Tuesday, February 2, 2021

review: the ten thousand doors of january by alix harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

by Alix Harrow

Pages: 374
Publisher: Redhook
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019

Cover Comments: 
Pretty cover, but not really indicative of the wonderful story that lies within. The door could be more door-esque for sure.

First Lines: 
"When I was seven, I found a door."
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


“I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return.”

Started off 2021 with a stunner! Ten Thousand Doors of January centers on January Scaller, a girl who stumbles upon a Door to another world and begins a journey. January is a fantastic protagonist - interesting, smart, and courageous, but in a realistic and relatable way. She’s stubborn, and often makes stupid mistakes, but ultimately grows into her own sense of self in a very satisfying way.

The rest of the characters that populate this world are nuanced and fascinating as well, from January’s wealthy caretaker Mr. Locke, to the companion sent by her father, Jane, to her childhood friend and all around cute boy, Samuel. Last but CERTAINLY not least, the bestest boy ever, her dog Sinbad, is a super sweet loyal companion who bites racists. We love to see it.

The writing style is sort of flowery and breaks the third wall often:

“Companions. See the curve of that C like a pair of outstretched arms? It implied the sort of friends who might slay dragons or go on hopeless quests or swear blood oaths at midnight.”

I quite enjoyed this writing style, though it won’t be for everyone. Harrow does a great job at painting the various settings in a gorgeous way, and I could see them all clearly: the large Locke House where January grows up, the salt-spray smell of the first world she crosses over into, and the vast plains of the farm where we meet another traveler were all vibrant.

It was interesting to read a story that is full of so much possibility, set in a time period where women of color like January and Jane are often constricted by society and the men around them. The portions of the book where January is held back by her “role” in society were the most upsetting. The mythology of the Doors revolves around the idea that Doors allow the passage of ideas and change to go from world to world, and certain characters in the novel would rather keep to the status quo (to no one’s surprise, these are old white men). I loved the idea that the inspirations, inventions, and revolutions in various worlds were born of other worlds.

“The will to be polite, to maintain civility and normalcy, is fearfully strong. I wonder sometimes how much evil is permitted to run unchecked simply because it would be rude to interrupt it.”

I loved this book so much. It gave me a lot of hope and wonder; highly recommend.


Monday, February 1, 2021

February TBR


Another month, another unrealistic TBR! These are the books I'm trying to get to this month (covers link to Goodreads):

Leftovers (to finish from previous months)

1) Ashes (Seeds of America #3) by Laurie Halse Anderson

This was on my 2021 reading list for January, and I didn't quite finish, so we march on! It's great so far.

2) Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist

I have a list of places, people, and subjects I want to learn more about, and this year's focus place in New Orleans! I got this book while I was in NOLA last year, so I thought this was a great place to start.

3) Transcendant Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

I'm pretty close to finishing this one, and it's very moving so far. It got bumped up on my list because it was featured in a book club I follow on Goodreads as January's pick, and I'm so glad it was.

4) White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

This was my anti-racism pick for January, and I expect to finish it in the next few days. I wanted to take my time with it, because there's a lot to unpack and think about. Very useful book for me.

5) Lore by Alexandra Bracken

This one hopped up on the list because it's the pick for a book subscription box I subscribe to. I love Greek mythology, so I'm super excited about it! Only about a chapter in so far.

6) The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

I've been reading this book since JULY!! I'm not sure exactly what my roadblock has been; it's just not super engrossing so far. I want to finally finish this month though.

7) A Blade so Black (The Nightmare-Verse #1) by L. L. McKinney

My current library read! The return date is soon, so hopefully that will motivate me! Only a few pages into this one so far.

Books from my 2021 list

I make a list every year that has books from a variety of categories: 1) seasonal reads (reflecting the month or season of the year, i.e. winter or January); 2) back list reads (the oldest books on my to-read list on Goodreads); 3) holiday reads (if a holiday occurs in that month, a book related to it, i.e. romance for Valentine's); 4) series that I can finish by reading one more book; 5) books by or about my focus person, place, or subject (this year, it's Jean Paul Sartre and New Orleans); 6) nonfiction book; 7) nonfiction anti-racism book or fiction by a person of color.

1) Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

My seasonal pick for winter, and also one of the oldest books on my TBR.

2) Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

I thought Sweethearts would be cute for a Valentine's Day read. Somehow, I've never read a book by Sara Zarr, so this will be my first!

3) White Oleander by Janet Fitch

This is the oldest book on my TBR, shelved on Goodreads in January of 2010. I hope it's worth the wait!

4) Escape from Disaster (Antartica #2) by Peter Lerangis

Reading this book finishes a duology that I started when I was smol. It's based on the true story of an early voyage to the South Pole.

5) Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It by Garth Davis

I've been working on reducing my meat intake for the last few years for several reasons. February is my health-focused month as far as 2021 goals go, so I wanted to beef up (ha ha ha) on the research behind the meat industry and health.

6) Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

I'm really interested in the people and ideas behind the 20's/30's era in Paris (Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Picasso, Dali, Ernest Hemingway, surrealism, existentialism,  etc.). Sartre is my 2021 focus pick, so I'm reading his works and biographies written about him. This is the first of the year! I also have a copy of No Exit in French, so I might read that as a French language exercise sometime as well.

7) The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I can't believe I haven't read this book yet. It's my book this month written by a person of color, and I'm excited to finally dig in.


So yeah, this list is insane and will most likely look very different from what I actually finish, but it's fun to dream! What are you reading this month?