I made no particular New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 but I did two things: First, I started book-blogging again (after being in a qrotesquely long hiatus spanning almost a year and a half) and second, I told myself that I’m going to embrace absolute liberty in reading this year.
See, I spectacularly suck at following structures and there’s always a gnawing suspicion at the back of my head that I’m somewhat semi-allerigic to systems. Oh, but how I tried. A couple of years back, I used to make monthly reading lists and heaven knows how I did my damndest to keep up with them in spite of the infuriating drama and woes of work and real life. I did everything I could just to write reviews about each book as faithfully as I can. And guess what? It actually worked. I have never been productive in my life and boy, was I proud.
But after a year of doing that, I have reached the point of inevitable exhaustion. I found myself asking: What do you do when the thing you do because of love becomes a thing you do out of duty? What happens when your passion becomes an obligation?
And then a revelation that slapped me so hard in the face: A true lover of books does not think of reading as a homework.
So I stopped trying too hard to conform with themes. I stopped limiting myself into books that only fit in a certain kind of concept and started relaxing with picking up book titles that I think I will enjoy.I stopped forcing myself to write reviews and instead focused on looking forward to new reads. I stopped giving myself deadlines and started taking as much time as possible to linger through the pages and chapters. I have learned how to be excited again.
January is always one of the toughest months because there’s always a constant pressure to do things right, and it’s just the same with reading. Ultimately, I have decided to no longer have reading lists. I vowed that I will read whatever I feel like reading and then write a monthly wrap-up report when I’m done. Sure, starting all over again is scary, but there’s always a pure thrill in seizing another chance of being brand-new–of becoming better.
But ah, how arbitrary beings we all are! Whether we like it or not, when we think of beginnings, we would always find a way somehow to remember our youth. This is probably why I felt so drawn towards middle-grade novels and young-adult books about past memories this month. In a lot of ways, there seems to be a recurring theme within these stories that speak of relishing and celebrating that one part of our lives we can never seem to forget or let go of: our childhood.
I’ve read three middle-grade novels (all of which have earned their spot in my list of favorites), four contemporary young adult books and a book of poetry. Eight books in total. I must be in acid or something, and I’m crossing all my fingers hoping this reading streak won’t stop.
On to the ratings and recognitions, then! Let’s go!
►Book Ratings (in order of reading sequence)
- Navigating Early ★★★★★
- Perfect ★★☆☆☆
- This is what happy looks like ★★★☆☆
- Wonder ★★★★★
- Shock of the fall ★★★☆☆
- Lullabies ★☆☆☆☆
- More than this ★★★★☆
- Who could that be at this hour? ★★★★★
► Book Cover Design of the Month:
Lemony Snicket’s worlds are so deliciously well-crafted but let’s admit it: the artists for his books also deserve to be congratulated. It must have been a daunting feat to follow up on Brett Helquist’s iconic illustrations for A Series of Unfortunate Events and even Maira Kalman’s stunning art for Why We Broke Up but Seth held up his own on this series. That cover design exudes such an intriguing postmodern noir flair and it certainly added to the rich imagery of the plot. Each chapter also came with an artwork and I love, love, love every single one of them.
► Book Quote of the Month:
“WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING
RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”
– WONDER by R.J. Palacio
► Worst Book of the Month:
Let’s just say that after I finished this collection of poetry, I did a little happy dance because I was so grateful I did not actually purchase a physical copy of this book and only read it in digital format. Boy, it would’ve been a legit waste of cash. I have one piece of advice to you: SAVE YOUR MONEY AND SKIP IT.
► Favorite Literary Characters:
If I could swap minds with a literary character for a day, it would be Early Auden. With an astounding strength of imagination and the fiery brilliance of his ideas, Early is both a puzzle and a portrait of what it means to be extraordinary.
I have never wanted to cuddle a fictional character this bad. Tomasz is so adorable I find myself gripping the pages with my surprisingly outrageous maternal feelings on the cusp of exploding. Dear Patrick Ness: Can I adopt him?
Auggie and Via (Wonder)
I refuse to believe that they are just literary characters. My heart and mind will not accept that nonsense. Auggie and Via are so breathtakingly real to me, I swear to god I will punch anyone who would tell me otherwise.
► Best Book/s of the Month:
Wonder / Navigating Early
Because my heart cannot and will not dare choose. Wonder and Navigating Early are stories that restored my faith in the inherent goodness of people and the stunning promise of greatness within us all. Wonder featured a boy with physical abnormalities while Navigating Early had a character with an undiagnosed autism, and both of them have minds that are so intensely profound and beautiful. And just when you are expecting their stories to be nothing more than tales of being shunned by society, these books soared to unexpected heights by surrounding their heroes with excellent supporting characters that empowered them, admired them, loved them. The best kind of books are those that greet you gently with a low-key promise of a good time, only to leave you heartbroken and happy in the end for such a rewarding, unforgettable memory, and Wonder and Navigating Early did just that by becoming more than what meets the eye: stories with true, beating hearts.