Which books are worth the read and which should you skip? Find out what books I’ve been reading lately and whether I recommend them.
Some months my reading is on fire, and I literally go through a book a day.
January, however, was not like that for me. I got off to a slow start, and then things came to a crashing halt. At my weekly indoor soccer game, I took a soccer ball straight to the eye.
After an emergency room visit, I found out my eye was okay, but I had a concussion. No reading (and no blogging) for at least a week, possibly two.
I have to admit, audiobooks are what saved my sanity during those first few days. I had to slow them down to normal speed, so they easily filled up those long hours as I let my brain recover.
I’m happy to say that I seem to be fully recovered. I’ll hold off on sports and skiing for a while longer just in case, but I am able to read again. I’ve already polished off one book in a single sitting.
It’s not much (at least for me), but here is a look at my January 2021 reading list.
January Reading List
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
In December 1926, the mystery novelist Agatha Christie disappeared. After an 11 day manhunt, the infamous author suddenly reappears, claiming no memory of what happened. Marie Benedict’s new novel imagines Christie’s disappearance as a mind game against her cheating husband. Chapters alternate between Mrs. Christie recounting her life and marriage leading up to that fateful day and Mr. Christie dealing with the fall out of her disappearance, in which he is the prime suspect.
From what I’ve researched, the novel is decently accurate to Christie’s life, which I appreciated. I loved learning more about her life, though you really come to loathe her husband. However, the chapters from Mr. Christie’s point of view dragged, pulling the novel down with them. Overall, the story is interesting but falls short of being as compelling as I would have liked.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Sourcebooks. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
The chicken Sisters
In a small Kansas town, a feud between two competing fried chicken restaurants has lasted generations. After marrying the son of the competing side, Amanda is tired of the family feud. Hoping to end things once and for all, she enters them as contestants on a reality food show. Amanda won’t have it easy when her sister Mae returns home to help their mother with the business. The Chicken Sisters is a comfort read about complicated relationships and understanding ourselves. Because it was Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick in December, I expected more from it, but it’s just your standard beach read – fun for an afternoon then quickly forgotten.
Oona Out of Order
On New Year’s Eve in 1982, Oona Lockhart is faced with a life-changing decision: travel abroad to continue her studies in London or pursue fame as a member of her boyfriend’s rock band. As the clock strikes midnight and Oona turns 19, she faints and wakes up as a fifty-year-old. Thus begins the mixed-up time travel life of Oona, where every year she gets to randomly experience her life at different stages.
I have to say, Oona Out of Order has one of the most inventive premises I’ve read in a while. The time travel concept allowed Montimore to explore if we can change our destiny while having fun highlighting the differences between decades. The writing itself was above average, though not exceptional, making it worth a read if you are in the mood for something a little different.
In a Holidaze
With her love life in shatters, Maelyn Jones is devastated to find this will be her last Christmas spent at her family friend’s snowy Utah cabin. As she drives away, a car crash sends her into a time loop to relive the same Christmas vacation over and over again. Now, instead of a drunken make out with one brother, she can finally confess her feelings for the other. And maybe save the cabin along the way.
My blogging friends convinced me I needed to read In a Holidaze since it’s set in Utah. Overall, the story is cute with a good tempo and a dash of steam. I thought it was much better than The Honey-Don’t List, the only other Christina Lauren book I’ve read. If you are looking for an escapist holiday romance, this definitely fits the bill.
From the Backlist
When Fiver gets a premonition of danger, Hazel leads a group of bunnies to establish a new warren in the English countryside while facing predators, men, and neighboring rabbit tribes. Richard Adams’s modern classic has been on my to-read list for years, but I’ve honestly been avoiding it. I kept confusing it with Redwall, so I thought it was about rabbits fighting with swords.
Nope, it’s just a story about bunnies. An extremely compelling story about bunnies that hooked me from the first chapter. Actually, from the introduction. Watership Down is not an allegory but a simple adventure tale Adams told to his daughters on a long road trip. Fun for adults and children alike, Watership Down is the perfect audiobook to listen to at any age and was just the ticket when I had my concussion.
The Personality Brokers
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world, used at large corporations, universities, and even the military. However, not much is know about the creators – a mother-daughter team of amateur psychoanalysts inspired by Carl Jung’s teachings. Emre uses in-depth reporting to reveal the controversial lives of the two founders whose personality typing has little basis in science. Although Emre promises shocking reveals, what you get is a dull biography of the eccentric creators which was so boring I eventually gave up on it.
Quentin Jacobsen has spent his entire life with a crush on his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. In the waning days of their senior year, Margo enlists Quentin’s help on one last night of adventure before Margo disappears, leaving behind clues for Quentin to find her.
Paper Towns felt like a wish of what the author wanted teenage life to be than an actual look at the high school experience. Margo is the unrealistic fantasy version of the “cool girl,” and, although I enjoyed Margo and Quentin’s epic night, once Margo disappears, Green tries to push a thought-provoking narrative and fails miserably. I’ve heard the story is basically a replica of his books Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, neither of which I’m sure I will read.
My To-Read List
What’s up next for me? Before I let you go, here are a few of the titles I’m hoping to get through this upcoming month.
Be sure to come back in February to see which ones I read.
Which Books Did You Read in January?
What books did you love this month? Which books did you hate? As always, let me know in the comments!
More Book Lists to Enjoy:
Terra W says
Glad you are on the mend!
January for me was…
1. Productivity Book -> “Atomic Habits” by James Clear – Loved Loved Loved!.. My favorite tip was actually 3.2 = Prep the Environment. It’s so much more positive to “get ready for the next time” than to grumble about cleaning up after yourself after your last use.
2. Book Becoming a Movie in 2021 -> “The Nightingale” by Kristen Hannah – OMG so so good!!
3. Goodreads Winner in 2020 -> This is going to be “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig – I am just waiting in the library Queue – I’m next tho – so I should be getting it right away! 🙂
4. Biography -> “Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain”
Wow, you had such a great reading month. Atomic Habits is one of my favorites. And you can not go wrong with The Nightingale!
Glad you are doing better!
1. Atomic Habits – James Clear
2. Boy Swallows Universe- which I read in spanish since I live in MEXICO but the translation was quite good.
That’s crazy that both you and Terra read Atomic Habits. It’s one of my favorites. I loved the audiobook so much I went out and bought myself a hardcover copy!
Deanna Neil says
So glad you’re feeling better from your concussion! Here’s what I finished in January so far:
1. The Tender Bar: A Memoir – J.R. Moehringer
2. Christmas Dreams (Soul sisters at Cedar Mountain Lodge Book 5)- Ev Bishop
3. Christmas Rings (Soul Sisters at Cedar Mountain Lodge Book 6)- Tess Thompson
Reading Right now:
1. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See
2. The Son – Philipp Meyer (Audiobook) This is my first and I’m finding it a bit hard to follow, but I’ll keep plugging away!
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is on my to-read list. I hope you enjoyed it!
The Wife Upstairs (Hawkins) was a great mystery/thriller read, as was
The Survivors (Harper).
The Push (Audrain) was good but disturbing.
You Were There Too (Oakley) was an interesting story.
The Wong Family and The Wives, both by Tarryn Fisher, were okay.
The Midnight Library took a little to engage me but I really enjoyed the story and love the idea of a library of lives.
Glad you’re on the mend! Thanks for your reading suggestions!
I read The Survivors this month, too, though I decided to hold my review for my February release post. I thought it was good, though not as exceptional as The Lost Man. I’ve considered getting The Push, but I’m a little intimidated by its premise. I’ll probably stew over it for a month or two before picking up a copy.
The Push was very disturbing imo…and I’m kidfree!
I am working on your 50 states reading list from last year, I believe. So far, I have read:
Alabama- Looking for Alaska, John Green
Alaska- Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
Arizona- These is My Words, Nancy E. Turner
Colorado- Plainsong, Kent Haruf
Connecticut – Stepford Wives, Ira Levin
Delaware- The Book of Unknown Americans, Christina Henriquez
Look at you go! Did you like Looking For Alaska? I’ve heard that the premise is a lot like Paper Towns.
I did. I live in Alabama so seeing some of the familiar landmarks/roads/etc was fun. I have not read Paper Towns yet. I do like some YA but it was a bit much if that makes any sense. I had to skip a few of the states because they were not available at my library yet. I am backing up to catch Arkansas with Painted Houses by John Grisham currently. Thanks.
Concussion? Perfectly ghastly for you. Trust you’re in the pink, or almost there.
January reads so far:
The Shifting Fog, Kate Morton
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles (we stayed at Hotel Metropol in Moscow Russia, where story is set.)
Longbourne, Jo Baker
Henrietta’s War (1939-42], Joyce Dennys
The Quest for Queen Mary, James Pope-Hennessy edited by Hugo Vickers
The Thoughtful Dresser, Linda Grant
That’s amazing that you’ve stayed at the Hotel Metropol! I thought A Gentleman in Moscow was a great book. I actually picked up Rules of Civility a few weeks ago, so I’ll hopefully squeeze it into my reading list this spring.
