Happy New Year! Another great year of reading down—my goal for 2021 was to read 75 books and in the end, I read 85. In December, I read seven books, and honestly, they were all great. This month, I really let myself read what I wanted to read—I let some books from the library pass me by for now because I wasn’t in the mood for them. A trick to reading more is to figure out what you like, and read more of those kinds of books. I’m excited to share all of these reads with you today!
I also have a housekeeping update—this will be my last monthly on my nightstand post, at least for now. Don’t worry—I will continue to share everything I read in real-time over on my Instagram and will save everything I read to an Instagram Story Highlight called ‘books’ so that you can easily reference it later. (My 2021 and 2020 reads are also saved in their own Instagram Story Highlights, too!) These posts have felt more like a chore lately, especially since I already share (+ can now link to everything!) on Instagram and I never want reading to feel like a chore. Even though I am sunsetting this series, I still plan to do an annual roundup of the best books I read each year—and 2021’s will be up within the next day or so. You can also follow along on Goodreads or email me / Instagram DM me anytime for a book recommendation—I love talking about what I am reading or what I loved!
As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me.
Hope you all have a great year of reading ahead!
APPLES NEVER FALL // LIANE MORIARTY
Part family saga, part mystery, this book opens with the four adult Delaney children having a debate: is it time to contact the police about their missing mother, Joy? Even when it looks like their father is the main suspect in her disappearance? This one is a page-turner with a lot of different layers and family dynamics at play — it also flashes back in time to give you more context for the story happening in the present day.
Would I recommend it? I absolutely loved this one—Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors and this is one of my favorite books by her!
FLOAT PLAN // TRISH DOLLER
Anna is heartbroken after losing her fiancé unexpectedly. So she decides to take the sailboat cruise around the Caribbean that they were supposed to do together. After nearly crashing her boat, she realizes she can’t do it alone and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help her complete the journey.
Would I recommend it? This is a really cute read—would be a great one to read on a vacation!
SOMETHING UNBELIEVABLE // MARIA KUZNETSOVA*
Larissa is in her 80s, and tired. Natasha, her granddaughter is tired, too, because she just had a baby. When Natasha asks her grandmother to tell her about the family’s wartime escape from the Nazis in Kiev, she reluctantly agrees in an effort to try and make her granddaughter happy again. Larissa recounts the pain she endured in wartime—but neither woman realizes how loudly the past will echo into the present day.
Would I recommend it? After a little hiatus, I picked up another WWII historical fiction—although this one is set more on the Russian/Ukrainian front than most of the ones I typically read. This one was definitely a page turner, but if you’re looking for a similar grandmother + granddaughter plot, I think I liked The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer better.
THE MAGIC OF FOUND OBJECTS // MADDIE DAWSON
Phronsie is 36, divorced, and feels betrayed by love — so she decides to agree to marry her platonic friend, Judd. As they prepare for the wedding, Phronsie is torn between her rationale side, which she inherited from her farmer father, and her free-spirited side, which she inherited from her hippie mother. The story flashes back to Phronsie’s childhood to give you context as to why she is the way she is, and it’s just really well done.
Would I recommend it? I didn’t love Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson, but I am glad I gave her another chance because this one is so good.
ALWAYS, IN DECEMBER // EMILY STONE*
Josie’s parents died on Christmas Eve, and every year, she mails them a letter about her year. This year, on the way to post her letter, she gets in a bike accident with a stranger, Max. They both end up spending the holiday together and Josie thinks this could be a different kind of love — only he then disappears without saying goodbye. Throughout the next year, they run into each other in different places — and you begin to unpack why Max left.
Would I recommend it? I loved, loved, loved this one, but you’ll need tissues at the end!
A CROSS-COUNTRY CHRISTMAS // COURTNEY WALSH
Lauren hates Christmas, and she hasn’t been home to the Midwest for the holiday for years. But this year, her older brother guilts her into coming home since he is about to have his first child. Sophie has a fear of flying and waits too long to book another way home, so she’s stuck riding back with her brother’s best friend, Will. Lauren knew him from growing up and thinks he’s a womanizer and annoying—so she looks into a route that can get them back to Chicago in three days. Will, on the other hand, tells her they are embarking on the great American road trip for the next seven days. A cute will-they-won’t-they story ensues.
Would I recommend it? This is definitely the cutest, warmest, happy holiday book I picked up this year! I stayed up late last night to finish it because I couldn’t put it down.
JUST HAVEN’T MET YOU YET // SOPHIE COUSENS
Laura is a hopeless romantic and works for a lifestyle publication. She pitches the idea of her parents’ love story to her intense editor, Suki, and then is able to head off to the Channel Islands, where her parents met to research their story and retrace their steps. While at the airport, ahead of her departure, Laura bumps into a really handsome man, and then once they arrive, they inadvertently grabbed each other’s suitcases at baggage claim. So now Laura is on a mission to switch her suitcase back and find her mystery dream man—and she has the help of her cabbie, Ted, to do so.
Would I recommend it? I also loved this one—and I think I liked it better than This Time Next Year, also by Sophie Cousens.