January has been a month of big changes. Starting on the first Monday of the year (January 4!) I began my new job at our local domestic violence shelter. My job combines case management, intakes, paperwork, and organization with the regular job duty at any nonprofit of “coping with whatever comes up,” whether that involves washing dishes, cleaning out a broken mini-fridge, or comforting colleagues. I am so grateful to have this job and am already learning tons.
Outside of work, I’ve been trying to keep up the “self care” in the forms of reading, listening to podcasts and music, and enjoying downtime.
I finished 2015 reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell which I L-O-V-E-D. I just adored it! I had read Fangirl last spring and was really excited when Carry On came out but saw some reviews that were only so-so. However, I decided to buy it in Kindle form so that I could read it while David and I traveled to my in-laws’ house for Christmas (so fun). And I devoured this BOOK! It was just so well done, the characters were intricate, and it was so enjoyable to see how Rowell took the things from my beloved Harry Potter that were problematic or that I would maybe change in a fanfic, and used those elements in Carry On. So even though that technically wasn’t a book I read this month, I wanted to mention it. I think it’s a great book for anyone who likes Harry Potter for sure, as well as for those who have enjoyed Rowell’s work before.
I read two YA novels on my Kindle in the very beginning of January while lying around the house the weekend before I started my new job. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was a classic teenager-in-high-school book with an element of mystery. I loved Simon and cheered for him when he came out to his family and snagged a cute boyfriend. Emmy & Oliver explored complex topics such as how early traumas shape people’s lives and how it is possible (and normal) to love people who have done terrible things to you. There was also a lot of surfing.
After those two books, I picked up several books but nothing was “sticking.” Then I decided to try the book my brother gave me for Christmas a go, and it was great fun. It was my first Doctor Who novel, one of the 50th anniversary collection. The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett features the 11th Doctor (played by Matt Smith in the TV show) with companions Amy and Rory Pond. As indicated by the title, the book had a wintery and Christmasy vibe and was perfect to read while it was snowy and cold and we were eating lots of soup.
I added Carry On, Warrior to my holds request list at the library several weeks ago after I started following Glennon on Instagram and reading more of her blog posts. I had read mixed reviews and wasn’t sure what to expect, but let me tell you : I LOVED this book. I read so many passages aloud to David that he practically read it too — it was so funny. And honest, and at times sad. Occasionally I disagreed with Glennon about certain things, and once or twice some of her phrasing was a bit kitschy for my taste, but overall this book was a total delight and made me even more a fan of Glennon than I already was. It was also really nice to mix it up with some nonfiction.
And finally, I just now (10 PM, January 31st) finished reading The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett. It is the last book he ever wrote (he passed away in March 2015) and also happens to be in my very favorite Pratchett series. The Shepherd’s Crown is the fifth in the Tiffany Aching adventures, books that follow a young witch as she grows in her power. What I love about Tiffany (and about all witches in Discworld) is that they are all about work. They might use magic for some things, but most of witching is just doing what needs to be done — whether that’s cutting toenails for elderly folk who can’t bend down anymore, sitting up overnight with the dead and preparing them for burial, delivering babies (human, sheep, and cow alike), or breaking up disagreements, witches do dirty work every day. (Unlike wizards, who read fancy books in the universities and hardly do anything of value.) Tiffany Aching is my hero and I loved this book just as I have loved all of the Tiffany adventures (although Wintersmith, being my first, holds a special place in my heart). Terry Pratchett was a genius, a feminist, and a hilarious and talented writer. I miss him.
This month I discovered the podcast Dear Hank and John, which I have really enjoyed. As a longtime follower of John and Hank Green, I have had a hard time keeping up with the bazillion projects they are up to these days and often miss the Brotherhood 2.0 videos that started it all. Listening to this podcast makes me feel like I’m watching those old-school videos again! They’re HILARIOUS, and John starts each episode with a short poem, many of which have been familiar to me and all of which I have appreciated.
My other big discovery in January has been Jammie Dodger tea! My friend Leah gave me a certificate to Adagio Teas as a Christmas gift, and I spent quite a bit of time reading reviews and considering my own tea desires before I ordered. I finally decided upon a five ounce tin of Homemade Jammie Dodger tea. It’s delicious! I love it in the evenings before bed or in the afternoon while I’m reading or cooking. It basically tastes like what it sounds like — raspberry and shortbread. The tin is adorable and the tea is a gorgeous pink color.
Happy February, folks! There’s a lot coming up for me this month, both happy and sad. Lent begins February 10th and I am still deciding how to observe it. David and I already have tickets to a Valentine’s Day concert on February 13th that will encompass romantic classical music as well as poetry and essays. Later in the month will mark the anniversary of my father’s death, a day that my family and I observe with memories, reading his favorite authors, drinking Beck’s and eating Indian food. The month ends with my mother’s and Oma’s birthdays! So, lots coming up.
(Note: the images of the books link you to Amazon, but I really encourage that you check if your local library has the books before you buy them, just as a general practice! Libraries are the best, and I would make the books link to your library, but we all have different libraries. Okay, carry on.)