What I Read in January

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Annnnd we're back! I really lost track of my reading goals in 2020, when the pandemic first began, & then last year, I decided I'd do reading recaps every other month, instead of monthly. I wanted to go easy on myself, didn't want my reading to feel more forced than enjoyable. It worked, too – & by the end of the year, I'd gotten my reading mojo back.

My goal for 2022 is to read 75 books. If I don't hit it? Hey, that's OK. But reading feels fun again, not like a challenge or a chore, which is exactly the way I like it, so I have a feeling I'll probably hit 75 when all is said & done.

Anyway. Let's get started! Here's what I read in January of 2022 to start the year off right.

Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker

Though this book (part memoir, part self-help) is about how to quit drinking, I read it because a friend's therapist suggested it for tackling binge eating, too. It was sometimes hard to listen to, as the author is, at times, both self-righteous & deeply unlikable. But you don't have to be likable to have lessons worth imparting, & I found a lot of value in her writing. I will take from it what I need & leave the rest behind, a concept she frequently suggests. ★★★✰✰

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

I don’t usually think of myself as a fantasy-lover, but this book has me rethinking. I was immediately immersed in the story of Deka & her fellow alaki, young women branded as demons & cast out of society because their blood runs gold. The alaki are near-immortal, & now they're forming an army, at the emperor’s behest, to find beasts invading their land. But are the alaki truly freedom-fighting soldiers, or are they just tools of mass destruction? ★★★★★

Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley

This book has quickly earned a spot on my list of personal sacred texts (a concept Stanley discusses in it), & I have a feeling I'll return to it over & over again. I've long followed her on IG & have done a few yoga classes with her, & reading this book was exactly what I needed to start the year off in terms of soul-searching, not putting up with or producing bullshit, & trying to be the best & truest version of myself while remaining humble, honest, & ever-learning. ★★★★★

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I thought this was going to be a fiction book & was super confused when it absolutely was not, but I adored it. Down on her luck following her mom's death, Avery Barnes is on the verge of homelessness when she learns that she has been named the sole heir to a fortune left behind by one of the richest men in the world... who she has never met. So, uh, why? Along with his sons, Avery tries to get to the bottom of her late benefactor's gift by solving the riddles he's left behind for them all. ★★★★★

If You Ask Me (and Of Course, You Won't) by Betty White 

After Betty White died, I hopped on the long library waitlist for this audiobook memoir, which is a quick two hours long. It's a bit meandering, but to be honest, Betty White was allowed to do whatever she damn well pleased, including writing a meandering memoir! It was a delightful little look into her life, some of her funny stories, & her hard-earned wisdom & insight. ★★★★✰

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Charlie is a plus-sized 16-year-old who's never been kissed; her best friend, Amelia, seems to be everything Charlie isn't, including thin & experienced in relationships. I loved the way this book made Charlie a fully dimensional character – confidence meets self-consciousness, enthusiasm meets anxiety. As she pursued her newfound crush, fought her jealousy of her best friend, & pushed back against her mother's fat-shaming, I rooted for her every step of the way. ★★★★✰

Surviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll

In this memoir, Carroll writes about life as a biracial woman adopted by hippie white parents living in lily-white New England. So many of the stories she tells reiterate that proximity to people of color does not inherently an ally make, as evidenced by complex relationships with her adoptive parents & a tumultuous relationship with her birth mother, a white woman who constantly undermines her, insults her, & diminishes her Blackness. ★★★★✰

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

I'd been saving this one for just the right time because Yoon's Everything, Everything & The Sun Is Also a Star were charming & perfect – & as expected, this one was, too. On a whim, Evie takes up ballroom dancing & meets X, who she's reluctant to love of her strange curse: She can see exactly how every relationship will end. Jaded & disillusioned by love, Evie tries to keep her distance... but you know where this is going, right? This book was joyful & heartbreaking, & I adored it. ★★★★★

You Can't Be Serious by Kal Penn

Kal Penn has been among my top celebrity crushes since his Van Wilder days, & it's not every day you get to read a memoir that covers a career in Hollywood, Bollywood, and the White House! The actor talks frankly about the racism he's encountered throughout his career, from Asian-American erasure to stereotypes in casting & beyond, & how his values even led him to become an Obama staffer. He's funny, thoughtful, brilliant, &, you know, hot, all of which bode well for a memoir. ★★★★★

You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

I liked Union's first book, but I loved this one. I connected to her stories about infertility & her desire for parenthood, & she even spoke about a health issue I’ve been experiencing that I’ve never heard anyone else discuss; something I’ve been feeling completely adrift in. It’s stunning to hear from a celebrity who speaks so intimately & passionately about issues you’ve faced, too. ★★★★★

Miss Me with That by Rachel Lindsay

Another Bachelor book... but this one might be the best of them all. This is, like, an actual memoir on actual topics, not just a Bachelor tell-all. The first Black Bachelorette, a former lawyer & now a successful media personality, writes about her faith & her family, her relationships, her experiences with racism during the show & beyond, & current events related to racism & the pursuit of racial justice.

DNF: New section on books I tried & gave up on. This happens with some regularity, so I figured I may as well share them, too. 

  • Milk Fed by Melissa Broder: I might eventually come back to this one, but its obsessive focus on food felt a little triggering for me. And also just annoying?
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfield: I read & loved this fantasy series in 2010, but wow, it didn't hold up for me. Barely got past the first chapter. 
  • Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler: This one had promise (a wife discovers her husband is a vicious Internet troll), but the writing did not work for me. 
Tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past. You can also follow my bookstagram account

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 the 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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