Category Archives: Bookish Musings

Most-Read Authors of 2022

It’s time for one of my favorite stats to track–my most-read authors of the year. I started tracking this a few years ago, and continue to find it interesting.

Ali Hazelwood – I actually predicted my first-place author, with 4 books read, last year. I was, however, disappointed with the 3 novellas that put her into the #1 spot; they were too repetitive for me, and not nearly as strong as her longer works. Luckily, Love on the Brain redeemed Ali Hazelwood for me with a solid 4.5 star rating.

Under One Roof by Ali HazelwoodStuck with You by Ali HazelwoodBelow Zero by Ali HazelwoodLove on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Anita Kelly – In second place are 5 authors that I read 3 books each from. Anita Kelly is an author new to me, so I love that they were able to make it so high in the rankings and that I’ve discovered an author that writes excellent LGBTQIA+ romance. They have a new 2023 release coming out, but not a deep backlist, so probably won’t be making my list next year.

Love & Other Disasters by Anita KellySing Anyway by Anita KellyOur Favorite Songs by Anita Kelly

Katee Robert – 2 novels and 1 novella from her Dark Olympus series got Katee Robert into a solid spot on this list.

Electric Idol by Katee RobertStone Heart by Katee RobertWicked Beauty by Katee Robert

Juliette Cross – I loved that Cross had 2 new great installments in the Stay a Spell series come out this year; I liked her backlist PNR, Forged in Fire, much less.

Forged in Fire by Juliette CrossAlways Practice Safe Hex by Juliette CrossResting Witch Face by Juliette Cross

Skye Kilaen – a new-to-me author writing LGBTQIA+ contemporary romance novellas; I kept gravitating towards these feel-good reads throughout 2022.

Get It Right by Skye KilaenShake Things Up by Skye KilaenCheck Your Work by Skye Kilaen

Alexis Hall – Although the 2 new releases I read of his didn’t work for me as much as his older titles, he still makes this list with a re-read.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis HallHusband Material by Alexis HallParis Daillencourt Is About to Crumble by Alexis Hall

Elena Armas – I really enjoyed The Spanish Love Deception, enough to pick up her 2022 release The American Roommate Experiement, although both titles were slow to start for me.

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena ArmasThe American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas

Catherynne M. Valente – a past favorite author, I picked up 1 novella and 1 novelette in 2022.

The Past Is Red by Catherynne M. ValenteL'Esprit de L'Escalier by Catherynne M. Valente

Ilona Andrews – They’ve been a favorite of mine for many years, and I’m sad to see Catalina’s great trilogy end this year.

Fated Blades by Ilona AndrewsRuby Fever by Ilona Andrews

T. Kingfisher – I loved both books from this new-to-me SFF author, and am excited to discover more from her in the future.

Nettle & Bone by T. KingfisherThe Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Tessa Bailey – I actually haven’t had the best history with Tessa Bailey, or at least a shaky one, but Window Shopping was a surprise hit for me at the very end of 2022.

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa BaileyWindow Shopping by Tessa Bailey

Julie Tieu – I ended up picking up 2 books from this new-to-me author after they were send to me by the publisher for review, and enjoyed both.

The Donut Trap by Julie TieuCircling Back To You by Julie Tieu

Timothy Janovsky – I rated both of these audiobooks 3 stars; both were somewhat entertaining but ultimately disappointing. I may still give him one more chance, though, because his 2023 release sounds interesting.

Never Been Kissed by Timothy JanovskyYou're a Mean One, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky


Predictions for Most-Read Author(s) of 2023 – Last year was easier to predict, since my most-read authors tend to be romance writers with either multiple new releases or a deep backlist. 2023 is more difficult, since only one of my favorite romance authors (Katee Robert) has multiple releases scheduled, and I’ve exhausted the backlists of a lot of the others. So this year’s most-read authors field is very much open–maybe it’ll be someone entirely new to me, or maybe I’ll make more progress on certain series than expected (I have a lot of books on my TBR that are next in series, but I suppose it’s possible that I’ll pick up more than one book in a series within a year).

