It’s March again. Wasn’t it March only yesterday?
I’ve always been an autumn and winter kind of girl—I hate being hot—but the past year has turned me into the kind of person who looks forward to the warmer weather because it means more time to go for walks after work, before it gets dark, and sunny days spent reading in the garden. In other words, I’m glad spring is on its way!
I haven’t regularly done monthly reading wrap-ups for a while, but I would quite like to try and get back into the habit of them because they are such a good way to track what I’ve read in one month when I look back at my reading year. I feel like I won’t have much to talk about this month, though, because February has been a very slumpy month for me, which has sucked. There are so many books I’m excited to get to, but I haven’t been in the mood for any of them and I don’t want to force my way through a book I might love when I’m in a bad mood in case my bad mood leads to me not enjoying it.
I think part of that is because I’m trying to focus more on my own fiction writing this year and sometimes when I write, I don’t like to read at the same time because I want to focus on my creative output rather than inhaling someone else’s story. I’ve been chipping away at quite a few short stories throughout February, so I think that has something to do with me not being in the mood for anything other than film and TV.
I did still manage to read five things in February, which is great!
In my Medieval-A-Thon wrap-up I mentioned Lamentation by C.J. Sansom, which I started in the last couple of days of January and finished on the second day of February. It’s the sixth book in the Matthew Shardlake series, a series of crime/mystery novels set in Tudor England, and it’s been on my bookshelf for years so I’m glad I finally got to it. Sadly it’s probably my least favourite book in the series so far, although I did still enjoy it, and it’s definitely whet my appetite for reading more historical fiction this year, which is a genre I’ve abandoned lately.
After that I didn’t read anything for two weeks. I started a few books and simply couldn’t get into anything, until I finally decided to try one of the several issues of Uncanny that’s been chilling out on my kindle! Having read it, reading magazines is something I’d like to get a lot better at doing this year. For someone who’s currently writing a few short stories I don’t read enough of them, and it’s easy to forget how many amazing stories I’m missing out on just because their shorter length means I don’t go looking for them. I read Uncanny Magazine Issue 32: January/February 2020 and I’d like to read the rest of the issues from last year to see if any of the short stories end up on the Hugo Awards shortlist.
I would love to see ‘And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands‘ by Sharon Hsu on this year’s shortlist—it’s become an instant favourite—and I also really enjoyed ‘My Country is a Ghost‘ by Eugenia Triantafyllou.
Then there were another ten days in which I didn’t finish anything, and struggled to get into anything, until this past, final weekend of February in which I finally joined the local library. Obviously it’s a lot more difficult to go to the library at the moment so I was previously using the BorrowBox app via Gloucestershire Libraries, but last year I moved back to my parents’ in Wales during lockdown and I finally got around to joining the local library online and switching from Gloucestershire to Wales on BorrowBox. I am SO GLAD I did because there is so much more choice here! Especially for SFF readers like me.
Audiobooks basically saved me in February, and I managed to get through two on Saturday. Granted one of them was less than an hour long—a children’s story by Michael Morpurgo called I Believe in Unicorns that I simply had to borrow because it mentioned unicorns—and the other was less than three hours long and I listened to it on double speed—How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black—but it was lovely to have a story told to me, and it was just what I needed after a very slumpy month.
I Believe in Unicorns was such a lovely tale, narrated by the author, and the kind of story I would have adored when I was a little girl. Listening to it really did feel like being read a bedtime story. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories, on the other hand, is an odd one. I did enjoy it because I love Holly Black’s version of the fae and I love Cardan as a character, but I did still finish the book wondering what the point of it was which makes me glad I borrowed it instead of spending my own money on it! I also wasn’t keen on the narrator (I don’t understand why a woman was chosen to narrate a story told from Cardan’s pov) but thankfully I didn’t find her narration too distracting on double speed.
Lastly, on Saturday night, I decided to take a break from fiction and picked up a poetry collection. I treated myself to a copy of Salacia by Mari Ellis Dunning last year after hearing the author read one of her poems for BBC Wales, and I do have a fondness for Welsh poets. I did like this collection, but I can’t say I was particularly blown away by it and I don’t know poetry enough to properly explain why. I did love ‘Gwen Ellis’, ‘Shrinking’, ‘Exposure’, and ‘Pythagoras Theorem’, though!
It wasn’t the best reading month for me, not because I don’t think five books is ‘enough’ (I think we can get too caught up in how many books we read in a month, instead of how many we enjoyed) but simply because nothing really wowed me apart from Sharon Hsu’s short story. I can’t be too mad about it because I have been focusing on my own writing, which has been lovely, and the weather’s been getting nicer so I’ve been able to spend more time out walking; now that I’ve joined a library that has a much bigger audiobook selection I’ll be able to use that to my advantage when I go outside.
There are so many books I’m very excited to get to, though, so I’m hoping this slump leaves me soon and I get back into reading all of the books I so want to be reading! I have a couple of weeks left to read as many of the books on my winter TBR as possible and I’m hoping I can least get to the majority of the NetGalley reads.