January Reads {and my 2020 reading plans}

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Here is what I read in January! My plan for the year is to try to read slowly and deeply as much as possible. I also would love to pick at least one title from these four genres each month at least: one classic (I’m apart of an Instagram 2020 Classics Challenge, so those have been chosen ahead. I may not read their choice every month, but instead stick in one of my choice instead), one poetry, one middle grade, and one nonfiction.

Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy by Jean Webster (****) – These two connected stories were HILARIOUS. They are written in the form of letters from the main character to others. In Daddy-Long-Legs, a young woman who is aging out of an orphanage is given the chance to attend university at the expensive of an anonymous orphanage board member, whom she dubs Daddy-Long-Legs. The only requirement is for her to write him and keep him updated on everything. However, my favorite book was the sequel, Dear Enemy,  in which the girl from the first book now sends a friend to run and improve her former orphanage and hilarious situations ensue as she reforms everything and meets many interesting characters. This book has simple, almost crude line drawings by Webster, I believe, and they add to the hilarity of this. I highly recommend these two books, only with the one caveat that there is some political themes and outdated/disturbing views of disable people, but other than that, I really had fun with these!

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (***) – Amazingly creative, but definitely creepy, dark, and morbid. This was a collection of interwoven short stories, that are told as swirling tattoos on a man, hence the illustrated man. I really enjoy Bradbury, but I wouldn’t say these were my favorite, boarding on a little too dark for my taste, but wowsers, he was a wonderful wordsmith!

Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985 and Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser (*****) – these were my poetry selections for this month and they were amazingly beautiful. I wrote down snatches and phrases and can’t wait to try more of his work soon. Delights & Shadows was my favorite. In a teeny way, he and Billy Collins have a bit in common, but I found Kooser’s poetry a little grittier.

The Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones (***) – For my middle grade choice, I decided to try another DWJ, as I’m a new fan of hers. This was a strange, yet creative retelling of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Not sure I completely love it, but it was definitely unique.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (**) – This was our first title for my IG Classics Challenge and my classic for the month. Beautiful writing, heartbreaking story-line. Hardy’s natural descriptions are just lush and amazing, but this story was super hard for me. It got under my skin and it frustrated me. I don’t like stories that seem hopeless. One thing that really jumped out to me was his use of subtle implication…it seemed to me that through his writing of descriptive natural settings, he was comparing and highlighting Tess and some of the main characters using the natural world. Angel Clare seemed a little “too perfect” to me throughout this book…hmm, with a name like Angel? I had to skim a little of this book about 3/4 of the way in, because I couldn’t handle it. Hardy was definitely brave for his time, taking a very difficult subject and writing a depressing 😉 book with hard-hitting, almost silent, subtle rebukes in it. Ack. Not my favorite Hardy. 

The Holy Bible (*****) – 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and working my way through Isaiah.

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What did you read that you loved in January? My favorites were definitely Dear Enemy and Delight & Shadows. Happy Reading! I didn’t finish any nonfiction, but I have a few going. ❤

11 thoughts on “January Reads {and my 2020 reading plans}

  1. Enchanted Glass is one of DWJ’s weaker offerings in my opinion. Her later books didn’t all hit it out of the park for me. But her early and middle periods were brilliant.

    For me Dear Enemy was wrecked by the creepy eugenics propaganda. I know it was a very popular view at the time, but one wishes the author could have gone back and re-written the book after a change of heart. So unfortunate because you are right that in other ways her writing (and drawing) was very funny and charming.

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  2. Really? While The Illustrated Man is possibly one of Bradbury’s darkest titles, it wasn’t that bad ‘for me’, which speaks volumes about how different our opinions can be, ha ha ha. It’s okay, that title is not everyone’s cup of tea for sure.

    I read Tess ages ago, and I have not yet been back to Hardy, -sigh, too many books, too little time, I’m a slow reader-, I’m glad that the poem collection was a hit, 🙂

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    1. I think our opinions on things can change with the seasons we are in, too, Silvia. 🙂 I can read and appreciate dark things in books better at different times in my life. So true that we all take things differently! 🙂 It’s what makes us uniquely us!

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  3. Right from the beginning when Tess falls asleep and manages to get the horse killed I knew I was in for a depressing ride. I also enjoyed the was his nature descriptions related back to the characters. I really didn’t like Angel at all so I felt frustrated at Tess for being so in love with him!

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