Olivie Blake – I’ve only read one book from Blake previously, which ended up on my favorites list for 2021 (The Atlas Six), but now I have two of her 2022 releases already on my shelf and a 2023 release scheduled. She writes fantasy and has a very particular writing style, which I absolutely love but am not sure how much I can read of in a single year, but because she has 3 available books for me to pick up, she’s first up on my predictions list.

The Atlas Paradox (The Atlas, #2)Alone With You in the EtherOne for My Enemy

Rachel Harrison – I read and loved Cackle in 2022, and luckily this new-to-me (and local!) author has a new 2022 release and a backlist thriller for me to check out. I also enjoyed Cackle on audio, and found both of these available through my library’s Libby app, which makes reading them seem like an easy decision in 2023.

Such Sharp TeethThe Return

Katee Robert – As I mentioned, this is my only past favorite romance writer with more than one new release expected in 2023. Katee Robert is putting out 2 new installments in her Dark Olympus series, which I love and tend to devour as soon as the preorders hit my Kindle.

Radiant Sin (Dark Olympus, #4)Cruel Seduction (Dark Olympus, #5)

Jayci Lee – This one is a little out of left field, since I’ve never actually read any of Jayci Lee’s books. However, they all have premises that appeal to me, and I do love finding new-to-me romance authors with significant backlists. Is it possible that I dislike her writing and none of these will be finished in 2023? Sure, but I have a good feeling about her.

Booked on a Feeling (A Sweet Mess, #3)A Sweet Mess (A Sweet Mess, #1)

Tessa Dare – Yes, I barely read any historical romance in 2022 (4 in total). And yes, none of these were Tessa Dare books. But I still really like her, and since I’m a mood reader, you never know when I’ll be up for delving back into a past favorite, even if she’s been on the shelf for awhile (that was a historical romance pun).

A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2)Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, #4)Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)



2018 Reading Wrap-Up and Stats

At the end of the year (or at the beginning of the new year, since this has taken a bit of time), it’s always interesting to look back and remind yourself what you accomplished. In terms of my non-reading year, I had a really fantastic 2018–I worked a lot, but was lucky enough to be able to do a good amount of traveling, and I made a lot of progress on my NaNoWriMo project. With regard to reading and bookish things, I attended BookCon for the second time (I’m working on a very delayed recap post about BookCon, which was amazing); was able to see a number of authors I greatly admire at various events in my city (more on this below); worked on growing my Bookstagram account; and found some new favorite books and authors. Let’s break it down!

Total books read: 98

Total pages read: 33,243

Shortest book read: I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya (96 pages)

Longest book read: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (709 pages)

Most popular: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (301,579 other GR readers)

Least popular: Between the Sea and Stars by Chantal Gadoury (137 other GR readers)

Average rating: 3.7 stars

Highest rated book on GR: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews (4.54 stars)

To see all of the books I read in 2018, check out my Goodreads Year in Review here.

Author events attended (these were through various organizations in my city and normally consisted of an extended talk by an author, sometimes in addition to a reading of their work): Margaret Atwood, Colson Whitehead, Samantha Hunt, Angie Thomas, Alyssa Palumbo, Mohsin Hamid

BookCon Panels attended: Tor Presents: #FearlessWomen in Tor Science Fiction and Fantasy with Charlie Jane Anders, V.E. Schwab, S.L. Huang, and Seth Dickinson; Women of Mystery and Thriller with Sandra Brown, Megan Abbott, Sara Blaedel, Kate Kessler, and Karen Ellis; NaNoWriMo: The Power of Writing with Abandon with Susan Dennard, Marissa Meyer, Kami Garcia, Danielle Page, and Grant Faulkner; and Toxic Male Syndrome with Jasmine Guillory, Zoey Castile, Alisha Rai, Sarah Morgan, Megan Frampton, and Claire Legrand

BookCon signings attended: Charlaine Harris, Rebecca Roanhorse, Naomi Novik

Now, let’s get into the statistics!

Adult vs. YA:

This statistic has remained fairly stable over the past few years. I do really enjoy YA, but I still read primarily adult books. This year, it was about 75% to 25%, which seems about right.

