Misc

January Wrap Up: The Month That Lasted a Year

I haven’t been doing wrap ups that regularly in the second half of 2021, but I quite enjoy doing them, especially since some books do not really warrant a whole review from me, so it’s nice to catalog them in a wrap up at least. So let’s talk about what I read in January!

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1. In the Jaws of Life by Dubravka Ugrešić

In the Jaws of Life and Other StoriesThis is the first book I read this year and it was quite enjoyable. The story is charming and at times actually funny. It has an interesting form as well, as it’s laid out like a sewing pattern, with witty helpful hints in the margins. It’s basically an exploration of a woman who is genuinely distressed and lonely, and how she tries to fit into stereotypes imposed on here by society and her surrounding. The story subverts the cliches and trite advice of stereotypical women’s magazines and popular culture in a way that feels familiar and yet manages to be fresh and impactful nonetheless. I wouldn’t say my mind was blown, but I really appreciated it.

4

2. My Husband by Rumena Bužarovska

My HusbandThis is a short story collection centering the domestic female experience. All of the stories are incisive, precise psychological and social portraits of a range of different women, in different situations. I particularly enjoyed the way Bužarovska makes the stories insular and yet so very grounded in a particular social context. Her exploration of the interpersonal was also something I particularly enjoyed. My favorite story was one titled Genes, but I can still remember clearly all of the stories, which is always a sign that a short story collection worked for me. Highly recommend you check it out, and again, more Eastern Europe/Balkan women in translation!

4.5

3. 4. & 5. Three Romance Rereads!

This section is basically “I AM CRINGE, BUT I AM FREE”. I reread Penny Reid’s Elements of Chemistry by Penny Reid, which remains one of my favorite romance novels despite its questionable aspects. I just love it. I also reread The Deal and the Score by Elle Kennedy and I have to say these still slap. It’s the truth. Are they trashy? Absolutely. But I still loved rereading them. And I realized I actually prefer The Deal to The Score! We love a revelation!

6. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

To ParadiseI can’t believe I read this past month, it feels like ages ago and like it will haunt me for the rest of eternity. I think this is an objectively bad book, and that would be fine if it wasn’t so freaking sure that it isn’t and that it warrants its 700+ pages. Some people liked this but they cannot convince me that it was worth it in a million years. BUT it did inspire me to reread A Little Life this year, please clap and pray for me. Here’s my review of To Paradise in which I reference Barbie, so you know, it’s my greatest achievement.

7. Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown (Beartown, #1)This is once again a reread! And in exciting news, this book remains a favorite upon reread. I still found it to be a fantastic exploration of rape culture and sexual assault and its aftermath, small town communities, interpersonal dynamics both individually and on a larger community level. The characters are complex and deeply flawed, while being incredibly easy to love and root for. Backman’s writing is particularly stylized and reliant on cliches, but honestly, I found it worked and was incredibly emotionally impactful. Plus, I do believe his character work is incredible. And despite my cynicism, it’s actually nice to read a deeply human story. Once in a while. I have an old review of this HERE, and most of it still stands.

5

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That’s all I read in January! Let me know the highlight of YOUR reading month! Anything that stood out in particular? I’d love to know!

In the meantime, happy reading

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