Hi, friends! I can’t believe January is behind us—it felt like the longest month and the shortest month all at once. I read five books this month, which is probably a couple of books less than I normally read—but we had quite the newsworthy January, so my attention was often drawn elsewhere. I also picked up a few longer books and may or may not have spent too much time on TikTok before bed, which is when I normally get in the bulk of my reading. Regardless, my year started out great reading-wise as I read some amazing books I am excited to share with you today!
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!
One quick reminder—I used to use Amazon links in these on my nightstand posts, but going forward, I’ll be linking out to Bookshop. Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on the Bookshop map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop). Their prices are honestly very comparable to Amazon, which is great—and makes it a no-brainer. I became an affiliate on Bookshop, meaning if you purchase a book using one of my links below, I’ll receive a 10% commission—but don’t worry, Bookshop still gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores.
I am still using my Kindle to read, but source most of my books from my local library. I still do buy Kindle books from time to time. However, when I do buy physical copies of books, I am trying my best to shop local bookstores. It’s definitely not perfect at supporting small, but I am making changes where I can.
Here’s to a great February of reading! x
ALL YOUR PERFECTS // COLLEEN HOOVER
Quinn and Graham meet in the most unexpected ways—she’s returning home and sees a strange man in her hallway. Her initial thought is that he’s going to attack her. Instead, he just asks if she is going inside the apartment—because his girlfriend is in there with Ethan, Quinn’s fiancé. After Quinn and Graham confront their partners, they end up at a bar to drown away their sorrows of being cheated on. When they go home that night, they decide to go their separate ways—but Graham leaves Quinn his number to use after she’s had a rebound. Every other chapter of the book picks up from that night and tells the story of them falling in love.
The other chapters bring you to the present day, when Quinn and Graham are married, but deeply unhappy. The struggles of infertility are threatening to tear their lives apart beyond repair.
Would I recommend it? Yes! This one was hard to put down—and I think it’s the best Colleen Hoover I’ve read since It Ends With Us. However, if infertility or miscarriage is a trigger for you, I would avoid reading as those topics are a central part of the plot.
LONG BRIGHT RIVER // LIZ MOORE
This book tells the story of Philadelphia’s opioid crisis through the story of two sisters, Mickey and Kacey. Inseparable as children, Kacey fell into drugs as a teenager and drifted apart from her sister. They no longer talk, but Mickey keeps an eye on Kacey through her police beat—she’s assigned to the very neighborhood Kacey often sells and uses in.
Mickey realizes her sister seems to have disappeared as she hasn’t been working the streets in several months. Around the same time, a series of mysterious murders happens in the same neighborhood. Mickey becomes obsessed with finding her sister—and the murderer—before it’s too late.
Would I recommend it? I loved this book—it will definitely be in the running of one of the best books of 2021!
NOBODY WILL TELL YOU THIS BUT ME // BESS KALB
At 90 years old, Bobby passed away—but in this beautiful memoir, Bess writes in the voice of her grandmother, who’s voice is alive more than ever. The story goes through four generations of strong women, beginning with Bobby’s mother, who leaves from Belarus—without her family—to escape from the pogroms and find a better life in America. The story continues through to Bobby’s own life in New York as the daughter of immigrants and to Bobby’s daughter—Bess’s mother—who is a 1970s rebel. The fourth generation is, of course Bess—who saved every voicemail her grandmother ever left her and her story is interspersed with transcripts of those calls. It was a beautiful way to tell the story of a family—and the wisdom only a grandmother can give.
Would I recommend it? I thought this memoir was told in such a unique way and really enjoyed reading it—it also made me think of all the wonderful memories I have with my own grandmothers, especially as learning more about my own family history has been on my mind lately.
DEAR EDWARD // ANN NAPOLITANO
Edward, age 12, boards a flight from Newark to LA with his mom, dad, and older brother. There are 183 other passengers on the flight—a man dying of cancer, a woman who just found out she’s pregnant, a soldier returning home from war, a woman running away from her husband. The plane crashes over Colorado and Edward is the only survivor—a miracle. His name and image are suddenly everywhere as the nation becomes obsessed with his story.
But as Edward begins to recover physically, he struggles to find a place in the world without his family. One day, he finds a collection of letters sent to him from the families of other victims—his uncle had hid them from him to protect Edward from any unnecessary pain. But as he reads “Dear Edward” after “Dear Edward,” he begins to re-establish what it truly means to live.
Every other chapter alternates between Edward recovering from the crash and when the plane is still in the sky, where you meet many of the other passengers on board.
Would I recommend it? The format of this book really kept me turning the page because you don’t learn why the plane crashes until about 75% of the way through the book. That being said, I feel like a lot of people really loved this book, and I just didn’t.
BLACK, WHITE & THE GREY // JOHN O. MORISANO & MASHAMA BAILEY*
In this memoir, “Johno” and Mashama take turns telling the story of how they met, became business partners, and opened The Grey, a restaurant in Savannah that quickly became one of the most celebrated in the country. The Grey is located in a formerly segregated Greyhound bus station that was renovated and restored from the ground up. Johno had no restaurant experience prior to purchasing the building that become The Grey, and while Mashama was classically trained and working at Prune in NYC, she had never developed a menu before. The two grew The Grey into what it is today together—with lots of mistakes along the way. The pair are extremely vulnerable in their telling of this journey—they frequently disagree, point out things they were hurt by in each other’s version of the story, and address racism head-on (Johno is a white man, Mashama is a Black woman). The memoir ends with an epilogue about the impact of COVID-19 on their business—that went from booming to shuttered overnight.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely—especially if you consider yourself a foodie as you get a behind-the-scenes look at what went into building and running one of the South’s most revered restaurants. )If you love Ruth Reichl’s writing, I think you’ll really enjoy this one.) And I can’t wait to get back to Savannah so I can enjoy a meal at The Grey. (You can see my Savannah guide HERE!)