January in Books

January 2020 has given me plenty of time to get a head start on my annual reading goal. I set out intending to read 30 books this year. But after reading five books before hitting the middle of the month, I decided to increase my goal to 40.

Admittedly, a big part of my increase in books read is the result of my no social media challenge. Instead of reading my Twitter feed, I’m reading books. I also don’t have graduate classes right now, so I’ve had plenty of free time.

Since I’ve read ten books in January, I thought I’d take the time to share my thoughts on these stories.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich


I’m obsessed with Dear Evan Hansen. I listen to the soundtrack regularly and I know most of the songs by heart. Of course I’ve never seen the show performed live, but that doesn’t stop me from loving the beautiful music of the show.

When I was in Singapore, I visited a bookstore, the first English bookstore I’d been in since I left America. I was excited to peruse the shelves, and I picked up many books, putting most of them back down. I knew I had books on my Kindle app and some unread books in my apartment. But it was the first time in over a year I had the chance to buy books.

And when I saw Dear Evan Hansen, I knew I had to read it. I wanted fill in the gaps left by the broadway soundtrack. And it was definitely worth it. I devoured this book, finishing it right after the new year began.

Book cover

Essential: Essays by the Minimalists

A book of short essays by The Minimalists. The book was a fast read and enjoyable enough. Most of the messages shared in their documentary. Some essays are also quite repetitive, especially when it comes to certain details.

Overall, this was a good read to start the year with, and it re-inspired me to start minimizing my possessions once again.

Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes

Books cover

I started this book back in 2019 after watching the film on Netflix. And I have to say, I really enjoyed the movie much more than the book. I abandoned this one for a little while, but eventually went back and finished it. I was determined to finish it. And I did.

The book follows Adolf Hilter who wakes up in present day Berlin. He ascends to fame as a comedian. The book, which is satire, serves as a startling realization and political commentary racism, xenophobia, and how easily an outlandish politician can once again become famous and powerful.

While the message is there, this definitely wasn’t my favorite read. Like I said, I prefer the film.

Book cover

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

A recommendation from a friend. This book is the first in a young adult sci-fi/fantasy series. It started off a bit slow, but after a few chapters, I wasn’t able to put it down.

While I haven’t purchased the second book in the series yet, it is on my list. I definitely want to read the entire series!

books cover

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

This book was incredibly cheap as an e-book deal of the day. The overview sounded interesting enough, so I went for it. I finished this book in a few days.

The book opens with the main character attending the funeral of her Fiancee, who went to Mexico and never returned. After a year and a mysterious psychic who keeps paying her visits, the main character goes to Mexico, where she believes her Fiancee is still alive.

A gripping story line, I gave this book a 4/5 stars.

The Vine Witch

book cover

This was my favorite book I read this month! The opening chapter threw me off a bit, but once I got into the story, I could not put this book down. There is a sequel, which comes out in June, and I can’t wait.

The book takes place in turn-of-the century France, where witches and magic are celebrated for their wine-making skills. That is until cats keep turning up dead and drained of their blood. With dark magic afoot, the main character has to stop whoever is behind it all before she is executed after being falsely accused.

Hector and the Search for Happiness

books cover

This was another book I picked up in Singapore. The short book clocks in at just 164 pages. Which I was grateful for, since about 30 pages in I realized I would not like the book, but wanted to finish it anyway.

The overall message of the book is nice. The cover art is adorable, and what drew me in. But the book employs too many stereotypes, is a bit repetitive, and Hector is a bit sexist for my taste.

Book cover

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

I absolutely loved this book. The main character was incredibly relatable to me: loves reading, trivia night with friends, and curling up at home with her pet cat and a good book. There are two main plots in this book: the drama-based plot, and the romantic plot. Spoiler: everything works out in the end.

Harry Potter book cover

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

What can I say? It’s been a good decade since I’ve read the Harry Potter books and it was time to go home to some old friends. I’ll be making my way through the series over the next month or so.

I borrowed the book from my school library, and it was a real treat to read the book in British English. To be fair, not much was different except for a couple extra U’s in words and learning that Halloween has an apostrophy in the middle of it for some reason.

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