Reading Better | January.

I’ve mentioned to a few folks – my 2023 is off to an amazing reading start!

What stands out are those 5-star reads – including a new lifetime favorite (Housekeeping – Goodreads link*) and a new everyone-should-read (Life on Delay) – and the depth & breadth (genre, diversity, backlist) of the middle two shelves. I shared short reviews for those 5-star reads on Instagram and included them below.

I made progress on all my 2023 Intentions (shared here):
– Diversity – 7 titles (around 33% and well under my 40% goal)
– Prizes – 1 title (The Bone People … amazing!)
– DeepDive – 2 titles (I’d intended this to be Erdrich, Kingsolver, and Patchett, and after reading Housekeeping added Robinson)
– Connection – a whopping 16 titles!!
and 12 of the books were from my own shelves!

Here are the ♥ notes from my journal:

♥ Ranking my books was hard and helpful. I changed over half of my star ratings when I looked at the month as a whole. Clearly mood and what I read immediately before, during, and after mattered a lot. as did format (eyes or ears). I’m going to be OK with all of that because it is my reading life (and if you follow me on Goodreads and pay attention to my ratings, you should know that! and now I’m even more committed to updating Goodreads monthly, which is such a mixed blessing).

♥ Two books didn’t check any of my Intentions – Wintering and Trespasses. Keeping tabs on this.

Here are those 5-star reviews:

📖 The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich – a re-read that I loved when it came out in 2021 and loved even more now that the the events of 2020 aren’t so recent, and I had a great group to discuss it with. “Together, we straggled through a year that sometimes seems like the beginning of the end … I want to forget this year, but I’m also afraid I won’t remember this year.”

📖 Wintering, by Katherine May – paradigm-shifting ways to look at what is typically a cold, dark, dormant season (it’s a season for growth and “sidewalks that sparkle”), and at time “We tend to imagine that our lives are linear, but they are in fact cyclical.”

📖 Life on Delay, by John Hendrickson – a just-released memoir subtitled “making peace with a stutter.” I added this one to my must-read shelf because it gives us new, important ways to think about stuttering (it’s neurological, not psychological) and those who stutter (acknowledging them and their exhaustion is a necessary first step). Grateful to @sararogo for asking me to read it.

📖 Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson – a beautiful story about home, family, and love. Robinson’s writing is rich with imagery (water, nature, fire) and themes explored in the Old Testament’s stories, especially Ruth. I look forward to re-reading this and finding even more to ponder, and love. Thanks to @fictionmatters Patreon for the amazing discussions!

📖 The Bone People, by Keri Hulme – the 1st in my personal Booker Backlist project and I picked a fine place to begin! The language is beautiful (Hulme mixes Maori in with the English and it flows beautifully, like poetry) and the story of three people, lost and trying desperately to be found, forgiven, and loved is heartbreaking (and ultimately redemptive). “…all together, they have become the heart and muscles and mind of something perilous and new, something strange and growing and great.”

And finally, my monthly TBR. I love this practice of making a plan because it tends to improve the quality of my reading (I’m not searching Libby for something “immediately available” when I need an audiobook, for example).

What I need to start noting is how the books I add in stack up. January was a good month! Notable additions were Life on Delay (5 stars), The Long Answer (4.5), and Golden Compass (4.5). All of those books were Connections, one with my daughter Sara, one with the author, and one for bookclub … so deep connections.

The whole second row of February’s TBR is for Connections. I’m most looking forward to re-reading The Night Watchman and exploring Marilynne Robinson’s essays. What are you looking forward to in your February reading?

*All the book links in this post are to Goodreads

9 thoughts on “Reading Better | January.

  1. Wow. Your reading is off to a great start. I enjoy reading your thoughts about each month’s reading list. I know that what comes before and after changes my perceptions about any given book.

    1. I love this kind of informative post! Making notes so I’ll have ideas too on what to read next! I’m reading Frankenstein right now and loving it, also Gentle and Lowly (beautiful book about Jesus’ heart)

  2. Yay for reading books on your own shelves! And for getting off to such a great start. I have been looking forward to the Jane Smiley but am a little more hesitant after seeing that you gave it just 3 stars. Hmmm…

    Looking forward to reading a bit more Robinson today AND getting to The Night Watchman this month. So much to look forward to!

  3. I am always so inspired by your reading posts and by seeing what you read each month. Given that my reading time is more limited than yours, I’m always grateful for your reviews and ratings to help me decide what to use my time for and what to skip!

  4. Diversity, deep dive, prizes and connection are also important for my reading life. Our books often line up because of connection (and prizes). I enjoy hearing about how you connect the dots (books) and your ratings. Looking forward to Saturday and a whole new round of discoveries!

  5. Your comments about being intentional about your TBR and not just reading what’s available hit home with me–I would like to be more purposeful and plan out what I read as well! Thank you for sharing!

  6. As always, your reading record is impressive! I read “Housekeeping” years ago on my father’s recommendation and loved it. (He passed away in 1998.) I’ve read just about everything else she’s written. Only one, “Jack,” was disappointing. I may try it again some day.

  7. Housekeeping is such a great book! I first read it back in the 1980s and was surprised at how much of it had stayed with me over the years! Here’s to another month of reading good books!

Comments are closed.