#amreading: LQ’s Most Recent Reads – January 2021

by Joli

Happy New Year, bookish people! I am writing this after our relief at 2020 being over swiftly turned into….well, mayhem. I (Joli) tend to turn to books at a time like this for escape from our present reality, so I’ve been reading a good bit. Here’s hoping you find a compelling read to escape to, too 💜.

Here’s what we’re reading right now.

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I plan on reading The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel this month. I ended up getting this book as a Christmas gift after I loved her earlier novel, Station Eleven, so much. The Glass Hotel sounds like it is about the crimes a bartender witnesses while working at the titular hotel, and the way some people turn to crime at both upper and lower levels of society when they are struggling to find meaning in their lives.

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Ohhhhh goodness, it’s a new year, time for some new stories!

I am currently reading 2 books: one is Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell. It is 100% historical fiction, centered around the fact that Shakespeare lost his son Hamnet a few years prior to the writing of his prolific tragedy Hamlet. It’s pretty heart-wrenching so far, but O’Farrell writes her settings beautifully.

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The other book I’m (Finally) getting to is The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer. Another historical fiction – apparently January has a theme for me!! This one is a WWII novel, and it is a present day/historical back and forth type. For those who liked Lilac Girls, I’m finding it a similar read, but with a different plot line (obviously!). Especially interesting is the difficulties with language in this one – the main characters alternately deal with language barriers/loss of language due to stroke, and Autism speech deficiency.

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I’m currently reading The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri (which I swiped from my mum’s bookshelf). It tell the story of four friends from the very far south of Italy who, since leaving high school, meet every year on the same day in the same pizzeria in their hometown. But this year, Art (the most eccentric of the group) doesn’t show up, he seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth and the others are worried. They start to look for what might have happened to him and end up getting entangled with the local mafia group. I’ve been really enjoying this book, lots of intrigue and clues throughout the book that are keeping me guessing as I’m reading – I would highly recommend!

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New year and new books!! Actually my current read is one that I took out last month from the library and need to finish before it is due. It’s a short story collection and is called The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe. I am a runner, and in 2020 I started trying to find books about runners – fiction books in particular and not memoirs or how-tos! That being said, I enjoyed the title short story of this book, and am so far enjoying the others as well. Alan Sillitoe was a British author who was most active in the 1950’s. Most of his work, including this short story collection, are all from the perspective of the British working-class circa the 1940s-1950’s.

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I just finished Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. It’s really hard to put my feelings about it into words because it was so unique, but I gave it 3 stars officially. Each chapter was a different set of characters, but many of them had connections with characters in other chapters. While I think it’s a cool idea, I got pretty lost and couldn’t remember the characters from previous chapters! There are multiple characters in most of the chapters and I just….got lost. BUT beyond that it was really a unique, good read! It’s 3 stars but also a recommended read from me.

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Now I’m reading Minus Me by Mameve Medwed. It’s a girly fiction read but also deals with some difficult subject matter, such as stillbirth, miscarriage and incurable cancer. It’s an interesting balance and so far I’m enjoying it!

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I’ve been on a “books set in D.C.” kick lately, after reading Becky Dorey-Stein’s memoir, From the Corner of the Oval, at the end of 2020. My current read, Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing, is a novel about a senator who wakes up to find her childhood best friend has penned an op-ed piece against her just as she gears up for a presidential run. It’s a fun book that’s also causing me to reflect on how we manage regrets in our lives. It is a little disjointing to read something set in such a normal Washington, after the events of last week, and I’m interested to see how that affects my reaction to the book overall.

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I’m reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver for one of my book clubs. It’s a backlist novel, but it’s been on my shelf forever so I’m excited to finally get to it! I’m also planning to read The Bromance Book Club, which I just got from the library on Kindle. It’ll be nice to have a lighter read for a change.

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