What I Read in January

Thursday, February 1, 2018


The new year is off to a great start, reading-wise. I really enjoyed everything I read this month, & I'm moving at a good pace, with a list of to-reads that fit into both the PopSugar Reading Challenge 2018 & fellow blogger Space on Third's Reading Challenge. I've never done a reading challenge, so these seemed like a fun (if completely arbitrary) way to step up my book choices in 2018.

In keeping with my commitment to working my way through my own bookshelf, three of this month's books were past Book of the Month Club buys. As always, you can get your first book for $9.99 - plus a free tote bag - when you join using my referral link. 

And without further ado, my January reads: 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 

This book. Ohhh, this book. Had I finished it one day earlier, it would've been among my favorites of 2017. Eleanor is a deeply odd, socially awkward, single, thirtysomething woman who has maintained a surprising lifelong relationship with her violently abusive mother - & has no other relationships to speak of until she meets Raymond, a coworker who becomes her very first friend. This story both broke & warmed my heart. ★★★★★

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Ng's debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, was my favorite book of 2016, so I had high hopes for this one. It didn't disappoint, necessarily - it's still one of the better books I've read in a long time - but I just didn't like it as much. It starts with a house fire & works backward: Who did it, & why? The novel tells the story of two families, a landlord & their tenants, brought together by their children's convoluted relationships & mass of secrets. It's still very good - & takes place in a suburb that fellow Clevelanders will know well. ★★★★☆

Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate by Sue Scheff

Here's a fun thing I forgot to tell you in 2017: I was interviewed for this book! The authors found me through HeartMob, a site that provides support to people who are being trolled or harassed online, after I was, well, trolled & harassed online. It's reminiscent of Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed, but it has more anecdotes (which I love), & it was a really fast, interesting read on a topic I'm passionate about. ★★★★☆

Before He Sins by Blake Pierce

This is book seven in an embarrassingly bad series that I can't get enough of. It features newbie FBI agent Mackenzie White, this time undertaking a case in which clergy are being murdered across the D.C. area in crimes reminiscent of the Biblical era. It was cheesy & shallow but deeply enjoyable, just like the rest of the series, & I'm moving on to book eight! ★★★☆☆

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

What an incredible memoir. Sandra & her family, members of the African Banyamulenge tribe, lived a normal life in the Congo until they were forced to relocate to a displaced persons camp in Burundi. One night, the camp was raided by armed combatants who set fire to the tents, looted their belongings, & murdered their inhabitants. Sandra, who escaped unharmed, watched her mother & her 6-year-old sister get shot - & returned the next day to find her sister's skull. Eventually, their traumatized family relocated to the U.S. as refugees, where Sandra became an activist dedicated to telling her tribe's stories & holding their killers responsible. ★★★★★

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling)

This is the second in Rowling's Cormoran Strike series, centered on the eponymous private investigator, a just-barely-likable curmudgeon who's just barely making rent solving crimes throughout London. In this book, Strike investigates the disappearance of a well-known novelist who's pissed off nearly everyone in the publishing industry - & who soon turns up dead. I found this installment of the series much more fast-paced & enjoyable than the first (which was a bit slow), & now I'm eager to move on to the third. Rowling plans to write at least 10 more! ★★★★★

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

This was my book club's latest pick, & it was also on my long to-read list - & I confess that before reading it, I had no idea of the extent of the impacts of apartheid. The Daily Show host has written a memoir that is, overall, both fascinating & informative while still retaining his signature wit & insight as he tells of growing up biracial in South Africa during & immediately following apartheid. I don't usually love celebrity memoirs, but this one gets an A+ from me. ★★★★★

Bitcoin in Plain English by Mike Kaput

Why am I reading a bitcoin book? Why does the author have the same last name as me? Oh, that's just because my husband published a book in January. Cryptocurrency is admittedly not a big area of interest for me, but Mike is very into it, & I could use a primer to keep up with his conversations about it - which made his short, explanatory book very helpful. I thiiiink I get it now - & I'm so proud of him! ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel

I couldn't get into this book when I started reading it in November, but everyone else seems to have loved it so much that I gave it another go - & I'm glad I did. The story revolves around Claude, who is really Poppy. Her parents are incredibly supportive, as are her four older brothers, but that doesn't mean it's not terribly difficult on the entire family. Just about the others as much as it is about Poppy, this is a beautiful & well-written story - but I found some of language to be a little bit eye-rollingly overwrought, which took me out of it at times. Still, an overwhelmingly worthwhile read. ★★★★☆

Comment to tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past.

My "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

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