Welp, we made it through the first month of 2021. And… it wasn’t great. It wasn’t the worst, but definitely not the good start to the year I was hoping for. But that’s okay, it’s fine. Because even though I definitely had kind of a rough month, it was still better than most of 2020. I also had a better reading month than I have in a while. I read six books, which I’m really happy with (even though it still puts me two books behind on my Goodreads goal, but whatever). Keep reading to see all of the books I read (and a few other things).
What I Read
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – ★★★★☆
I don’t even want to talk about how long this book sat on my shelves before I finally picked it up this month (spoiler: it’s been years). But I’m glad I decided to pick this up as my first book of the year, because it was a really great read. Definitely a bit outside of my norm – it is both poetry and middle grade – but it was kind of cool to see a memoir by a black woman at a level younger children can experience. I just think that’s really cool, and I’ll definitely be recommending this to any young readers in my life.
How to Be Alone: If You Want To and Even if You Don’t by Lane Moore – ★★★☆☆
I immediately moved on to another memoir, this one by a woman who has just always been on her own. I’ll be honest, I went into this kind of expecting it to be more of a guide on what to do if you’re alone or feel alone in life, but it was still a fun memoir. There was plenty of cringe-y second-hand embarrassment, but also some nice moments, too. I’ve felt alone much of my life (though I was never actually alone to the extent Moore was), so I could definitely identify with a lot of this book. It just wasn’t always in a good way, because it brought up some not great memories. But I still enjoyed it overall.
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas – ★★★★☆
Apparently I just wanted to read memoirs for the first couple weeks of the month, because then I picked up this one. For no reason other than that I bought the ebook a while ago and couldn’t sleep one night. But it turned out to be a really fun read! (Which is good, because the rest of the books on this list weren’t fun.) It kind of reminded me a bit of my dad’s family (he is a Palestinian immigrant – though a bit more Americanized than the father in this book). And it was just a great read. I learned a lot about Iranian culture, and it was just a really great reading experience.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue – ★★★★☆
I honestly can’t believe I hadn’t read this before this month, but I’m so glad I did. It’s a really lovely story about immigrants from Cameroon fighting for the American Dream (which, as an American, I think is total BS at this point). I really enjoyed the characters in this story, and had a hard time putting this book down because I just really wanted to know what would happen to them next. I also liked that the ending of this book wasn’t really what I was expecting, it felt more real. Overall, I kind of loved this book (it was almost five stars) and am even more excited about Imbolo Mbue’s new release coming this year.
The Project by Courtney Summers – ★★★★☆
After hearing everyone talk about Sadie for what felt like forever, I finally read it last year. And I LOVED it. So, naturally, when I saw the opportunity to get an advanced copy of Courtney Summer’s newest book, I jumped on it. I was even more excited because this book is about a cult. And my quarantine guilty pleasure has definitely been watching all of the cult documentaries I can find. So this is totally up my alley. And I almost loved it. But I just didn’t particularly enjoy our main character’s journey throughout this book. I wanted to like her so much, but she just kept making decisions that made me want to yell at her. Still, it was a really good book. And it actually felt like a pretty realistic portrayal of a cult, based on everything I’ve seen (it reminded me a lot of NXIVM). It’ll be out February 2nd, so if you want to read it and decide for yourself, you can pick up a copy then.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – ★★★★★
I finished out the month strong with a re-read of one of my favorite books, Neverwhere. Not much to say about this other than that I still love it. The writing is great, the story is fun, and I just love hearing Neil Gaiman’s voice on the audiobook.
What I’m Currently Reading
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
This is on my TBR for the year. And, I’ll be totally honest, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. It just seems super intimidating. So, I picked it up a week or so ago when I was having trouble sleeping, figuring a classic book this heavy might help put me to sleep. And it totally backfired. Because this book is great! I couldn’t put it down. I’m really excited to read more of it.
What I Watched
This is the quarantine movie on HBO starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor. And it was fun and kind of weird (because it’s set in quarantine and we’re still in quarantine). I liked it, but found the ending to be kind of anticlimactic for some reason. Was still a fun movie to watch.
Despite Hulu’s best efforts to autoplay Bob’s Burgers after everything else I’ve watched in the past two years, I had never seen an episode until this month. And I may or may not have binge-watched pretty much the entire series. I literally have it on while I’m writing this, and I’m almost done with season nine. It’s just cute and funny and exactly what I needed this month.
What I Did
Got my second dose of the COVID vaccine!
I am fully aware that I am ridiculously lucky to have gotten this. I do work at a medical center, though I’m on the medical school side of things, not patient care. But I still ended up on the first responders list somehow. I ended up getting a spot that an ICU doctor had cancelled at the last second, so I took it. And now that I am as protected as possible against Covid, I can feel my anxiety getting so much better. I did have (expected) side effects from both doses, but it was so, so worth it. If you have a chance to get vaccinated, do it. And feel free to ask me any questions (I’ve sat through so many hospital presentations on the vaccine that I have become the go-to person for questions amongst my friends and family).
Read every day
I set this as one of my goals for 2021, and I have actually accomplished it for the last thirty days! It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had bad days and days where I didn’t feel great (I started a new medication that made me feel dizzy for a few weeks – getting better – and reading actually made me feel seasick, so that was fun). But I still did it. There were a few days where I counted audiobook listening towards this goal, because my eyes just couldn’t deal. And a few days where I was so tired all I could manage was a chapter before bed. But I’m really happy with my progress and it’s going a long way to getting my reading habits back to what they were before I got stuck at home for ten months.
I was so happy that the response to this was so good and that a few of you are joining me in reading more books by authors of color this year! If you missed this post, go see what my other reading goals for the year are (feel free to tell me if I’m insane, because I might be).
I also put together a list of my blogging goals for this year. Basically, I’m trying to make improvements to this blog and put together more fun posts. I’d love your feedback/suggestions on some of my ideas, so leave them in the comments on that post (or this one).
And that’s it for January! It might not have been quite what I was hoping for, but it was still a pretty good month. But I’m gearing up for next month, because I have two secret TBR posts planned, and I have no idea if I’ll be able to pull both of them off. Stay tuned to see if I actually manage to read all of those books next month!
What was your favorite book in January? Is there anything you’re looking forward to reading next month?