Current status: reading obsessed! Since I enjoyed reading about other people’s reading lists from 2020, but reading challenges are a bit too much to commit to, I thought it would be fun to start a monthly reading roundup (let’s see how this goes).

I’ve also signed up for The Story Graph which is a Goodreads alternative. Did you know that Amazon owns GR? [Thanks to Bookmark Your Thoughts for this.]

Although, I’ve given myself a modest 30 books to read this year to account for any unexpected life events. Also, I’m a slow reader. And I noticed that someone on Goodreads counts children’s books towards her total — I mean, c’mon, really? So now, I’m suspicious of anyone with a 100+ book count. (Or jealous, Lani, jealous.)

Typically I read nonfiction during the day and fiction before bed. I believe mornings and evenings are sacred times, so in the mornings I try to read something inspirational and in the evenings I avoid horror, depressing, or heavy stuff. I also consider myself more commercial leaning rather than literary.

Historical fiction is probably my favorite because I love the learning + entertainment factor. So if you’re missing travel in particular, or simply want to discover new reads by destination, you might want to check out The Book Trail.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See was recommended by a friend after she saw my newsletter share on the badass Korean grandma deep sea divers of Jeju Island. But don’t let the bright sunny cover fool you, it’s a intense story that centers around two women, their friendship, and a war that tore them apart. So, yeah, based on what I just told you about what I like to read, it was a hard book at times.

The amount of detail and research that Lisa did for this novel deserves huge praise and mention. You learn about how this matriarchal society functioned, the world of free diving, and the heartbreaking consequences of the wars that devastated the island. I can’t remember the last time I’ve said this about a book, but I feel like a better person having read it.

Whether you’re a memoir fan or foe, Mary Karr has your answers. She undresses the genre in a way I’ve never seen before with tons of examples pulled from memoirs. But she’s definitely not for everyone, very Texan, shoots straight from the hip. This book also is not a ‘how to’ but more of a MFA class on what memoir is really all about.

Lastly, I read The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. It’s a beautiful quiet book and now one of my favorites. Thanks Jeremy for the recommendation.

Here’s a stripped down description from Amazon: Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as backdrop for her unusual story about a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family’s summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a master gardener. Stephen also learns about Matsu’s soulmate, Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.

If you’re up for it, please do your own post on #readingroundupjan21 Then tag this post, so I can read it. And if you decide to join The Story Graph, please find and add me πŸ™‚ My handle is: lanibearprincess just like my IG. Happy Reading!

What did you read in January? Did you give yourself a reading goal this year?

34 replies on “πŸ“š Reading Roundup: January 2021

  1. Reading has been slow this past month. Distracted by all sorts of other things (mostly driving duties as I want to minimise my children & husband having to take public transport at peak hours). I am glad you are enjoying it though, and have this tool to motivate and track!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I do enjoy reading ~ it’s important though to not feel like I’m under any pressure or obligation to read too much too fast. So I totally understand a busy month, I’m expecting those too…


  2. I count children’s books! Well, the ones from Roald Dahl that I read last year, not the 10-page-ones I read with my son, haha. But I don’t set any number for the year… I just try to read as much as I can πŸ˜€

    This month I finished Journey to the West (I counted it as 2020 but it took me the first week of the year to finsih it) and I read a Swedish murder novel very fast because I wanted to know who did it haha. Now I’m reading the story of a Chinese old lady who told her life story to a foreign woman in the 1930s and then the foreign woman made it into a book.


    1. Yeah, if you’re an adult counting Dr. Seuss’s books as READ books for your Goodreads acct, I wanna cry foul. πŸ˜›

      Now, YA books totally count.

      I started The Art of Memoir last month, but I finished it this month, so I figured I’d count it here. And I never counted books I didn’t finish even ones that I almost or halfway went through. I suppose if I was a stickler I could have combined those into one book – HA!

