What I Read in January
Hi, if you’re new here, I love books. So much so that I tried (and failed) to start a book club and then created a reading challenge which I’m currently working through. As a way to keep myself accountable, I’ve been sharing what I’m reading on my Instagram. But I wanted to step it up a notch and share a little bit more about each book here on the blog. So, the What I Read series was born. Each month I’ll be (trying) to recap the books I’ve read each month, tell you a little bit about them, and whether or not I think they need to be on your reading list. I asked on Instagram whether or not you guys wanted these monthly reading recaps to be in a blog post format or a YouTube video and blog post won by a landslide so here we are.
How I Rate Books
Before we dive in, I wanted to chat a bit about how I actually rate each book. Over the years, I’ve developed certain criteria for how I rate books so that I can have a personalized standard for myself. I want to stress that there isn’t a right or wrong way to rate a book, I just wanted to share mine so you understand why my ratings might be a little harsher for some books and not others. Books that I recommend will automatically receive a rating of 3 stars or higher. So, here’s how I rate the books that I read based on a 5-star system:
1 star - Utter waste of time
This book added no value to my life. I didn’t want to finish it but kept reading it anyway because there was at least a part of me that wanted to see if it got better. One star books are often riddled with inaccuracies, problematic writing styles, or just didn’t make much sense at all.
2 stars - It was just okay
This book was more annoying than it was pleasurable to read. There were definitely points that were problematic but not so much so that I struggled to finish it like the one-star books. Read for the sake of reading. The main plot was lost and the author had to work to come back to the point again and again.
3 stars - Average read but enjoyable
This book wasn’t life changing but I enjoyed reading it. Somewhat rewarding of a read and not a total waste of time. The author did something to make an otherwise tired concept fresh again in terms of writing style. I might recommend this book.
4 stars - A book I loved reading
A good book that could have used minor improvements. Something I had fun reading and found enjoyable. This book made somewhat of an impact on me, my thoughts, and/or my life. I can see myself rereading this book in the future and would definitely recommend.
5 stars - Life-changing
This book was one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. Something about reading this fundamentally changed my thoughts or feelings about something. The book was flawless in terms of execution and I absolutely could not put it down. I will continue to think about and talk about whatever topics were covered in this book. I will avidly look forward to other works from this author. I strongly recommend this book and believe that everyone should read it.
So there’s my rating system. This will be the first time I’ve fully implemented it so I look forward to seeing how it changes the way I talk about and consider books once I’ve read them. Below you’ll find each book that I read in January along with the corresponding reading challenge topic I chose said book for followed by my rating and thoughts on the book!
One final note: Please do not take these ratings personally. Just because I may be harsh on a book doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to like it or that you are lesser because you enjoyed it. These ratings are all based on my personal reading preferences and in no way negatively reflect on you, the book, or the authors.
What I Read in January:
Why I chose it: A Book You Read in High School
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I think this is probably the third or fourth time I have reread The Hunger Games. I first read The Hunger Games in high school shortly after it was released when it came highly recommended to me by my high school English teacher. The reason I rate The Hunger Games so highly is that this is the book that started my love for young adult dystopias which I would go on to write my senior thesis in college on. If for some reason you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of The Hunger Games or maybe you’ve seen the movies but never actually read the books, I definitely think it’s a book everyone should read at least once. It’s easy to read, relatively short, and makes for a good holiday or summer read.
Why I chose it: A Book at the Bottom of your Reading List
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
*Hides behind a wall for protection* Guys, I really wanted to like this book. Everyone seems to LOVE this book. And I mean, everyone. This series has something crazy like seven books and has a Twilight-like following. I really hated this book. So much so that I wanted to give it a one-star rating but didn’t because there were at least parts of the book that I somewhat enjoyed. There were SO many things I found problematic about this book. The first being that the basic plot that is outlined on the cover is virtually non-existent. The second is that I found the main character, who is supposed to be the deadliest assassin in all of the land, to be completely insufferable. I really don’t want to waste time dragging this book because I know my opinion is in the minority for this series but it was truly a struggle for me to finish. I think the only reason I even did end up finishing it was because I kept hoping something would happen that would make me see why everyone loved it. Unless you’re really trying to see what the hype is (or IMO isn’t) about, then I would skip this one.
Why I Chose it: A Book from your Least Favorite Genre
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gosh, I liked this one. You could tell the author put in a lot of effort to research the time period and certain aspects of the plot. The characters were relatable and super likable and enjoyable. The concept for the world building was something I hadn’t really experienced before and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book though the world building did leave a lot of gaps that I am not sure will get filled in during the rest of the series. I dropped this from 4 to 3.5 stars because there were aspects of the book that I felt were just a little too disjointed but other than that it was an enjoyable read and I definitely think it’s worth looking into if you like the YA fantasy type of book! I’m also excited to continue reading the series as more books come out.