This post will be (sort of) a recap of last year’s reading. A bit all over the place and I know it’s already June with the first half of the year already finished, perhaps it’s a bit late to be posting yearly recaps but I’m trying to ease my way back to writing blog posts and this seems an easy enough topic to start with.

Last year, while still typical of my hermit years with the added pandemic situation, felt such a huge accomplishment for me because I rekindled my love for reading. I was able to read 44 books and surpassed my Goodreads Reading Challenge which I’ve abysmally failed for years. I was so happy! I’m still so happy and proud about it! And it’s not a stretch nor an overstatement when I say reading infinitely helped my mental health and overall disposition about life and living.


Allow me to be dramatic sentimental for a bit. All the reading I did last year helped me progress to a better appreciation of the simple life. Simple but filled with happiness and contentment, that is. I found something that felt real and genuine for myself—or to be more exact, I allowed myself to have this truth. There were a lot of times last year that I thought to myself, “Hey, this is for that younger me that was denied the enjoyment of simple things. Of reading.” Because at that time it was nerdy and geeky and thus uncool and it didn’t make you feel like you belong and you want to belong! Because it was not beneficial and non earning, reading for fun, and thus a waste of time. Because it was being antisocial and that’s being a killjoy.

Now, that young girl, my younger self is happy and I am so proud of her.

I learned so much as well.

As someone who chose to not finish school, there is always that notion of being unknowledgeable and dense. At least for me. Even more so when you’re living in a culture that tether success, potential, and intelligence to the diplomas you have. Reading gave me confidence against my fears and insecurities regarding this. It opened up new worlds not only by transporting me imaginatively beyond the four walls of my room and my house but also through illuminating me with a bigger and wider world of language, themes, ideas, and other cultures.

Of course that is not to say it is a substitute for formal education (go to school, kids!) but it has expanded my classroom, I say, and reminded me that learning is not limited to school or expertise for a profession. I learned that learning is more about willingness and humility. With every book I read, I am reminded of learning at its most innocent and purest form that to me is transcendent and highly enjoyable, that makes you eager for more.

Although, I do recognize that because I have only been reading fiction, primarily fantasy books and YA fantasy at that, it is not a hundred percent factual and that there is some layer of bias for the opinions and perspectives presented. It makes me doubtful sometimes. Especially when I unfortunately discovered the darker side of the book community online. You know, the ones that degrade and judge others by what they read and how much they read? I’ve permanently damaged my eyes with the amount of eyeroll I have made because of these people but their whispers entered the cracks of my newbie reader walls. Such times, I have to remind and reinforce myself that I like learning this way! It’s more of giving inspiration and encouragement to research the facts after reading it as a story rather than being shoved face first with a list of details that also seems to send the message that the only way I can say I’ve learned is when I have memorized every little bit. My learning is now with intent, something I realized I have lost for a long time. And because I first learned through a story and characters that I have grown a connection with, I approach with a layer of empathy.

Anyway… I digress. I’m so happy about rekindling my love for reading last year.

I would very much like to talk about the books I read, what I like and dislike about every single one of them, but it would make this blog post too long especially considering my tendency to ramble especially for things I love and so, perhaps, I’ll do that in a separate post. And I haven’t discovered Storygraph until this year so my nerdy and geeky side don’t have fun reading statistics to share. Well, I did add my 2021 reads when I signed up around January but I’m more or less disengaged about it as if it doesn’t exists unlike for my current reading stats that gives me a level of happiness and satisfaction chart and statistics lover Captain Holt from Brooklyn Nine-nine would be proud of but, again, I digress. (Exhibit #1 of tendency for rambling.) So, let me share highlights instead.

me constantly looking at my stats on storygraph
(gif source)

How It Started

With how big of a deal this turned out or I present it to be, one can assume that it all started with something also of the same magnitude. Or at least close but nope. It all started with the release of The Batman trailer which I replayed several times that grew my crush for Robert Pattinson that then made me rewatch all Twilight movies lol. After that, I reread a bit of Breaking Dawn that then made me look for other vampire-romance stories for some reason. I even watched a few episodes of The Vampire Diaries but, ultimately, what fed my curiosity and gripped my interest was reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and it all snowballed from there.

Because I only started reading in May, I wasn’t that hopeful nor optimistic about my reading. I have always wanted to make reading a habit but with my propensity for fixations and my restlessness giving me all these ideas and activities to try but never making me last long enough to fully appreciate anything, I just thought it would only be for that month. Perhaps just for that week, even. But I kept discovering new books. I would stay in goodreads, clicking books to my tbr list and reading reviews. I started watching booktubers sharing their love for reading and books that made me more inspired and happy somehow. Seeing my progress bar on each book and my yearly goal gave me a sense of achievement (it's the little things!) and when I resurfaced next, I was able to read 29 out of 31 days in May but still very much gearing up for the next month.

