Some reading months are just really exciting, right? That’s my January 2012.

Some of the thrills are pretty specific. For instance, my First Amazing Read of 2012, Edem Awumey’s Dirty Feet (House of Anansi, 2011); I actually read it twice in January.

Whenever I finish a book with that “Must Read Again” feeling, it’s exciting, so to have that feeling early in a reading year? It can’t help but boost bookish expectations for the rest of this year.

And some of the thrills are more vague; I said that I wanted to read fairy tales, mythology and speculative fiction in mind for this year, and I’ve started off well.

That means, Maria Tatar’s Annotated Classic Tales (which has so many gorgeous illustrations, which means chatter about the artists right in there with chatter about the storytellers and different versions collected for each of these tales). It’s added countless avenues to  my reading ideas.

And Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth (which is the first in the Canongate series, and, yes, I might just be so obsessive about that fact that I’ll continue on, by re-reading The Penelopiad and Weight, before moving down the list).

And Gail Carriger’s Soulless (which was just as much fun as so many of you have already said, and one of my few forays into steampunk).

Posts have been shared three times a week, and several themes have surfaced through this month.

I spent a lot of time in Sweden on the page. I met an unhappily married policeman, an unhappily divorced policeman, and an unhappy bachelor doctor.

There, I also met Gosta Berling, who needs a category all his own (such a beatiful, magical tale by Selma Lagerlof), and I was reacquainted with the oh-so charming children Josephine and Hugo.

And I discovered the Astrid Lindgren classic, The Brothers Lionheart, which was wonderful indeed. (Thoughts to come.) If there was a challenge for Swedish literature, I’d’ve completed it in a month, I’m thinking.

And, for Orange January, I managed to read three novels: The Love Letter, The Lovely Bones, and Hen’s Teeth (I wish, for reasons of symmetry, that the word Love somehow appeared in that last title, but nonetheless it was a theme within Manda Scott’s gripping mystery).

I was also busy Drawing Conclusions, chatting about graphic novels (be they beautiful, wacky, or provocatively bookish), or the latest installments in the tremendously addictive Walking Dead series (which you might have thought was all about zombies but is actually character-driven drama).

Which led to chatter about series, and how I have become obsessed with starting them and never finishing them, and with a journey back to Monica Dickens’ World’s End series, which was written for children, but which was just as enjoyable for me returning to it as an adult.

And I’ve continued with some of my personal reading projects:

Short stories – Finished the amazing Z.Z. Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Still reading Edward P. Jones’ All Aunt Hagar’s Children. (Thoughts to come.)

Bookish Books – Read the provocative Pierre Bayard volume, How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read. (Thoughts to come.) And Victor Watson’s book Reading Series Fiction, in hopes that it would help me understand why I read series and can’t finish them but, instead, it only added to the list of series that I want to read.

Re-reading – The delightful Joan Bodger book on her family’s literary pilgrimage to England, How the Heather Looks. And children’s favourites, including Rumer Godden’s The Dolls’ House. (Thoughts to come.)

Non-Fiction – Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously and the Lairds’ Still I Rise. (Thoughts to come.)


So how can February’s reading possible compete with such an amazing reading month?

Well, there are the selections for this year’s The Morning News Tournament of Books. (You should read their announcement, cuz they’re funny folks.)

I’ve read five of the sixteen books, and I’m currently listening to T.J. Cole’s Open City, and wholly enjoying it. (My Audible membership is coming up for renewal, so I found myself happily browsing last weekend as you can’t roll over all your credits, only some, from year-to-year.)

And there are so many big books on my shelves, including two that currently have bookmarks in them: Kristin Lavransdatter and The Warmth of Other Suns.

I’m looking forward to reading both of these in February; I’ve just re-read the first segment of Sigrid Undset’s trilogy and can’t believe how bizarrely modern-feeling parts of this medieval tale feel.

And even though I loved reading At Mrs Lippincote’s for the first month of Laura’s Elizabeth Taylor Centenary Celebration, I am really looking forward to re-reading her second novel, Palladian, because I enjoyed her first novel even more on the second reading of it. (Rachel is hosting this read.)

Well, it’s Elizabeth Taylor, right? She’s terrific. But I also love the idea of reading through an author’s works, from start-to-stop, and in company. What could be better?

And I have chosen two authors who are contending for my first read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge: Jessica Anderson and Elizabeth Jolley.

I used to read more Australian fiction that I have in recent years, but I have more than one of each of these writer’s works on my shelves. I think I’ll re-read Tirra, Lirra By the River and Miss Peabody’s Inheritance before moving onto new material by each. Any other suggestions?

And my first read for the Dystopian Challenge, Kate Wilhelm’s And No Sweet Birds Sang. I’ve had a battered pocketbook of this for years and never sat down with it yet, but that’s what challenges are for, right? Additional motivation in the form of Mr Linky.

So, February, I’m looking at you for all of this, too.

But, above all, I have a copy of Baratunde Thurston‘s How to Be Black, which outlines a series of suggestions for observing Black History Month.

With February in mind, he includes a table which details the “different levels of recognition and privileges associated with your efforts”,  and the rewards for completing ten activities, for those “who exuberantly celebrate”, are irresistible.

So I”m aiming for ten relevant posts in February, in exuberant celebration.

He states: “You might as well keep going, because there’s a lot more to being black than February.” So, I will keep going (providing I receive my rewards as outlined), but February is still February.

Maybe February can keep pace with January after all, but this has been one exceptional January.

How about you? How was your reading this month? What are you looking forward to about February?