January 2023 Book Update

A new year, a new book challenge! So many books to choose from and only a year to read them.

If you’re new to Spine & Leaf Books, be sure to check out the 2023 Book Challenge posted at the end of last year. This year, we’ll read 50 books from 50 prompts, like #25: read a book with non-human characters, or #49: read a book with a plot twist.

At the end of each month, I’ll post a book update about my completed books for the challenge. I will be trying to read mostly books that fit the challenge to make sure I can complete it before the end of 2023, but the occasional book may not fit any challenge items. I’ll list the prompt number below the book title so others doing the challenge can follow along!

January was a great reading month, mostly because I started off with 3 back-to-back Harry Potter books.

I finished books 1-4 in December 2022 and was planning to read the remaining books after the new year. I think this is an excellent example of how you can use the books you already want to read to fit this challenge. There’s no need to ditch your whole TBR list. While this will get harder as you work through the list, we can enjoy crossing off a few easy numbers in the early months of the year.

I also read 2 books from Fredrik Backman that were hard to put down. Both had their own sadnesses but were unique in that I’ve never read anything quite like them before. Backman has definitely moved to the top of my list as Favorite Author!

I made a trip to my public library’s book sale this month and came away with a romance novel for 25 cents, plus 2 other books that I won’t be getting to until next month, so stay tuned for those. But I love supporting the library when I can, even just a few cents at a time. Thanks to all of the amazing volunteers that make these sales possible.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading from textbooks and scientific journal articles for my classes. It’s sort of nice to read for intentional learning and then switch to a nice fictional book as downtime. Maybe this year I’ll end up reading a few less non-fiction books in my free time?

So here’s my list for January 2023! Check the bottom of the page for a quick reference to the items I was able to cross off on the 2023 Challenge sheet.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

#6- longer than 400 pages

by J.K. Rowling

Rating: 5 out of 5.

OotP is easily over 400 pages, so I thought this was a great one to cross off the list. Harry gains a lot of new friends in this one and I love that he’s building up his team. Luna is a splash of color and life in this otherwise darkening series.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

#15- with the word ‘and’ in the title

by J.K. Rowling

Rating: 5 out of 5.

With Dumbledore’s help, Harry learns about Voldemort’s past. The Dark Lord becomes more menacing and evil once we learn about the horrible things he’s done, even as a young boy. I love the complexity of the book and how there are always multiple plot threads going on at once.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

#36- that you’ve read more than once

by J.K. Rowling

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I waited in line at the midnight book release for this book. It was totally worth it! I was completely satisfied with the ending of the series and enjoyed watching the trio go out on their own to defeat Voldemort. They really needed to use everything they learned to come out on top. Plus, there is some really cool magic.

When I Am Through With You

#34- written by a new-to-you author

By Stephanie Kuehn

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I listened to this YA thriller on audiobook. It was adventurous, but bordering on horror. Lots of deaths that didn’t really make the impact that they deserved. But it’s a group of teenagers on a camping trip through the wilderness making the poor decisions that one would expect of young people in a tough situation.

The Winners

#28- about an athlete

by Fredrik Backman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are quite a few athletes in this book and frankly, it’s set around an entire town, actually, two neighboring towns, that are absolutely obsessed with hockey. The characters are amazing, even though there are a lot of them. But Backman truly understands people and what drives them. Highly recommend you read all of the books in this trilogy.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

#23- by your favorite author

by Fredrik Backman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book was beautiful. The writing had such symmetry and the repetition of lines at the beginning and end really drove home this hopeful, youthful feeling. It is essentially from the point of view of a child (albeit a very gifted child) so it has this innocence and simplicity. I was really impressed by the imagination of Backman as he explored a grandmother’s hidden past saving as many people as she could.

Hot Ice

#41- from your least favorite genre

by Nora Roberts

Rating: 2 out of 5.

It’s hard to rate a book from your least favorite genre unless I guess you love every genre. For me, romance novels are not that great. I’ve tried them before but sometimes the overexaggerated, cheesy lines that seem to prevail in the genre just don’t do it for me. I choose Roberts because she is such a prolific author that I figured she must be doing something right. She is good at what she does, but it’s just not to my taste. If you like forbidden sex in the back of a jeep in the Madagascan wilds while bad guys get eaten by crocodiles, you’ll probably really like this one.

I thought this year I’d be easier for me to cross of the numbers as I go on an electronic sheet. Last year I just kept a list of the numbers I completed and it was a bit hard to see what I still had to complete. So here’s my update challenge list after January! 7 books down, 43 to go!

Let me know in the comments here or on the 2023 post what you’ve been reading so far!

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