Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Quarter Year Reading Check In

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The first quarter of the year is over! How'd it go for everybody? Have you accomplished anything awesome? Did you get a lot of reading done? I've read 21 books so far in 2024. Let's talk about the best and worst of them.

🤔  Quarter Year Reading Check In  ✅

Best Books I've Read This Quarter?

The two that stand out the most are Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia Of Faeries by Heather Fawcett and The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett. They're very different books!

Emily Wilde is a cozy fantasy novel that forces me to look up the spelling of the title every time I type it. It's about fairies faeries who causally decapitate one another. The characters are sweet, funny, and a little dangerous. Emily Wilde is a university professor who travels to a remote island to study the faerie population. She plans to spend months alone in the wilderness, but then her academic rival, Wendell Bambleby, shows up on the doorstep of her decrepit cabin. Wendell is also there to study faeries. (Or so he claims.) At first, Emily is irritated, but then she realizes that she might have a crush on her rival. And the feeling might be mutual.

I feel like I've been searching for this book for years. (Not just because I can't spell the title.) I've been craving a medium-stakes fantasy book with fun characters and a world that doesn't require my whole brain to understand. This is the exact novel I wanted! I loved it!

Now for an extremely-not-cozy book. The Pillars Of The Earth is one of the biggest novels I've ever conquered. It's close to 1000 pages, and it consumed my life for nearly a month. I just wanted to spend all my time reading this book!

It's about building a cathedral in the Middle Ages. I know that sounds boring, but I promise it doesn't suck! Actually, it's a lot like A Game of Thrones without dragons and zombies. It starts with a mason searching for a job and then keeps sprawling outward until it's about a whole town. There are a ton of characters, but I never got confused because they're developed beautifully. They have distinctive personalities and goals. I was never mad about switching perspectives because I was invested in this town. I wanted to be in everybody's business.

For a giant book, the pacing moves quickly, and there's a new plot twist every few chapters. I can tell that the author was originally a thriller writer. I was surprised at how much I loved this book beast.

Worst Books I've Read This Quarter?

There have been a few bad ones, but I was the most disappointed in Navigate Chaos: A 5-Step Guide To Balance Work, Family, And Other Life Priorities by Steven B. Wiley. I read it for book club. I have no idea why the club chose it.

The author owns a life coaching company called CEEK. It's pronounced "seek." It's not an acronym. It's just "seek" spelled confusingly and in ALL CAPS. Sometimes CEEK is written in ALL CAPS and italics so it's extra noticeable while you're reading. The author never misses an opportunity to remind the reader that he has a company called CEEK. It gives the entire book sleezy salesman vibes.

Genres I've Read The Most?

This is a tricky question because I search for books that are genre-bending. I don't know how to categorize what I read. According to my spreadsheet, I mostly read historical fiction and fantasy in the first quarter. I don't actually know if that's accurate.

Books That Surprised Me?

Can I just talk about The Pillars Of The Earth again? I was surprised by how much I neglected my life to read that book.

One of my goals this year is to read happier books. I wasn't sure how much I'd like happy stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree and The Very Secret Society Of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna. They're both cozy fantasy books about magical creatures (magical people? Magical beings?) who are falling in love and trying to make a good life for themselves. They're cute and fun.

The most shocking book I read was Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. It's about an eight-year-old girl who is abducted by her father and taken to a cabin in the woods. He convinces her that the world has ended, and they're the only two survivors. Then the girl meets a man who says he lives on the other side of the river. Chaos and death happen. There's a highly disturbing plot twist at the end of the book that I did not see coming.

Books That Came Out In 2023 That I Haven't Read Yet?

The Fragile Threads Of Power by V.E. Schwab. I have a good excuse! It's the first book in a companion series to the Shades Of Magic books. I have a terrible memory, so I want to reread the first series before starting the second. If you like books about parallel universes, you need to read Shades Of Magic.

Am I Succeeding At My Reading Goals?

