Where the Crawdads Sing

img_7456Book: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Date Read: January 1 to 9, 2021

Rating: 5 (of 5) stars

This was my pick for the first Unread Shelf Project prompt of the year: a book with high expectations. I thought through quite a few different ways to interpret this, and decided that I would use some data from Goodreads to narrow things down. This was the highest rated book on my to read list that has been rated by over 1 million people. I felt that this gave an endorsement both for the popularity of the book, and a general consensus on quality. In addition to that, this is a book that was given to me as a gift and came highly recommended.

Despite the hype, I actually knew very little about this one going into it. In fact, I was a couple chapters in before I even decided to read the description on the inside jacket. Overall, I really enjoyed the layers to this story; although it took me a little bit to really get into it. Once I was hooked though, I could not get enough of the story. I admit I was a little put off by the time jumps in the first part of the book, created by the dual storyline. Kya’s childhood was so much more interesting to me than the murder-mystery set up happening so many years later. Of course I realized that all would eventually become relevant, but it was occasionally frustrating to be pulled away from the more engrossing part of the narrative.

I mentioned enjoying the layers of the story, which I think was the most appealing aspect of this novel for me. There is so much here to consider: love, tragedy, discrimination, trauma, coming of age, loss, judgment, and a great appreciation for the natural world. To pinpoint any one cause of Kya’s eccentricities or her ostracization would be difficult, but examining her past, it is easy to see why she developed a fear of the outside world and the behavior patterns that went along with this. It was curious to me that the main source of Kya’s peculiarities was a fear of those in town, whose own prejudices led them to fear her as well.

While I have seen this elsewhere as a criticism of the book, I appreciated the details included in the naturalistic elements of Kya’s relationship to her home. It was obvious that the author has impressive knowledge on the subject, and helped in building the fascinating juxtaposition within Kya’s own character—the bits of truth in the town’s view of her life, contrasted with the accomplishments far beyond what anyone would suspect from her. Even later when the detectives from town see her collections, they do not understand them, assuming there is some element of madness in her work. I suppose this plays even further into the “fear of the unknown” element between Kya and the town.

Minka’s Thoughts: “I think I understand this girl. I, too, am fascinated by birds. 3 paws.”

Unread Shelf Progress for January

  • Books Read: 2
  • Books Acquired: 0
  • Total Unread Books: 269

The Unread Shelf Project 2021

img_4916A new year, and a renewed challenge to continue reading the books that are already waiting for me on my shelves! I am not going to go too deeply into the Unread Shelf Project since I wrote about it last year, but wanted to kick things off for 2021.

I felt like I did pretty well with reading this past year, making a point to read many of the books that had been on my shelf for quite some time. Unfortunately, I was not so good about controlling the number of books that I added to my shelf. All in all, I entered 2021 with a total of 271 books on my unread shelf. This is up 1 from my starting point for 2020, and marks a new high point. At one point in the year, I was down to 253.

While this is certainly not a “win” in my quest to conquer my unread books, it is more progress than I have made in the recent past. Over the past 10 years, my to read list has been increasing fairly steadily. My efforts to vanquish the stack have helped to slow the growth over the past 2 years, and an increase of 1 is certainly the smallest increase I have seen. Maybe this means I have reached a turning point. I suppose only time will tell.

Luckily for me, there are a few new twists added in to the Unread Shelf Project for 2021 that should help me along my way. In addition to some new monthly challenges, there is also a set of bonus challenges—making a total of 24 challenges for the year. My new goal is to complete these all with books that were already on my unread self at the start of the year (with the exception of the “most recently acquired” challenge, which will depend on when I am able to work it in). So, as January comes to an end, I raise a toast to us all: let’s live our best reading lives in 2021. My first challenge post of the year will be up next week.

For more information on the Unread Shelf Project, visit The Unread Shelf blog or Instagram.

2021 Prompts

  • January: A book with high expectations
  • February: A book you got for free
  • March: A book you bought on a trip
  • April: A book bought from a used bookstore
  • May: A book you bought as a new release
  • June: A book bought in a spending spree
  • July: A book bought for the cover
  • August: A book from an independent bookstore
  • September: A book you want to learn from
  • October: A book you’re secretly afraid of
  • November: A book published before 2000
  • December: A book that reminds you of childhood

Bonus Challenges

  • A book with more than 500 pages
  • An impulse buy
  • A book on your unread shelf longer than one year
  • A book by an author you’ve never read before
  • A book you bought because of a recommendation
  • A book given to you that you didn’t ask for
  • A book you got for a special occasion
  • A book from your favorite genre
  • A book bought because of the hype
  • A book from a Little Free Library
  • The unread book most recently acquired
  • A backlist title by an author with a newer release available