What I Read in January 2021

Remember how on Xanga, you used to let people see what music you were listening to? Well if we had that feature, I’d tell you that I’m currently listening to Nina Simone’s “See-Line Woman”. I did not know that was a Nina Simone song. I thought this was a Feist song… okay but Feist’s song is “Sea Lion Woman”. Okay I’m going to need to do more research because this feels a lil messed up. Anyway…

I have been posting consistently for a full year! Can you believe it?! And that year of all years? Wow. Look at me go. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that Nov-Dec 2020 I read basically nothing. Maybe one book? Anyway, hardly anything. But the desire to read has come back to me, baby! In January of 2021, I read four books!

OH! And on top of that, I started using a new book-tracking app! It’s called The StoryGraph and I love it. I’d been using Goodreads but I’ve never really liked it much. It just felt really clunky to me. And it’s a part of the Amazon machine! You know this indie bookseller is doing all she can to disentangle from getting Jeff Bezos even more rich. So, StoryGraph is awesome. It’s a Black-owned company. It’s not associated with Amazon (instead, linked up with Bookshop.org which is where you can buy books to support our store btw!). You can import all of your Goodreads data into it (so all of your years of Goodreading isn’t lost). It’s got tons and tons of data. Wanna see a pie-chart of all of your reading? You’ve got that. And with all that data comes incredible recommendations! I love it. Oh! Also, there are content warnings so that you can know, before you dive into a book, if you’re going to be sucker punched with something you didn’t want to experience. So, that’s my pitch for StoryGraph. My name is Liblibby on there. Come and find me!

And finally, all links within this post are affiliate links which, if you make a purchase from them, will go to benefit Twice Told Tales, our bookstore in McPherson Kansas!

A portrait of Samantha Irby next to a copy of her book “Wow, No Thank You.”

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
Snag the paperback copy here.
Get that audiobook version over here.
Five stars!

I read this book for our Book Club in The Empowerment Studio and I’m so glad that we read this one. What I love about Samantha Irby is that she does what I want to do with my whole life. And she does it so well. She does this thing where she keeps it real. She’s very honest. And she does it in a way that doesn’t contain any unnecessary cynicism and does open up the space and the freedom to be yourself, too. Sam Irby makes me want to be my whole damn self.

The book cover of “This Little Light” by Lori Lansens

This Little Light by Lori Lansens
Grab the hardcover copy here.
Snag the audiobook version.
4.5 stars!

Okay, wow. So, this book was completely different than I thought it would be. I judged this book by its cover and assumed that it was going to be high literary fiction–which I generally love! Which is why I got the book. TBH, I didn’t actually read much about this book before I downloaded it. I saw a few key words that excited me, “Christian zealots”, “near-future”, “purity ball”. But where literary fiction usually takes a couple hundred pages to get the reader hooked–this one did it in the first page. I would describe this as semi-apocalyptic Young Adult. It takes place over 48 hours after a bomb went off at Rory’s purity ball and now she’s being hunted as a terrorist.

The cover of Fredrik Backman’s “Anxious People”

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Get the hardcover copy here.
Get the audiobook version here.
4.5 stars!

I put off this book for a long time because I know that Fredrik Backman can write a couple different styles of books. He can write sweet, thoughtful books that sound like they’re going to be heartbreaking but are actually not, really (see: A Man Called Ove). And then he can write kind of dark, thoughtful books that don’t sound like they’re going to be very heartbreaking but then they rip your guts out (see: Beartown). And since I’ve been trying to limit my exposure to the latter… LOL I wasn’t ready to take a gamble on this one. But then my friend Mary told me that Anxious People was a little more like A Man Called Ove and so I dug right in! And it was. I’m always amazed at the way Backman can take a horrible situation (in this case, a hostage scenario) and infuse it with so much humor and connection. I love how his books are never predictable–which is usually the case with books like these.

The cover of Jane Igharo’s book “Ties That Tether”.

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo
Click here to get the paperback version.
Here’s a link to the audiobook.
3.5 stars.

I think Jane Igharo did an incredible job of injecting the typical romance structure with freshness and vitality! She tackles things like cultural obligation vs charting your own path. She talks about grief and what it’s like to really fall in love and I think she nails that “they’re not telling me something” feeling. At least it felt really true to my experience. TBH the only reason that I gave this book 3.5 stars is because it’s really predictable and while that’s why I have been reading romances lately, I don’t want more of that in my reading life. So I gave it a lower score so that my StoryGraph’s algorithm would be able to recommend more of what I do want. Does that make sense? The author did a great job and also it wasn’t something I’d re-read. OH! Also I should mention this is a very open-door romance.

Okay! That’s what I read in January! It feels really good to get lost in a book again. What have you been reading? What do you think about Fredrik Backman’s range?

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