I’m really enjoying a local author, Eugene Christy and his Twentieth Century Quintet. I read the first book last year, Arrivederci New York. Right now I’m reading book two: My Son the American. These are the novelization of his own family’s immigration history.
As for January, I turned off the tv for at least 6 weeks in order to pursue more books. I’m listening to a lot of audio books while I do housework and crochet. Here are the books I’ve read this month:
A productivity book: The One Thing (in print)
Book Becoming a Movie in 2021: Two Kisses for Maddie
Goodreads winner in 2020: in queue, The Midnight Library
Biography: Nelson Mandela-Long Walk to Freedom
Also: Stamped, To the Lighthouse, Florence Adler Swims Forever, Born a Crime (print), The Queen’s Gambit, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, The Professor and the Madman (print), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, A Clockwork Orange, In Her Own Words – Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Where the Crawdads Sing.
Wow, that’s quite a reading month! Just looking at it makes me smile; you listed so many of my favorite titles. Isn’t it amazing how many books you can get through when you make it a priority?
Trisha MacKenzie says
I’m happy to hear you’re feeling better and back to reading. Concussions are so incredibly dangerous. I read the Midnight Library (loved), The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (completely loved), Hamnet (outstanding — I cried a lot in this book), and The Faberge Secret (just meh), and The Evening and the Morning continuing Follett’s best loved series. It was a great reading month in terms of stories!! Don’t forget to wear a helmet next time you’re out on the soccer field!! Trisha from Arizona.
You really did have a good reading month. I really need to read Hamnet. I absolutely loved Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir I Am, I Am, I Am. She is a fantastic writer.
Sarah Hackworth says
I read 8 books!
1. The Removed by Brandon Hobson, which I used for prompt 5 because of how it touches on foster care and a family’s grief after losing a child to police brutality.
2. From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, which I used as a book that makes you think.
3. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, a coming of age story.
4. Kissing the Witxh: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue as a book by an author you love.
5. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, which is a nonfiction New York Times Bestseller.
6. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a debut novel by a famous author.
7. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, which is a historical fiction book, which I don’t usually read.
8. Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims, which I’ve owned since 2018 but never read until now.
Did you love A Man Called Ove? I laughed and cried and loved every minute!
So far this month I’ve read:
+The 30-Day Productivity Plan: Break the 30 Bad Habits That are Sabotaging Your Time Management-One Day at a Time by Damon Zahariades (A productivity book – I did NOT read it one day at a time as the title instructs)
+I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamh (Biography)
+How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (About a pressing social issue – Thank you for your list! This was a very good book which I would not likely have read since I don’t naturally gravitate toward nonfiction).
+The Magician’s Nephew and The Final Battle by C.S. Lewis (for like the 5th time, but I love the Chronicles of Narnia and my book club was doing it)
+The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (A book about books – This may be my new favorite! It was beautiful. It was like a reverse Thousand and One Nights where the short stories are simple but the frame story is complex and everything is connected. It spoke to my love of stories and hidden doors to magical spaces, and the food and cocktail descriptions made me envious of the characters that got to consume them. I will definitely be buying a copy to add to my collection. And probably another to give to my sister!)
A note on John Green:
Personally, I found Looking for Alaska to be much better than Paper Towns. There are similarities in plot lines and writing style, of course, but the characters and character development feel much more real in Looking for Alaska.
Oh, The Starless Sea was such a gorgeous read. I almost never reread books, but the story was so complex I really want to read it again. And thanks for the thoughts on John Green. I’ll be sure to try Looking for Alaska as my next John Green book so I can give a fair evaluation.
Deanna Salazar says
Glad you have recovered nicely! Here is what I have finished so far in January:
Know My Name
Evvie Drake Starts Over
The Girl with the Louding Voice
Look at You Now: My Journey from Shame to Strength
The Glass Castle
Oh, I have so many of those books on my TBR. The Removed and The Girl with the Louding Voice are on my nightstand right now, and I’m debating on The Push. It sounds really good, but really dark. I’ll probably contemplate it for another month or so before grabbing a copy.
Vanessa Krystle Buttino says
I’ve got The Mystery of Mrs. Christie on my wish list and I’ve actually just purchased a copy of Our Darkest Night a couple weeks ago, so we’ve got a couple books in common. I hope you’re feeling much better from your accident and that you’re fully recovered now, my friend!
I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the two books! And yes, I am feeling so much better!