Books I Read in January 2021
In January 2021 I read 12 books. Quite a strong start to the reading year, although I’ll caveat that with the fact I read six books in a series this month. The Bridgerton series no less – I’m addicted.
Without further ado though, here are my reviews of the books I read in January 2021.
My first read of 2021 was a Penguin Little Black Classic. I’ve been meaning to read The Awakening by Kate Chopin for ages. But I’m currently stranded at my parents for Lockdown 3.0 and away from my copy. As such, I thought I would trial her writing with a short collection of some of her other famous short stories.
For someone who is so interested in Greek Mythology, I’ve yet to read the Greek Classics The Iliad or The Odyssey. But I’ve finally started that journey, by reading another Penguin Little Black classic. This is a short snippet from Homer’s The Odyssey, on Odysseus’ journey home from the Battle for Troy with his men. It was a really easy read, and a great sampler for reading this classic in future.
I love reading books about publishing, especially Virago – an imprint of Hachette, which started as an independent feminist publisher in the seventies. The creation of this remarkable imprint is inspiring; Lennie Goodings was there almost from the beginning. Lennie is a Canadian who joined Virago a few years after it formed, and she still works for Virago to this day – nearly fifty years later! This was a fantastic read, full of anecdotes of amazing authors including Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter. Plus, it’s chock full of amazing book recommendations. Perfection.
So, after Christmas, I binge-watched Bridgerton on Netflix. I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it. But I loved it, so much so that I went and purchased the first three books. Now I’m even more addicted. I’ve given each book in the Bridgerton books a 4-star rating on Goodreads. They’re not perfect; the storylines are particularly problematic at times, but what regency romp is politically correct? What they all have in common though is a consistent humour, sexual tension by the bucket load, and amazing dialogue.
This is the first book in the series and follows Daphne Bridgerton, the fourth child of eight, and the eldest girl. She and the Duke of Hastings, an old friend of her eldest brother, decide to trick the ton by pretending to be courting. The reason behind the plot is simple: it will distract ambitious mama’s trying to introduce their daughters to the handsome Duke. And Daphne will seem even more attractive to other men. It’s a universal fact, that if a man is showing you a lot of interest, then other men will suddenly realise they’re attracted to you. Of course, their plan doesn’t go to… well, plan.
I’ve been craving some short stories of late, which is very unusual for me. I used to read a lot of short stories when I was at university, but since graduating five years ago I’ve not read many. Graceful Burdens was free on Amazon. Written by the amazing writer Roxanne Gay, author of Bad Feminist.
This is a take on dystopian feminist fiction, set in a time when women are told at eighteen whether or not their genes are ‘perfect’ enough for them to have children. If they’re not, then that’s it. No procreation for them. But if they need a baby fix they can go to a ‘baby library’ and take out a child for the day. However, where do these children come from? And where are their parents? And what happens when the children get older?
Book 2 of the Bridgerton books. This is what Bridgerton Series 2 on Netflix is going to be based on and I cannot wait! Anthony Bridgerton is a really complex character, and so much lovelier in the books. He’s super protective, incredibly handsome and also, very lovable. He’s never got over the death of his father. Ever since he was eighteen he has been convinced he’ll die at the same age as his father – aged 38 – so, therefore, he cannot marry for love because that would be cruel. So, he’s after a wife with who he won’t fall in love with him. Yeah, good luck with that Anthony.
The third book in the Bridgerton books is a straight-forward Cinderella re-telling. Benedict Bridgerton meets a strange woman at a masquerade and falls in love, but at midnight she runs away. Two years later, he meets the woman again – but he has no idea who she is because the woman he meets on this occasion is a servant. It’s gorgeous, dramatic-as-hell, and also very problematic. But…I still, kind of, loved it.
The fourth book in the Bridgerton series is the most simple of the Bridgerton books, but it’s adorable. Colin Bridgerton is the third brother in the Bridgerton clan and he’s lovely. He’s charming, easy-going, and very kind. Penelope Featherington is his sister’s, Eloise’s best friend and she’s a wallflower turned spinster. At twenty-eight, no one – least of all Penelope – expect her to marry. She’s been in love with Colin since she was sixteen, but he made it clear – in the third book! – that he would never marry her. But Penelope has a secret and Colin gets caught up in it. I wonder what will happen…
I loved Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women. And, luckily for us Lil Women fans, the screenplay is available to read for FREE on Vanity Fair. Of course, as soon as I discovered that I went straight over to the site and read it. It’s a masterpiece.
Yet another Bridgerton book. I told you, I’m obsessed. This story follows Eloise Bridgerton (arguably the best character in the TV series). In the books, she’s a bit calmer than her TV counterpart, and in fact, comes across as a little whiny. However, she is extremely lovable and very funny. This is one of the darker Bridgerton books, with the opening chapter showing the suicide of the love-interests former wife. The romance is also less than romantic, which is typical for Eloise. However, the familial themes are particularly strong and by the end utterly adorable.
And again. I’ve never read a series so quickly in years – not even Harry Potter! But these books are really easy to read. Book six is the saddest of the series. The sixth child, Francesca Bridgerton, married the Earl of Kilmartin in a love match but he died less than two years later and Francesca is left a young widow. But his cousin and her best friend Michael Stirling is now the new Earl. And he’s always held a torch for independent Francesca Bridgerton. Guess what happens?
Finally, I read Holes by Louis Sachar. I loved the film growing up, and it’s been about ten years since I probably last watched it. But I got the urge to read the book, so I treated myself a secondhand copy and flew through it in one afternoon. The film is a very good adaptation of the novel, and lots of fond memories came flooding back.
And those are all the books I read in January 2021. What have you been reading this month? Are you throwing yourself into books for a little escapism? Let me know in the comments below.