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For the Love of Reading: January 2021

In keeping with my new schedule, today I am sharing the books I read in the month of January, 2021.

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After all, you apply ice to a joint after an awkward fall. Why not do the same to a life?
I’m a summer person and I tend to resent winter and the cold it brings and isolation it forces. This book has helped me to look at that attitude in a new way and consider the gifts of winter instead. I may not ever love the cold but I’m learning to appreciate the turning of the wheel of the year and accepting each season with gratitude.

Dear Edward

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Edward is the only survivor of a plane crash, losing his entire family along with all of the other passengers. The narrative switches back and forth between Edward in the present and the events on the plane leading up to the crash. I enjoyed the book overall, but was left feeling like it could have been so much more. I think part of the problem is knowing that all the passengers on the plane (except for Edward) are going to die and because of that I didn’t really let myself become invested in those characters. I also felt detached from the other characters and had a hard time comprehending the freedom Edward was allowed by his aunt and uncle, wandering in the night, sleeping anywhere but in his own room and more. Overall I’d say it’s a good story but there’s a lack of emotion and genuine feeling to the whole thing.


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.
This is one of those books that is best read without knowing much about it. I will tell you what I can to get you started, though. It’s a fantasy set in a series of rooms/halls/houses (think classical crumbling architecture) that are full of statues and flooded repeatedly by the sea. The story is narrated by the main character, Piranesi, as he catalogs and journals the contents of the houses and tries to understand the things he knows but cannot explain. It’s confusing at first but I encourage you to stick with it because it’s a gorgeous book with plenty of philosophy and a smidge of mystery.

In Five Years

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
You might think this is a romance, given the description and the beginning of the story. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. It’s actually a poignant story of a lifelong friendship between two women but, because I was expecting a romance, I feel short changed. It’s a shame, really, because the book had great potential. But the characters are all beautiful and successful and there’s no real struggle or growth. If you’re looking for a quick diversion that manipulates all of your emotions, go for it.

The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Between life and death there is a library,’ she said. ‘And within that library, the shelves go on for ever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be different if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?
Part fantasy, part self-help book, this novel is predictable and sentimental and yet I really enjoyed it. The possibility of infinite lives and the chance to experience them is makes for a captivating story. The ending is pretty much a rip-off of It’s A Wonderful Life, and you can totally see it coming, but there are some moments of enlightenment that make this a worthy read.

The Reason You're Alive

The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The main character is a politically incorrect, gun toting, Vietnam vet suffering from PTSD. He distrusts the government, is violent and aggressive, is writing a first person narrative to justify just why he is the way he is. Sounds awful, right? It’s actually the opposite and I found myself cheering on this xenophobic narrator despite his attitude. The story is heart warming with a very satisfying ending, the asides will make you cringe as well as laugh, and as long as it’s not taken it too seriously I think it’s really enjoyable.


Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I approached this book about the first murder in Plymouth with some skepticism since I’m very familiar with it as I’m local to the area. I was pleasantly surprised to come away from this with a new perspective on that story as well as a fresh approach to the death of Dorothy Bradford, class structure in the colony, and the inclusion of the voices of women. The history they teach us in elementary school, that the Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution, that everyone on board the Mayflower had the same goals and reasons for moving here, is quite different from what actually happened. I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about this time period in our history from a societal point of view.

January was a great month of reading!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Thank you for these reviews! I have not yet read any of these books, but several of them were on my radar, so I’m happy to hear your thoughts on them.

  2. I really loved Wintering . . . and I’m really glad you stuck with Piranesi! (Such a weird start, but ultimately a really good book.) XO

  3. I finished Midnight Library and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s an interesting concept and I wouldn’t mind visiting my own midnight library. And I never would have expected that I would understand and ultimately cheer for a character like David Granger in The Reason You’re Alive, but I did. Patty told me to “stick with it” and I’m glad I did!

  4. Love this roundup Carole – thank you for sharing your reviews! (Piranesi is on my radar … and Wintering is still sitting on my desk)

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