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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

January reflections

Updated: Mar 20

January is always one of those months in which I struggle to get much reading done. It’s my birthday month so I’m usually fairly busy, for a couple of weekends at least, which doesn’t leave much time for getting in some quality page time. This year,  I celebrated a milestone, so every single weekend was taken up with plans. 

Last year was the first time in a while that I didn’t set myself a reading target, and I really enjoyed not feeling like I had a magic number of books I felt I had to read. I remember, a few years ago, I didn’t hit my target and I felt terrible about it; it felt like I’d failed at something. It’s silly really, when I think about it, as I read some fantastic books that year. How can that in any way, shape or form be construed as a failure? Last year I tried to restore a little balance to my approach by not playing the numbers game and, ironically, I read more books last year than I have in a long time.

2024 then, will be another year of enjoying each book that crosses my path and not using it to hit some self-imposed target. I’m now a month in and, whilst I feel no small amount of FOMO when I see other people’s stories filled with monthly templates, I think I’m going to stick with my more carefree approach to reading for the time being. 

What I’ve been reading

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens

My first read of the year was this LGBTQ+ fantasy that’s a loose retelling of The Little Mermaid. It’s always a joy to read an inclusive story, and, whilst I did enjoy the pace, it never quite found its perfectly timed narrative arc for me. 


The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

This whole series has been a recent reread for me and one I started at the end of 2023 (crisp December days felt like the right time to pick up Northern Lights) It’s been a while since I last read these, and they’re still just as thought-provoking and beautifully told as I remember. 


An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

I want to watch the new Bridgerton series, but that is based on book 4 and they seem to have skipped book 3 for the moment. It goes against the fibre of my very being to read out of order, so I read book 3 before embarking on book 4. There is no denying that these are easy and predictable books, but I enjoyed that this one is something of a Cinderella retelling, and it has been my favourite of the series so far. 

The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier 

This was the first pick of the year for the No Shelf Control Book Club and my first ever Du Maurier novel! It’s not actually one I’d ever heard of before, but I enjoyed the premise and the tense atmosphere. I am, however,  still perplexed by the ending! 

What I’ve been listening to

Green Day’s new album Saviors came out on the 19th January and I have to say that I really do love it! I’m off to see them again this summer and I’m already looking forward to hearing some of these live. If I close my eyes, I can hear the chorus of Goodnight Adeline floating across a stadium on a balmy summer’s evening and feel the incessant beat of Corvette Summer reverberating through the ground. It’s a winner from me and has taken an early lead on my Spotify stats this year! 

What I’ve been watching 

I’m not really one for watching the most current things, and this month has been no exception. At the end of last year, we started re-watching Castle on Disney+ and are still making our way through that. The first time around, we only watched the first six seasons so we have a couple of unseen seasons to go before we’re finished!  I also took my first theatre trip of the month to go and see Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical which was wickedly delightful. Slightly more comedy-driven than the original film, the cast are fantastic and the music was like taking a walk through my youth. It's on at The Other Palace Theatre in London until 19 May.


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