I really fell behind on my reading this past month- but I think I pushed so hard at the end of 2020 to hit my 100+ reading goal that I needed a break. And this month seemed to fly by, somehow after this past year running at both a glacial pace and simultaneously really fast- let’s just all agree that 2020 was WEIRD. But, I did finish up this month having read 6 books, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through another. So, I’m still going to pat myself on the back anyway. Here are the 6 books that I did read, along with mini-reviews, should you want to pick them up too.
January 2021 Books
The first book I finished this year was No Offense by Meg Cabot. I started this one in early December and it took me awhile to get into it. I didn’t love this one in the beginning. The characters weren’t really fleshed out for me like I’d like them to be, but this is also a series and I hadn’t picked up the first book, so that may very well be my fault. I do have to say, about halfway through I began to enjoy it a little more and looked forward to see what would happen next. John was my favorite character, which is funny because how was Molly Montgomery not? I mean- she’s a librarian! But the hardworking, crime fighting single dad who would do anything for his daughter? He won me over in the end.
When I first started We Begin at the End I didn’t know if I’d even make it through the first chapter. The writing style is different than I’m used to, and honestly, the book starts off just so sadly that I wasn’t sure I was up for it. But, I kept reading and then I couldn’t put this book down. It didn’t redeem itself for not being sad- this book is sad. It’s hopeless at times and just heartbreaking. It makes you angry and it makes you want to, for lack of a better word, punch a few people in the face. There is probably not one character that you will fully be able to like in this book. Except maybe Walk, and he’s not necessarily your typical hero either.
But, I do think books like this are important. Even when they feel hopeless, bleak, and people seem unredeemable. Just maybe wait until you think you can handle it. And sandwich it between some lighter reads, which I always find makes these types of books a little more bearable. I doesn’t come out until March, so you’ve got some time.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January has been on my radar for quite some time. I kept meaning to pick it up, and I just never did. The cover is gorgeous and drew me in instantly, and the storyline gave me The Starless Sea type vibes, so I knew I would like this one. I grabbed it on audio, and I think I enjoyed it even the more because of it. It kept me from rushing through the descriptions of all the amazing, unbelievable worlds. It was a nice escape for when I was tackling mundane tasks. I loved the characters and the points of view that the book was written from.
Since I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that though fantasy is not my number one favorite genre- books like this make me want to read more. I sobbed my way through the last 20 minutes and had to sit and take in the ending. If you liked the aforementioned The Starless Sea, Once Upon a River, or any books similar- this would be a good pick for you. This will be one that I probably go ahead and buy for my collection so I can revisit it again.
As soon as I saw that Matthew McConaughey wrote a memoir, I knew 1.) I was going to read it and 2.) It had to be on audio. The man’s voice is iconic- and I find that memoirs are always best listened to in the author’s voice and words. Who better to tell you the story of their life? The accounts are always more animated and the jokes seem funnier listened to from their point of view. Greenlights is no exception! I love, love, loved getting to hear the behind-the-scenes story of the infamous, “alright, alright, alright.” Dazed and Confused is one of those movies you love and have to watch when it’s on- but you can’t quite put your finger on why you like it so much. So, getting to hear that backstory was so fun.
Was I slightly disappointed that he didn’t really love being a rom-com leading man? Maybe, a little. (Because How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is one of the greatest rom-coms from my childhood- fight me!) While I think that most celebrities are a little out there in the way that they are- Hollywood kinda does that to you I guess, I loved hearing about his fairly normal family. And though he had a rougher than normal childhood, the love and respect he has for his family is really sweet. He’s funny and honest in a way that I found refreshing. I would definitely read more from him. But do not sleep on the audio- in my opinion it’s the ONLY way to go!
I’ve heard about The Gospel Comes With a House Key from several people- with mixed reviews. I feel sort of the same. Part of the book is really told from the author’s specific religious denomination, which I don’t share so it wasn’t necessarily relevant to me. But, the other part- the part about radical hospitality, opening up our homes as the hands and feet of Jesus, and being an exceptional neighbor- those were all things I can get behind and really want to strive to be better at. The author has a really interesting and redemptive story and she sticks to her convictions strongly, which I respect. She made me want to be a better friend to everyone, and gave me a lot to think about.
This Month’s Favorite
After really loving learning about the packhorse librarians of Kentucky from The Giver of Stars last year, I was excited to pick up another book about that time period. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a completely different story from that one- but in good ways. Cussy is a blue- which I didn’t even know was a thing until reading this book. And then I went into an internet deep-dive researching that subject…
Her story is a heartbreaking one. A heartwarming one. And both lovely and infuriating all at once. I really loved this book so much- the historical context, Cussy as a strong and resilient woman, and all of the other side characters you fall in love with. With the risk of sounding a little cliche- you’ll laugh, you’ll cheer, and you’ll cry several times. But this is definitely one worth adding to your TBR this year!
I’m going to try to do a little better next month- but I am also trying to slow down and read some more classics this year. So, maybe don’t expect me to get to over 100 read this year. Let me know what books you read in January 2021- and which ones I need to add to my TBR.
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