January 2019

My January 2019 in books! Recommendations by mood & a bit about how I felt about each read (& why).

  • For those of us who have always dreamt of being Eloise: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • For the one to fill your heart: Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • For the short stories that blend the supernatural with the smashing of the patriarchy: You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian
  • For the essays and stories that come back to mind over and over: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
  • For the one to give you the heebie jeebies: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
  • For the one where you’re going to need to talk about the ending with someone else: Adèle by Leila Slimani
  • For the protagonists you’ll love and hate all at once: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Grand Budapest Hotel meets Bel Canto – I absolutely adored this book. The characters are lovable, the setting is endlessly entertaining, and the stakes are high. It left me craving Russian literature, hence my new year’s resolution to read War and Peace before 2019 is out. This is a book I’m already dying to read again. I fell in love with the joy in tucked into the nooks and crannies of this story. And I would love to see it adapted into a movie (or a musical).

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The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

This was a kooky second read of 2019. I quickly fell into Walker’s quiet and haunting description of the way that this mysterious sickness slipps its way through this small town. It is spooky – I had trouble reading it at night, especially as a reader who is highly anxious about all things health related. Despite restricting myself to reading it during the daylight hours, I really enjoyed The Dreamers. It was out of the box of what I typically read and I was happily shocked by how much I liked it.

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The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

This is one of my favorite collections I’ve ever read. I cannot stop thinking about moments of brilliance in her fictional stories, revelations in her essays, elements of comedy in the quotes she included in her articles. I’m desperate to gift this collection to so many of the readers in my life.

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Adèle by Leila Slimani

This was a fascinating roller coaster of a read. Translated from French, it takes off with a BANG and races along from there. Intense and super sexual, this book is an interesting examination of motherhood, addiction, and control.

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You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian

A freaky collection of short stories, well-suited for fans of Her Body and Other Parties and Awayland. Personally, I think “Cat Person” remains the best story in this collection; I really enjoyed revisiting that particularly brilliant story amid the madness of the rest of this collection. Roupenian infuses fantasy and sci-fi and dark, gothic qualities into each of these stories. It’s creepy and powerful (at times).

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Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

January’s book club pick was an interesting one for me. My anxiety was generally high during the week I was reading this book, and I think that prevented me from slipping into it fully. Instead, I found myself critiquing many of characters. I still enjoyed Rooney’s witty prose, but didn’t love it nearly as much as I loved Normal People (out in the US this spring).

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming was the highlight of my January reading. Probably my favorite memoir I’ve ever read? That’s a big claim but I think I can make it. The beginning completely immerses you in what life was like growing up as Michelle in Chicago. I learned so much about her family, her education, her career aspirations, in addition to their public political life. She is thoughtful and kind and fiercely protective of her family. I loved her before; I love her even more now. I alternated between the hardcover and the audiobook version and that was a terrific choice – her voice is incredibly soothing. I feel like we’re truly friends (one afternoon, I fell asleep listening to her narration and dreamed that our friendship was a reality.)

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What was your favorite book you read in January?

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