Okay, so January. Right.
The year got off on a slow, shaky start, but I think I’m good now.
Let’s Rewind is my version of a monthly wrap up but instead of talking about only books, I include all types of other stuff, like articles… bookish news… commercials… random-ass links… movies… art… podcasts… cartoons… and whatever else happened to me in the month. You know, the usual stuff that people talk about in monthly wrap ups. So read on to see what I did and read this month. You might stumble upon something that interests you.
Yo, January was kinda rough. In my blogging life, it wasn’t bad because most of my posts were reflections on the previous year, and I love writing those. I had fun blogging, although I felt a little guilty that my reviews queue was piling up. My reading life, however, got off on a slow start. I spent the first couple weeks of January not reading anything and DNF’ing what I did start, but thank the bookish gods for audiobooks because they got me out of my slow funk and got my reading momentum going.
In my personal life…. January was kinda rough. I started attending an exercising class and one of my many jobs picked up, so I had to get used to a new daily schedule. I also had a lot of car trouble this month because I have a used car. It would have been a headache if I wasn’t fascinated by the experience (I see it as a learning experience — positive thoughts…) and have a budget specifically for the car to cover its expenses. Otherwise, I’d be cussing up a storm about all the shit I had to deal with.
Other than ALL that, January was aight, but rough.
I’m surprised I completed four books this month because I was in a serious funk at the beginning of the year and did not feel like reading a damn thing. But luckily, audiobooks exist.
I picked up Blue Monday by Nicci French, narr. by Beth Chalmers, on audio. It’s the first novel in a British mystery/psychological thriller series that I learned of from Jen Campbell’s YouTube channel. It’s about a psychotherapist named Frieda Klein who becomes involved in a child abduction case after realizing that her patient’s dreams are eerily similar to the details of the case. It was a decent read, although a bit slow. I got frustrated with it because I could often predict what would happen next.
After reading Hopwell’s review of HillBilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, I decided to read it too. I downloaded the audiobook, which is narrated by the author, J.D. Vance. It’s a memoir about Vance growing up in Middletown, OH, and the difficulties he and his family faced especially due to poverty. It’s an interesting read that also discusses how the opioid crisis has affected poor White communities. It provided a perspective that I hadn’t heard of or was fully aware of, so it taught me something new, which I appreciated.
Those two audiobooks got me back into a reading mood, so I picked up a physical copy of Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It at the library. It’s a nonfiction book based on a podcast Rowe hosts that contains brief biographical pieces about various well-known people throughout history. It too was an interesting read but also a fun one because the pieces give hints about who the person is so that the reader can guess before Rowe reveals the identity. I’d also say this is partly a memoir because Rowe also writes about his family and personal life.
I also completed the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, which I’ve wanted to read since last year. It’s a mystery novel set in France about a Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, who’s framed for a murder. Langdon teams up with a cryptographer to delve deep into the mysteries of a secret society to uncover who the murderer is and why he was framed. I enjoyed this book, although not as much as I did Angels & Demons, the first book in the series. I just enjoy all the references to history, art, and religion. So far, every time I read one of these Langdon books I’m tempted to book a flight to one of the places mentioned to go sightsee and look for all the symbols and relics of the past and secret societies.
Those with a star (★) are the ones that stuck with me.
— About a threat the writer received for her literary criticism of a book
“If you really want to piss off a white man, ignore him. I did this online a few weeks ago when one tried arguing with me about a piece of racialized literary criticism I wrote.”
— An excerpt from a book about Rosa Parks’s life. It talks about some of the difficulties she faced after refusing to give up her bus seat to a White passenger in Montgomery, AL.
★ Smorgasbords Don’t Have Bottoms: Publishing in the 2010s (nplusonemag.com)
— A long-form article about the evolution of book publishing in the 2010s: from the rise of Amazon e-books to the resurgence of indie bookstores; from conglomerate publishers to the abundance of Trump books and memoirs by YouTubers and other social media influencers; and also the state of Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and book publishers now.
Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results (blog.leeandlow.com)
— Stats about diversity in book publishing. There’s not much change from previous years.
