Oh-oh. That’s all I can say. Yes, that’s almost a whole shelf-in-front-of-a-shelf of books on the bottom level. But also: hooray! This month I’ve had my birthday (pile here) and I have also spent Christmas 2021 / Birthday 2022 book tokens in a few goes (Book Token Splurge part 1 here, Part 2 to follow in a few days). Incomings have come in and looking at my stats, two hardbacks came off the bottom shelf. Hopefully this will change this month as I have an Exciting Book Challenge to take part in!

I completed 14 books in January (one left to review tomorrow) and am part-way through two more (one my new Reading With Emma Read; we finished and reviewed our last one this month). I finished my two remaining December NetGalley reads, plus one older one and the three from my January ebook TBR so have now caught up there. I read my Larry McMurtry for December as planned, and my review copy from Lurid Books of “Chase of the Wild Goose”; I have pretty much given up on my sagas volume (sorry Annabel, didn’t manage to do it for Nordic FINDS!). I started my plan to read newly acquired hardbacks before the paperback came out, reading Bernardine Evaristo and Osman Yousefzada’s memoirs.


Brace yourselves! This is the full pile of print incomings for this month! I will say in my defence that I haven’t paid for many of them, as there’s the birthday pile in there, the Persephone (“The Waters Cover the Earth” by John Moore) is a Christmas gift from Ali that the supplier took a while to send to the Bookshop and several lots of book token spends (I’ll go through the most recent of those on Friday; you’ve seen the earlier ones here).

I won 5 NetGalley books this month and bought 3 ebooks from Amazon (I also bought a copy of Riva Lehrer’s disability/art memoir “Golem Girl” but that was because I can’t comfortably read the small print of the paperback so in my mind doesn’t count):

So we have Christie Barlow’s “The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage” (published December 2022), another in her long series I keep having to save up while I read the earlier ones; Mimi Deb’s “Love on the Menu” (April 2023), a romcom set around an Indian takeaway (this has split NetGalley reviewers so let’s see!). “Small Joys” by Elvin James Mensah (April) is set in mid-noughties Kent with a Black queer man befriending a straight White birdwatcher and discusses male friendship and mental health; Katherine May’s “Enchantment” (March), the only non-fiction NetGalley book I won, looks at how to help your mental health through finding wonder in life; and Nikesh Shukla’s YA novel “Stand Up” (March) has teenager Madhu caught between helping her family and wanting to be a stand-up comedian. From Amazon, Libby Page’s “The Island Home” is another community novel, Joya Goffney’s “Excuse me While I Ugly Cry” I thought I had TBR already but didn’t, and I was reminded of it reading an interview with the author on The Black Book Blog; and “Dream Big, Do Bigger” by Hanna Olivas and Adriana Luna Carlos is a business inspiration book that features my friend Annabelle, so had to be purchased!

So that was 14 read and 31 coming in in December – half and half, right?!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma, a beautifully written exploration of the seashore that is going to be a real treat, and Alison Mariella DΓ©sir’s “Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport that Wasn’t Built for Us” which is a fascinating and powerful story of how she founded a Black running club in New York and built a world of social activism around it: I would love to find the equivalent British book if anyone knows of one.

Coming up

This month, I’ll also be reading for Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings‘ and Lizzy’s Literary Life‘s #ReadIndies challenge – to read books by independent publishers. I found I had LOADS on the shelf (carefully checking for non-independence: hope I’ve got it right!) and picked out these as possibles. I won’t go through them now but you’ll hopefully see reviews popping up (and my first review of the month, out tomorrow, is by an indie, too!)

I also have these two review books from publishers to read:

Lauren Fleshman’s “Good for a Girl” looks at women’s place in the running world and came out from Virago in January, and Carl Abbott’s “Suburbs: A Very Short Introduction” is one of those great small Oxford volumes. Watch out for alerts on my reviews on Shiny New Books.

My NetGalley TBR for February has five books on it (why did I get to win this Libby Page but not the Island one I bought above?)

Jessica George’s “Maame” is a coming of age novel about a woman standing up for herself and making choices; Anika Hussain’s “This is How You Fall in Love” is a YA romcom set in a diverse friendship group; Alexis Keir’s “Windward Family” studies the author’s family that spread out from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent across the UK, US and New Zealand over several generations; Shauna Robinson’s “Must Love Books” has a Black woman working in publishing (but hopefully isn’t as odd as “The Other Black Girl”!) and Libby Page’s “The Vintage Shop of Second Chances” is a community novel set around a second-hand clothes shop. Mainly novels here, mainly non-fiction in the indies: will I maintain my 50:50 balance??

With the ones I’m currently reading (including my readalong with Emma), that’s two books to finish and at least eight to read in full, though I would like to read more indies than one, and I’d also like to get to Barbara Kingsolver’s “Demon Copperhead”.

How was your January reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?