      Is Journey to the West any good? Or do I have your review to look forward to? πŸ™‚


      1. I counted Journey to the West as 2020 because it has 2500 pages and I only had 100 or so left in 2021 xD Plus I wanted to add it in my 2020 reads post. It is good, but it is a huge time investment. It took me over 3 months to finish it! Also, it’s old and clearly was written to be read aloud/told episode by episode to an audience (the characters are often retelling things, for example).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahhh, isn’t that interesting? Yeah, one of the things I like about The Story Graph is it tells you that you have a tendency to read books over, say, 350 pages and/or that you like dark stuff. The graphs it creates are also visually appealing and you can upload all of your Goodreads stuff over there to have a look.

        I downloaded another epic series that was recommended but I’m hesitant to make the commitment πŸ˜› There’s something quite satisfying about finishing a book!


      3. Lani, I’m not sure if you are aware (or if it is exactly the same book), but there was a late 70’s Japanese kid’s TV show based upon the ancient Chinese tale called Journey To The West. The show was called Saiyuki in Japan, and the English-dubbed translation, called Monkey Magic, had a cult following in Australia, New Zealand and possibly the U.K. in the 80’s. You can find it on YouTube when you need a break from reading πŸ‘πŸ»

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hey, thanks. That sounds really interesting. I was partly raised on 80s Japanese cartoons!


  3. What doesn’t Amazon own? πŸ™ˆ Wow, I had no idea that Goodreads was owned by Amazon. Though to be honest, I’m low-key obsessed with Amazon only because they keep coming out with one cool thing after the other. Like I’m impressed with Jeff’s business acumen. He’s an out and out businessman. πŸ™ˆ

    I love how beautiful those covers are. The Samurai’s Garden sounds beautiful.

    I think I did decently well in the reading department this month. I read 2 books and listened to 1.5 books (audiobooks count, right?). Don’t really have a reading goal this year but I want to try different genres that I usually avoid like thriller/mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Twas just reading about how Besos’ crushes competitors trying to compete with Amazon. Considering he welds more power than presidents and politicians, and probably most countries, I can’t say I’m impressed, but he’s definitely a force to be reckon with.

      And you know he treats employees like shit, right? But I’m sure he’s a fascinating study!

      Anyway, book covers! They sell more books than any PR team, right? πŸ˜€ I’ve seen several diff covers for TSG but I think this is normal for international and country-specific covers.

      Audiobooks do count – at least that’s what I heard! Hahahha, get it, heard? Yikes. I know. But good for you not getting caught up in the ‘reach for this number’ craze, but still creating a goal of reading diff genres!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve read a couple of books by Gail Tsukiyama. I like her books. Now I’m reading Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker, a book about an American family with 12 kids, 6 of whom ended up with schizophrenia. The book follows their lives and also the search of scientists to understand the disease and find treatments. It’s a sad tale but interesting.

    Like you, I read a balance of fiction and non-fiction. I do some reading during the day and some before bed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, what a fascinating book. I swear just when you think you’ve heard everything, eh? The world never ceases to amaze. Thanks, Nicki.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am impressed that you can read three books a month. Those were the days when I could chug through a book a day. Now I’m lucky to read one a year. However, if I hurry up, I will finish the book I am reading now before the end of the month, so I had better run. It is very good so I will probably write a few words about it. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t be impressed. I started two of them at the end of last month πŸ˜› And I do enjoy reading. Yesterday I read all day, but it was for work, so that helps with reading counts. Also, the nonfiction one I picked at while the fiction books I read one after the other…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m surprised I got through five books in January but the biggest one (The Museum of Innocence) I read 3/4 of in 2019. Usually my first book of the year is the latest in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series (this year To the Land of Long Lost Friends). They are gentle, character driven books and always a nice way to start the year. My other three reads are: The Last – set amongst a group of survivors in a hotel in Switzerland after a nuclear holocaust with a very claustrophobic and paranoid feel to it. Djinn Patrol of the Purple Line – children from the slum are going missing and it’s up to Jai and his friends, using techniques learned from TV detectives, to work out who is taking them. Girl Waits with Gun – when a spoiled rich boy smashes his car into the Misses’ Kopp’s buggy, he doesn’t know what he’s got himself into. But then, neither do the Misses Kopp.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Michelle. You reminded me that I’ve always wanted to get into the Ladies Detective Agency series ~ they had quirky book covers and seemed right up my alley as a big Agatha Christie fan.