Maybe? Most of my goals were vague, so it's hard to measure success. I set my Goodreads goal at 30 books because I wanted to read some giant ones. I didn't need Goodreads pressuring me to read faster. I'll hit 30 books pretty soon.

I wanted to read happier books and asked for recommendations at the start of the year. I think I'll finish all 12 recommendations before the year ends. I've read 6.

I'm trying to read all the unread books on my shelf. This has been slow going because I can't stay away from the library. The library has better books than me!

I think that's all the goals I made. Overall, I'm doing okay with them.

Do you want to answer these questions on your blog? Go for it!


  1. I've loved The Pillars of the Earth since I read it for a college course (many) years ago! My reading so far has actually been kinda meh. I've had one true five-star read, a few 4-stars, but mostly just a lot of okay reads. Nothing really is standing out yet.

  2. The Pillars of the Earth was so good.

    Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.


  3. I'm still giggling at sweet faeries that casually decapitate one another. lol

  4. I’m curious about Our Endless Numbered Days.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.</a


  5. I don't remember you talking about Arthur Pepper. I adored that book. I hope it was alright for you. I think more books are a blend of genres these days. Even the fact that we have coined the term "cozy fantasy" speaks to how we can improve our categorization of books.

  6. It's still early in the year and there is always time to readjust goals. The most important thing is to find books you enjoy :)

  7. Finlay Donovan and Remarkably Bright Creatures will both be positive books. I think you're having a great reading year so far.

  8. I've been curious about The Pillars of the Earth for the longest time but never picked it up. You've convinced me! I'm going to pick out some of the books from your happy book list too, I've loved the ones I've already read and the others look great too. You're doing awesome with that goal!

  9. That's wonderful that you enjoyed The Pillars Of The Earth! It definitely is inspiring me to read it!

  10. Nice job, Aj! I've wanted to read a couple of those you read this quarter. One of the awesome things I've done is get more organized this year. I feel more productive overall.

    Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a nice week.

  11. I adored Legends & Lattes, much to my surprise and delight! I want to read The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches soon as I want more of that vibe!

  12. I've read a lot of books so far this year (42), but I've only reviewed one on my blog so far. Oops! So much for my goal about reviewing more.

    I've been wanting to read PILLARS OF THE EARTH, but I'm intimidated by the length of that sucker! Usually books that long get boring for me, but it sounds like this one held your attention well. I might just have to give it a go for myself. Thanks for the encouragement :)

    Happy TTT (on a Wednesday)!

  13. Ooh I'd like to try the Emily Wilde books and Legends and Lattes too. Looks like it was good reading quarter.

  14. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed Emily Wilde, as that's on my TBR and I've heard so many great things! I also loved Legends & Lattes and The Very Secret Society Of Irregular Witches :)

  15. Good job conquering Pillars of the Earth! That's massive. I still haven't read Braiding Sweetgrass -- it's been on my list ... for too long a time. argh.

  16. Sounds like cozy fantasies were a definite win for you lately! I've heard good things about Ken Follett, but I haven't been brave enough to read him yet. I just don't have the time to invest in that sort of commitment!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  17. This is a good activity and probably helps you evaluate what reading you want to do going forward. I want to read Pillars of the Earth and will likely make it my One Big Book of 2025 since I'll be tackling Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Who knows? I should be able to read them both in one year year. Ha!

    My discussion topic this month is reacting to a list of "The twelve best books, hand down" Please join in the conversation.

  18. Your description of Our Endless Numbered Days kind of reminded me of the film 'Brigsby Bear,' for reasons I can't go into without spoiling (but I highly recommend said film!)

  19. I loved Emily Wilde, Legends & Lattes, and The Very Secret Society. I'm with you about wanting to read more "happy" books. I hope you get to Remarkably Bright Creatures, I think you'll love it.

  20. I love the idea of the 12 books recommended by 12 friends - such a fun way to choose a book a month!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction