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What I read: The Valentine’s Edition 2021

I read quite a bit last month of 41 books as I had about 4 days of a break at the start of the month, so I managed to power through quite a lot of books. This month, I didn’t read as much. If you want to know how/what/why I read, scroll to the end of the post to read my FAQ.

  • January: 41
  • February: 24


This was not at all what I expected. It’s a book about loss, so please do not read it right now if you are like me, in a pandemic, and stressed and will feel triggered. I only cannot read about children dying so this one was relatively okay for me in terms of mental health.

That said, the writing is fantastic. I was drawn right into these very ordinary yet flawed characters which is the kind of writing I love. In the end it all sort of (?) works out, but the characters still stick in my head after all of this time.

Things my son needs to know

I. Hated. This. Book. And I REALLY enjoy his writing.

It’s meant to be a funny dad parenting book but I just see it for what it is.

A not so funny look at what it’s like to be a father, disguised as humour which apparently includes:

  • Not knowing what diapers or milk to buy your baby because you’re so lovably clueless (/sarcasm, this crappy loosey parenting attitude that is attributed to fathers really irks me), and you ‘lose it’ with your wife about how there are SOOOO many diapers that you buy the 6 month old ones when he’s a newborn, or you’re lost with all of the 7 possible plant milks on a shelf – all of this nonsense tells me you have never grocery shopped properly in your life and rely on your exasperated wife to do it all
  • Being unable to “keep it together” like a mother and yet it’s seen as funny and lovable versus if it was a mother who wrote that – then she’d be pilloried as unfit, neglectful and a terrible mother

.. I could go on but I won’t because it depicts his wife as the paragon of brilliance, smart, and capable of being a great mother, and he’s just this dumb lug along for the ride happy to come close to, but not kill his child which HAHAHAHAHAHAHA IS SO FUNNY WHEN IT COMES FROM A FATHER BUT NOT A MOTHER.

I’m not into man baby books, stroking their egos for how funny this all is. This is not funny to me, it’s indicative of how much sh#&$@ fathers get away with that mothers can’t even think of attempting.

Trust me I’m lying

One of the most well-written, interesting books I have read so far. He accurately nails how hard it is to control information in this day and age, and how journalists are basically going off half-formed rumours for clicks. It didn’t necessarily teach me anything new, but it really revealed how deep this goes and how little you can trust what is being said in this day and age. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Nothing good can come of this

A book about sobriety and nothing at all like what I expected. I absolutely loved it, even though I haven’t had any direct or indirect experiences with alcoholism as far as I am aware of.

I will say though, I related to it in her sobriety periods because I don’t drink but just because I don’t want to. There’s no religious, food, medical or any reason preventing me from drinking however everyone assumes the default is = YOU MUST DRINK (see: Mommy Wine Culture), and if you do not, you must have some serious reason not to (e.g. alcoholism, you’re religious, etc). Why can’t someone simply not drink because they do not enjoy the taste of alcohol (who does), doesn’t want to be cultured in that taste (e.g. wine tastings), and has absolutely zero interest in developing an affinity for drinking?

Her books clearly outlines all the things people say that are rude (to me) when they continually pressure me to have “just one drink” or “I can’t believe you don’t drink” because it makes them all feel that something is wrong with THEM so they project their drinking habits onto me to make ME feel like something is wrong with me when nothing is wrong at all. I am not an outcast (I mean, well, depends on who you ask LOL), and I am still fun, interesting, witty etc without having to imbibe.

The worst for me was being in France and having ALL OF HIS FRIENDS question my non-drinking habits. Christ.


An eye-opening book on the history of our food being adulterated (and why) for years, the battles people have had over the years with fighting adulteration and modern-day problems of pesticides, organic, and the fight for “real” food versus “fake” food with a very blurred line in between each. Some of it is likely harmless (small amounts of pesticide), but it could also kill if we let swindlers get away with it (baby formula causing infant deaths – this particular one made me cry along with the one of children dying from poisonous candy).

The way we eat now

This is a BLOODY AMAZING BOOK. It is full of interesting facts, laying out the history of our food, farms, farmers and how our food has gone from delicious and nutritious to a monoculture, lacking in diversity, only thinking of profits. It’s eye opening. Also, it’s the aspirational class and those who are eager to spend more on GOOD food, that are slowly changing these attitudes so that we CAN buy real food again.

Try this at home

This is a cookbook with a few great family anecdotes but I also just really want to buy it because it’s perfect for someone like me – a true amateur home cook (occasional). I don’t cook or bake on any sort of regular basis, but I CAN and maybe could considering how easy he is making these recipes look. I am very close to buying a physical copy.

