Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 Books in Review

Wow, what a year! Working a full-time job absolutely destroyed my reading goals. While I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked, I did find a newfound enjoyment for audiobooks during my long commute. Hoopla has so many great options!

Also, this year saw inflation in the prices of books. Now is the time to buy hardcovers that are already printed. They might just be cheaper than the paperback editions coming out next year.



Goal Type: 700+ pages

Do I look like I have the time to read a 700-page novel when most of the books I’ve read this year have been graphic novels? Hahahaha! Nope. Does finishing The Count of Monte Cristo this year count? I know I listed it as last year’s book, but technically I finished it this January, so I’m counting it.


Goal Type: Published in 2023 (aka the Year of Sanderson)

If you think the names of the secret projects should be kept secret, feel free to skip this section. I’ve been working my way through all of Sanderson’s secret projects, so it’s difficult to say one is better than another. I finished The Lost Metal this winter. Though it wasn’t my favorite Mistborn book, it was a fitting end to Era 2.

I started on the secret projects shorty after they released. Tress of the Emerald Sea was the only one I’ve read in printed form. Having Hoid as the narrator was hilarious, but what I really enjoyed were the characters.

Then I started listening to The Frugal Wizard’s Guide to Surviving Medieval England on audiobook. I must say, I like the narrators! Five stars. Would listen to again, though I’m still disappointed I can’t have a dimension full of talking bananas. Sigh… While not everybody may agree with me about the book’s merit, it was what I needed at the time I read it. I had a good laugh!

Then I read Yumi and the Nightmare Painter. This. Book. Seriously, this story was the one I needed while I was reading it. I was getting really discouraged from one of the writers at my writing group who kept suggesting AI could replace writers. But one of the main themes of Yumi and the Nightmare Painter is that art is about intent, human intent and expression. And I just— asdfghjkkl! Thank you, Sanderson. I needed to hear that.

Finally, during Christmas break, my sister and I listened to The Sunlit Man, which was a roller-coaster of a book from start to finish. Seriously, the plot did not let up and the entire story took place over the course of two days. I needed a breather after that.

No, I never did mention which of these books was the best. I liked them all for different reasons.


Goal Type: Recommended by a Friend

Throughout the year, I started but didn’t finish three recommendations. Welp, I tried.


Goal Type: Classics

Watch me count The Count of Monte Cristo twice! Started in 2022, finished in 2023. Such a complex, dynamic story! Every chapter was necessary to the plot, and I’d like to see this one adapted into a series rather than a movie.

My sister got me into the Epic: The Musical by Jorge Rivera-Herrans, so I had to went on an Odyssey spree. This one took me the longest simply because the introduction was so long, and I kind of forgot to read it because it opens with Telemachus instead of Odysseus. I’m still working my way through it…


Goal: Historical Fiction

Guys! I found another historical fiction writer! Meet June Hur. I’ve been working my way through ALL of her books since I read and devoured her latest release The Red Palace. Relatable, well-developed characters? Check. Page-turning suspense? Check. A setting that isn’t worn out and overdone? Check. A murder mystery set in Korea based on the story of an actual person? Check.

I later went on to read The Forest of Stolen Girls, and while I didn’t enjoy it as much, I did appreciate the sister dynamic and the lack of romance. Not every story needs it!

As for middle grade books, I officially read The Witch of Blackbird Pond three times this year alone. Once before class, and once with two different classes. As far as historical merit and good writing goes, this one takes the cake! There are still plenty of other books I have read with my classes, but this one has been the one I enjoyed most this year. I particularly like how it addresses confronting stereotypes and the ways politics and religion can shape the way a person behaves.

Then I also started rereading one of my all-time favorite series: Anne of Green Gables.


Goal Type: English Translations

Journey to the West: The Monkey King’s Amazing Adventures retold by Timothy Richard—translated from Chinese. The writing style was rather bland, but as a student of literature, I found the book to be fascinating.

How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino—translated from Japanese by Bruno Navasky. Absolutely delightful. Philosophical, entertaining, and introspective. We’re going to get a Studio Ghibli film based on this book, which I look forward to!


Goal Type: Poetry

I haven’t read as much poetry as I would have liked to, but that’s okay. The Select Poems of Tu Fu helped me better understand classical poetic tradition as well as a small portion of the history of China. It’s amazing how many of the poems are relatable and how the imagery is so vivid.

I’m also slowly working my way through The Odyssey, which is written in verse. I don’t care for the translations that turn it into prose. Give me the originals, or as close to it as you can get with a translation.


