January 2021 Book Wrap Up

This is my first time doing a month book wrap up, a new tradition that I plan to continue this year, so I can keep easy track of all the books I’ve read in 2021.

I read 8 books this month, mostly fiction, although I’ve also read a few non-fiction guides about conscious fashion and veganism. As this wrap up is something I want to do every month, I’ve created a set of categories that I plan to use on every post to keep things organised. What can I say? I’m a virgo, we like lists and categorising things.

My favourite reads of January

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Addie larue

I refused to read this book last year when it came out and became a bestseller. The hype for this book was too high, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I decided to give it a go this month, and I loved it.

Addie LaRue, born in the 18th century France, made a deal with the devil, she traded her soul for freedom and immortality, but there’s always a catch. Addie soon discovers that people can’t remember her, the second she steps out of frame they forget ever talking or even looking at her.
The book follows her around for 300 years, and Addie has had an extraordinary life, she’s explored the world, has seen so many historical moments happen before her eyes, but no one will remember her.

I think the reason why I loved this book so much was that it explored something I’ve wondered many times, what would it be like to leave my current life, to disappear one day and to be forgotten by everyone? To just travel the world on my own, not talking to anyone, barely existing in society, and while the book showed Addie’s life is filled by loneliness, she’s also had a lot of fun.

I highlighted so many passages from this book, but these two are my favourites:

If she must grow roots, she would rather be left to flourish wild instead of pruned, would rather stand alone, allowed to grow beneath the open sky. Better that than firewood, cut down just to burn in someone else’s hearth.

There is a rhythm to moving through the world alone. You discover what you can and cannot live without, the simple necessities and small joys that define a life.

Treats: A Collection of Short Stories by Lara Williams

Treats lara williams

This book is a collection of short stories, some less than two pages long, others more than ten. Most follow the same themes of choice, self-discovery, love and loneliness. And I absolutely loved it. Some stories felt deeply personal, and others took a weird dark turn out of nowhere that left me wanting to know more about this sad, weird little characters.

I had many highlights from this book. Lara Williams knows how to write passages that stay with you after you’ve finished the book:

You think about how strange it is to still have absolutes like this, like marriage, in this day and age. Couldn’t there be another option, leasing it out for five, maybe ten years then reviewing it when the time comes. We are a generation of renters not buyers.

Return home. Flip open your laptop. Microwave something to eat. Take up space. Consider why you are even trying to meet someone if you are happiest when left alone.

New writer discovery: Lucy Foley

I discovered Lucy Foley this month, a writer from England best known for writing bestselling thrillers like The Guest List. After reading her latest book, I had to go back and find out what else she’s written and The Hunting Party caught my eye.

The Guest List & The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

I wanted to read The Guest list because it belongs to my favourite genre: Thrillers with female protagonists in their 30s set in the UK or Ireland. This book follows the usual pattern: remote location, a group of old friends meet after a long time of not seeing each other, someone ends up dead. As many thrillers before, you don’t know who the victim or the murderer is, and you get multiple narrators throughout the book. This one specifically is set on an Irish island during a wedding. I liked the book, it was good, it left you guessing at the beginning, and it had a satisfying ending.

I read Hunting Party right after I finished the first one. They are not related, but they could be, as Lucy Foley has found a formula that works. This one is set in a remote location in Scotland, a group of old friends go on a small retreat to celebrate NYE, and someone ends up dead. And while I loved the first book, this one had too many graphic descriptions on how to kill a deer, because that’s part of the entertainment in this retreat, learning how to kill animals, great!

I want to read some of Foley’s earlier books, I liked her writing style, and the stories were interesting and maybe just a bit predictable.

Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

Girls like us

Reason I picked this book: female FBI agent investigating a series of murders, her prime suspect? Her recently-dead dad. This book reminded me vaguely of the Paula Maguire series by Claire McGowan, so I was excited to read it, but I still don’t know what to think about it. I should love this book, it has a lot of things I like to read about, crime, female detectives, justice… but this one started slow, it was very predictable from the beginning, the ending felt super rushed, and it didn’t solve the most important question of the story. Do I like this book? I don’t know!

Non-fiction reads

The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good by Elizabeth L. Cline

the conscious closet

I had to give this book 3 stars on Goodreads. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but most of the time the advice was pretty basic, it never really said much I didn’t know already.
I’m trying to make more conscious decisions when I buy clothes, trying to find brands that aren’t destroying the planet and learning more about the clothes I wear. This book was part of my research, and while it had some useful recommendations and insight into ethical fabrics, I think half of the book wasn’t necessary.

F**k Fast Fashion: 101 ways to change how you shop and help save the planet by The F Team

Following the theme of fast fashion, I read this guide/book from The F Team, which also had some good insight and recommendations condensed into a pretty short book. Would I’ve liked some more pages? Chapters? I don’t know, it was too short in my opinion.

Useful insight:

(…) every time a synthetic garment is washed, around 1900 microfibres are released into the water. These are then ingested by small fish, who are eaten by big fish, introducing plastic into the food chain.

THE golden rule when you’re at the shops and choosing what to buy – will you wear this item at least thirty times? Yes? Grand, pop it in the basket.

Lots of traditional dyes contain toxic chemicals that need huge amounts of water to be processed. When washed, these chemicals are released from the fabric and pollute our water systems, making textile dyes the second largest polluter of clean water in the world.

The Little Book of Veganism by Elanor Clarke

I’ve been taking part in Veganuary this month. I read How To Go Vegan by Veganuary in December, and I thought it would keep me motivated enough, but mid-month I needed a bit of reminding of why I was doing this and thought this book would help. But it didn’t do much, all the information I got from this book was everything I had already learned from How To Go Vegan, so it wasn’t very useful. 

Was this book wrap up too chaotic? This is the first time I’m doing this, and I still haven’t found a layout that works well for me, but it was fun! It’s also an unusually long post for me, so if you made it this far, congrats! I have a lot of exciting books on my To Read list for this year, and I can’t wait to start them all.

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