January 2017 | Book Musings

Books have always been a source of education, of escapism, of exploration for me and as we enter 2017 I’m readying myself to dive even further into books and all the different stories, journeys, and histories that make up human existence on Earth. On top of challenging myself to read at least 50 books this year and reading even more diversely, I’ve added two additional challenges to my 2017 reading.

One of the challenges is Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder challenge (link). It’s a challenge that attempts to take a reader out of their reading comfort zone and into new spaces, new genres, topics, authors, etc. they may have never have picked up otherwise. The other challenge is rereading the entirety of the Harry Potter series. I, like many others around my age, grew up with Harry Potter. Whether it was waiting in stores until midnight to buy the books and read the whole thing the next day or watching Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint grow up on screen in movies, Harry Potter was a large part of my childhood and adolescence. I’m looking forward to revisiting the stories that J.K. Rowling wrote and opening my eyes to things I missed during my previous reads.

Unlike the book musings I wrote last year, I’m going to be taking a different approach to summarizing the books I’ve read this year. I’m going to be writing monthly book musings going over what I read, what I liked about them, what I disliked about them, and what I learnt from them.

I hope you enjoy taking this reading journey with me. So let’s break down January’s book musings.

January was reset, a blank state to build upon once more and it was an eclectic month of reading. I read a total of 6 books in January:

  1. Monstress, Issues 7-9 Script by Marjorie Liu, Art by Sana Takeda
  2. Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  3. Black Widow: The Name of the RoseScript by Marjorie Liu, Art by Daniel Acuna
  4. A Gentleman in the Streets – Alisha Rai
  5. Big Rock – Lauren Blakely
  6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling

I started reading Monstress in 2016 and I absolutely fell head over heels in love with the series created by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. The story is absolutely sweeping and mesmerizing and so damn good! I usually hoard my single issues of comics until I have at least three of them to read and Monstress, issues 7-9 were brilliant. The hunt for Maika is only intensifying as fractions on all sides are now in pursuit of her and her companions. She returns to the home that she and her mother shared before her mother’s death in search of answers but instead finds more questions that make her doubt who she is and what she is actually doing. The monster inside Maika continues to hunger and make demands of Maika, demands she is finding harder and harder to meet. Maika and her companions now take to the seas for an island, which may hold answers to why her mother died and what for and I can’t wait to read more.

Bluest Eye was a novel that I began reading at the end of 2016. It was my first introduction to Toni Morrison and what an introduction. It’s a short novel, but a powerful one, a theme that I found myself enveloped in, in 2016. It was both a stunning and devastating look at how African-Americans, especially African-American women, have been systematically oppressed and demonized in the US for how they look. All Pecola Breedlove desires is blue eyes. She believes that blue eyes will finally make her beautiful, make her worthy, worthy of the world that she lives in and worthy of love. She believes that with blues eyes she’ll have a better life like all the white little girls with blonde eyes that she has seen before. It’s overwhelming to think that a child thinks that way, has been taught to think this way, that the only way to be loved and worthy is to have blue eyes, but it’s a reality. It’s a fictionalized reality in Bluest Eye but the truth of that thinking has been held true for centuries in the West, categorically denouncing the beauty of anyone who isn’t. Bluest Eye is a book that opened my eyes even wider than they already were.

Black Widow: The Name of the Rose is a trade that I stumbled upon when I was looking up other comic book works by Marjorie Liu. This was actually my favourite book that I read in January. Natasha Romanov has relied on secrets her entire life, they’re what kept her safe, kept her alive until the past comes back to haunt her in a way she never expected. It’s a storyline that has been done before but Marjorie has this way of forming female characters that are well rounded kickass characters and she definitely does that with Natasha. You quickly get a sense of who Natasha is, what she’s fighting for, and her past and how it has defined her and continues to define her actions and thinking. It was a really good read and I loved Marjorie’s take on the Black Widow. I just wish it were longer.

Alisha Rai has risen quickly on my list of favourite romance authors and A Gentleman in the Streets has been one of the best romances that I’ve read in the past few months. It had everything that I look for in romance novels. It’s a little escapist, it’s sexy, smart, has fully fleshed out characters that aren’t perfect, and a love story that makes my heart a flutter. I loved the dynamic between the main characters of Akira Mori and Jacob Campbell. Their relationship isn’t a conventional one for sure, but it’s one that works for them and I like that. I like seeing different types of relationships in the romance genre. I’m excited to read more of Alisha Rai’s work and more romance novels with women of colour heroines.

Sometimes you just pick up a book solely based on its cover and that was definitely half of the reason I picked up Big Rock. The other half was because of the hilarious description of the novel, which was absolutely hilarious. Big Rock differed from many of the other romance novels playing with the best friends fall in love with one another trope that I’ve read before in that the story was told from the male POV. It was just a really fun and quick read that put a smile on my face when I needed it.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is probably my least reread novel in the Harry Potter series. I don’t know why that is the case but it just is. Rereading the first novel really gave me a greater insight into how challenging and exciting it was for Harry to discover that he was a wizard, that he had parents who loved him, who wanted him, who cared for him and this entirely new side to him as a person. Finding out his true heritage opened up an entirely new world for Harry and at Hogwarts, he discovered even more about who he is and his past and the possibility of a future that he never thought possible. You can see how J.K. Rowling began to set the stage for the stories that come after this one. The friendship formed between Harry, Ron, and Hermione was the highlight of rereading the novel. Watching the three of them suss each other out, becoming friends, and then taking on what they took on in stop Voldemort is really the heart of the book and the series, I think. This friendship formed out of trust, friendship, love, at such a young age between the three of them is really quite magical. The world the J.K. Rowling starts building in this novel will live on for a long time, as will the characters she created.

January was definitely an eclectic month of reading for me, escapist really. I needed something that was, something that was comforting, something that was familiar and I sought that out in books. And I found it, thankfully.

Thanks for reading. If you want to know what I’m reading at the moment and quick reviews of books that I’ve read definitely check my out on the reading/books app Litsy. My username is CiViiLy.

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