Make the bread, buy the butter

I am loving this trend of cookbooks being less like cookbooks with recipes and pictures (only), and more anecdotal or helpful. THIS ONE in particular, is a great read because she talks about whether or not you should buy something or make it yourself, the amount of hassle required, as well as her experiences with doing things literally from scratch (including the little animal farm she started in the process).

I found this book hilarious, witty, and though I skipped all the recipes, I read all of the parts in between which I found endearing and useful – very much in line with how I’ve felt about food in general. This is a great recipe / food book for anyone who enjoys making their own food.


The only book I finally caved and bought in hardcover because it didn’t come in my library, nor in an e-book format. It’s a very interesting look back at food delineating class in Britain – the history, the recipes, the foodstuffs, the way people lived/ate. Even the way you pour milk into your tea (before or after?) shows your class. It also came with a couple of fun recipes at the end, most of which I will likely never try because they kind of sound disgusting.

The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club

A nice light read about food, women getting together to talk, and it’s a good idea for my own future life actually. To do a little dinner party once every two weeks with close friends.

Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper

This book is NOTHING like what I expected. Forget the title, yes it talks a lot about food as a central component, but the in-depth, objective third-party view of being immersed into the Chinese culture and entire country, is invaluable information. I learned so much about China from history to its people, all the good and the bad, and now I have completely mixed feelings about everything. I would say it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read on food, but also on China if you want something interesting, fun and not at all dry to read.

Some parts I will caution you, will make you gag, so please if you’re weak-stomached (I am not just talking offal as I love to eat tripe and so on, but other things…) and you’re unable to get visual imagery out of your head for ages, proceed with caution.

The Husband Hunters

American girls going off to England to pick up titles by marrying impoverished British aristocracy. That about sums up the book, and the ruthless hunt by mothers on behalf of their daughters to secure a title and standing with their money, is quite a fascinating read.

The Heiress

I one thousand percent did not expect I would like this book. It started off so darn slow that I was about to just give up around Chapter Two. I am glad I held on because WOW.. the whole book is a stunning revelation in equality, and the heroine ends up being one of the best characters in the whole book. I loved it.

Party of Two

I very much enjoy her work. I will have to give her Wedding Party series another read because I clearly read it out of sequence (BOOK TWO NOT BOOK ONE!), and it soured me on her initially, but I gave her another shot with this one, and I am pleased. It’s a great read, full of nuances about being a woman of colour, and well written.

Oddly enough this is the FIFTH book in the Wedding Series but it read like a stand-a-lone though it does give the ending away of the previous books.

You can’t fall in love with your ex

This book is absolutely not what I expected in a good way, and a complete page turner. Ranald has a real knack for words and interesting, deep characters and great plots that aren’t conventional. I couldn’t put it down. It is an excellent book and I shall now proceed to DEVOUR every possible novel she has written.

Thank you next

The plot is a little weak I must admit but I devoured this book because her writing is excellent as always. I like how she addressed lightly, the topic of abuse in there and “love bombing” because a lot of women confuse love with love bombing abuse, and while this is meant to be a fluffy chicklit book, it pushes the boundaries which I applaud.

A groom with a view

What I love best about Randald’s writings is that it is all with interesting plot twists AND ABSOLUTELY NOT what you expected which is so refreshing. I love the endings.

It would be wrong to steal my sister’s boyfriend

Another excellent book by Ranald, yet another set of interesting, different in-depth characters where things aren’t so wildly unrealistic all the time. I mean it’s chicklit after all, some of it is unrealistic (ALWAYS) but it seems relatable.

Just saying

Another winner. I LOVE HER BOOKS! I’d absolutely re-read them in the future as well which is saying a lot.

When Falcons Fall

This was an okay version in the series. I mean, I feel like I needed more of a twist in the book, it seems to be a throwaway. I read it anyway. I’d like more background on this necklace please, I feel like this should be fleshed out.

Where the Dead Lie

This one is painful to read, I don’t enjoy stories involving children for obvious reasons as a parent but also just as a human being. It is a well written book!

Why Kill the Innocent

Getting to the end of this series! I like to read them interspersed amongst my other books, to give my brain a break and keep things interesting. This one was more about political intrigue, so I found it a tad boring.

Who Slays the Wicked

Wow, this one out of all the other ones really REALLY gripped me until the end. I kept reading page after page. Something about the plot was particularly intriguing in this one.

Who Speaks for the Damned

Another EXCELLENT plot and story, I kept reading long past my reading cutoff time, and now I am paying for it with sleep deprivation.

FAQ about my reading

I get these questions a lot here, and also via Instagram, etc so:

What else have you read?

