Monthly Reads: January

As a child, you would rarely see me without a book in hand. I definitely played outside with neighbourhood friends and cousins, and as a teen, I would hang out online with school and internet friends. But at the dinner table, on my couch, in my bed, I was always reading. 

And then I did my undergrad in English.

The amount of reading, and the level dissection of the texts, literally killed my joy of reading. While a degree in English can be rewarding because you learn to understand how text shapes our world, and vice versa, it made reading just for pleasure extremely difficult. It didn’t help that I spent like 234037423842080237432 years finishing up a 4 year degree.

I graduated 2 years ago, and it’s taken me some time, but I’m slowly getting back into reading more consistently. I’ve decided this year to track what I’m reading. I won’t necessarily do reviews on the books, because I’d like to review books I really want to recommend, however, I will share what I’ve read each month. I think this will keep me accountable to myself, and it’ll be a fun way to track my reading!

Without further ado, here are my January 2020 reads:

Clearly romance was in the air, pre-Valentine’s month. Guillory was like binging through a rom-com ecosystem, as characters would reappear from previous novels. Evanovich is known as a mystery author, however, Wicked Appetite is the first installment of a 7 book series and is classified as fiction. It was an extremely quick read and lacked the depth Guillory’s characters had. I felt that it was trying too hard to fit several different genres. Looking forward to sharing February reads in a few weeks — happy reading!

10 Days in the Greek Isles

Living in a shoebox apartment, we are constantly trying to reduce our belongings. This means no bulky luggage. We avoid checked luggage like the plague. We are constantly attempting to minimize how much we travel with, especially because we don’t want to be waiting at the baggage carousel after getting off a flight. Before 2019, we were using an old JanSport backpack and Nike duffels as our carry ons, and they were not functional or good for our (aging) bodies. So this year we ditched our old carry ons, and got ourselves some serious travel backpacks by Cotopaxi. We have an Allpa 35L and an Allpa 28L. We took the 35L travel pack to CDMX earlier this year for 4 days, and had enough room to pack things for two in there. But on my 10 day trip to Greece, where I’d be hopping islands, I took the lighter, 28L travel pack instead. Read on to see what I packed!

Why did I pack…

Two pairs of pants and a light jacket?

Flights are cold, and sometimes nights can be too. Plus I was planning on visiting some temples and I wanted to be respectful of the sites I’d be visiting. So I made sure to have some options where I could be completely covered up, or in various layers.

Several swim suits & sandals?

People usually use trips to dress up, but I use trips to say goodbye to clothing items. I had a pair of sandals that had seen better days, plus some bathing suits I needed to move on from. I prefer wearing sandals in hot climates, so I intended to completely wreck this pair over this trip. I was planning on visiting the hot springs in Santorini, and the iron oxide deposit that I needed to swim through to get to those hot springs would badly stain my swimsuit. So this is the perfect time to wear one I no longer cared for.

A Personal Flotation Device?

I learned how to swim as an adolescent and I swam every year until I was 15 because I happened to be in schools with pools (and swimming was a mandatory part of our physical education). But from sophomore year in high school onward, I never swam. Despite knowing the mechanics of how to swim, I no longer swim when I’m in bodies of water, be it pools, oceans or lakes. I’m no longer confident I can swim, and I feel nervous when I can’t feel the bottom with my toes… but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from going to those aforementioned hot springs!

If I really wanted to, I could have packed a lot less, but knowing that I don’t want to waste travel time doing laundry, I didn’t bother. What I did pack is a collection of items that can be dressed up or down, going from the beach, to the city. And I left plenty of space for some souvenirs!

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Reading Level: Ages 9-12

The novel follows the five Vanderbeeker children in the weeks leading up to the New Year. Their landlord has decided not to renew their lease, and they must now pack up their belongings during the holiday season, and move out of their beloved home. Well the Vanderbeekers are determined to succeed where their parents have failed — convincing their scary landlord to let them stay!

Why I liked it:

This novel has adventure, camaraderie, and mystery. It’s set over the holiday season, so the spirit of giving is prominent, as is neighbourly love. The idea of a neighbourhood where all your friends live down the street from you, and where both adults and children recognize you at your neighbourhood haunts appealed to me a lot. I think this novel has a lot of offer to a young reader, especially as the Vanderbeeker children between the ages of 4-12. Each child has strengths and weaknesses, and they work together to achieve their goals. To showcase individuality so successfully in such a short novel, getting readers to feel the joy and sorrow the children feel, is incredible and the author should be very proud.

Glaser has published two subsequent novels on the Vanderbeeker family — The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (2018) and The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue (2019).