January 2021 Wrap-Up and February TBR

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Featured Image for the January 2021 Wrap Up.  Text contains the title of the blog post above miniature book covers for Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Hello, friends! Today I’m sharing my January 2021 Wrap-Up. I can’t believe we survived the first month of 2021. Despite all the distractions the world tried to throw at me, it was actually a good reading month by my standards! Keep reading to see what I’ve been up to!


What I Read in January 2021

Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

Features: Science-Fiction | Woman Author

Read for Prompt #31 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Buy it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The first book I finished this year was Lindsay Ellis’s Axiom’s End. While Ellis doesn’t do anything groundbreaking with the first-contact genre, I thought this was a perfectly serviceable debut. It definitely reads like a debut novel in need of a keener-eyed editor. Still, the story was intriguing enough for me to see it through to the end. I found the extraterrestrial characters much more interesting than the human ones; however, in this type of science-fiction story, cool aliens are pretty important.

If you don’t mind sci-fi that’s light on the sci and can overlook the missing additional draft this book might have needed, Axiom’s End might be for you!


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Format: Audiobook, 11 hours 05 minutes

Features: Fantasy | Middle-Grade

Read for: Prompt #47 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Buy it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The second book I read this year was J.R.R. Tolkien’s introduction to Middle Earth: The Hobbit. I have nothing to say about this except that it totally lives up to the hype. Having seen The Lord of the Rings films more times than I can count (and The Hobbit trilogy more times than I would like), Rob Inglis’s narration combined with Tolkien’s magical (and not condescending!) writing brought this book to life for me. It reads like a children’s story, but its highly conceptual nature turns it into a middle-grade book for me.

If you like fantasy but find yourself intimidated by the sheer scale of Middle Earth, The Hobbit is a great place to start!


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Format: Kindle Edition, 163 pages

Features: Non-Fiction | BIPOC Author

Read for: Prompt #18 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Buy it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Next, I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. This book is, in theory, a collection of letters from Coates to his son. In practice, however, it’s two moderately long letters that digress into definitely long reminiscences about Coates’s college days. Most of this book was very interesting and well-written, but it did lose its focus halfway through. Coates says some great things and tells some great stories, but his book lacks the clear through-line needed to tie all his anecdotes together.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Black experience and don’t need an unequivocal call-to-action in your social just literature, Between the World and Me might be for you!


The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Format: Hardcover, 325 pages

Features: Thriller

Read for: Prompt #50 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Buy it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Next, I read Alex Michaelides’s debut Thriller: The Silent Patient. This book was a pleasant surprise! Sure, there were tropes, and the writing wasn’t the strongest, but I was invested in the characters and couldn’t wait to figure out the twist (because there’s always a twist). Content Warning though, for depictions and discussions of suicide, child abuse, and drug use. In my opinion, nothing was described in egregious detail, but take care of yourself if you pick this one up.

If you want a fast-paced, albeit slightly conventional, thriller that (surprisingly) isn’t totally insensitive in its handling of mental health conditions, then you’ll probably like The Silent Patient.


Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Format: Kindle Edition, 288 pages

Features: Non-Fiction | BIPOC Author | Woman Author

Read for: Prompt #20 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Buy it on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The final book I finished in January 2021 was Reni Eddo-Lodge’s stellar debut: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Folks! Let me just say, this book HITS. My reading experience was basically alternating between whisper-shouting “yes!!!” and quietly nodding in solemn solidarity. Reni’s effortlessly intersectional examination of Blackness at the crossroads of gender, capitalism, education, and other social movements was everything I needed to hear and more.

If you’re a human, alive in [current year], and haven’t read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, then you need to read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.


What I’m Currently Reading

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Classics | Russia

Reading for Prompt #41 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

I’ve been reading War and Peace bit by bit since the holidays in December, and so far, it’s going great! Some readers complain that Tolstoy tends to digress a lot in War and Peace. Two days ago, I would have said that was not my experience. However, having just finished a particular thread involving hunting and some mummers shenanigans (IYKYK), I might have to give those people an “okay, maybe.” I love the characters, though, and find Tolstoy’s writing incredibly poetic, so no (other) complaints so far!

Buy War and Peace on Amazon or support a local bookstore by purchasing it on Bookshop.org.


Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Fantasy | BIPOC Author | LGBTQ+ Author

Reading for Prompt #43 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Full disclosure, I did start this for a hot minute over the December holidays before deciding to change up my reading schedule. I loved the first fifty or so pages I read, and I’ve been eagerly waiting to pick it back up ever since. The cover is gorgeous, the writing style is gorgeous, and I love the simultaneous otherworldliness and humanity of the characters and creatures I’ve met so far. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

Buy Black Leopard, Red Wolf on Amazon or support a local bookstore by purchasing it on Bookshop.org.


My February 2021 TBR

Non-Fiction

  • The Body is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
  • Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Classic Lit

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (continuing)

Everything Else

  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (continuing)
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Wrapping Up the January 2021 Wrap-Up

And there you have it! This is everything I have read recently, am currently reading, or will be reading soon. Almost everything I plan to read this year is for the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. You can check out the full list of my selections here! You can also keep up with my ratings and reviews on Goodreads here! Remember to check back every week for new book reviews (or wrap-ups, if it’s the first Tuesday of the month… like today)!

So, how was your reading month in January? What are you most excited to pick up in February? Sound off in the comments below!

As always, thanks for reading!