Why Everyone’s Talking About American Dirt (slate.com)
— About the controversy surrounding the novel by Jeanine Cummins
Authors, Books, & Reading
N.K. Jemisin’s Dream Worlds (newyorker.com)
— A profile of the sci-fi/fantasy author: her upbringing, influences, work, and impact. One of the most interesting facts I learned from this piece is that Jemisin still writes fan fiction using secret identities. I think that’s really cool. (I NEED to read her books.)
“On its surface, all science fiction is about change—technological, scientific, social—that brings human beings into contact with the unknown or forces a reassessment of the familiar. Nonetheless, the genre remains inextricably tied to the everyday—the biases and limitations of the writer’s time.”
“People are just that racist. If the only problem is that the book is full of black people—O.K., I got you. I am going to write something full of white people, but it is going to be all about how evil those white people are. ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ was that book. It was me getting mad at science-fiction publishing.”
Rediscovering the Lost Power of Reading Aloud (lithub.com)
— An excerpt from a book about the benefits of reading aloud. The excerpt focuses on the history of oral storytelling. The most interesting thing I learned from this piece is that way back in the day, it was considered odd to read in silence, without uttering the words aloud. Back then, many considered those who did so eccentric.
“Yet as Dante observed, speech—the words we say, the pauses between them, and our inflection—is our native language. Writing is the crystallizing of liquid thought and speech, and therefore a kind of translation.”
I love this Google ad in honor of Black history month, ESPECIALLY since my alma mater has the most searched homecoming. HU!! 😀
Around the blog-o-verse
Is Amazon Really Cheaper Than Barnes & Noble? (pagesunbound.wordpress.com)
— A great discussion that compares book prices on the stores’ websites
Turtle Recall Reading Guide / Discworld Reading Order (adancewithbooks.wordpress.com)
— Annemieke is hosting a Discworld reading challenge for 2020. The link above is a guide for navigating the various Discworld subseries. She also put together a more detailed guide about the series and story arcs and publication order, etc.
20 Diverse Authors to Read in 2020 (scifiandscary.com)
— All sci-fi or scary 🙂
Top 10 Comic Books to Read to Get “Into” Comics (thecavaliernerd.com)
— A list of comics to read if you’re interested in trying the format
Book Quest, Vol. 1 (thepapertavern.com)
— The Paper Tavern hosted a RPG readthon in January. It already passed, but I’m sharing the link here anyway because it sounded really cool.
Focus on the Frightful: Final Destination Series (scifiandscary.com)
— The crew at Sci-Fi & Scary watched all the Final Destination movies and chatted about it, which made me excited to rewatch them (currently on the third one). I’m including the link to their post in case you wanna watch and chat too.
It’s OK to Take a Break (thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com)
— Amen! Take it easy, y’all. If you don’t feel like reading and blogging and all that, then take a break and do summin else.
Stuff I pubbed
— Covers I love of books published in 2019
— Reasons why I rate a book 5 stars
— Review of the last novel in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, and the Realm of the Elderlings epic fantasy series
Surprise, a Witcher Anime Film Is on the Way at Netflix (io9.gizmodo.com)
— I’m excited!
— Yes!! Can’t wait! (Although I need to read the book first.)
— I enjoy reading Sapkowski’s interviews
Marlon James to Host New Literary Podcast (nytimes.com)
— One of my fav authors, Man Booker Prize-winning Marlon James, and his editor, Jake Morrissey, started a podcast, and I’m over-the-moon excited about it. It’s called Marlon and Jake Read Dead People and all they talk about are classics and books by authors who have already passed. I already listened to the first couple episodes and am hooked.
Stuff I watched in January:
Bad Boys for Life
I honestly did not expect this to be as entertaining as it was. It wasn’t to the level of the first Bad Boys movie, but it did good. It was funny and I liked the action. I think the second half was a little drawn out and dramatic and shouldn’t have focused so much on Will’s character, but it was a decent flick anyway and I liked the music.
Final Destination 1 & 2
I don’t care what anyone says, I really enjoy the Final Destination movies and consider them favorites, well at least the first three; I can’t remember if I watched the fourth and fifth ones, but I’ll get to them soon enough. I enjoyed revisiting these. Ali Larter was great and anytime I see Tony Todd, no matter the movie, I always think of Candyman.
That’s it for my January.
How was yours? What have you been up to? What’re you reading, watching, seeing?