Books I Read: January 2021 | Tanvii.com - Indian Fashion, Lifestyle and Travel Blog

Books I Read: January 2021

Books Read in January 2021 Tanvii.com

For the past five years I have been reviewing books on Instagram. However, this year I have decided to bring my discipline of reviewing to the blog. Fingers-crossed if all goes as plan, I will be reviewing what I read at the end of each month.

Below are the 10 books I read in January 2021. Last year I had discovered Thrity Umrigar (rather late in my reading lifespan) and I was so moved by her writing in Everybody's Son & The World We Found that I decided to read all her books. I started the year with The Space Between Us and followed it by If Today Be Sweet.

I am glad that this year my reading has been from diverse group of authors: 3 South Asian authors, 7 female authors, 2 male authors, among other things.


1. The Space Between Us

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This was a well told story about the lives of two women from different classes in modern-day India. Bhima is a servant to the upper middle class Serabai. Even though they have vastly different economic incomes, both have had their share of unhappiness. This book is about their unhappiness and also about the injustice done unto the uneducated lower class by those above them.

I am not sure why I did not like this book more than I did. The story was well developed and readable. The contrast between life in the slums and middle class life in contemporary India was humanly and well depicted. Maybe the story ultimately seemed a bit too predictable. In any event, it was the very end that I really did not like. Without spoiling the end for anyone, the suggestion that the denouement led to freedom for Bhima seems unrealistic.

This novel is not a complete waste of time however. Some of the metaphors used in the novel are actually quite poetic and fit the idea that the author was trying to portray.

Reminiscent of a slasher flick, Final Girls sticks pretty close to the typical script. All of the required components are there—survivor of a murder spree that’s barely holding it together, dead space where there should be memories, a person or two casting doubt, the hair-raising feeling that things aren’t at all what they seem and most importantly, a leading lady that makes a ton of questionable choices. I found it too slow and, at some point of the story, I wasn't really sure where it was going. I lost my interest and then, when some more interesting things happened, it fell flat. I didn't get the WOW ending I was waiting for. 

3. If Today Be Sweet

This is a sweet-natured and even corny book, and I enjoyed it despite the stereotyped characters and occasionally wooden writing and imagery. Umrigar is writing about an older Parsi woman who comes to the USA to stay with her son and daughter-in-law after her beloved husband dies. She must decide whether to move to the US, or return to her life in Bombay. The whole book involves her sitting "on the fence," including a literal fence-sitting scene. But I enjoyed the details about India and the analysis of trying to fit into a new world and a new family, as the protagonist tries to decide what parts of her life and personality she can retain and what has to be jettisoned as she grows into a new place and family.
I enjoy the discussion on imposter syndrome and appreciate the work that the author and others have done toward recognizing it and bringing it out into the open. However, I didn't find the book that helpful in working through the feelings and issues with experiencing it. Reading it was a lot like reading a book of quotes and anecdotes.

5. The Marriage Game

I liked the overall premise of the book and I normally enjoy the old "enemies to lovers" trope, but...I'm tired of overprotective, smothering men being portrayed as quirky. I'm tired of female characters jumping to conclusions and running off. And also sexual harassment being portrayed as harmless if it's from the right guy.

The book has its good moments - as I've mentioned, the premise is great, the relationship between Layla and her family funny and wholesome and some banter between Sam and Layla is genuinely fun to read.

6. Rodham

This was an interesting book. In this story, Hillary decides not to marry Bill after experiencing how he has an insatiable desire for sex in addition to no respect for women. Hillary becomes a professor, then eventually a Senator. In re-imaging Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life, Curtis Sittenfeld often makes inspired plot choices. It would spoil the fun for you to reveal any of them but suffice to say that Bill surrenders to some of his basest instincts and Trump is, forevermore, just who you’d suspect he is.

I enjoyed the writing style, it was really easy to comprehend. The story at the beginning was engaging and quick, but around the halfway point, it really slowed down and dragged a little bit. I would recommend it to other readers who are similarly interested in politics and in the what-if's of Hillary's career, I just didn't adore it in the way that I expected.

A Burning is a story of fiery agony - it outlines the plight of the marginalized in a country whose democratic power structures are being systematically redesigned to make way for majoritarian tyranny. In many senses, “A Burning” is a cautionary tale for those who claim politics has no place in their lives, and that includes a great many people. Majumdar ties the private terrors of supposedly inconsequential people to the larger forces pulsing through India—and the world. She lays bare issues of gender, religion and class, and keeps you reading when you most want to turn away. 

I appreciated this book for being a very millennial retelling of India's modern and yet timeless problems. The structure was unconventional, and the author's ambition showed through. However, something of Majumdar's voice read as off to me. The way the characters portrayed themselves did not seem particularly Indian to me, and the voices also didn't really feel particularly alive. There was something of an artifice in this book, which was blocking the passion and drama that needed to be better weaved in the text.

