened to some audio books on my cross country drive. Although I still prefer to read physical books, I love having the ability to check them out electronically and am a little bit addicted to the instant gratification of it all. I read fewer graphic novels and poetry collections though, because I pretty much only want to read those in print. 

My reading picked up in a big way in September, once I was settled and reunited with the library, when I finished more books than in July and August combined. I also stepped up my book acquiring this quarter, bringing in way more books in this quarter than I have in any other. To be fair, as I mentioned, I did quite a bit of traveling during that time, which meant lots of visits to faraway bookstores, and my birthday happened in this quarter. I'm doing pretty well on reading the books that I bring in, but I'm hoping to have a higher percentage of them finished by the end of 2017.

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Notable books I read this quarter (in the order that I read them):

Nothing Lasts Forever by Sina Grace

This is a graphic memoir, full of short vignettes and sketches from Grace's life. Nothing Lasts Forever touches on sexuality, dealing with depression, being an artist, and anxiety about a surgery he underwent. I adore the sketchy, unfinished style of Grace's artwork and found the writing touching and heartwarming. I am a new fan of his work. 

The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz

The Queue is a work of dystopian fiction set in modern day Egypt. Following a failed popular uprising, a central authority called the Gate has risen to power, requiring citizens to get permission to do just about anything. Except, the Gate never opens, so the queue of people waiting in front of it grows longer and longer and develops its own society and cultural norms. The book follows the story of Yehia who was shot during the popular uprising and needs permission from the gate to remove the bullet still lodged in his body. Yet the Gate denies that there was ever any gunfire and still does not open. The story that unfolds terrifying, but also not unimaginable and I found it to be such a powerful, thought provoking read. 

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu 

I absolutely loved this novel. It follows the story of Lucky who is a lesbian and a daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants who, after a disastrous attempt at coming out to her family, decided to marry her gay best friend in order to be accepted by her family and community. At the same time that Lucky moves back home to help out her ailing grandmother, her first love and high school best friend returns to Lucky's life and announces that she is engaged to a man. Lucky grapples with all of this in such a real way. The book never feels completely despondent, but also isn't overly saccharine or sentimental. I loved being in Lucky's head.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

This is another one of my favorite books of this year. The Prey of Gods is a wild sci-fi/fantasy tale set in a 2050s South Africa. There are gods and robots and viruses and all kinds of great, weird stuff. The number one word I heard used to describe this book is "weird," which is accurate, but that doesn't mean that the writing is difficult to get into or hard to follow. On the contrary, I found myself zipping through this book. It is written in several different points of view, and I found myself interested and emotionally invested in all of them (which doesn't always happen with multiple POVs). I just wanted to know what was going to happen next, and the threads of the story are all woven together so well. If you like sci-fi or fantasy at all then be sure to try this one.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West

This is kind of cheating, because this is a reread. I have mentioned this book multiple times before, including as a favorite book of 2016, but I listened to the audio version of Shrill in September, so I will take the opportunity to mention it again. Shrill is West's memoir featuring tons of feminism. There is so much to think and laugh about in here and West both comforts me and makes me want to be a better person when I read her work. The audio version is fantastic and is narrated by West herself (though you will want a print version as well, so you can highlight so many things.) 

In The Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero

This is another memoir, written by Guerrero, also known as Maritza of Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. When Guerrero was just 14, her parents were deported and she was left on her own in the U.S. This book details Guerrero's experience as an American child of undocumented immigrants, both before and after her parents' deportation, and her journey to success in acting. The book is heartbreaking, as you can imagine, but Guerrero's honesty and her voice really shine through. 

I can't believe there is only one quarter left this year! Right now, I'm really excited for seasonal reading. I don't usually really think about the seasons or the weather when I'm reading, but for some reason I have been curating a list of books that seem like they'll give me some autumn, cozy vibes and I can't wait to get through them. I'm also planning on participating in Nonfiction November, when I hope to read way more (if not exclusively) nonfiction. So, those are my reading plans for most of the rest of the year. I'm also hoping to read more of the books I've purchased this year (my big goal would be to get that number up to 75%, but I'm not sure if that's realistic at this point). 

And then I'm starting to think about reading goals and challenges for 2018! I have no idea what I want to do with any of that, so do let me know if you're planning on participating in any reading challenges or have any exciting year-long reading goals. 