Goal Type: Indie Published

Blade of Ash by C.F.E. Black—an enjoyable story, although I don’t remember much of it. The characters were well-developed, but I wish there could have been more development of the plot and the world.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree—absolutely delightful! I described this to my sister as a post-D&D story, and she devoured it as soon as I finished. A former adventuring orc goes on a quest to open a coffee shop. People come together. New recipes are discovered. A slice of life in a fantasy setting, and I enjoyed every bit of it! Now I want to go work in a coffee shop…


Goal Type: Books with Movie Adaptations

Nimona by N.D. Stevenson—I reread this one twice this year, once before the movie came out and again afterward to do some more thorough comparison. The movie was a completely different story, and even some of the characters were different. I still enjoy the book more, but the movie has elements that I enjoyed that you don’t get in the book, like more of Nimona’s motivation and backstory.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov—This one is often recommended as a sci-fi read, and some of the concepts went over my . Overall, it was fascinating even if none of the characters were particularly likeable. I have yet to watch the adaptation.


Goal Type: Alphabet Challenge with a Friend

Did not happen. Whoops.


8/10 Book Types


Other Notable Books

The Castle School for Troubled Girls by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries, #7) by Martha Wells

Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji


Other Bookish News…

As I’m approaching the next stages in writing, I’m going to start looking for critique partners and beta readers, so stay tuned if you’re looking for a sneak peak at some sci-fi or fantasy!

Happy reading!


Let’s chat! Do we have any reads in common? Did you read any of Sanderson’s secret projects? Have you read many of the books that served as the basis for Studio Ghibli movies?

Similar posts: 2023 Reading Resolutions, 8 Books I Bought Because of the Cover, and 7 More of my Go-To Authors

Sunday, January 15, 2023

2023 Reading Resolutions

Last year, I jokingly told one of my friends about my reading ambitions: “I like to start off the year with a bunch of reading goals. Then I’ll spend the rest of the year avoiding those goals.”

While not entirely true, sometimes it feels like that. Each year, I like to challenge myself, but I also like my goals achievable. This year, I’m changing it up a bit. Instead of a certain number of books types, I’m just doing book types. We shall see how many of each I’ll read.


Goal Type: 700+ pages

One year, I said I’d read a book 1,000 or more pages, and only made it to 700 pages. Every year since then, I set my goal to 700 and I’ve made it past 1,000. I make no sense.

On my list:

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree (still) by Samantha Shannon


Goal Type: Published in 2023

New releases! Aside from Brandon Sanderson’s secret projects, I’m not really sure what’s coming out this year…

On my list:

  • The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
  • The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill by Rowenna Miller
  • Secret Project #1 by Brandon Sanderson


Goal Type: Recommended by a Friend

A lot of times, I seek out the same types of stories, and sometimes they can get tedious. I don’t want to get stuck in a reading rut. At the end of last year, I asked some of my friends for their recommendations, and here are a couple I got!

On my list:

  • Emma by Jane Austen, recommended by Sarah
  • A Coal Miner’s Bride by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, recommended by Karina
  • Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto, recommended by Faith


Goal Type: Classics

I enjoyed so many last year without even meaning to! Now that I’m not in school don’t have to read them, reading classics is more enjoyable.

On my list:

  • Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne


Goal: Historical Fiction

Especially middle grade novels. I want to discover more gems to share with my students. I’m sure there will be more than we can read in the classroom, but that’s all right. I’ve already amassed a big list. Here are a few:

  • A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
  • Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins
  • Under the Broken Sky by Mariko Nagai
  • Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
  • The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman


Goal Type: English Translations

Mostly contemporary. I’ll put the classics in the above category. Also, I’m not counting Manga here. If I happen across a good series, I’ll be sure to list it in the notable mentions at the end of the year.

On my list:

  • The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehashi


Goal Type: Poetry

Novels in verse, poetry collections, you name it!

On my list:

  • The Selected Poems of Tu Fu
  • In the Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo


Goal Type: Indie Published

Last year, I happened upon a book convention and got to meet some indie authors. It’s about time I read the books I bought!

On my list:

  • Blade of Ash by C.F.E Black
  • The Case of the Dragon-Bone Engine by Galadriel Coffeen


Goal Type: Books with Movie Adaptations

There’re actually a couple movies I have yet to see because I haven’t read the book yet. Not that I can remember many of them… I want to watch all the Studio Ghibli movies, but I haven’t read A Wizard of Earthsea yet.

On my list:

  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin


Goal Type: Alphabet Challenge with a Friend

I’ve seen this challenge on Likewise, one of the book apps I use for reading recommendations. I mentioned the challenge to my friend Faith, and we decided to read some together so we can talk about them! We probably won’t get through all 26 letters this year, but it will be a fun start. The following books may change depending on what we decide on together:

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett
  • Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker


10 Total Book Types

Shall I read them all? It remains to be seen…


Let’s chat! What kind of books are on your list this year? Do you make reading goals?

Similar posts: 2022 Books in Review, 2022 Reading Resolutions, 7 More of my Go-To Authors