How It Went

I read 44 books, exceeding my goal which started at 32 at first that then changed to 40 books. The most number of books I read before last year was 2020 wherein I read all of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus. A total of 13 books (I also read Shadow and Bone and the first book of the Trials of Apollo that year) but 19 books short of reaching my yearly goal.

I mostly read YA Fantasy and Romance novels last year. The romances were more on the side of romantic comedies because, frankly, I judge a book by its cover most of the time and the rom-com novels' covers, though very repetitive, are very cute! Of course, because I mostly had recommendations from social media, most if not all books I read were of the popular/mainstream ones. It's something that made me feel like I'm in a never ending race of catching up (to what, I honestly don’t know) as a reader but at least I can understand the popular memes and jokes now.

Colored book covers are my 2021 favorites!

My favorites make up almost half of the list because, honestly, I’m still too hyped up about my entire reading for the entire year that I feel each book experience correlates to one another and I can’t separate them. There are standouts of course. The books I can’t wait to reread again; the books I keep rereading parts of or immediately read again right after. Books that are my favorite but can’t bring myself to reread anytime soon.

  • Romances: Beach Read by Emily Henry, How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams, The Kiss Quotient Series by Helen Hoang, and The Unhoneymooners by Chrisina Lauren.
  • YA Fantasy: The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas (the entire book series, too, in connection which I first complained to be too long only to finish in a month), These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, and An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir.
  • Favorites but not constantly screaming about it: A Court of Mist and Fury (and the entire ACOTAR series too, I guess) by Sarah J. Maas, Better than the Movies (Wes and Liz are my precious children!) by Lynn Painter, People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, and Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach
  • Heartbreaker, meaning to this day I still can’t bring myself to continue the series because I’m scared of more heartbreak: The Poppy War (actual tears were spilled, i kid you not) by RF Kuang and (with more manageable heartbreaks) The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper by SA Chakraborty.

Also, I proudly finished two books, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, that I have tried finishing for a few times over the past few years.

Around August, I discovered the joys of buying and owning physical copies of books, I realized. It just hits differently, reading a physical copy. No matter the fact that I read faster and can lie down easily when reading digitally, nothing beats a physical copy. The smell of pages, the feel and sound of flipping a page. My wallet is miserable but my heart is very happy. And along with owning physical copies, I also discovered the joys of tabs and annotating! I don’t remember how I learned about annotations but it’s currently the best thing about reading for me. The funny thing is that it took a lot of nervousness to get myself writing on my books—it felt like I was ruining my copy and thus wasting my money at first—but I grew to love it so much even though my notes and annotations are mostly just me screaming and fangirling. I love sticking tabs. Color coordinating everything. Buying (my wallet weeping more in close distance) stationery and other annotating things. I love how it makes me remember the stories better, how it makes it seem I’m more into the plot and the characters. It has made reading a lot more fun.

Lastly, I tried my hand at a bookstagram by the end of the year. Although I had fun at also rediscovering my love for taking photos and editing, the social media aspect disrupted my reading, if I am being honest. The instant gratification of getting likes and follows was exciting a few times, I admit, sure, but I was mostly competing and comparing rather than just sharing my own joys about reading.

How It Continued

At the start of the year, I made reading goals beyond the usual Goodreads Challenge for the first time ever! Not really huge goals but still. I was very much looking forward to the year (also for the first time in a long while now) because of books and my new found love of reading them. There’s so many books to read! So many new worlds to explore! So many things to learn! And I was very excited about it. Although, currently, I’m half hearted to say my reading for this year is going well. I did not read for most of April—totally blaming The Secret History for it—and even though I read the most I have read in a month this year with 8 books in May, they were books I did not particularly enjoy. I had a good laugh with them, sure, but overall, the reading experience wasn’t gratifying. I was only able to read so many books because more than half of it was me speed-reading, doing the mere act of reading without actually reading, if that makes any sense. Just to accumulate the page numbers, really. So, I’m afraid I lost the energy and inspiration to read again.

I am hopeful to get over the reading slump this month, starting with getting back to blogging. It’s weird and doesn’t track, I know. What does blogging have to do with getting back to the habit of reading? Well, it makes me write. I have proven and tested before that doing so provides great reminders that make me feel inspired and motivated. Like journaling and keepsaking memories in your life whether bad or good and suddenly it makes sense and you feel elevated? I plan to post about books that I have already read this year, monthly recaps and maybe a few book reviews here and there, but also just share about things that make me happy in general. Then maybe I will feel a lot better. A lot more focused, energized, and stimulated. Hopefully.

A ‘Books I Read in January’ is already in the works after this post. An idea for another post has sparked. And I just started a new book early this morning. Things are looking up, I think. For now, I’ll be ending this post (this is me lamely writing an ending to a blog post because I never know how to lmao) and thanking you for reading and visiting my blog! It’s been a long time! I’m wishing you a great month and the rest of the year ahead!

PS I have a bookstagram which I will also be trying to get back to this month! This is my goodreads and storygraph, too!

Previous Post Next Post

No comments: