Reading Better | November.

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November was my first full month with Lucy and my reading reflected how our lives are changing. I had time to read on the page, and not quite as much time to listen (which is good – means life is settling down a bit). In all, I added 17 books to my 2022 shelf (you can see all the titles here on Goodreads):

  • Nearly half (47%) were audio and one was an e-book.
  • A whopping 76% (13 books) were borrowed, two I owned, and two I purchased new.
  • It’s still mostly fiction (13 books); the four non-fiction were an even mix of memoir/essay (two books) and “other”.
  • My intentions were all represented (diversity for eight; growth and connection both for six), and I noticed that five checked none of the boxes. That’s ok, just something I want to pay attention to. Two books – Salty and The Chosen and the Beautiful checked all three boxes (woohoo for bookclub selections!)

The two 5-star books were outstanding – backlist titles I’ve wanted to read for a while. I shared these short reviews on Instagram:

Possession … I really did want to read the paper version – it’s still on my shelf – but I ended up listening; the audio is fantastic and it certainly sounded more English that way.  This is another lush novel, with so many layers – 19th century poems, stories, and letters discovered by 20th century scholars studying those 19th century poets. I’m in awe of that 19th century writing that Byatt created (and turns out I’m a fan of Victorian poetry!) and how she wove that into the 20th century story. Certainly not for everyone, but I think anyone who reads for writing (or loves Victorian poetry) would love it.

Say Nothing … narrative non-fiction about The Troubles in Northern Ireland. (I tried to listen to this in October, but there were too many details to keep up with – words on the page worked much better for me with this one.) I love Irish fiction and have seen so many references to The Troubles  (recently The Colony, Instructions for a Heatwave, 1979, and September) and wanted to understand the history. I was embarrassed how little I knew, much less understood, considering this all happened during my lifetime. I’m grateful to Keefe for his research and storytelling. It’s fascinating and terrible to read about “the stories that communities tell themselves in order to cope with tragic or transgressive events … and about how individuals – and a whole society – make sense of political violence once they have passed through the crucible and finally have time to reflect.” The US needs to do more of this with its own history.

The other 15 books were all good (I won’t read a book that’s not going to be at least 3 stars). Please let me know if you want to know more about any of them … and if you read one and would like to discuss I’d love that (let me know in the comments)!

Here are the ♥ notes from my journal:

♥ format matters (Say Nothing worked on paper; I initially tried Inside of a Dog and On Looking on paper and ended up reading both on audio).

♥ I “chased” a few newsletter recommendations (Lavender House, Marigold & Rose, Jollof Rice, and The English Understand Wool) with mixed results. Stop it! …and y’all, Marigold & Rose is the one I’m still thinking about and recommending. It’s a delight!

♥ Re-tellings! Macbeth and The Chosen and the Beautiful were two favorites (and I’m reading The Hours in December).

The Reading List‘s Reading List (more to come on that).

♥ Alexandra Horowitz’s dog books. Marc and I both read (on audio) Year of the Puppy and Inside of a Dog and they are fantastic for dog-lovers and must-reads for dog owners. It’s tempting to want to see your dog as a person, but it’s so much better to see them as dogs!

♥ Streamlining the book journaling. For the second month in a row, I didn’t make time to journal the books until after the month was over. I’ve started putting two or three books on one page unless it’s a bookclub book (I take notes during the discussion and those notes take more room) or a book I have a lot to write about (most 5-star books take at least a page).

and that’s a wrap on November before December is even half over … which I’ll take for a win!

Happy Monday!

6 thoughts on “Reading Better | November.

  1. I’m glad you’re figuring out ways to make Reading With Lucy work for you, Mary. Have you ever tried an audiobook/book-book combination? I do that quite often with more “meaty” books (both fiction and non-fiction). I like being able to move back and forth between my ears and eyes in the same book. 🙂

  2. You still manage to read far more than I do, and I don’t have grandchildren or a cute puppy! I hope December is a banner month in books for you.

  3. Again, your reading amazes and impresses me! I just finished The Colony – not sure I really liked it. I found it awkward in places. BUT…I’m thinking about it, so there is that!

  4. What a wonderful month of books! So happy that you loved Fresh Water for Flowers. I love all things French and this fit the bill perfectly! Thanks for the nudge towards Possession. It sounds wonderful! I think there’s also a movie…??

  5. Patrick Radden Keefe was the speaker in last night’s event in my speaker series, and he was really interesting to listen to. You’ve got me thinking I should revisit Possession because I haven’t read it since college (I actually have memories of reading it while waiting for a flight at the Philadelphia airport), and this time I think listening might be the way to go.

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