My 2022 reading is off to a great start! I read 19 books last month (shelved here on Goodreads) and was delighted that the “best year of reading” vibe continued from December. I shared quick reviews of those four 5-star books on Instagram (here) and here are a few superlatives for the other 15 (all links are to Goodreads).
Book that made me cry in public/Book to read in one sitting – Ghost Forest, by Pik-Shuen Fung. A gorgeous debut novel that reads like a memoir about the immigrant experience (Hong Kong to Canada in 1997) and the death of the narrator’s father. I read this cover to cover while waiting for my car battery to be replaced. I’m pretty sure no one could see the tears thanks to my mask 🙂
Book that made me search Spotify for a playlist – The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton. A fictional oral history of Opal & Nev, a musical duo from the early 1970’s through their “final revival” forty years later. I so wanted to find the music they played, but a playlist from the author had to suffice. and then when I read Red at the Bone later in the month, I knew to look for a playlist and I found an excellent one from the author.
Book that made me consider reading all the author’s backlist. Also Most Compelling Jacket Copy – The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel. “…a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.” (jacket copy) This is my 3rd of her books and I now know to expect a cool structure (mixed up timelines, multiple points of view), a slightly off-beat subject, and a bit of mystery. This one included a chapter narrated in 1st person plural, a ponzi scheme and international shipping, and I won’t spoil the mystery part.
Book that convinced me I don’t want to read Tolstoy or Chekhov – A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders. from my journal “5 stars for Saunders and I would’ve DNF’d the short stories :-)” I listened to this and then downloaded the ebook version so I could study Saunders’ conclusion: “…reading fiction changes the state of our minds for a short time afterward … I’m reminded my mind is not the only mind. I feel an increased confidence in my ability to imagine the experiences of other people and accept these as valid.” (p. 387)
Book that was a lovely surprise and a perfect accompaniment to Middlemarch – My Life in Middlemarch, by Rebecca Mead. Mead wrote a fantastic introduction to my edition of Middlemarch and I really wanted more time there after I finished it. The audio was available for immediate download and I went for it. Part memoir, part English class studying Middlemarch, and part biography of George Eliot … it was perfect! I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone who’s read and loved Middlemarch.
I’m going to save a dive into numbers for a quarterly post, but I am pleased that nearly a third (6/19) of these books were non-fiction and interested to note that over 40% (8/19) were 2021 releases.
One thing that’s working really well for me – I thought about it when I wrote last week’s Saving my Life post – is having a monthly TBR (to read) list. At the beginning of the month (or a few days before), I put a good bit of time into deciding what I want to read, taking bookclubs, buddy reads, new releases, library holds, and some serendipity into consideration, and I lay it out – literally! I print those little book covers for my journal and take a photo. As the month goes on, I check off books I finish … and deciding what to read next is never a problem. It’s like I’ve narrowed down my options and know that whatever I choose will be good. Here’s January’s TBR, complete with checkmarks, and February’s.
I am only 10 days into February, and I haven’t felt compelled to add a title … of course it helps that I didn’t actually finalize my list until the 7th (when I picked up the last library hold).
Thank you for reading to the end! Do we have any books in common? Connecting about books is one of my very favorite things to do!