Author Breakdown by Gender:

Again, fairly stable, although the percentage of male authors I read has been steadily diminishing over time.


Also, weirdly stable to last year. I vastly prefer reading physical books; when I listen to an audiobook it’s generally because I prefer nonfiction on audio, and if I read an ebook, it’s either because I’m not sure if I’ll like the book or if the physical book is new and expensive.


As you can see, I read a wide range of genres, with fantasy comprising the largest piece of the pie (especially when combined with fantasy affiliates like UF/PNR and fantasy romance). The newest addition to this genre breakdown is contemporary romance, which I don’t think I ever actually read before 2018. I’m also a little surprised that the nonfiction section isn’t larger, since I feel like I read/listen to a lot of nonfiction. But the pie charts don’t lie!

Breakdown by Release Year

This graph turned out weirdly tiny and I can’t seem to make it any bigger, but basically, it’s embarrassing. I do like to read a good amount of new releases so that I know what’s happening in the bookish community, but I also like to read backlist titles, and clearly I did not do a great job of that this year. Also embarrassing is the fact that the oldest book I read this year came out in 1959.

When did I obtain the physical books I read?

Basically, this year I tried to keep track of when I obtained the physical books I read, so that I could see how many or few older titles I was reading versus newly purchased books. The reason that only the past 3 years are represented on this graph is that prior to 2016, I didn’t really purchase that many books, because I was in grad school, moving frequently, and on a very limited budget; the books I did buy during that time I generally read right away. So, what does this tell us? It makes sense that the majority of my reading was from newly purchased books, and I think it’s a good thing, since it means that fewer of those books will be languishing on my TBR shelf for an extended period of time. It also shows that I do continue to read books I’ve purchased awhile ago, although it makes sense that those numbers are smaller since I’ve had more time to read more of the 2016 and 2017 book purchases. So I’m not sure if this chart was actually helpful, but it’s still interesting.

How did I rate the books I read?

I’m actually really happy with this. Significantly more than half of the books I read this year got very good (4 and 5 star) ratings. I also didn’t have any 1-star books, although this is mainly because if I really hate a book I’ll DNF it. But the 2-star section is very tiny as well, which is good news.


Next up, hopefully in a timely manner, will be my top 10 reads of 2018 (and other superlatives!)


How was your reading year in 2018?

Short Story Collections: Thoughts, Goals, and TBR


I love short stories. I really do. I’m continuously impressed by how much plot and emotion can be packed into such a small number of pages, and to me it really speaks to the skill of an author. I’ve recently started to recognize my love of short story collections and have been attempting to pick up more of them (and buy A LOT more of them), but when I gathered all of the short story collections I’ve read together on a Goodreads shelf, I was really not impressed by the number. It inspired me to want to pick up short story collections more often, and to set a solid reading goal for myself (as I laugh at myself for thinking I can actually stick to a reading goal) (No, but for real this time, I actually want to stick to this one) : to read one short story collection per month in 2017.

I already missed January, but that’s OK. This month I’m currently reading Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue, which is a collection of feminist fairytale retellings (is there anything more in my wheelhouse than that phrase?), but I need to keep this going strong throughout the year. Short story collections are great because you don’t necessarily have to read straight through them; you can read one or two stories per day and get through one in a week or so that way. Because of that, I feel like one short story collection per month is actually a pretty attainable goal, and I’m going to hold myself accountable this time.

Here is the (embarassingly low) number of short story collections I’ve completed so far (it’s possible I’m missing a few? But I don’t think so): 10

Interpreter of MaladiesFragile Things: Short Fictions and WondersStranger Things HappenSmoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and IllusionsMagic for Beginners: StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesThe Girl Wakes: StoriesUnaccustomed EarthGutshot

As you can see, there are a lot of repeat authors here: the vast majority of short story collections I’ve read have been from Jhumpa Lahiri, Neil Gaiman, and Kelly Link. Because they are awesome. But this also does point to the fact that I really need to branch out to new authors in my short story reading. Amelia Gray’s Gutshot was one of my favorite books of 2016, and it was a total gamble on a new-to-me author who I ended up loving, going to see speak, and buying another book from. Carmen Lau’s The Girl Wakes was my absolute favorite read of 2016 and I found it at a local small press book fair. Branching out in reading always pays off.

