I guess the one advantage of this quarantine/self-isolation (I’m still not sure what to call it) period is that it’s given me some extra time for some of the books that I really wanted to get to this year. Strangely enough, I don’t necessarily think that I’ve been reading more than I would have during a regular work week since I am still working from home, but I’ve intentionally used some of this time to really focus on some of the longer or denser books that I’ve been a bit worried about squeezing in. At the beginning of the year, I set myself an extremely tentative monthly TBR which has now mostly fallen apart given my lack of access to the library. The goal of that was mostly to make sure I get to the series that I’ve prioritized, loosely planned for one or sometimes two per month, and although I haven’t stuck to it 100%, it has been helpful. I’ve been working from home for a full month now and it’s been a great extra push to read some of the books that I’ve really been meaning to get to.
One of my first thoughts when I learned that my workplace was shutting down was, “Well, at least now I’ll have time to focus on the Renegades trilogy!” which is a series that I’d mean to start late last year! I ended up putting it off because I wanted to wait for Supernova, and I’m glad that I waited so I could binge-read all three. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is a particularly dense series, but it is quite lengthy since each of the three books is around 500 pages. Normally, I can read about 100 pages per day during a regular work week, since I really only have the evenings. I picked these up last year the day that we shut down, and each book took me about 4 days, so it wasn’t necessarily much faster but I do feel like it would have taken me much longer if I tried to read them after working full days. In any case, I ended up absolutely loving this series! I loved all of the characters, and even though some of the plot was predictable, it was so much fun to read. I really loved all the social and political commentary about the role of heroes vs. regular citizens, and how their society had been shaped by having the heroes take over. This series reminds me so much of The Incredibles, and I mean that in a good way.
Another book that I was very excited to pick up was Ninth House, which I devoured in the span of three days at the end of March. This was by far one of my most anticipated books to try this year, and I regret not putting it in my Top 20 To Read in 2020 list! The only reason it didn’t end up there was because I made it a 5-star prediction, and didn’t want too much overlap in those lists. This was another book that I was a bit nervous to manage if I only had the evenings to read after work, since I’d heard it was very slow paced and hard to get into. Luckily for me, that was not my experience with it at all! I can definitely see where people might find it slow at first, since it does take some time for the main action to really take off, and there was a lot of background information given about Yale’s secret societies, but I found it completely fascinating. The book reminded me quite a bit of a darker version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially with the whole idea of a hidden supernatural side to the university. The characters were definitely a highlight for me, and I loved Alex’s interactions with all of the other characters. I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out!
Possibly the biggest accomplishment in the past month was reading The Starless Sea, which I was very excited for, but also very intimidated by it. I loved The Night Circus but it has been about four years since I read it, so I really didn’t remember it well. I just remembered that Erin Morgenstern’s writing is beautiful but also can be incredibly dense. I think of all the books on my list, this was the one I was most nervous to pick up in general. I found the synopsis confusing and went into it really understanding very little of what it was supposed to be about, so I was worried I wouldn’t get it at all. I also tend to find that for a book like this, or really most books, I often like them better if I can read larger sections of them straight through, instead of just a few pages each day. I’d been considering reading this book around the start of April anyway since I was already supposed to have a few days off, but this just gave me the chance to pick it up a few days sooner. It took me 5 days to read, although two of those were days where I barely had time, so it might have even been possible to read it in 3 or 4 days, which is great time for a book like this! More importantly, I ended up really loving it. I was drawn in immediately by the main character Zachary and his love of books, and especially loved the literary-themed party he attended. The book reminded me of what a long-form version of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series might look like, and although I did get a tiny bit confused toward the end, I found this book so much easier to get into than I’d expected. I’m so glad I had the chance to pick this one up and actually devote the time and attention to it that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do so easily in a regular year.
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