If you want an up-to-date account of what I've been reading, check out my Instagram stories, where I talk about/review the books I have finished on a weekly-ish basis. Otherwise, stay tuned next quarter for my 2017 reading wrap up!

2017 Reading Update 2

Hello! I'm dreadfully behind on my quarterly reading updates, since we are almost done with the third quarter of the year, but I'm going to post this second quarter update anyway.

 If you didn't know, I'm obsessed with reading, so I thought it would be fun to do a little update each quarter with some stats, the most notable books I've read that month, and some general thoughts about my reading life. So here we go.

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First, because I am a huge nerd, some stats (as of July 1, 2017):

Total number of books read: 80

  • Adult Novels: 18
  • Young Adult Novels: 6
  • Children's Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 7.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 3.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 10
  • Graphic Trades: 21
  • Poetry Collections: 10

Number of books read in Q2 (April, May, and June): 40 

  • Adult Novels: 9
  • Young Adult Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 1.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 2.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 6
  • Graphic Trades: 8
  • Poetry Collections: 9

Where I got books from this quarter:

  • From the library: 55%
  • Gifts (including gift cards): 20%
  • Bought myself: 20%
  • Little Free Library: 5%

Total number of books I acquired in the first half of 2017: 31

  • Percentage of those books that I have read so far: 71% (pretty good!)

If you remember last quarter's update, I read exactly the same amount of books then (40). The breakdown was a little bit different this time though. I read fewer novels and more short pieces, like graphic novels and poetry collections. I did drastically increase the amount of poetry I read, thanks to my goal in April of reading a poem a day, which I kept up with. I also acquired far fewer books than I did in the first quarter and I read more of the books I acquired, because I knew I was moving and I didn't want more books to carry around with me. Because of that "read more books I own" project, I read a bit more nonfiction than I had in the previous quarter, which was another of my goals, so I'm pretty psyched about it. 

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Notable books I read this quarter (in the order that I read them):

Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, illustrated by Allen Crawford

This is such an incredibly stunning book, maybe the most beautiful book I own. Allen Crawford painstakingly handwrote and illustrated Walt Whitman's famous poem, Song of Myself from his collection Leaves of Grass. I kicked off my month of April poetry reading by reading this while consulting a typed copy of Song of Myself (the words in the handwritten edition go in all different directions, so I wanted to be able to see the original order) and it was a wonderful experience. I didn't completely love the poem in its entirety, but there were some incredible lines that have stayed with me, and Crawford's illustration is a massive jolt of artistic inspiration. I flip through it all the time, just to have a look.

Swan by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was by far my favorite poet that I was exposed to during my month of reading poetry. Her work is so simple, elegant, and profound. I've since read another of her books and will continue to do so, but Swan is my favorite so far. Her poetry is very accessible and I think a great place to start if you're interested in getting into poetry.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles

This was my favorite comic series that I started (and devoured) in this quarter. I'm a sucker for anything with gods and mythology, so this series is right up my alley.  The premise is that every 90 years twelve gods incarnate as humans and become megapowered performers and celebrities, but within two years they are all dead. The artwork and coloring in this series are great and the storyline means you will want to read all of them immediately. A new trade volume has been published since I read the first four and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

This short book is a novelization of the life of Margaret Cavendish, 17th century duchess, author, philosopher, poet, and scientist. The prose is magical and it is an incredible look at the inner life of a creative woman at a time when it was (even more) difficult to be an accomplished creative professional woman. It is a book that I am already excited to reread.

Supermutant Magic Academy, Indoor Voice, and This One Summer all by Jillian Tamakei

I super enjoyed everything I've read by Jillian Tamakei so far. She is a fantastic illustrator and I just love looking at her work. Suepermutant Magic Academy is a collection of her weird and wonderful webcomic about the weird and wonderful students and Supermutant Magic Academy. Indoor Voice is a tiny publication of her sketchbook (something I love peeking into). This One Summer is a graphic novel written by Tamakei's cousin, Mariko Tamaki, and illustrated by Jillian. The double page spreads in that book are breathtaking.