My short story TBR list contains a lot of books that I already have on my physical TBR shelf, so this works well with the #readmyownbooks challenge. A lot of my picks are well-within my wheelhouse: female authors, magical realism, weird fiction.

Short story collections from authors I’ve already read and enjoyed:

Pretty Monsters: StoriesStone Mattress: Nine Wicked TalesWhat is Not Yours is Not YoursGet in Trouble: Stories

I have all four of these on my physical TBR shelf (yes, I have two unread Kelly Link short story collections on my TBR shelf. Oops.) and I keep meaning to pick all of them up and then not doing it. I actually did start Pretty Monsters at one point, but after the first story I never returned to it, and I felt like it was just sitting on my bedside table judging me, so I put it back on the shelf. As far as Stone Mattress goes, Margaret Atwood is one of my absolute favorite authors and I have no excuse whatsoever for not reading it yet. I’ve only read one book by Helen Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird, which I really enjoyed) and I have FOUR unread books of hers on my physical TBR shelf, one of which is a short story collection–What is Not Yours is Not Yours. I’m planning on saving White is for Witching for an October read, but I really have no excuse for not yet picking up the other ones.

Short story collections from new-to-me authors: The Other World, it Whispers by Stephanie Victoire, The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks, By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente, and A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel. I own physical copies of all of these except By Light We Knew Our Names.

The Other World, It WhispersThe Unfinished World: And Other StoriesBy Light We Knew Our NamesA Guide to Being Born: Stories

Apparently short story collections get the most beautiful covers in the world. I can’t even with these lovely rainbow situations.

And here are a bunch more! There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (what an amazing title, btw), Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill, Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis, North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud, The Color Master by Aimee Bender, The Last Animal by Abby Geni, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting, and And Yet They Were Happy by Helen Phillips.

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love StoriesBad BehaviorCan't and Won't: StoriesNorth American Lake Monsters: Stories

The Color MasterThe Last AnimalUnclean Jobs for Women and GirlsAnd Yet They Were Happy


I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this–what are some of your favorite short story collections? Have you read any of these? Do you ever set goals for yourself for reading short stories? Let me know!

List of All My Ongoing Book Series!

So here’s the second part of my analysis of what books series I’ve been reading–my ongoing book series! I’m only going to include ongoing series that I actually plan to complete; maybe I’ll do another post later about series that I’ve DNF’d (there are a LOT of them). It was really interesting doing this post; when I started I thought there were only a few series that I was technically in the middle of; it turns out that there are actually a bunch of them. I’ve listed the series and then where I’m at with each of them, with images only of the books I’ve completed in the series so far. It’ll be interesting at the end of the year to see which series I’ve made progress with during 2017 (hopefully a bunch, since I’m waiting on new releases for most of these).

Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Aimee Kaufman (2/3):

Illuminae (The Illuminae Fi...Gemina (The Illuminae Files...

Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (9/10):

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2)Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels...Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels,...Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5)Magic Rises (Kate Daniels, #6)Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels,...Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels,...Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas (2/3)

A Court of Thorns and Roses...A Court of Mist and Fury (A...

Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole (4/6)

Poison Princess (The Arcana...Endless Knight (The Arcana ...Dead of Winter (The Arcana ...Arcana Rising (The Arcana C...

Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (2/3)

The Fifth Season (The Broke...The Obelisk Gate (The Broke...

Kushiel’s Dart series by Jacqueline Carey (1/3)

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Tr...

Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers (2/?)

The Long Way to a Small, An...A Closed and Common Orbit (...

Checquy Files by Daniel O’Malley (1/?)

The Rook (The Checquy Files...

Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (2/3)

The Name of the Wind (The K...The Wise Man's Fear (The Ki...

October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (9/?)

Rosemary and Rue (October D...A Local Habitation (October...An Artificial Night (Octobe...Late Eclipses (October Daye...One Salt Sea (October Daye,...Ashes of Honor (October Day...Chimes at Midnight (October...The Winter Long (October Da...A Red-Rose Chain (October D...

Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire (1/?)

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayw...

Innkeeper chronicles by Ilona Andrews (2/3)

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chro...Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper C...

Lilith’s Brood trilogy by Octavia Butler (1/3)

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)

Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel (1/?)

Sleeping Giants (Themis Fil...

Thessaly trilogy by Jo Walton (1/3)

The Just City (Thessaly, #1)

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (6/?)

Saga, Vol. 1Saga, Vol. 2Saga, Vol. 3Saga, Vol. 4Saga, Vol. 5Saga, Vol. 6

Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman (2/?)

Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant D...Giant Days, Vol. 2 (Giant D...

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (1/?)

Binti (Binti, #1)

Hidden Legacy trilogy by Ilona Andrews (1/3)

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy,...

New Crobuzon series by China Mieville (1/3)

Perdido Street Station (Bas...


So, that’s all of my ongoing book series at the moment! Let me know which of these series you’ve read or are currently reading in the comments, and happy reading 🙂


All the Book Series I’ve Finished

So lately I keep seeing all of these adorable blog posts and BookTube videos where bookish people are tracking their completed and ongoing book series, and I started to feel left out. So this is post 1 of 2, where I’ll list all of the book series that I’ve finished (that I can think of!) My next post will track all of the ongoing book series that I’ve started but not finished yet. There are links to the Goodreads page for all of these series; let me know in the comments which you’ve read and if you track your series reading too! Maybe at the end of the year I’ll do a post updating my progress on series reading? That might be fun.

Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer

Annihilation (Southern Reac...Authority (Southern Reach, #2)Acceptance (Southern Reach,...

Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Sta...Living Dead in Dallas (Sook...Club Dead (Sookie Stackhous...Dead to the World (Sookie S...Dead as a Doornail (Sookie ...Definitely Dead (Sookie Sta...All Together Dead (Sookie S...From Dead to Worse (Sookie ...Dead and Gone (Sookie Stack...Dead in the Family (Sookie ...Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhou...Dead Ever After (Sookie Sta...

Maddaddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and CrakeThe Year of the FloodMaddAddam

Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend (The Ne...The Story of a New Name (Th...Those Who Leave and Those W...The Story of the Lost Child...

Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi: 3 books, 2 companion novellas

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5)Fracture Me (Shatter Me, #2.5)

Milennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson: I don’t count the fourth book

The Girl with the Dragon Ta...The Girl Who Played with Fi...The Girl Who Kicked the Hor...

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows,...Crooked Kingdom (Six of Cro...

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunge...Catching Fire (The Hunger G...Mockingjay (The Hunger Game...

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight, #1)New Moon (Twilight, #2)Eclipse (Twilight, #3)Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4)

Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdo...The Broken Kingdoms (Inheri...The Kingdom of Gods (Inheri...

Dreamblood duology by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon (Dreambloo...The Shadowed Sun (Dreambloo...

The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman

The Magicians (The Magician...The Magician King (The Magi...The Magician's Land (The Ma...

The Edge quartet by Ilona Andrews

On the Edge (The Edge, #1)Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3)Steel's Edge (The Edge, #4)

Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring ...The Two Towers (The Lord of...The Return of the King (The...

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcer...Harry Potter and the Chambe...Harry Potter and the Prison...Harry Potter and the Goblet...Harry Potter and the Order ...Harry Potter and the Half-B...Harry Potter and the Deathl...

Agent of Hel trilogy by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel...Autumn Bones (Agent of Hel,...Poison Fruit (Agent of Hel,...

Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris

Grave Sight (Harper Connell...Grave Surprise (Harper Conn...An Ice Cold Grave (Harper C...Grave Secret (Harper Connel...

Lily Bard series by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's LandlordShakespeare's ChampionShakespeare's ChristmasShakespeare's TrollopShakespeare's Counselor

Kenzie & Gennaro series by Dennis Lehane

A Drink Before the War (Ken...Darkness, Take My Hand (Ken...Sacred (Kenzie & Gennaro, #3)Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie & ...Prayers for Rain (Kenzie & ...Moonlight Mile (Kenzie & Ge...