  7. Ooh, I’m interested in the Mary Karr book. Thanks for the recommendation! My reading in Jan has been kind of haphazard (like everything else I’ve been doing/trying to do) but hoping to get more on track reading-wise in the coming weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand. I feel like I’m prematurely bracing myself for that month or two where I can’t read as much as I want πŸ˜› And you’re welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m having a good reading year so far, too. It’s been a long time since I read Lisa See, but she is always solid. And, yes, copious amounts of research. I love historical fiction for that benefit, too. Feel like I’m learning something as I’m escaping into another world. It’s certainly not free diving, but my short story coming out soon in CutBank is a coming-of-age about a teenage diver working at the Sea Town Pearl Pagoda, diving for pearls at the amusement park. It’s kinda funny and a little bit erotic(!), set in the 80s, and the setting is a take on the real life Sea World of Ohio my family visited throughout my childhood. Anyhoo, talking about diving. Need to read that Mary Karr, too. But mostly I’m always reading for a book club I’m in, in between reading novels for potential comps and reading Rust Belt stuff for the blog. So much to read! Love your roundup!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yeah, the Lisa See books is quite a story. Funny about the diving, I recently read another book The Pear Sister by Lucinda Riley that touches upon the pearl divers during the colonial days of Australia. AND The Samurai’s Garden even had a story about the pearl divers in Japan.

      What does this all mean??? πŸ˜›

      Looking forward to reading your diving story πŸ˜€ And thanks for the love, xo

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Lisa See’s writing. Have you read any of her other books? I read “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and “Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” and I enjoyed both of them. I think she does such a great job of including so much detail and research in her books, as I observed from these 2 mentioned books. I will totally check out the one about the Jeju divers!

    All the books you mentioned here look so interesting! I totally want to refine the craft of writing memoir. Did you find the book helpful for your writing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should check out Lisa’s other books! Thanks for the reminder. And yes, the Jeju island book is worth it.

      While I didn’t find the memoir book helpful in a practical tips kind of way, it was an amazing defense of memoir writing and Karr introduces you to so man other memorists. But I’ve been studying the craft for a long time so much of what she said I already knew, but don’t get me wrong, I needed the reminders…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m definitely also suspicious of someone with a 100+ book count, Lani. I think the most I’ve ever read in a year was something like 50 books and I was exhausted. Never to be repeated, no matter how much I enjoy reading. I recently read Elif Shafak’s “How to stay sane in an age of division” and loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THIS sounds right up my alley. Thanks so much for the recommendation. I will definitely check this out. I’m all about disengaging from ‘the madness of crowds’ with compassion and sanity in tact. πŸ˜›

      Yes, fifty is also quite ambitious in my opinion. I’m good with wanting to read for enjoyment first and foremost. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s been too long since I’ve read Lisa See and I haven’t heard of this one yet and will put it on the list! Also intrigued by The Samurai’s Garden!! I think I might join you in your reading round-up! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool, yo. Just today I was thinking that no one would join, but it’s like inviting friends to do something. You must already have planned to do it, and if someone wants to come along, then all the better. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I am reading my birthday gift book, non-fiction by a Chinese-Welsh Canadian woman: “Two Trees make a Forest”…it’s a blend of a family history memoir and about forest/botany of wild plants in Taiwan. Quite interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard of it. I was doing research on AA memoirs and this one came up. It sounds like a beautiful book and tribute to the nature of Taiwan. Please let me know how it goes! xo

      Liked by 1 person

Comments create conversations. Let's talk.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s