What I read in January

I read nine books in January. I don't say that to brag; I don't necessarily think it's a special sort of accomplishment. I'm not better than anyone for requiring stories to handle my depression these days. Instead, I say it as a fact: I've been reading a lot.

And while I don't know that my opinion on books is anything special (who I am to say what's good or isn't), I decided to share a bit about what I've read so far this year because... well, I think because I wanted to. So here we are.

(These books are listed in order of reading them, not by any sort of ranking.)

The Crying Book, by Heather Christle

Read via: library ebook on my Kindle

Why I read it: I wanted to

I have cried so much in my life but so little lately. I don't know why. Maybe it's because of my brand of depression keeping me blasé, not feeling much at all. Maybe it's because of the low dose of trazodone I'm taking to be able to sleep. Maybe it's because my IUD and malnutrition have kept me suspended in a menstrual cycle-less life. It might even be because my own perceived tragedy of my situation has given way in some part to acceptance. In any case, I cry less than I used to. I used to cry a lot. I miss it. And I very much enjoyed this exploration into tears.

Exit West, by Moshin Hamid

Read via: library ebook on my Kindle

Why I read it: a book club

I liked this book. I liked the way it was written. I liked the story. I did feel like there was something missing, though I'm not sure what. I got very angry when reading other peoples' reviews on Goodreads after, when someone declared that they hated the book, would have preferred if it was only a story of a couple in wartime who didn't get to escape, and—most unforgivably and I kid you not—that the story was Monsters Inc.

Are you kidding me? Monsters Inc.? Just because there are doors that act as portals? Have you not read any other book like this? Come on. I wonder what that reviewer would think of The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Would that also be Monsters Inc. to them? I hate it here.

Bitch Planet, vol 1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Read via: hard copy

Why I read it: I wanted to

I don't read a lot of comic books or graphic novels. Like I don't really read them at all. So it took me a bit to get into the structure and the pacing. Admittedly, I'm not sure I ever fully did. The violence in it is also very difficult to read and see. But ultimately I did like it, and I will be reading volume 2 when I'm ready.

Disability Visibility, edited by Alice Wong

Read via: library ebook on Kindle and hard copy I later purchased

Why I read it: belonging book club (it's a thing we have at work)

This book means everything to me. I will have to read it again. It's a book to take your time with, to savor, to sit with. The essay on Crip Time by Ellen Samuels was particularly meaningful to me. It's a reminder that the disabled experience is not monolithic.

Find Your Why, by David Mead, Peter Docker, and Simon Sinek

Read via: hard copy gifted from work

Why I read it: 🤷🏻, it was gifted from work and I decided why not

I hated this book. It's very easy for white and financially successful men to express the need for your life purpose to exist in your work, because they have the privilege of only doing work that serves their greater purpose. It goes without say that experience isn't universal.

Work can just be work. It is transactional in nature. That you must find some sort of purpose or higher calling in it is a lie told to us by people who think we should give more to our jobs than they deserve. Do I think it's a worthless pursuit to try and consider what brings you meaning in life? Of course not. But do I think all of our work—the stuff we do to have health insurance, to pay our bills, to make ends meet for our families—must have meaning? Also no.

The Undying, by Anne Boyer

Read via: library ebook on my Kindle

Why I read it: I wanted to, and it was recommended by someone in The Unexpected Shape Community as a book about illness

I felt so many things while reading this book. Fear, sadness, anger, less alone. I do not have cancer. I do have chronic pain and illness, and there were so many things—about the medical industrial system, the experience of unending pain, what fatigue is like—I related to. It was beautifully-written and I honestly wish I could have the experience of reading it for the first time again.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas, by Jenny Bayliss

Read via: library ebook on my Kindle

Why I read it: I wanted to

Not to be confused with the made for TV movie of the same name. A fun and festive rom com, it was also very predictable (but sometimes predictability is comforting). I enjoyed the concept and it was nice to imagine a dreamy little English town. That said, there were a lot of food references, and there were some extra flowery passages that felt unnecessary and I skimmed over.

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

Read via: library ebook on my Kindle

Why I read it: I wanted to

This book was so cute oh my god. I cried literal tears of joy from the cuteness multiple times. I fell in love with so many characters. I don't want to spoil anything, as each reveal was a delight, so I want say much more. This book made me feel happy to be alive, grateful for my chosen family, and loved.

There There, by Tommy Orange

Read via: hard copy

Why I read it: I wanted to

As mentioned earlier, I cry little these days. It is thus a pleasure to read a book that makes me really sob. Even if it sad—there can be a sort of pleasure in sadness, I think)—there's catharsis in crying for me. There There felt like a slow-moving train wreck. You know what's going to happen from the very first chapter, and then you read the story from different perspectives, different lives, different regrets, different hopes, all moving towards the same tragedy. The dread I felt throughout was palpable. The heartbreak I felt was tangible. This book is beautifully-written and an important work providing insight into the Urban Indigenous experience. I've read so little by Indigenous authors and I definitely need to change that.