Parable of the Sower/Earthseed duology by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower (Earth...Parable of the Talents (Ear...


And…that’s it! I think. As far as I can remember, anyways. I left out a bunch of series I read when I was younger and only included adult/YA series that I’ve read as an adult.




Bookish Reminiscing: On Childhood Favorites and Old-School YA

I have a constant, ongoing search for YA novels that I can get lost in. I’m extremely picky, and have a harder time finding a book I can connect with in YA than in most other genres. But when I find it, that magical book (or series, let’s face it, it’s usually a series if we’re talking YA) I become completely obsessed and reread it an absurd number of times because YA, when it’s good, is just so, so good.

YA didn’t explode as a genre until recently. When I was growing up, I never thought of books as being “YA” or “middle-grade;” I asked for recommendations from my parents, teachers, and librarians for what to read. Occasionally I’d glance at the back of the book where a “reading level” was listed that was supposed to roughly correspond to grade level, but usually I just wandered the library and picked up what looked appealing to me (which, for some time, meant anything related to either sharks or Greek mythology).

My best book-finding memory from childhood, however, was when my beloved babysitter, leaving for college, stopped at my house with a car trunk full of her childhood books. She’d wanted to pass them on to someone who also loved to read and who would love the books as much as she had. So much of what I read when I was younger was found in those cardboard boxes that I watched her and my mother carry into the house, while I literally leaped around with excitement. It’s no mistake that a lot of them ended up in this post.

I started thinking about this amazing gift that my babysitter had given me, and how different the reading community is now compared to when I was growing up. And that lead me to think about the books that meant the most to me as I was discovering myself as a reader; the books that, even now, I think about all the time. I hope that people are still reading these books, and I hope that one day I can make a bookish contribution to someone the way that my babysitter did to me.


The Message (Animorphs, #4)

The Animorphs series was, for me, my first foray into bookish obsession. Starting in about second or third grade, I began to devour these books; they are a perfectly curated combination of action, humor, heart, and friendship; they’re immersive and addicting while never shying away from the realities of war. They’re sort of the emotional precursors to the Hunger Games series in that way. The premise of the series is that a group of teenagers are given the power to transform into animals by a dying alien prince in order to combat the insidious and secret invasion of Earth by a race of mind-controlling aliens called Yeeks. I loved all of the characters so much, but Marco was probably my favorite; his mom died when he was young, and he turned to humor as an emotional coping mechanism. The group ends up depending on him as the comic relief, even when he’s tearing himself up inside. I’m not sure if these books are still being stocked in bookstores, but it makes me so sad to think of a generation of kids growing up without the Animorphs. I may do another post later entirely about this series and my favorite books from it, so I’ll stop myself here, because just I have way too many thoughts about them.

Island Of The Blue Dolphins

I pretended I was Karana so much after reading this book. Did anyone else do this as a kid? Island of the Blue Dolphins is a survival story about a  young woman alone on an island in the Pacific Ocean, but that’s such a simplified synopsis of what this book is. It’s inspirational and a really sad yet beautiful story. I also read Zia, the sequel, but it did not quite have the same the magic of this one. I did not realize until I looked it up on Goodreads today that this book was published in 1960; I’m glad it’s endured so long.

A Wind in the Door (Time, #2)

I loved the entire Wrinkle in Time series, although the books I read the most were probably A Wind in the Door and Many Waters. These books were so creative, but I don’t think I realized how fully weird they are until I started thinking about them recently; in A Wind in the Door, the protagonist journeys inside her little brother’s mitochondria to save his life; in Many Waters, the identical twins who were previously the more normal members of the Murray clan go back to Biblical times, fall in love with the same girl, and get into all sorts of issues with seraphim, nephilim, manticores, and miniature mammoths. (Yes. This is an actual plot point.) My favorite thing about this series was Meg, the main character, who sees herself as pretty ordinary but is actually impressively strong and devoted to protecting her family.

