I AM NOT a competitive reader. I don’t set goals, I don’t strategize my list, I don’t look to fill in defined categories or stretch into genres (with intention) I don’t typically enjoy. Which is to say I am basically a mood reader (totally in keeping with my Enneagram 9-ness, right?), happiest when I glance toward my very long “someday I may read” list to see what strikes my fancy at the moment.
All this is interrupted with great regularity by what’s new and popular now. I am fascinated by publishing, promotion, the WHOLE BUSINESS of getting books into people’s hands. I give way too many books a try under this heading, but the good news is I will put one down in a heartbeat if it isn’t speaking to me, delighted to move on to something that—to me—might be more engaging.
It’s been a great 2022 from this standpoint, several reads landing on my coveted FAVORITE ALL TIME BOOKS list, and another good handful reaching at least 4-star status for me. There have also been several DNF choices that are fine novels for other readers—just not for me.
So here we go with my list of mention-worthy reads, January, February, and March!
These Precious Days, Ann Patchett
The beloved New York Times bestselling author reflects on home, family, friendships and writing in this deeply personal collection of essays.
A smart, lovely, insightful, inspiring read and I will never not think about it. I could call out every essay with a long list of loves, but I’ll limit it to these: Eudora Welty, How Knitting Save My Life, Book Covers, Reading Kate DiCamillo, A Talk to the Association of Graduate School Deans in the Humanities, and of course, These Precious Days. I adore Ann Patchett the writer, and I admire Ann Patchett the person. What a beautiful book and what gorgeous lessons in life. I listened to this one on audio, as Ann reads the essays, and the experience was moving, funny, exceptional. Now on my VERY FAVES book list.
Atomic Habits, James Clear
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving—every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
Brene Brown told me to read this book and so I did. (She actually told all of us humans and she is right.) So good. So helpful.
The Maid, by Nita Prose
“A heartwarming mystery with a lovable oddball at its center” (Real Simple), this cozy whodunit introduces a one-of-a-kind heroine who will steal your heart.“
Similar to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine but in my opinion, not quite as masterful. Three stars.
Taste: My Life Through Food, Stanley Tucci
From award-winning actor and food obsessive Stanley Tucci comes an intimate and charming memoir of life in and out of the kitchen.
I devoured this one. (Pun intended) Listened on audio which is a DELIGHT because, well, Stanley Tucci. Then I bought the hardback because YOU JUST HAVE TO and I committed to a summer filled with pasta and Negronis. (I’ve had neither, now that I think of it. But I’m going to.) This book is just so…delicious. Five happy stars.
When Ghosts Come Home, by Wiley Cash
The eagerly awaited novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home, a tender and haunting story of a father and daughter, crime and forgiveness, race and memory.
This is my favorite of Wiley Cash’s books, a mystery I found engaging from the start. Plus I really like Wiley Cash and always cheer him on.
The Stars Are Not Yet Bells, Hannah Lillith Assadi
A story of secrets, loss, and the betrayals of memory: a lyrical novel of an aging woman confronting her romantic past under the mysterious skies of her island home.
I was not familiar with Assadi’s writing when I first discovered this book, pre-publication. I immediately reserved it at the library, and I was delighted to pick it up just as it was released. This little novel is everything I love: a beautiful, heartbreaking story; place (in this case, an island off the coast of Georgia) as a central character; writing that made me swoon. Solid five stars.
Going There, Katie Couric
Heartbreaking, hilarious, and brutally honest, Going There is the deeply personal life story of a girl next door turned household name.
I was a little conflicted about reading this. I am a Katie Couric fan, but some reviews were rather—shall we say unforgiving—in their positions regarding her ambition and selective memories. Still I couldn’t help myself, and I’m glad I read it. (I listened on audio, actually, and I recommend this format since Katie reads it.) She has lived a fascinating life, and as a woman of a certain age myself, I feel I grew up alongside her there on The Today Show couch. Also a great read for those interested in the ins and outs of news, popular culture, and LET’S FACE IT what really happened with Matt Lauer.
Shiner, Amy Jo Burns
“[A] wrenching testament, told in language as incandescent as smoldering coal. . . This is not a despairing book, but a hopeful one, of Appalachian women taking back their life stories.” –New York Times Book Review
I’m always game for a novel with a setting in the Appalachian Mountains, and so I was excited to pick up this one. I’d never read Amy Jo Burns, and she did not disappoint. One of my favorite reads this spring.
I’ll be back in a week or two with notable reads of April, May and June. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading if you care to share in the comments. Happy reading, everybody!
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