8. No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram

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No filter is an inside look at the phenomenal growth of Instagram. We get to know the obsessive curation of communities by the founders, the internal dynamics of the early marriage to Facebook, and also the stilling independence the app had for a long time before being subsumed by the Facebook growth and monetization machine.

I, however, found it a bit disappointing. Full of facts and told chronologically, this was simply dry and didn’t give much more than anyone can find on Wikipedia or from googling. The sections on the early days of Instagram were interesting but as soon as Facebook and Zuck were introduced, it just felt like a repeat of the same old message “Facebook is bad.” Unfortunately, not much was spent on the co-founders and their lives after they left... It felt like someone who hardly used Instagram told this story, just reading of off-sources. There was no drama, no excitement, and it lacked that spark that books about similar topics have had.
This book is just one giant ball of adorable! A little cheesy, and yes, full of rom-com tropes... but in the best way possible. Like, sometimes you absolutely freaking need a syrupy sweet and fluffy YA romance in your life.

This book follows our protagonist Sophie as her family sets her up on 10 dates on the lead up to Christmas, after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend. As you can imagine, a series of events unfold that are everything from bizarre to ridiculous to charming.

It was an easy and quick read that contained a lot of funny, relatable and entertaining content.

It makes me feel wrong inside when everyone else loves a book that I find to be underwhelming. So this book is fine. Fine. It’s the story of a young German girl caught in the path of the advancing Nazi regime during World War II.

This story is told by Death, who turns out to be a rather chatty, sometimes joking narrator. Personally, this aspect of the book never quite worked for me; it always felt a little gimmicky, and it pulled me out of being immersed in the story.

This book felt like it took me a long time to finish because it was very boring and confusing all the way till the middle. In the middle I finally could keep the characters apart and started to feel some attachment to them.

I enjoyed this novel more towards the closing few chapters. I found the over-the-top descriptions a little jarring and unrealistic. I am really sad that this book was a disappointment to me.

What books have you read recently?
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25 comments

  1. I heard the same thing from other people who read No Filter and also found it disappointing. But you read a lot of amazing books that I want to add to my list!

    www.rdsobessions.com

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  2. LOVE how many books you've read! Im pinning this for later!

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  3. You have read quite a lot. I need to add some of these to my list. Thanks for sharing.
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  4. Even though I haven't read any of these, I liked your take on many of them, in particular, The Marriage Game. I'm very tired of the same portrayal of men and women in many of the books I've read lately. Need to switch it up.

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  5. Looks like you knocked out quite the list. Some interesting reads! xoxo, Sarah

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  6. Know that you're not the first person I've come across who finds The Book Thief to be totally underwhelming. I think sometimes a ridiculously hyped book just falls flat no matter what *because* your expectations are set so high. However, I DO want to read 10 Blind Dates. That sounds so cute! And honestly, Rodham sounds super intriguing as well, though I typically don't enjoy political novels.

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  7. wow 10 books in a month! I am impressed. thanks for always giving your honest opinion!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your reviews. I am not a big reader but I do enjoy reading reviews in the event I want to pick one up.

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  9. I love how honest and specific you are with your reviews. It's just enough to be a review without spoiling and enough to let me know what you thought was good, great or wasn't to your taste and I find that super refreshing.

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  10. These sound interesting! Thanks for giving your honest thoughts on these!!

    Lizzie
    www.lizzieinlace.com

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  11. I love reading and never know what I should read next. I love getting recommendations from others who enjoy reading but also struggle to make time. I need to make it a priority.

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  12. The only one of these that I read was the Book Thief. What a great book! I will have to check out the others on your list.

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  13. It is so wonderful that you have read 10 books in a month and all these recommendations sound good. I've not read any of it so will be checking them out

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  14. I love to read and have a zoom book club. I read about 5 books a month and more when time allows, this are great!

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  15. I wish I could read as much as you รง_รง Having said that I always look for advice and "Book Thief" has definitely caught my attention!

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  16. 10 Blind Dates sounds like a great beach read for my upcoming trip, thank you!

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  17. Oh wow! Thanks for the recommendation! I really love reading books!

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  18. Yes! I really love these lists! Looks interesting to read! Thanks for this post!

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  19. You did some great reading this month! Definitely need to check these out!

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  20. Wow!! I am so impressed that you read all of these in January! I am so behind on my reading goal for the year but I am going to get it together!

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  21. Lots of amazing books here and I am in serious need of a new good book. I have been bad about reading recently but normally you have to tear me away from a good book. Definitely checking out a few of these as I am due for a good book and love when I cannot put it down!

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  22. Love a good book! I need to add some of these to my library list.

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  23. Final Girls sounds like something I would LOVE to read!

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  24. I haven't read any of these mentioned books, so will surely check these out!

    Thanks,
    Everything Enchanting

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  25. I thought I was killing it with my 3 books, but you are really taking it to the next level. Love this entire list and adding a few to my Kindle!

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