Books I Read in January 2020 and My Literary Goals

I started out the year with a few literary goals:

1. Read a book for myself each month
2. Read 200 new books to the children
3. Participate more in literary discussion

and so far these goals are going great! I started 4 books this month and finished 3 of them. Well okay, almost done with the last one but I'm still counting it since I'll be ready to start fresh the first week of February on my next book (which is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, a book about the justice system and a young lawyer trying to do good work).

Grown up books I read this month:

This was the Every Day Reading book club book for January, and I really liked it. I would give it four stars. It has lots of good practical advice on how to accomplish your goals and focus your life on what you are really good at, love, and want to do. If you are just getting into this subject, I would start with Goodbye Survival Mode by Crystal Paine which I liked the tone of more, but I also did enjoy this book. The next book I want to read on this subject is Atomic Habits by James Clear, so if I get through my February book I may start in on that.

Next up, I started reading Educated which my cousin warned me was heavy, but BOY was it heavy. Not something I was up for reading in this season of life, so when I got to chapter five and it wasn't getting any lighter, I put it down and moved on. The author had a really dysfunctional and abusive childhood, and her father's mental health issues contributed to him harming the whole family in a really disturbing way. If you are interested in these kinds of psychological books, the writing is excellent. I however, needed something less intense. 3 stars for Educated.

After that I wanted to go back to something I knew was safe, so I avoided novels and went straight for historical non-fiction. I love British history, and this book was a great listen. I would have enjoyed hearing the many stories in this in much more detail, it sort of breezed through a lot of really big stuff, but it accomplished its goal of really showing how Queen Victoria's matchmaking influenced European history and I learned a lot. This is a fairly easy to listen to book for historical fiction too, many books in that genre are at a higher reading level that can require a lot of focus, but this I was able to listen to in the background while I was drawing and still retain what I read. Four stars for this.

Children's Books:

I loved the Boxcar Children books as a child, and I haven't read them since. Last week I bought my 6 year old daughter the first book as her first chapter book series, and it was fantastic. It is the perfect reading level for her, and we had a great time reading aloud to each other. She is continuing to read the first book on her own, and I reread the whole thing in one night because it is so enjoyable. I cannot wait to get my hands on book 2. Five stars for Boxcar Children.

Some of the other books that I read to the children this month:

Very cute, my kids had fun finding the cat in each photo.

I did not enjoy this book. The kids loved it, but this book tells the kids to physically touch it, shake it, etc. and that drove me nuts, not to mention I did not like how my kids thought that these actions magically caused the dots to move in the next picture. It was very annoying. They really enjoyed it though, and I know this is very popular, so I may be alone in this opinion.

This book was wonderful. It takes the reader through the early days of the railroad, from East to West, and it is fascinating. I learned a lot about the railroad, and it was engaging enough that my toddlers stayed attentive. You can tell that this book was written by someone who really cares about and loves trains and the railroad, and that passion came through in the most special way. The artwork was fantastic too.

I expected more from this book than it delivered. The illustrations were nice, especially at the beginning and end, but the story wasn't that impressive or interesting. There were also a lot of little bits of it that went over my kids' heads, which I don't appreciate in children's books.

An Ordinary Day by Sally Mitchell Motyka was very cute. There were a couple tiny things that might bother some readers, like they say the children are eating sugar cookies but the picture is of chocolate chip, and there is another illustration of the children wearing homemade Native American headdresses which some readers may find offensive. I liked the story though and it was very cute. I like when children's books show the benefit of regular ordinary days playing outside with family, and this did that.

We read a few other children's books including some Paw Patrol ones from the library and some old ones that we already had, and we have some more library books and ones gifted by friends for my son's birthday so I am excited to continue reading new books to them next month.

What did you read this month? What were your opinions on these books? I'd love to hear!