bookstacks: January

Let's have a reading update, shall we? Quick and dirty. The way I like my books. (What? I don't know.)

Quick recap: My reading resolutions this year are to

  1. read more of my own books (as opposed to library books, which I read almost exclusively despite having a bajillion unread books on my own shelves...and floors)
  2. read more books written by members of marginalized groups (women, people of color, LGBTQ authors) than by straight, white men
  3. read 110 books

I keep track of all of this on Goodreads. If you are not on Goodreads, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior (Goodreads)? I'm going to assume that you do. Yay!

Goodreads is basically social networking for people who read and do not want to bother themselves with details of anyone's life beyond what books everyone is reading and what they think of said books. It allows you to set reading goals, and keep track of how many books you've read, and to organize them onto "shelves" by genre, or author, or really anything you want. Here is my Goodreads profile page:

When I first started using Goodreads I was very anal about my shelf names. I have since gotten over this (as you may be able to tell by the one labeled "bookstagram"). There are zero rules - you can label your shelves whatever you want, or you can not bother with shelves at all and just mark the books you're reading and the ones you want to read. After you rate a few books you've finished - on a scale of 1 to 5 stars that infuriatingly does not allow half-star reviews (this is the only downside to Goodreads) - the site will give you book recommendations. You can follow other people's reviews, save quotes you like, and take nerdy book quizzes.

But really the best part is the tracking. My Goodreads account is the only reason that I know a) which books I've read in the past five years, b) which of those I've liked, c) which books I want to read in the future, and d) how many books I've read recently. And that is all amazing! So basically if you don't have a Goodreads account, go make one, and then add me and we can be best book friends. K thanks.

Now that I have imparted unto you the secrets of my bookish ways, here's what I read in January.

Total books: 13.5 (4 ahead of schedule, which puts me on pace for 114 this year.) (Note: it is Feb. 1. The ahead of/behind schedule marker is fairly meaningless at this point.)

Highest rated: Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver. I gave it 4 stars.

A young-adult book, "Before I Fall" tells the story of Samantha, a popular high-school senior who's kind of a terrible person. Her terribleness is mostly the generic clueless teenager type, but her friend group - particularly the queen bee Lindsay - are a bunch of mean girls, and Samantha follows them blindly and participates while they do mean-girl things. And then, abruptly, the group gets into a car accident, and Samantha is killed. This would make for a short book, except that she keeps waking up and reliving that last day of her life over and over again, in Groundhog Day-style. Breaking the cycle requires that she slowly put the pieces together, and it's not clear until the very last second whether doing so successfully means she'll live or she'll die. The ending is pretty intense and I've been thinking about it since I finished it (I refer to this as a book hangover). The book's average score on Goodreads is 3.92, and you can browse people's reviews of it here.

Lowest rated: Hollywood Kids, by Jackie Collins. ONE STAR. I REGRET NOTHING.

EXCEPT FOR MAYBE READING THIS HORRIBLE BOOK. 

When I was in high school I read Hollywood Wives, which is a fairly famous trashy novel by Jackie Collins. I wanted to read it after I heard it mentioned in an episode of Saved By The Bell (by a super-obnoxious girl that Zack is on a date with while he's trying desperately to get over Kelly). It was fine, I think? I don't know, I was 15 and getting my literature recommendations from Zack Morris' dating rejects.

yeah.

yeah.

Around five years ago I somehow realized that Hollywood Wives had spawned a whole Hollywood series, and I decided to read them all. Hollywood Kids is the third book - following Hollywood Husbands, natch - and it is just bad. And not in a funny, trashy, good-beach-read kind of way. It's just not good. I can personally attest to this because I literally read it on a beach in Hawaii, and even that could not make it good. Do not read this book. Or do, and then let's talk about how bad it is, except I will not be able to go into detail because nothing about it was memorable other than the fact that it was bad. Thank you and good night.

Shockingly, Hollywood Kids has an average score of 3.82 on Goodreads. I guess everyone was smoking meth when they wrote their reviews. Don't hold this against Goodreads. It's not Goodreads' fault. Also, don't do meth.

not even once.

not even once.

Other books I read and did not like: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (I love Lauren Graham and I'm very sad that this book was not better) and Getting In by Karen Stabiner (400 pages of rich white kids having problems that don't really matter!).

Other books I read and would recommend: Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (a slow starter, but ultimately a brutal and realistic portrayal of what it's like to love someone who suffers from mental illness) and Pug Hill by Alison Pace (if I had written a book when I was 24 and living in New York, this would basically have been the book).

Books by women/people of color/LGBTQ authors: Nine out of 13. Winning!

Owned books: Three out of 13. Not really winning, but that's more of my own books than I read all of last year, so also KIND OF WINNING. I got rid of one of those (the aforementioned Getting In - I'm culling the collection, y'all) and I may get rid of another (The Perks of Being A Wallflower, which I liked but am not sure I'll want to read again).

Total pages read: 4,162

Currently in the middle of: Settle for More, by Megyn Kelly.

I am so very conflicted about Megyn Kelly. I have spent at least an hour this week asking various friends and relatives what they think of her. I'm about halfway through her memoir and am only becoming more confused about whether I like her and respect her as a journalist. SO. MANY. FEELINGS.

This month I'm going to: try to read at least five books I already own, and to stay on pace to hit 110 books for the year. Aaaand break!

(PS did you join Goodreads yet?)

I included purchase links for the books I liked, but not for the ones I didn't. If you want to buy and read books that I disliked, you are going to have to Google them yourself. #sickburn