This past summer I discovered Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next. I’ve written about it before here. It was love at first listen. From the eclectic mix of guests and topics to the never-ending recommendations of books to read, my reading life exploded overnight. How was I ever going to read all the books I heard about?
The honest answer is, I’m not. But, it sure is fun having lots of books in the queue, waiting to be read.
Along with an ever-growing TBR (books To Be Read) list, I reinstated my reading log, recording each book I read and a couple of notes about each one. A small thrill of pleasure ran through me each time I wrote down a title of a recently finished book.
Now, I know myself well enough to know that lists and me share a tenuous love/hate relationship. My lists can drive me instead of the other way around. But at this point, I’m still enjoying my record keeping. It’s my own memory log, reminding me of the books I’ve read and the moments associated with the read.
You may think I’m heading closer to the hate side of my list keeping when I tell you that I began 2019 with the goal to read fifty books this year. It’s an ambitious goal, but one I wanted to see if I could reach. With so many books to read and my renewed enthusiasm, I thought, why not?
So, here I am on this overcast February day, sharing what I’ve read so far.
I started the year with a mystery—The Magpie Murders—by Anthony Horowitz. I heard about it from Lindsey and Leslie at WindowsandMirrorsblog.wordpress.com. I follow them on Instagram and love seeing what they’re reading. Lindsey and I go back to my Texas days and Live Oak Classical School where we taught together. She’s a great reader. Anyways, what an entertaining book to start over Christmas Break and finish in the new year. It’s a mystery within a mystery. At first I wondered if it would work, but Horowitz pulled it off and the story engaged me until the end.
Another book I started in 2018, but finished in January was Bear Town by Fredrik Backman. I didn’t love this book, but I stuck with it to the end. Frankly, Backman’s use of foreshadowing felt repetitive by the end of the novel. I could predict the lines coming at the end of the scene or chapter. The characters make the novel compelling. These are people who have given their lives to hockey. Backman describes with a realness and authenticity the power hockey holds in this northwoods community when it’s basically all they have. Seeing how the characters develop and how hockey affects each of their lives is what made me keep reading.
Next, came The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I started the book in the fall, but lost my queue in the library system and came back to it a couple of months later. So glad I read it. I will be reading more by Hannah. Yes, it is a WWII novel. But this one has strong female protagonists and focuses on the French resistance, about which I haven’t read much. I found myself swept away in the story, which is a good indicator for me when reading fiction. The Great Alone, another book by Hannah, is on my TBR.
Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life is a collection of essays on just that—the reading life. It could easily be read in a day, but I savored her short chapters and took my time finishing it. It’s the kind of book that can hang out in the bathroom or on an end table. Guests (or the actual people who live in your house) can pick it up and enjoy Bogel’s reflections. As I read this book, I realized again that the two of us really are kindred spirits.
For book club, I read Bogel’s first book, Reading People: How Seeing The World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything. Even though the subtitle suggests what the book is about, I had no idea that it was actually about personality types. Duh! I always heard the book referred to as “Reading People” and assumed it was about reading habits. I admit I skimmed parts of the book. Mostly because I was already familiar with the content. Bogel offers a lay person’s overview and perspective about personality assessments and types. I think this book is well suited for a book-club read and lends itself to a good discussion.
My favorite read of the year so far is Lethal White (another mystery) by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling). This is the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series. I did the audiobook for this one and loved Robert Glenister’s narration. A quick disclaimer about these books: if you are bothered by rough language and some sexual content you may want to avoid them. I love the series, but at times the language makes me cringe. I can handle cursing, but the F-bomb hits a certain nerve with me, especially when it is used repeatedly. That said, the character and plot development is outstanding. The protagonist, Cormoran, seems like a real person, still very much in process. The fact that he is working through his own junk and still solving crime feels right in these stories. Cormoran’s colleague Robin has her own issues as well. The two of them work well together and there is definitely a growing romantic attachment between the two of them. I’m interested to see how Galbraith will develop this in future novels.
Since I’m on Winter Break for the next two weeks, I plan to finish several more books. I’ll save those for another post.
Would love to hear what you’re reading. Leave a comment and let me know.