January Update! (Books + more!)

by | Feb 1, 2021 | Art, Books, Garden, Reading, Writing | 6 comments

At the close of this first month of the new year, here’s a quick update on my current books (and other things)!

What I’m reading …

I read eleven books in January to kick off 2021! Among my (new) favorites: The Anne of Green Gables Devotional by Rachel Dodge, a heartfelt read full of inspiring verses with charming illustrations; Karina Yan Glaser’s The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found, the fourth volume in the Vanderbeekers series and perhaps the most poignant yet; Best Friends by Mary Bard (1950s fun about a French girl moving to the US); Francie on the Run, the second book in Hilda van Stockum’s Bantry Bay trilogy. Rereads included Kate DiCamillo’s 20th-anniversary edition of Because of Winn-Dixie (with slightly altered text), and Jane of Lantern Hill (L.M. Montgomery), which I am having the fun of discussing with friends in a book group right now.

What I’m planning to read …

Some brand-new books just arrived in the mail, and here’s why I can’t wait to read them:

Emily’s Runaway Imagination (1961): I’m working on filling in my Beverly Cleary library, having stuck mainly to the Ramona books and her “First Love” series. I just read Mitch and Amy (1967) and liked it quite a bit, so I’m eager to read this one, a rare historical story from Cleary set in the 1920s.

The Four Graces (1946): A Little Women retelling-of-sorts set in WWII in an English village and written by D.E. Stevenson? What could be better? 🙂

Carney’s House Party (1949): I just bought this lovely two-pack that includes both Carney and Winona, two Deep Valley novels by Maud Hart Lovelace. I just read Winona’s Pony Cart for the first time last year and greatly enjoyed it, and now I’m looking forward to rereading Carney’s House Party.

L.M. Montgomery’s Short Stories, 1907-1908: Montgomery’s short stories often have such wonderful characters and situations that I end up wishing she’d lengthened them into more novels!

Two Little Women (1915): I read the second book in this trilogy in 2009 and the third in 2010, and I have finally bought myself a copy of the first book! Carolyn Wells’ writing is so breezy and fun.

Not pictured but also on my list: Jennifer Dances (1954): A 1910s-era story by Eunice Young Smith about a girl who moves to Chicago to live with aunt and takes up ballet. It sounds so sweet!

What I’m writing …

I am nearly finished with my current middle grade novel – only about 7k left to write – and then I’m going to be focusing on a revision of a middle grade manuscript I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2018! I am so excited about it, and I’m gathering research materials and searching for inspiration!

What else I’ve been enjoying…

Scrapbooking, looking through old family photos, feeding sugar cubes to sweet ponies, listening to Annette Funicello songs and Strauss’ Annen Polka, doing writing sprints with friends, gathering quotes for an interview piece for Inside Gymnastics, watching Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, and other delightful things. I’ve also been planning this summer’s garden, buying seeds and calculating how many flower beds I’ll need. I am hoping for an early spring so that I can get a head start on my seeds, particularly the Madame Butterfly snapdragons. For the first time, I’ll be planting glorious orange nasturtiums (a flower found in Jane of Lantern Hill, as mentioned above), and I’m crossing my fingers that – unlike last year – my pink poppies will actually come to fruition!

What have you been doing to brighten the long January days? Let me know in the comments! 🙂 


  1. Lyn

    Now I feel like an Annette Funicello playlist is a really good idea!

  2. Marion

    Hi Anna Rose;
    I have read Winona’s Pony Cart and Carney’s House party. They are nice reads. D.E Stevenson’s Four Graces sounds like a good read. Jane Of Lantern Hill is in my library but haven’t read it. Have been busy trying to write down the books we all received for the holidays and finding spaces for them. Also de cluttering.
    Anna Rose I always enjoy reading your posts. Good Luck with your book.

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      Thank you so much, Marion! You would love Jane! Hope all goes well with the decluttering! 🙂

  3. Marilyn

    Hi Anna Rose, Your list of books are interesting and I like the same books you have mentioned and have read most on your list. . I enjoyed Listening Valley by D.E. Stevenson. I want to purchase a few more of her books. I hope to plant some Hyacinth, Daffodil,Tulip and a few more. I hope the squirrels do not eat and destroy the bulbs.

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      Hi Marilyn! Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, Listening Valley is a lovely book, and bulbs can be challenging! I love my little blue grape hyacinths. Good luck with yours!


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