TBR | January 2021


Okay, so I'm switching it up once again! I have never committed to doing a monthly TBR before as I'm a huge mood reader and always felt the need to include 10s of books on TBRs to be taken seriously in the book community. I'm trying to get rid of that negative mental negativity, so here we are. I may just include 3 books on these pasts and that's perfectly okay, however in January I have a decent amount as I'm trying to hit the ground running in January. Unless it's a reread, I will be using the StoryGraph/Goodreads synopsis to talk about the synopsis of each book as I don't want to accidently spoil myself for a plot point like I have done so many times when trying to find my own way to describe the novel. Without further ado, let's delve into my January TBR.


Punching the Air
Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

My husband listened to an ARC of this last year and has urged me since to pick it up. I begun to audiobook on December 31st and got to 47% in one sitting. This is undoubtedly a difficult book to listen to. The racism injustice that Amal faces is beyond fathoming. I have no doubt that this will be the first book I finish in 2021. 

The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness
Amanda Bennett and Lori Schiller

At seventeen Lori Schiller was the perfect child -- the only daughter of an affluent, close-knit family. Six years later she made her first suicide attempt, then wandered the streets of New York City dressed in ragged clothes, tormenting voices crying out in her mind. Lori Schiller had entered the horrifying world of full-blown schizophrenia. She began an ordeal of hospitalizations, halfway houses, relapses, more suicide attempts, and constant, withering despair. But against all odds, she survived. Now in this personal account, she tells how she did it, taking us not only into her own shattered world, but drawing on the words of the doctors who treated her and family members who suffered with her.

At the start of a new year, me and my husband BilliamSWN have a tradition of buying a new book to kick off the new year. We were in a bookstore for at least 40 minutes and I couldn't find anything, so to work within the conditions of our plan I chose to pick up The Quiet Room as my first book of the year as I purchased it last January but never got around to reading it. This sounds like everything I want from a non-fiction that's centered around mental health. I haven't seen anyone talk or mention this book within the book community, so hopefully it'll end up being a surprise and I can bring more attention to it. I actually haven't read any non-fiction talking about schizophrenia in my lifetime, so that needs to change. Side-note: how beautiful is this cover?

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Claire North

Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. "I nearly missed you, Doctor August," she says. "I need to send a message." This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

This has been on my TBR for literal ever. I remember when it got released in 2014 and being interested. I hope to finally tackle the TOME in January. This novel is on my 21 Books I Want To Read In 2021 list and I just got the audiobook through Libby, so yay! Perfect timing. I've previously read Claire North's other novel The Sudden Appearance of Hope and enjoyed it. The mix of contemporary and science worked for me.

Often I Am Happy
Jens Christian Grondahl

Ellinor is seventy. Her husband Georg has just passed away, and she is struck with the need to confide in someone. She addresses Anna, her long-dead best friend, who was also Georg's first wife. Fully aware of the absurdity of speaking to someone who cannot hear her, Ellinor nevertheless finds it meaningful to divulge long-held secrets and burdens of her past: her mother's heartbreaking pride; Ellinor's courtship with her first husband; their seemingly charmed friendship with Anna and Georg; the disastrous ski trip that shattered the two couples' lives.

In 2021 I'm hoping to finally read the shorter books on my TBR. I always put them off as I know I'll fly through them and might feel dissatisfied. However, this little novel sounds incredible. It's giving me A Man Called Ove and Firefly Lane mash-up feel and I'm ready to get my heart broken.

Nnedi Okorafor

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

Another short one! It's almost ridiculous how many times this novella has been put onto my monthly TBR's only to go unread. I have no idea whether I will enjoy this book as sci-fi as a whole isn't my usual genre, but there's only one way to find out!

All Adults Here
Emma Straub

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence? Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is intentionally pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

Did this solely make it into my library holds because of the gorgeous cover..? Yes, but since getting it I've seen an abundance of people compare it to Anxious People, Grown-Ups, and even Normal People. I adored all three of this books so this really is a no brainer. I'm going into this completely blind and hope to be amazed. 

You Should See Me In A Crown
Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

I'm so excited for this one! I'm planning on buddy reading it with the flawless @m.is.reading. This YA contemporary has some major buzz surround it in the online book community. Everyone has loved it or at the very least, found it cutesy and worth the read. It was also the first YA pick for the Reese Witherspoon bookclub, which excites me greatly as I'm trash for a "Reese's Pick". The cover is also flawless.

In An Absent Dream
Seanan McGuire

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should. When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she's found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

This will be my first reread of the year as I'm participating in Kayla from BooksAndLala's Buzzword Reading Challenge. Each month you have a buzzword and January was 'Dream'. I was initially planning on finally picking up Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams by Sylvia Plath but I got a tad confused with dates and had to instead pick up something short and snappy. I've been meaning to reread the entire Wayward Children series to establish what I love about it. I adored this reread! There's something so magical about In An Absent Dream. It reads like a dark fairytale.

Love Story
Erich Segal

Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny are kindred spirits from vastly different worlds. Falling deeply and powerfully, their attraction to one another defies everything they have ever believed—as they share a passion far greater than anything they dreamed possible and explore the wonder of a love that must end too soon. 

This is a really random pick for the month, but we recently signed up for HBO Max and it reminded me that I wanted to watch the movie adaption of this romance classic, but of course, I pledged to read the book first. I'm surprised at how short this novel is (coming in at just over 100 pages). I enjoy a little 'opposites attract' romance, especially from a modern classic. Have you read this or watched the movie adaption? Let me know your thoughts on either!

So there we have my January TBR. Is there anyone on this list that you're hoping to also read soon?

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