What I Read in January 2016

This year I decided it would be fun to start doing this little series on what I read each month. I love seeing what other people read. It gives me ideas for what to read next and, well, it’s just plain interesting. Plus, as we all know, reading is an integral part of becoming a good writer.

What I Read in January

Attack on TitanAttack on Titan, Vol. 1-15, by Hajime Isayama (graphic novel)
Finished on: various dates throughout January — Kindle (iPad) — 4.5/5

It all started when I watched the first season of the anime on Netflix. I got to the end, was desperate to know what happened next, so decided to read the manga. SO. MUCH. LOVE. Skinless flesh-eating giants terrorising humans, epic battles, badass characters — what’s not to love? I read one or two volumes on many nights throughout the month, which may or may not have led to a sex dream about one of the characters. Um. Yeah. So anyway, if you didn’t already know, you do now: I am a nerd. Who apparently has sex dreams about fictional characters.

Adrian MoleThe Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, by Sue Townsend
Finished on: 6 January — Kindle — 3.5/5

Hmm, I reckon this must’ve been on offer when I bought it. I don’t know. I just felt the impulse to read it, so I went with it. Irritating and endearing in equal measure, that Adrian Mole chap. And also funny. I enjoyed this, but I don’t feel compelled to read the rest of the series. I do recommend perusing the reviews over on Amazon in search of outraged teenagers who took it way too seriously, though.

GutGut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ, by Giulia Enders
Finished on: 20 January — Audiobook — 4/5

Given that I suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease, learning more about the gut and how it works was a no-brainer to me, especially when this cropped up as an Audible Daily Deal. I found the first couple of chapters fascinating. The rest of the book was good, too, but I got a bit confused by all the bacteria-talk towards the end. I certainly learned a lot though, and have been annoying my friends and family with bizarre facts about poo and how the body works since finishing it.

Harry PotterHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
Finished on: 21 January — Kindle — 4/5

I love to read fiction before going to sleep, but had been struggling to get into anything new. In retrospect, this may have been my problem: trying to get into new books right before going to sleep. Talk about a recipe for failure, since you can basically only read three pages at a time, all of which you will have forgotten by the time you wake up. But all the same, I like to have some fiction to hand in case I awake in the middle of the night. It helps me get back to sleep. Harry Potter was an obvious contender. Long, cosy, easy to read, already know what happens — perfect getting-back-to-sleep material.

YogiThe Reluctant Yogi: A Quirky Guide to the Practice That Can Change Your Life, by Carla McKay
Finished on: 24 January — Kindle — 2/5

First of all, I was expecting a memoir, and the first couple of chapters deceived me into believing this was what I was getting. Turns out, not so much. Instead, I found a lot of boring stuff about names of great gurus, places things happened, and, God, I can’t even remember. Names of positions, maybe? The book was interspersed with glimpses of the author’s own experiences, but mostly it was monotonous. Scattered. Boring. Dry. I wouldn’t have persevered if it hadn’t been such a quick read. Oh, and to top it all off, the editing was pisspoor (if it even existed in the first place).

Big MagicBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Finished on: 31 January — Hardback — 4/5

I love Liz Gilbert. I’ve read both of her memoirs, Eat Pray Love and Committed, and enjoyed them immensely. This book has renewed my love. I didn’t have any creative breakthroughs or learn anything mind-blowing, but I put that down to already thinking about creativity in the same way as Liz (although I’m a little less woo-woo about it). But Liz’s writing is fabulous, as ever, and I enjoyed the topics she touched on: being creative for the fun of it, doing what feels right, not agonising over making it perfect, ignoring the haters, and doing shit your own way. If you feel like you’re not creative, you don’t have what it takes, people will hate what you produce — READ THIS. You need it.

Win a Book of Your Choice from My January Reads!

I’ve decided to try something fun here. I’m running a giveaway using fancy software (as opposed to my go-to ‘leave a comment’ technique)!

The prize: a book of your choice from my January reads. I’ll pay for postage, no matter where you are in the world.

The winner will be chosen at random once the contest is over. And the best part? The more you share the giveaway with your friends and followers, the more entries you’ll get. Woo! Told you it was fun.

The giveaway ends at 9pm GMT on Monday. Go!

Click here to enter the giveaway!
This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Sarah Trimble, who won a copy of Big Magic!

My Book Statistics

Books read in January: 20

My goal is to read 75 books this year. I’m easily on target for that right now, but as 15 of this month’s books were graphic novels, I know I won’t be able to keep up this pace. Sigh.

Progress towards goal: 26%

Average books needed per week to reach goal: 1.2

Books bought in January: 25

  • 10% Happier — Dan Harris
  • A Room of One’s Own — Virginia Woolf
  • Attack on Titan, Vol. 1-15 — Hajime Isayama
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — Hunter S. Thompson
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell — Susanna Clarke (already read; one of my favourites)
  • Level Up Your Life — Steve Kamb
  • Reasons to Stay Alive — Matt Haig
  • The Giver — Lois Lowry
  • The Lizard Cage — Karen Connolly
  • Un Amico Italiano: Eat Pray Love in Rome — Luca Spaghetti (returned for a refund, because dear God, the first two chapters are dreadful)
  • Us — David Nicholls

(Yes, my book-buying habits are ambitious.)

Currently reading: 7

  • Level Up Your Life — Steve Kamb
  • Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business With Impact — Jocelyn K. Glei
  • Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World — Leigh Ann Henion
  • Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen
  • Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life — Dani Shapiro
  • The Best American Essays 2013 — Robert Atwan & Cheryl Strayed (editor)
  • The Girl With All the Gifts — M.R. Carey

How about you guys? What did YOU read in January? Any recommendations for me? Leave ’em in the comments down below!

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