I’ve had a really good start to the year reading-wise, and even though I’ve taken the pressure off in terms of setting a number goal, I still managed to get through 11 books this month, which is lovely. I’m doing alright on my intentions for 2021, too – mixing up the genres, reading some older stuff, getting some indies and translated fiction in there. I also read my first section of Ducks, Newburyport – I’ve broken it up into monthly sections as it’s such a chonkster – and I LOVE what I have read so far.
Here’s my round-up of what I have read this month, with links to my full reviews where relevant:
A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann (2020)
I started the year off with a blog tour book for @The_WriteReads. For me, this historical fiction novel was a good, but not amazing, read. You can read my full review here.
Lost Girls by Ellen Birkett Morris (2020)
I loved this short story collection by Ellen Birkett Morris. The themes and characters overlap in an extraordinarily clever way, and it got under my skin in the way the best writing does. You can read my full review here.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett (2016)
I read and loved The Vanishing Half last year, and immediately bought Brit Bennett’s previous novel. Of course, it then languished on my shelf for too long, but I have finally got round to it, and it did not disappoint. My review will be up soon, but in a word: stunning.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1926)
I don’t even know if this counts as a reread, as I have definitely read a lot of Agatha Christies, but not for YEARS. I’m doing some Christie readalongs with my lovely @The_WriteReads crew, and we started with this. Loads of fun, so deliciously quick to read – I’m so glad I’m going to be spending more time with Poirot and his little grey cells this year!
Cockfight by María Fernanda Ampuero translated by Frances Riddle (2021)
This book is astounding. It is absolutely unapologetically fierce and brutal and really quite disturbing; I loved it. It won’t be for everyone, but if you like your fiction to push boundaries and take you far, far our of your comfort zone, do check out my full review here.
The Care of Strangers by Ellen Michaelson (2020)
This gentle, beautiful novella was a complete change of pace, and one that left me pondering the special set of qualities that those who dedicate their professional lives to the care of others possess. It was a quietly moving read, and one which I highly recommend. You can read my full thoughts here.
The Clearing by Samantha Clark (2020)
Samantha Clark’s memoir is a work of art in itself. Rarely have I encountered such intellectually rigorous and yet beautifully crafted writing. Do read my full review here: this book is a gem, and I hope many of you will be tempted to discover it.
The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen translated by David Hackston (2016)
This book had me snorting with laughter, which is not what you might expect from a novel narrated by a dying man. I absolutely adored it, and I’ll try and get a full review up soon. I can’t wait to read more of Tuomainen’s work – I’m so grateful to Orenda Books for introducing me to him.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)
My second encounter with Poirot this month, and again, tons of fun. From a writing point of view, I think there are some useful basic reminders about how to build a plot in these books: Christie certainly knows a thing or three about keeping the reader on the edge of their seat! I’m really looking forward to more investigations with M. Poirot this year!
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (2021)
This debut novel absolutely blew me away. It is devastatingly beautiful, and I’ve been thinking about it constantly since I read it. You can read my full review here – this really is one not to miss.
Havana Year Zero by Karla Suárez translated by Christina MacSweeney (2021)
I just finished this last night, and I loved it. It’s my first book from Charco Press, and it certainly won’t be my last. I’ll be getting a review up very soon, so watch out for it!
All in all, I’m really pleased to have read such a fab selection of books, brightening up a grey, rainy lockdown January. I have so many books I want to read in February – I’ve found myself longing for a uni-style ‘reading week’ – but I guess I’ll have to stick to those precious couple of hours once the day’s kiddie-wrangling is done!
I’d love to hear what books you’ve enjoyed this month, and what you’re looking forward to (book wise, there ain’t a lot else atm!) in February.
3 thoughts on “January 2021 Reading: A Sparrow Alone; Lost Girls; The Mothers; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; Cockfight; The Care of Strangers; The Clearing; The Man Who Died; Murder on the Orient Express; Open Water; Havana Year Zero”
Well done on a great reading month! Looks like you had a brilliant start to the year and I hope it will continue on into February and you’ll pick up some great books!
Fab review Ellie and great tip for Ducks, Newburyport – I may well try that approach myself!
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Thanks so much! And yes, I knew I’d never read it all in one go! X x