Here are all the other books I’ve read in the past including mini reviews of each. I also very recently started doing a do a book roundup at the end of every year.

Here they are for the 2 years I did the summaries:

A lot of the books I read, I interspersed into the things I bought or watched. I finally started separating it out in 2019.

How do I read so quickly?

I don’t know either. I’ve been reading books for as long as I can remember. I feel like my sibling is the one who patiently taught me how to read one book, and from there, it exploded.

So, lots of practice? I have been reading for so long that words come easily to my brain, it’s like I see a picture of the word rather than reading the word individually. So “disastrous” would be a word that you read “dis-sas-trous”, but in my head it’s disastrous“, just one word, meaning imprinted. Makes sentences go a lot quicker.

Save for my parents, my entire immediate family is a family of voracious readers.

We read while eating, we read while walking, we read in bed… I guess I just followed what my older siblings did as they always had their nose in their books, and a few going at the same time (you know, the disrespectful way we read through half a book than leave it half open facing the table, spines cracked, no bookmark?).

I used to read 30+ books from the library a week – all young adult, easy stuff. I can read 2-3 books of young adult fiction in a current work day to give you an example, and as a child I had way more time than I do now, so I burned through books like a firestorm.

Our partners remark that they’ve never seen a family read so much, and I guess it’s true.

Where do I get my books?

A lot of you have asked and I generally don’t buy books unless they’re secondhand and in ebook format, for many reasons – price, environmental, space, and even then, I don’t buy books. I borrow them.

I read them on my Kobo ereader (also secondhand), and check out books from the library from Overdrive. If the book isn’t there, I generally don’t read it, UNLESS.. it is a book I REALLY REALLY want to read, then I MAY consider buying it if I cannot wait for it or find it. So far, I have only done this for Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Libraries are a gift, and we pay for them in our taxes yearly even if you don’t personally use them, so thanks.

How do I know what to read?

I don’t. I see recommendations and make notes, or put it on my Wishlist / On hold. I sometimes go into bookstores and browse, then decide if it is worth getting from the library. Or in secondhand stores, I pick up or buy books only if they’re photography / style-related where pictures and colour are a MUST (the one drawback to an e-reader).

I purchased only two physical books in 2020 that I couldn’t / didn’t want to buy in e-book format: Distinction (it was cheaper secondhand than the e-book), & Scoff (not available in ebook format at all).

Don’t you prefer physical books?

Who doesn’t!?

Aside from the cost, the space they take up, how heavy they are (we have a small bookshelf, most of it is Little Bun), I find them heavy to hold and hard to read in rooms unless there is bright daylight or very strong lamp light (I suffer from aura migraines and I’ve noticed dim light or lack of light triggers it when I am reading). I really like that the ebook illuminates the book.

I’d rather carry my entire library around with me in an ebook reader, plus be able to read with a backlight on.

I am currently considering a library option however only because we plan on buying a larger home in the future and I could allow a small library in my closet, perhaps.

Likely, it will only be filled with photography and style books however. Those are the only books I really want in physical copy and ebooks won’t suffice.

Where do I find the time to read?

I just make time for it. I have no other answer…

I’ve noticed if I am not watching TV shows, or aimlessly browsing on Instagram, I seem to have plenty of time to read if I am able to foist Little Bun off on my partner and/or keep him occupied otherwise.

I can go through a lot of books in a short amount of time if I am both interested, reasonably well-rested (or in a good mental state, not in limbo or stressed out) and the book itself is engrossing.

I read while brushing my teeth as you need to brush a full minute to two minutes (I have the reader on a stand), and I read while eating or drinking tea, I read while Little Bun plays or reads…. I read every time there is a spare moment.


  • Christina

    The Sebastian St. Cyr series was amazing! I couldn’t stop reading them. I love your ‘What I Read Series,’ I don’t think I would have ever discovered this series otherwise. And it is always fun to find books from an author living in my hometown.

  • Gail

    Your description of how you read tells me you are reading correctly! You are not supposed to sound out the words in your head; word picture to the brain is what mature silent reading is. People should move from only oral reading to mouthing words quietly as little kids do, to this words-to-image reading which you have described. Even so, you are remarkably fast at silent reading!
    I read fast as well, but I have difficulty moving immediately from one book to another. I seem to need to have a rest and digest time between books. Also, I am so picky about what I like to read. You on the other hand are educating yourself by reading a broader range of books.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      REALLY!? Okay. I feel vindicated now. I see words as an image and that’s how I fly through books so easily. Little Bun seems to do the same, he doesn’t sound out words unless they are new, and even so, he tries it and if I have to, I correct him, but only for new words.

      • Gail

        For real: you are not intended to”say” the words in your head. Very slow readers do that.

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