February 8, 2021

What I Read in January 2021

Buoyed by my success at reading 100 books in 2020, I wanted to start 2021 strong – and I did! 8 books read in January, which puts me exactly on track for my goal. I stalled out a bit when I found that reading nonfiction made me less eager to read at all, but I picked up some light fiction to break it up, and discovered that when I had a book I was eager to read, I made a lot more time for reading. (Duh!) Although I want to read at least one or two nonfiction books a month, I want to also make it a point to always have at least one light read going, to help inspire me to read more rather than just read to learn.

All three light novels – and fun ones!

5 stars:

Shipped, by Angie Hockman: I absolutely LOVED this novel! I could completely relate to the protagonist Henley’s core belief that you could get anything you wanted if you worked hard enough for it, and I liked how the author made Henley a smart career woman rather than someone you wanted to shake by the shoulders. I loved the developing romance, and even though I expected it, there were still some twists and turns that kept me guessing. While this genre is often so light and fluffy I find myself rolling my eyes at times, I thought Hockman delivered a really smart twist on the enemies to lovers trope, and I couldn’t put this down. Highly recommend!

Troubles in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand: I was so excited to read this final novel in the trilogy, especially after I’ve been on a non-fiction tear, and it didn’t disappoint! I finished it in one day. I wouldn’t say this was my favorite of Hilderbrand’s books, but it was still a good read, and she did a nice job tying up all the loose ends. The only thing I didn’t like was Tilda getting a happy ending even after the big mistake she made.

Lost, Found, and Forever, by Victoria Schade: This was SUCH a sweet rom com novel – and since I just adopted a dog in November, I could totally relate! My only quibble was that it was pretty clear early on who Spencer was going to end up with, where the book description made it sound like that was the question. The book was a little bit more predictable than I would have liked (even the “big reveal” of Justine’s PTSD was hinted at enough that it wasn’t much of a surprise), but I still enjoyed it and read it in just two nights. Definitely recommend, and I’ll be looking for more by this author!

4 stars:

Make Up Break Up, by Lily Menon: I really enjoyed this – the rom com as well as the inside look at what tech startup life is like. However, I found the trope of “girl assumes guy is a jerk even though he’s done nothing wrong” a little bit played out, particularly when it was so clear from the beginning that it was Annika who was being a jerk. The happy ending also wrapped up a little too quickly. In spite of that, this was still a four star read – I really enjoyed it!

Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, by Esther Perel: This was fascinating, and I learned a lot from it. It wasn’t the usual self-help style, which was a good thing – the takeaways weren’t all bolded / emphasized/ repeated, so each person might focus on different learnings. I really liked Perel’s non-judgmental viewpoint, and feel like it helped me be more receptive to things I might have previously squirmed about reading as kinky and abnormal. However, it wasn’t written to be at all titillating or provocative; it came across as very scholarly, yet easy to understand, where once you read something it seemed like natural common sense.

3 stars:

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, by Warren Berger: I read this for my work book club, and while the concept was good, I found the book itself dragged a bit. I found it hard to motivate myself to read it, though when I did, I did find it insightful. There were a lot of good examples; however, I don’t know that I closed the book knowing how to form the most beautiful question, rather than just getting a lot of examples to potentially remember / emulate.

Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change, by Stacy Abrams: This was really hit or miss for me. While Abrams gave good advice, sometimes she came off as a bit full of herself, which was a turnoff. I spent the whole book trying to decide whether I would like her in real life or if she would be too pompous. The lessons were good, though some were a bit generic, and I didn’t like the “work-life jenga” chapter at the end, which felt like it was jammed in because someone told her she couldn’t write a women’s leadership book without discussing work life balance. In all, I liked this, but didn’t love it.

Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia, by Michael Crawley: This was a fascinating look into the Ethiopian culture that produces so many world class runners. The author is both a professional runner and an anthropologist, and those two identities made this the perfect perspective for this topic. The book was a bit dry at times, but it was definitely inspiring to see how the Ethiopian runners do incredibly difficult things as part of their training – dodge roots and trees in the forest, wake up to do training runs in the middle of the night, and go to even higher altitudes to build “condition”. There was also a strong theme of how running was seen as a ticket to a better life – which was a great reminder that while I run for fun, some people have a different (and more pressing) motivation.


The publisher of Out of Thin Air has generously offered to give away a hardback copy of this book to one lucky reader. If you’re reading this in Feedly/Bloglovin’/email, you’ll need to click through to enter. Check out the Rafflecopter widget below, and to enter, leave a comment telling me what motivates you to run. The contest will run through Monday February 15th at 12am MT, at which time a winner will be chosen by random drawing; I will email the winner, and you will have one week to claim your prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


4 thoughts on “What I Read in January 2021”

  1. I used to think that training for a race was my main motivation to run, but when racing was canceled in 2020 I figured out that my main motivation is actually the feeling of accomplishment from a single run! I thought I would have trouble getting out to run without a training plan to follow. But instead, I find myself excited to get out and run to start my day off right!

  2. Wish I were a runner… but I am a reader! And I’m motivated to read by both a love of reading, a love of learning, and also a little bit of fear of what the alternatives (tv and social media) do to my brain!!

  3. I’m a former runner, but now I am obsessed with functional fitness! What motivates me to workout is the sense of accomplishment I feel afterwards.

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