Book Review, books, fiction, reading, summer reading

New Year and Old(er) Books

It’s finally 2021!  There is always something exciting about a brand-new year which is why we traditionally make resolutions and set new goals heading into January, but I know I’m not alone when this new year feels extra special.  We were all ready to say goodbye to 2020 for all sorts of reasons.

At the end of last year my family had begun working on a Konmari-like clean out of our whole house.  Both my husband and I try to avoid clutter and have been going room by room to clean out what we don’t need and find more efficient space for what we do.  Once Christmas came down, I was ready to tackle this task in my office/ library.  It’s a beautiful space with a ton of windows inviting natural light, lots of storage and built-in bookshelves.  When we moved into the house, I was so excited about the built-ins that I went on a book collecting spending spree to help fill them.  This was completely unnecessary, but a lot of fun.

Over the past 2 ½ years I have probably reorganized the books a half dozen times.  When I went to organize the books most recently, I started to notice that I had a lot of books that I haven’t gotten around to reading.  Books that my mother gave me after she read them, books I found in the used book cellar of Brookline Booksmith, books I received as gifts and books that I bought because I thought I couldn’t wait to read them (apparently, I could).  I found over 30 books that I own but have not read.  Coincidentally, I read an average of 30 books a year so I decided it would be a perfect reading goal for 2021 –books I already own.  In some ways, it will be a challenge, since I love buying books and supporting independent bookstores.  I get really excited learning about new releases by authors I enjoy and pre-ordering them – this is why I set up some exceptions.  For example, I can receive books as gifts, I can borrow books from friends or from my local library and I can make a purchase or two but only from independent booksellers and probably only on Inde Bookstore Day.  My game. My rules. 

As challenging as it may be to avoid shopping for books, as I set aside the unread books and gave them their own special shelf I realized that there is a lot to be excited about.  Out of the 30 titles here are the reads I am most excited about:

  1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – Right off the bat I’m cheating because this is a relatively new book that I actually just got Christmas, but the premise (a 300 year love story between a French woman and the devil…yes please) was so intriguing and I’m a sucker for well marketed lit. I just finished it this week and ugly cried through the last 50 pages. I’m now nursing a massive book hangover.
  2. The Mothers by Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half was my favorite read in 2020 so I knew I had to read her first novel this year.  Her writing style is beautiful and she has such a talent for storytelling.  I’m currently just a couple of chapters in and already falling in love with the characters.
  3. Eyes of the Dragon by Steven King – Last year my husband, Jared, a huge Steven King fan, bought me The Green Mile for Christmas knowing I had never read a full King novel (I read The Body after seeing Stand by Me as a kid).  Obviously, given his popularity and enormous catalog, Steven King is a writer to be studied and respected but I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy The Green Mile.  I laughed, I cried, I was terrified, and I was blown away with the writing.  Jared put a lot of thought into what he would recommend as my next King novel and landed on Eyes of the Dragon so I’m excited to dive in. 
  4. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – This novel came out in 2017 and I feel like I’m in the minority of book lovers who have not read it.  It was a finalist for the National Book Award and has been on every Must Read list I’ve come across in the past few years.  It’s time to see what all the chat is about. 
  5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This poor book has been sitting on my shelf for years waiting to be read but it’s thick so I keep passing it over for lighter reads.  I love WWII historical fiction and I haven’t picked up anything in that genre in a while so I’m really excited about this one. 
  6. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline – This one isn’t actually on my unread shelf because I bought it for Jared for Christmas.  A couple of years ago I had Ready Player One on the bookshelf (unread at the time) and suggested he give it a try.  I had heard it was a great read with lots of fun 80’s references.  He couldn’t put it down and then harassed me to hurry and finish whatever Women Vs. Nazis novel I was crying over at the time so we could discuss it.  The concept was so fun, and we are both pumped to read the sequel.  *The movie was terrible, and I don’t want to talk about it.
Did you read this one? Terrifying? Still not sure about the ending.


  1. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – I love Liz Gilbert’s fiction so much.  This will be such a joy.
  2. The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher – raise your hand if this was on your mother’s bookshelf growing up.  This book was originally published in 1987 and for some reason I feel like I’ve heard about again recently so I grabbed it in the Used Basement at Brookline Booksmith last year. 
  3. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood – I seriously have no idea where this book came from.  I have no recollection of purchasing it so I have to believe it just appeared on my bookshelf one day asking to be read.  Margaret Atwood is a genius so I won’t argue. 
  4. Here’s To Us by Elin Hilderbrand – If I really stick to only the unread shelf this year I’m relieved that I have this one to get my Hilderbrand fix.  Again, I have no clue where this book came from but I’ll be happy that’s its available to me this summer for a fun beach read. 

I realize that all of the books I have listed are novels, but I have some non-fiction reads on tap for this year as well but will probably use my audible account to read them.  Currently, I’m enjoying Born A Slave by Trevor Noah and I have Untamed by Glennon Doyle as well as Barack Obama’s A Promised Land on tap.

I’m really excited about this challenge and I think having my books for the year lined up together on one shelf is going to be really helpful with deciding what I should read next.  You can follow along with my progress on my Goodreads account and I will plan to share updates a few times during the year.  Click here to see my full list of titles for my 2021 Own but Not Read Challenge on Goodreads and let me know which on the list are your favorites that you think will be hits or which ones your would recommend I skip.  I’d also love to hear about your reading goals for 2021. 

Wish me luck!

Happy New Year and Old Books!