My monthly reading wrap-up — January 2021

My pile of books I read in January 2021.

Wow, everyone — this month was chock full of amazing reads! I think one of the things this month that I am most proud of is the wide variety of books that I selected, including a personal development, short story collection, satire, thrillers, contemporary fiction, romance, and family drama. I was very fortunate to have a month where nothing I read fell flat. Each read was at least a 3-star read with several good things to say about them. Below are some mini reviews and synopses.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. This book was a Christmas gift from one of my closest friends, which meant so much to me. Serle’s debut, The Dinner List, was one of the books that really got me back into reading while I was in graduate school at Syracuse. Like her first one, In Five Years was filled with warmth and emotion as it follows meticulous and detail-oriented Dannie, whose life is turned upside down when she wakes up fives years in the future to experience one hour of a life very different than the one she originally envisions for herself. Upon returning to the present, she is unable to shake that hour, which transforms the many plans she had made for herself. This was a beautiful story to read coming out of a challenging year, full of transformation, hope, self discovery, and healing in the face of great tragedy for Dannie. It is story that brought me to tears but also provided great hope. A great first read of 2021!

The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories by Danielle Evans. This collection was absolutely stellar — you can read my full review of the titular novella here. Overall, each story was challenging and thought-provoking, taking me back to my undergrad days as an English major. Some were more satirical, while others were dark or optimistic, but each dealt with topics of race, gender, and history in powerful ways. If you enjoy short stories that make you think hard, I definitely recommend this latest collection from author Evans.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins. This modern-day retelling of the classic Jane Eyre was such a fresh take on the original. While this story definitely strayed from the original, there were so many wonderful and creative nods to the Bronte classic that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the care and creativity that Hawkins put into her story. Just like the classic, Jane was my favorite character — while she wasn’t always likable in this retelling, she was resourceful, intelligent, and brave. After this story, I’m not sure I’ll ever look at the original story the same way, which is a good thing! If anything, this thriller gave me an even greater appreciation for the original and reminded me why this classic deserves its spot in the literary canon.

Black Buck my Mateo Askaripour. This one was definitely the absolute stand-out novel of January. It was so sharp and fresh, laugh-out-loud funny, yet so indicting in its criticism of race, ambition, and otherness in America’s workforce. You can read my full review here. This book had me entertained from start to finish, while simultaneously had me thinking hard about our society. Without a doubt, I will be recommending this book to anyone who asks my opinion!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is a close second for favorite book of January 2021. Like her past novels, Reid managed to create an ambitious, sexy, and glamourous tale that was simultaneously warm and tender, this time with a family drama that takes place over the course of 24 hours but with several flashbacks. I feel so fortunate to have received an eARC thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. You can read my full review here.

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. I used my free Book of the Year add-on credit with Book of the Month to get this incredible debut. I’d read the other four finalists, so of course, I needed to know what all the hype was with this one. And, boy, do I regret not getting this when it first came out in January 2020! This was a powerful testament to the power of education in helping young women find their voices. I was truly touched by Adunni’s resiliency, courage, and intelligence, as she fights to find her voice and follow her dreams. It truly deserved a spot as a top read of 2020, as chosen by Book of the Month subscribers. Check out my full review here.

The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha. I don’t read a whole lot of nonfiction or personal development books, but I’m so fortunate to have been gifted this book in a Secret Santa exchange. It was a great book to start a new year, especially coming out of the unprecedented events of 2020. There were so many pieces of advice that resonated with me, and I enjoyed the collection of real-life quotes and anecdotes from a variety of famous people, from celebrities to athletes to philosophers, on how to achieve happiness. It’s a super fun, readable book for anyone wanting to learn some practical, applicable tips. If you’re like me and don’t read much self-help or nonfiction books, this would be a great one to check out.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. Disclaimer — as much as I love a good thriller, I sometimes find myself very weary with them. When you’ve read as many as I have, it’s tough to find one that surprises you! But The Night Swim managed to have me guessing until the end. I thought I had the “whodunnit” part figured out, but I managed to be shocked when the ending came. This was one of the best thrillers I’ve picked up in a long time in terms of true suspense. Additionally, it touched on issues of rape and sexual assault and the way female victims are treated in way that felt very validating. I’m shocked this one didn’t make it in Book of the Month’s BOTY finalists! You can read my full review soon.

What books did you read this month, and which one was your favorite? Comment below or reach out via Instagram!