What I Read – January 2021


What Kind of Woman – Kate Baer (Harper Perennial, 2020)

The Arsonists’ City – Hala Alyan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021)

A History of My Brief Body – Billy-Ray Belcourt (Hamish Hamilton, 2020)

A Treasury of Short Stories edited by Bernardine Kielty (Simon & Schuster, 1947)

Currently Reading:

On Reading Well – Karen Swallow Prior

Tom Jones – Henry Fielding


Books Read: 4/100

Books Reviewed: 2/4

Asian-Canadian Literature Challenge: 0

Current TBR: 206


My list here looks pretty sparse and, I feel, doesn’t quite represent the fact that I’ve actually read quite a lot this month. I’ve been setting weekly reading goals and (mostly) hitting them. A Treasury of Short Stories is 849 pages and in January alone I read 44 short stories. (I’ll share a complete list with star ratings in a separate book review post.) I also started reading, somewhat on a whim, Tom Jones. My library copy is 801 pages and I am on page 427. So I haven’t been slouching.

I’ve also been working through On Reading Well rather slowly, trying to absorb as much from it as I can. It’s what inspired my reading of Tom Jones and may have inspired me to take on a new reading challenge of my own. My current goal is to finish it by the end of this week.

What’s Next:

Now that I’ve completed the Treasury, I’ll begin How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa. It’s a collection of short stories and will be my first selection for my Asian-Canadian Literature Challenge.

When I finish On Reading Well, I’ll begin A Book of Luminous Things which is an international anthology of poetry edited by Czeslaw Milosz. A book I’ve had on my shelf for years but have never read in its entirety. I’m excited to incorporate more poetry into my reading for 2021.

As for novels, I’m about to begin Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a by Katłıà. I also have Salt Houses by Hala Alyan out from the library and still need to read Jack by Marilynne Robinson, which I bought last fall.

Other Reading:

For bedtime reading with the girls, we have just completed The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. An absolute classic. I’ve said more than once that the Water Rat is one of my favourite literary characters and I stand by it. We even enjoyed parts of this on audio on a long car ride. For some reason, it had never occurred to me that I could borrow audio books from the library on my phone to play in the car!

My Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year plan is also coming along nicely. I’ve read through Genesis, Mark, and Galatians and am currently reading Exodus and Ephesians. The readings are also interspersed with Psalms. At first I worried it would feel like a lot of extra reading but it really has not.

How was your January reading? Do you feel like you’re off to a good start? Do you set weekly reading goals? What was the best book you read this month?

22 thoughts on “What I Read – January 2021”

  1. Tom Jones!! I bloody love Tom Jones, and have read it twice. It’s extremely good fun. The Wind in the Willows is also one of those childhood books that will always mean everything to me; the Water Rat is absolutely perfect. Though I also have a great and abiding fondness for the Badger.

    1. I kind of started Tom Jones on a whim (because who doesn’t pick up an 800 page book on a whim, right?) but it’s so much funnier than I expected!

      Badger is pretty great too!

  2. I have never read Tom Jones, however, I might give it a go if I can find it on iBookstore cheaply enough (it’s a classic and most of them are free from Apple). This is down to you Karissa so it’s kind of a whim I tend to read at my own pleasure, if I’m enjoying a book I can finish it in one sitting (like The Lord Of The Rings (I read this over two days for the first time, a Saturday and Sunday) before going to sleep, I was reading it while eating meals and having drinks, as well as when I should have been sleeping.

    1. I’m sure you could find a free copy somewhere since it’s such a classic. I started with an ebook version but found that a hardcopy from the library worked better for me. With the right book, I can definitely read a whole book in a day or two. With books I’m enjoying but not devouring, setting goals helps me!

    2. I used to set goals, when I was younger, of at least 3 chapters or 100 pages before lights out. Then I found that with a good book I passed that goal regularly, with a book that was hard going, like War and Peace, it was not attainable. I finished Lord Of The Flies in one sitting, also the collected tales of Edgar Allen Poe because, even though it was horror, he wrote so his characters came to life. I think something must have got lost in translation with Tolstoy.

    3. Exactly right, sometimes when I’m reading a book that I find heavy going, I will pick up a book I’ve previously read, or a new one by an author I know, then go back to the first one later. I find sometimes doing that I can then get my head around what the story line is much better, other times it remains hard going so I tend to give up after stopping it for the second time.

  3. Reading big, chonky books is always hard when you’re a book blogger. Part of me wonders if I’ll be able to keep my schedule, and the other part of me hates to think blogging is changing what I would read. In the end, I may do a bigger book and then a few poetry collections to keep up the pace I want with post publishing. Sounds like you have your reading on lock down, Karissa!

    1. Yes, the giant books don’t necessarily lend themselves well to regular blogging. And it just kind of happened that I was reading two of them at a time. I’m moving into some shorter/more regular length novels now so even if Tom Jones takes me a while, I will hopefully still be reading and reviewing other books!

    2. Nice! I’ve been tossing a number of paranormal novellas into my reading lately. Since they’re not challenging and I have them on my Kindle, that means I can read them during my break at work, too.

  4. I’ve never read Tom Jones though it’s been hovering on my radar for years – didn’t know it was funny though! I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts when you finish it. 😀

    1. I didn’t think it would be funny either. Or that it would be funny in that 18th century way that doesn’t necessarily translate now. But it was written as a satire and Fielding’s characterization is really quite good and still very applicable to human nature.

  5. Wow, that IS a lot of pages in one month! V curious about your potential On Reading Well inspired challenge, and impressed ORW has also convinced you to pick up Tom Jones on a whim! Also happy to hear your year-long Bible reading project is off to a great start so far. Wishing you a wonderful February!

    1. It’s your right to slack whenever you feel like it! But it is definitely frustrating when the stats don’t quite show how much time we’ve put in!

    2. Ah yes, I can definitely relate to finding the GR challenge box intimidating while reading something long! I’ve started a Storygraph account this year as well and actually find that site even more pushy about reading challenge progress, though at least with SG the reading challenge is so far down the screen that I can just scroll up to where it doesn’t show, haha. It is too easy to feel pressured into reading for quantity.

  6. I’ve been on a non-fiction kick recently, currently reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and re-reading No-Drama Discipline because ‘oh right, here we are at two and a half!’. I’m also still chipping away at the Bible in a year, it’s going to be ~ 17 months, but it’s sure been a grounding habit/structure to have through 2020.

    1. What did you think of Untamed? It’s been really popular at the store. And yes, we are deep into life with a 3-year-old year and just yesterday I was thinking I probably need to reread some key chapters!

  7. I don’t set reading goals and as a result I’m not the most consistent blogger – but I love big chunky novels and I don’t want to miss out on that because of blogging, even if it takes me two months to get through a single book. I’m always impressed with people who read so much more than I do!

    1. I don’t like my blogging to dictate my reading either. I find it works best for me to have more than one book on a go and so if I’m reading one of those big chunky novels, I usually have one or two shorter novels on the go as well. Short story collections have also been great for that too!

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