Books Read: January 2021

Welp, this month felt a bit like 2020 wanted to hang on and continue its vibe, but I feel like at the end of the month there is hope. And the books I read helped me get through the worst of it, as always I’m thankfulf or writers.

Exit West

I read this because some friends recently talked about it, it’d been on my list, it was available at the library, so I went for it. It was unexpectedly beautiful and haunting. Mohsin Hamid creates a world where doors start leading people to other parts of the world and in so doing, people start moving quickly to look for better lives. We follow the romance of a couple as their country falls into civil war and they walk through a door. It brings up so many things about immigration, refugees, how does a country handle it when the influx can’t be stopped? How does a country have compassion? And how do the people on the move adapt and make it work so quickly? I’ll be thinking about this one for a long while.

…by making the promise he demanded she make she was in a sense killing him, but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind. (loc 877)

She wondered whether she and Saeed had done anything by moving, whether the faces and buildings had changed but the basic reality of their predicament had not. (loc 1419)


I love Marilynne Robinson’s writing and have read most of her fiction and this latest book is beautiful. Robinson tells Jack’s story completely through his thoughts, and yet you still know what Della is thinking and wanting. The hints we’ve seen of Jack in her previous books make him out to be the black sheep, which he definitely is, but he’s also looking for a reason to keep going and straighten up and he finds that in Della. They both fight long odds and ultimately we don’t know for certain what happens to them, but I like to believe they find a life together in the end.

So many things made no sense to him at all, which is one reason he had kept to himself so many years. He regretted this as often as he realized he had learned next to nothing about the world. (p. 199)

Casino Royale

I live with a James Bond fan and he’s a fan of the original novels and owns them and I’d never read any of them, so while I was waiting on holds from the library, I picked this one up. It’s the first Bond novel Ian Fleming wrote and if you’ve seen the movie, the screenwriters did an excellent job of taking a 1950s spy story and updating it for modern times, the story at times is dead on to the novel. It was an enjoyable escape and the Bond character of the books is nothing like the character in most of the movies, I’d say the film made from this book gets the closest to what Fleming wrote.

A Stranger in Olondria

Mandy read this one and I was intrigued and my library had it sitting on the shelves so I got it and am so glad I did. Sofia Samatar creates a world that is intriguing and I wish I could read more stories set in it. Jevick travels to continue his father’s business in Olondria and finds himself caught up in a religious war. As he struggles to survive, Jevick faces a difficult choice and in the process he’s changed forever.

Akata Witch

Nnedi Okorafor tells a tale of teenagers fighting evil and learning about the magical powers they posess. It takes place in Nigeria and the teens are all Leopard People, learning to use Juju and as they form a group of four, realizing that their elders believe they’re meant to hold off a great evil that is happening. Sunny is an American who was born to Nigerian parents and they moved back to Nigeria when she was 9. And she’s albino. She’s already an outcast but then she becomes friends with others who introduce her to who she really is. This is a delightful story and I can’t wait to read the follow up.

The Dutch House

I’ve never read an Ann Patchett novel, which is somewhat surprising to me now that I’ve read The Dutch House as it’s such an amazing story and I can’t wait to read more of her writing. The story follows two siblings, Maeve and Danny, as they grow up and live their lives, but never far from the story is the unique house their father bought for their mother. The house ends up being the reason so many things happen, it’s the part of their story that they can never shake even after they stop living their themselves. Parts of this novel hit me like a ton of bricks, mostly dues to things from my own story, which is one reason I loved it so much. But it also got me thinking about the places in our lives and how much they can shape so much of our lives before we even fully understand it.