What I Read In January

Well the first month of the year is already... gone. I spent it doing a lot of writing and reading (but not as much reading as I would have liked). I'm honestly disappointed that I only read 8 books this month. I also read 3 graphic novels, but they feel like cheating. And some of the books I read this year were short. And I was in a sort of reading slump in the beginning and end of the month. I did read some great books this month though. Three new favorites, in fact.

And, in case any of my readers are on Goodreads, I thought I'd make it easy for you to find me, and just link my profile right here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/69830835-elijah

Now I'll get into the books.

#1 - Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Gary Whitta - Comic Adaption - 4/5 stars

I was incredibly disappointed in the Rise of Skywalker and wanted to get back to the best of the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi. Unpopular opinion, I know, but I really love The Last Jedi. I found this comic book adaption on Goodreads, and I immediately wanted to read it. It satisfied me for sure. It's exactly like the movie, only more condensed. It cut straight to the punch and left out some of the tone-deaf gags and gave Luke some extra characterization. Another thing I noticed was how the characters looked less like Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega and more like Kylo Ren, Rey, and Finn, which I appreciated. So, all-in-all, a quick read to start out the year.

#2 - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard - Play - 5/5 stars

For anyone who has seen or read Hamlet, you should recognize those names in the title as the barely important side characters who are tasked to 'glean what afflicts Hamlet'.

Well, this play script is the retelling of Hamlet from the worms-eye view of these two characters and their less-than-half-informed quest to help Hamlet, all while wandering around, playing word games, and questioning what it means to die.

It is both a comedy and a drama, and when it was written it won the Tony Award for best play. It's one of the most popular contemporary plays and I can easily see why. It was so fun to read. It simultaneously poked fun at Hamlet's dramatic portions and treated it with very high respect. This is one of my new favorites and I just can't explain why it's so amazing. Recommend for teens, adults and anyone who enjoys plays.

#3 - The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson - Fantasy - 5/5 stars

Unlike the first one Mistborn, I didn't feel this one was slow or had unnecessary length. Those were the only qualms I had with the first and in this one, all the introductions were out of the way. This book is the meat of the story, which is odd since it deals with the aftermath of what could have been the standalone conflict of the first book. I'm so glad it's not a standalone though, because I love this book!

The strongest part of this book are its characters. All of them grew and changed and had inner conflicts and personalities! They were the opposite of cardboard! Sanderson is the benchmark for character development! I loved Elend, Vin, Sazed, Breeze, and Zane the most, but every character deserves recognition. Though, Elend's character arc is one of my favorite in all of literature. And of course the world building I have to give credit to. I felt the grandeur and mythical feel of each prophecy and creature. I felt physical awe.

The first Mistborn book wasn't my favorite but this one is. Recommend for teens and adults.

#4 - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - Fantasy - 5/5 stars

I know this isn't original, but I love Narnia. I started this book with a great knowledge of Narnia. I loved the movies and my parents read me the books when I was a small child. But I remember nothing of the books. So I was going into this not sure what to expect. I knew that I love C.S. Lewis's work so I would obviously love this but I had read most of his other works before I read Narnia (weird, I know). I decided to read it out loud to my little brother, hoping that he would remember it better than I did as the years passed for him. At first he was indifferent, then he grew to love it. I got to practice all my british accents doing the voices for the Pevensies. I also almost choked at some points because C.S. Lewis is a master at making me feel emotions that reflect Heaven. I love, love Lewis's style. I love Aslan. And I love all the characters and how they get their own arcs and they all have flaws and you can just perfectly imagine how they get their titles. (i.e. Peter the Magnificent, Susan the Gentle). But most of all I love how Lewis could bring in so much allegorical wisdom into a humble children's fantasy story. That's really all it is. Lewis really can 'sneak past those watching dragons', using his humble stories to get past all our defenses. Yeah, I love Narnia. Recommend for everyone.

#5 - Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach - Epistolary Nonfiction - 5/5 stars

This was required for my school but I would have gladly read it anyway. My version was cut into two parts, one written in the 1920s or so, and the other was written in the 1600s. Each were letters written by men who were 'practicing' the presence of God. I think I enjoyed Laubach's portion more, but both were so poweful, inspiring and convicting. This book may be one where I can look back and see it's impact on my life, in how it changed my mindset towards prayer and talking to God. Recommend for everyone.

#6 - Stein: On Writing by Sol Stein - Nonfiction - 4/5 stars

I'm probably just young and think I know everything, but I thought Stein was a little arrogant and very narrow-minded most of the time as to how things work in writing. That said, I know that he is correct more than ninety percent of the time, and my writing should improve dramatically if I implement what he's taught in this book. I skipped over the 'love scene' chapter, but the rest of it, even the non-fiction portions were incredibly practical and helpful. Recommend for writers.

#7 - The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Sci-fi - 3/5 stars

This book was enjoyable and hilarious, but it didn't really impress me. I also disagreed with Adams' philosophy about life in general. The book was incredibly pointless and random, but that's why it was so funny. I laughed out loud more than a few times and had a mental grin at all the antics and British wit.

It was a collection of scenes that sometimes had nothing to do with each other or the story, but they moved on quick so that they never overstayed their welcome. Things were constantly happening and it was a generally fun book. But as I said, I wasn't too impressed. Recommend for teens and adults.

#8 - Ayn Rand's ANTHEM: The Graphic Novel by Dan Parsons - Graphic Novel - 2/5 stars

This was the only book I disliked this month. The art was hard on the eyes and it was heavy on text when what I wanted was a visually driven story. It was boring to get through and left me with a bad taste in my mouth, especially because of the theme.

#9 - Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan - Graphic Novel - 5/5 stars

This was the best graphic novel I have ever read and easily became a new favorite. I love this book so, so much. I don't like short stories so I was pretty surprised that I liked this collection of incredibly short stories.

They were stories that could not have worked in any other format, and they were all beautiful, all of them left me wondering and thinking. All of them made me feel, and I won't try to describe it any more than that. Recommend for everyone.

#10 - Blackout by Connie Willis - His-fic - 4/5 stars

Connie Willis has a very overbearing style. Thankfully I enjoy it a lot; others, maybe not so much. This is set in the same universe as, though years after another one of her books that I read last year, Doomsday Book, with time-traveling Oxford historians. It is distinctly British and Willis is the Queen of Specificity. You can feel the research and investment that is just oozing out of these pages. Every street name, every date. And the world building around the time travel tech, that is such an original take on time travel.

All of her books so far follow the same pattern of a time-traveler who thinks they know what's going on, but things eventually fall so terribly apart. It's so fun to watch all her characters (who I thought were similar until they began to actually talk to each other and you could see their subtle differences), struggle through their adventures hundreds of years from their home. I really, really enjoyed this book, though it did suffer from a lot of editing and pacing problems. I'll be eagerly waiting to read the next one in the series. Recommend for teens and adults.

#11 - Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer - Fantasy - 4/5 stars

As a continuation of the series which I started last year, I picked this one up and read it very quickly. It's such a fun and quirky adventure, with exaggerated characters who are so fun to read. This one was definitely better than the first and I'll definitely be continuing the series.

And that's it! I'm currently reading Murder on The Orient Express, Mere Christianity, Wuthering Heights, and Prince Caspian. And I have even more amazing books lined up for February, so I'm eager to start!

- Elijah

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