This is how the month of January shook out for me. These are the things I watched and read:
Picture Books: 27
Middle Grade: 6
Total Pages Read: 5596
Favorite Reads in January:
Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller: A collection of stories about women in doomed relationships. While most are romantic in nature, there are a few where unhealth friendships or other non-romantic relationships are explored. All of the stories are beautifully written, with searing truths about what it is like to be an American woman in this day and age, and Miller’s writing cuts right to the bone. There are some standouts here; in particular “Big Bad Love” and “The House on Main Street,” but all of the stories can stand on their own. This is one I’d like to own, so I can revisit favorite passages again and again.
The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan: I read this short middle grade novel in one sitting at the desk at work, and I had to work very hard not to sob while doing so. It’s a simple story narrated in large part by a dog who has recently lost his owner, a poet. The dog rescues two children in a terrible snow storm, and the three form an intense bond. The result is a lovely story about the unconditional love dogs have for humans, the wonder both children and poets have, and the hope that life can bring. I loved it.
The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na: A very cute, beautifully illustrated picture book about an elephant who cannot figure out what the thingamabob is supposed to do. It will captivate young readers and entertain adults, too. I have hopes of using this in a toddler storytime sometime this year, because I think it will be a hit. Il Sung Na is an author to watch out for.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: Amanda has moved to a new town after a brutal attack and is hoping to start over as her true self. But she also knows she has to try to fly under the radar for her own safety, which becomes harder when she falls for a boy at her new school. A story about a trans girl by a trans author that doesn’t result in total tragedy or darkness, this is a contemporary, necessary story that’s important not only for cis teens but for trans ones as well. It’s romantic, universal, and engaging. I loved it.
Favorite Movies in January:
Hidden Figures: The Oscar nominations for this movie are well-deserved. It’s a fairly typical bio-pic, but it’s still compelling as hell and very moving. I loved every minute of watching these amazing women solve math problems and face unbelievable sexism and racism.
American Honey: Definitely overly-long (I couldn’t believe the runtime was nearly 3 hours), but very compelling. Star says she’s 18 and might be telling the truth when she hooks up with a ragtag group of teens who travel the country in a van, selling magazines and partying in cheap motels. The result is a road trip movie that sort of meanders through its storyline, and if it weren’t for the excellent cast and interesting directing, it would fall apart. But the result is a beautiful movie more interested in examining the inner life of its female protagonist than anything else. I really liked it, but I’ll admit it’s not for everyone.