january 2021 tbr (TO BE READ) LIST

Hi! Before I dive in, I just want to say: If you’ve made it here to my second ever blog post, thank you!! I’m still so excited and honored that you’re here.

There are certain topics I post about on my instagram stories that I notice get a lot of engagement: decor, my snack/charcuterie boards, and books. I love getting messages asking for recommendations, my opinions/reviews, or just to have a discussion about a book. Book talk is my favorite talk. At the start of each month, I like to make a little list of what books I want to read. Normally, this list is just in the notepad of my phone or in my head. But since I have this platform now, I thought I’d share! Disclaimer: I don’t always get to all of them. Sometimes I read more than planned, sometimes I read less. Sometimes, I don’t read any of the books I have on my list and end up reading others instead. It all relies on my mood and where the previous book has left me mentally. I really just enjoy having a small list as a little guideline. If you have any books you’re planning to read this month, please let me know in the comments or on instagram! I’d love to look into it and possibly add it to my ever growing TBR list. Or, if you’ve already read any of the books I’m about to mention, let me know what you thought of them!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.
Goodreads synopsis: “The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.”
What got my attention: I LOVE BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS. I say it all the time. But seriously, I do. I love books about bookstores, specific books, people who love books, people who work at bookstores, all of it!! So as soon as I saw this title buzzing around my Goodreads and #bookstagram, I knew without even reading the synopsis I wanted to read it. In full transparency, at the time of posting this, I’ve already read it. It was my first book of 2021. I think at the end of the month I’ll do a little reading wrap up so I’ll save my review for then! All I’m gonna say is…. read it.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Goodreads synopsis (partial): “A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.”
What got my attention: I’m 100% certain that I’m not alone in that Barack Obama is my favorite president. Honestly, he’s just one of my favorite humans. I just want to hug him! I’ve missed him so so much these past four years. I was gifted this book for Christmas and I thought this month, with the inauguration of Joe Biden taking place soon, it would be a great time to read it! I can’t wait. I have no doubt that it will be amazing.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Goodreads synopsis: “Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo. But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised. When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?”
What got my attention: Multiple things caught my attention here:
1. I love books set in New York almost as much as I love books set in Europe.
2. I haven’t read many thrillers since my childhood Goosebump days (those books were creepy, don’t lie) and this one was being raved about everywhere.
3. The fact that this book heavily discusses gentrification, racism, and the way we are constantly being taught a very white-washed version of history.
I’m already about 50% through with this book and all I’ll say for now is so far it is not disappointing! Also worth noting that this scaredy-cat can’t read it late at night when I’m the only one awake.

A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne
Goodreads synopsis: “Some stories are universal. They play out across human history. And time is the river which will flow through them. It starts with a family, a family which will mutate. For now, it is a father, mother and two sons. One with his father’s violence in his blood. One who lives his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They will be joined by others whose deeds will change their fate. It is a beginning. Their stories will intertwine and evolve over the course of two thousand years – they will meet again and again at different times and in different places. From distant Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium to a life amongst the stars in the third. While the world will change around them, their destinies will remain the same. It must play out as foretold. It is written. A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom is the extraordinary new novel from acclaimed writer John Boyne. Ambitious, far-reaching and mythic, it introduces a group of characters whose lives we will come to know and will follow through time and space until they reach their natural conclusion.”
What got my attention: Honestly? The cover. I know, I know, the age old saying is “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” But my dirty little secret is that I 100% do (when it comes to actual book covers, not humans). Sometimes if I’m feeling really daring, I will add book to my TBR list just after seeing the cover and without reading the synopsis. It’s kind of fun to go into the story blind and not knowing what to expect! So this is what I did here. I’ve read the first couple of chapters of this and I’m not sure if it’s the type of book I would normally go for, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be good. We will see how it goes!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Goodreads synopsis: “Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.”
What got my attention: In 2020 I read a book by this author that became incredibly popular. Seriously, it was everywhere. It was called “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” and it was in my top 5 favorite books of the year. It had some of the most beautiful storytelling I’ve ever read. So immediately on finishing the last page, I looked up V.E. Schwab’s other works and ta-da! Here we are. This book is actually the first of a series, which I’m really excited about it because if I love it half as much as I loved Addie LaRue I will without a doubt want to get as much out of the story as I possibly can.

Well that wraps up my little January TBR. Only time will tell if I will manage to finish them all. I should mention I’m also doing a reread of the Harry Potter series on the side so Order of the Phoenix will hopefully be completed by the end of the month as well! I’m having so much fun with that reread, it’s just so comforting. To all my fellow HP fans, if you haven’t done a reread in a while, this is your sign. Do it! And if you want to chat about it (or any books), you know where to find me!

I hope you all are having a wonderful, happy, safe, and healthy start to your new year. And if you aren’t feeling like it’s off to a great start, don’t worry! A new year isn’t always the fresh start we all work it up to be. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself! You got this.

‘Till next post!
– Sarah

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I have an average amount of passion for many things.

3 thoughts on “january 2021 tbr (TO BE READ) LIST

  1. I’m finishing up The Promise Land, and you know how I feel about the Obamas 😍 I love the personal stories, the observations and anecdotes that he writes about, but I have to say the level of detail that he gets into with so many of the international relations situations can get a little difficult to get through (it’s a little like following the Game of Thrones storyline, too many moving pieces for me to fully track!) I highly recommend reading Becoming by Michelle Obama because the way they each write about their shared experiences is both phenomenal and hilarious! Perspective really is everything.

    Happy bloggin’!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I had a feeling that would be the case with his book. I think I’ll enjoy it but that stuff goes over my head (speaking as someone who needs a map of characters on hand when watching Game of Thrones). I was given both The Promise Land and Becoming for Christmas and I’m saving hers until after because I think it’ll be my favorite!


  2. Out of all the recommendations I have just read A darker shade of magic and I loved that book. I was shook when I read that book. The way the characters…the plot of book .. It was astounding. Thanks for recommending the other books … sounds quiet interesting!


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