The Egypt Game

In The Egypt Game, a group of friends devote their free time to learning as much as possible about the culture of ancient Egypt and acting out its ceremonies and rituals in their spare time. It makes you embarrassed for all the time you most likely spent watching TV as a kid, as you could have been doing something as awesome as this.

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)

Tamora Pierce writes adventurous, female-driven fantasy the way that I wish more authors would. Her world of Tortall is a fully realized fantasy society, and Alanna emerges at a time when no women have been knights for centuries. She disguises herself as her twin brother and devotes herself to winning her shield; her adventures kick off several subsequent series with heroines who are just as badass and likable.

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

This is another book that I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read it. Julie escapes a teenage marriage and an abusive husband into the wilderness of Alaska, where she learns to become part of a wolf pack to survive. She’s a strong, intelligent, admirable protagonist facing what seems like an inescapable position in society who then battles the odds to live in one of the world’s harshest environments.

Ella Enchanted

Ignore the movie version, as it doesn’t even come close to capturing the spirit of this story.  I think this was my first exposure to fairytale retellings, which have since become one my favorite genres. You can’t help but sympathize with clever, spunky Ella, cursed with obedience by a fairy who thought it was a gift, and who manages to remain fiercely independent of her circumstances despite everything.


A sad and powerful story of a rape survivor in high school who feels unable to express herself after her assault. I get chills thinking about this book; the writing is detailed yet emotional, and I became so emotionally invested in helping the main character regain her voice.

The Music of Dolphins

There are a lot of dolphin-related books on this list, but that can never be a bad thing. In this book, Mila has been living as a member of a pod of dolphins since she was stranded in a plane crash, and only experiences humanity when she is found by a team of dolphin researchers.

Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (The Baby-Sitters Club, #2)

The Babysitters Club was about friendship and young teenagers learning to deal with all sorts of issues; my favorite was always Claudia, who was obsessed with fashion but struggled in school. This series went way past #100 and I had to have read at least fifty.


As I look over this list, I can see some themes emerging; female protagonists, for one; survival stories; science fiction and fantasy. I tried to include the covers of the books that I actually owned instead of any redesigned covers. I think it’s important to look back at what we read as children to see how it shapes our reading lives; I can see evidence in this list of my current reading tastes and characters that I will never forget.


Do you see any of your childhood favorites on this list? What books did you love as a child that I left out? Let me know in the comments!

Audiobook Issues

I really want to like audiobooks, but I’m having some issues.

Here’s the thing: I started a job last year that has about a 25-minute commute. Nothing terrible or crazy, but long enough that I went from ecstatically rocking out every time Taylor Swift came on the radio (don’t judge, you know  you do it too) to getting really tired of all the repetitive songs and commercials. Audiobooks seemed like the perfect solution–I love books, and I have almost an hour of extra time each day that could be used to listen to them.

But! I’m a terrible listener. I don’t mean when I’m talking to someone one-on-one, but as part of an audience. In school, I always had difficulty paying attention in lectures; I always ended up teaching all of the material to myself later from notes and textbooks, unable to absorb things spoken aloud. I was a good student; it’s just that I’m not an auditory learner. And I quickly found this becoming a large hurdle to my audiobook enjoyment.

I’m an audiobook newbie; I’ve only listened to about five or so audiobooks total. But I’ve also started several that I’ve had to DNF because I was just not able to focus on them, for whatever reason. I have a hard time pinpointing why; I’m sure the narrator was doing a good job, and the stories were interesting enough, but my listening skills were just not up to par.

Only two audiobooks, so far, have really worked for me:

Why Not Me? by Mindy KalingReady Player One

I really enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? because Mindy is so conversational and relatable–I could easily focus on the book because it was like we were chatting, and I just happened to be feeling very quiet at the time. And Ready Player One was just so funny and action-packed that I never even had a chance to think about whether I was paying attention; I couldn’t help it.

I’ve also tried these, and although I finished them, they weren’t great for me:

BossypantsModern RomanceAnansi Boys (American Gods, #2)

The thing is, I’d love to keep audiobooks a part of my commuting routine, but I keep striking out with the books I try.

So I’m looking for recommendations–does anyone have any suggestions for me of audiobooks you loved?