The Mothers by Britt Bennet

I'm so glad I found this book at my Little Free Library. I had heard great things about it, but I don't think I would have picked it up if if hasn't been for the LFL. I feel like too much explanation won't do this book justice, but know that it is beautifully written. Just go for it if you are at all interested in contemporary stories.

Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti

This is a collection of several of Paterniti's articles from over the years and Parterniti writes nonfiction like no other. He gets so close to his subjects and often writes in a unique style that makes his work so engaging. Many of the stories are incredibly sad (lots of tragic deaths and natural disasters), but they are absolutely worth reading.

Its hard to talk about my reading goals for the future when I'm almost done with the third quarter of this year. But I can tell you a little bit about how it has been going. As I anticipated, my reading dropped off steeply during the month of July when I was moving and traveling. But now I am back on the reading wagon and have read some great books recently! I've been reading more nonfiction, which I'm super happy about. 

One thing I would like to focus on for the rest of the year is internalizing/remembering more of what I read. I'm not really sure how to go about that. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the books I'm reading or how I'm reading them, but I want them to impact me more and to remember more. Let me know if you are also a book nerd and have any tips on how to go about that!

Thanks for checking in on my reading and I'll be back with another quarterly update soon (not several months after the fact)!

2017 Reading Update 1

I thought that in 2017 I would do some regular updates about reading. Words were the first art form that I fell in love with and I read thousands of books when I was a kid. My outside of school reading really slowed down in high school and college when I was consumed with reading and writing for my classes. Reading for pleasure was relegated to breaks, when I would devour a stack of books and then go months without reading anything new. After I graduated my reading has increased with each passing year. Reading feels more and more important to the person that I am becoming and the person that I want to be and 2017 is a year of books for sure.

book stack book blog

Every week(ish) I share what I've been reading on my Instagram Stories, but I thought that I would share notable books I've read, some stats, and general thoughts here on the blog every few months. Partly because maybe you missed the stories, or want to know more in-depth, but mostly because I just wanted a reason to write about books. 

First, because I am a huge nerd, some stats (as of April 1, 2017):

Total number of books read: 40 

  • Adult Novels: 9
  • Young Adult Novels: 4
  • Children's Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 6
  • Nonfiction Books: 1
  • Graphic Novels: 4
  • Graphic Trades: 13
  • Poetry Collections: 1

Where I get books from:

  • From the library: 70%
  • Gifts: 20%
  • Bought myself: 7.5%
  • Borrowed from friends: 2.5%

Total number of books I have acquired in 2017: 24

  • Percentage of those books that I have read so far: 33.33%

It is important to me to read widely - in terms of the books's format, genre, author demographics, and even age groups. Mostly because I feel like it keeps things interesting and stops me from getting into a rut, but also because something can be taken from all different types of books.

Something I've gotten much more into this year is reading comics and graphic novels. I had read a couple of comics and graphic novels here and there in the past, and even more in 2016, but I have really stepped up my consumption of graphic works in 2017 and made it part of my reading routine. As an artist who also loves words and books, it just makes sense that graphic novels would be highly relevant to my interests. I feel like they can be kind of intimidating to get into, but I have really enjoyed delving into the world of graphic stuff this year and can't wait to learn more. If that sounds like something you're into then read on because I have several comic/graphic novel recs in the list of notable books below!

graphic novels book blog

Notable books I read this quarter (in the order that I read them):

Shelter by Jung Yun

When this book opens, Kyung Cho and his wife are deeply in debt and are preparing to sell the house that they live in with their young son, when they find out that something traumatic and violent has happened to Kyung's parents. The book follows Kyung and his family in the aftermath of this event and explores how they deal with the trauma, as well as issues of family dynamics, Korean-American identity, and abuse. I worried that this book was going to contain nothing but tragedy after tragedy and completely overwhelm me with sadness, but I didn't feel that way by the end. It is definitely a sad and difficult book (be aware if you're worried about trigger warnings before you read), but it gave me so much to think about. I read in in mid-January (and have read a lot since then) and I still think about it often.

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

This weird and wonderful book focuses on City Coldson, a 14-year-old black boy from Mississippi who becomes a YouTube celebrity after an incident at televised quiz contest. He is given a book called Long Division, which features a main character also named City Coldson, who finds a passage to 2013. From there it gets weirder and more difficult to explain, but Laymon totally pulls it off.  What struck me while reading this book, is the narrative voice, City the narrator feels so real and gives such close insight into a life experience that is so different from mine. This is both a feat by Laymon and something that I need to seek out far more in my reading life. I'm not sure if my description is doing it justice, but even if the time travel and universe bending shenanigans don't draw you in then you should read it for the narration.  

Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré

This is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. It is actually a collection of graphic short stories and it is phenomenal. Carré changes up the art style, material, or color palette slightly with each story (some are monotone, some are done in pencil, some are more detailed, some are looser), but they are still unified and clearly Carré's. The stories themselves are whimsical and fascinating and compliment the art so well. Usually with graphic novels I tend to clearly prefer the art or the writing, but I love both in Heads or Tails

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

This is exactly what it sounds like: a comic about a girl who has squirrel powers (including a tail) and is the only undefeated superhero in the Marvel Universe. This series is so delightful, I can't even put it into words. Just believe me. It is truly hilarious and heartwarming. I love it so much that I have the graphic novel, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe (with the best title and cover ever), and I've been saving it to read because I know it will be just the thing to cheer me up if I need it. Get all 4 published trades from your library (or just buy them, it will be worth it) and read them all back to back like I did.

We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrl to Cover Girl, the Buying and Selling of A Political Movement by Andi Zeisler

This book, written by one of the founders of Bitch Media, is all about the commodification and commercialization of feminism. In the first half, Zeisler looks at several different industries (advertising, film, fashion, etc.) and how they have reacted to and co-opted feminism throughout history. The second half focuses on the feminist movement itself and how it has been shaped by these forces. I am incredibly interested in the topic, so I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in just a few days. It is a pretty broad overview, tackling analysis of several decades across many different industries, and I would have read so much more on each chapter (especially in the first part). I took note of tons of passages while reading, both on things I hadn't thought of before and on things that I hadn't been able to put into words, but were perfectly phrased in the book. Read this so we can talk about it, because I'm dying to talk about it with someone.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

This is the best short story collection I've ever read. No one needs me to explain this, but Gay is such a talented writer. As I was reading it for the first time I was already looking forward to rereading it, because I'm sure that there are so many layers of meaning that I didn't catch on my first read. As the title suggests, all of the stories focus on women and Gay has so much to say on the topic. There are several reoccurring themes, motifs, and details throughout the stories, but they didn't feel repetitive to me, more like something Gay was returning to over and over in order to further examine her interest in them. Many stories definitely deal with dark or difficult subject matter, but it didn't feel overdone to me. Read Difficult Women, I definitely will again.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared K. Fletcher

I've heard about this from so many different people and I'm so glad that I finally picked it up. I feel like a lot comics have gorgeous covers that draw me in, but then the art inside is a bit of a disappointment, but the art and coloring of Paper Girls is just as good as the cover promises. It is so stunning and I will return to it time and time again for color palette inspiration. The story is also bananas in the best way. Girls on bikes are delivering papers in the 1980s when everything gets super weird and there are monsters and spaceships, etc.. I can't wait to pick up volume 2.

Exit West by Moshin Hamid

There has been lots of hype surrounding this book and it is definitely deserved. Saeed and Nadia fall in love in a country on the brink of civil war and attempt to leave their increasingly dangerous homeland and "exit west". It reads like a fairytale in that Saeed and Nadia are the only named characters, the writing is straightforward but lyrical in a fable-eque way, and there is a touch of magic. It is both incredibly relevant to the present day but also feels timeless. Definitely read this.

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Finally, I thought I would share a little bit about my reading plans and goals for the future. In April, which is National Poetry Month, I plan to read at least one poem every day. There are a few poems and poets that are important to me and I love watching slam poetry videos on YouTube, but poetry isn't something that I read regularly (as you can see from the stats above). I'm hoping that by starting with one poem I'll be motivated to keep reading and will actually read lots of poetry throughout the month. I'm also taking a break from my beloved library (shocking, I know) in an attempt to read the books that I own. Hopefully that will include a lot of nonfiction, because I haven't been doing very well about reading that this year either.

If you read this whole post then you are fantastic and probably just my kind of book-nerdy person. So tell me, what are some of the best books you've read this year? What are you trying to read more of? I love to talk about books and trade recommendations so don't be shy!