Reading…the best of the best | 2023

Reading…the best of the best | 2023

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

It has been an excellent year of reading (again!) I truly do not understand how the non-reader gets through the day… happily that is something I will never have to experience because reading is essential to my day!

I am most profoundly grateful for my local library… most of what I have read, I read courtesy of my library. My reading life is all the more richer and fuller thanks to them! I love the people that work there… they are some of my favorite people on the planet! They were some of the first to welcome me to the area when I moved here 10 years ago!

It was a stellar reading year for me… I read a whopping 106 books! I read more this year than last year, but less than other years. But the most amazing statistics from the year show how really magnificent my reading was this year!

I doubled my Netgalley books this year… I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to read 26 ARC’s (advanced reader copies) and so many of these books (Netgalley books are flagged with **)  made my “best books of the year” list!

I listen to books… a lot! Of the 106 books read, 54 of them were audiobooks and almost every single one was courtesy of my library!

There were 7 books that I did not finish this year… books that just weren’t for me. Years ago, I would have felt guilty to not finish a book… but “bailing” on a book was something that I embraced in my Year of Release… it was one of the best things ever.

I read LOTS of books that I gave a 5-star rating… of the 106 books… I gave 46 of them a 5-star rating.

So you might now be wondering how one chooses the best from that many “best” choices… well, I have some criteria for my Best Reading of 2023. The books on this list have stayed with me since I read them. They have delightfully lingered and for some of these books… they inspired me to read them more than once!

So here is my Best Reading of 2023 List… I highly recommend every book on this list! (They just might change your life!!) There are 11 books here with each book better than the one before it…. so when you get to the bottom, you have reached the best book of my year.

  • Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro (I loved this book so much that I immediately re-read it.)
  • The Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude and Inciting Joy by Ross Gay (I think a bit of Ross Gay every day is a very good idea! I will be reading more of him in 2024!)
  • No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister ** (a book about the power of a book is one I have not stopped thinking about!)
  • Sarah Winman… yes, just the author! I read 3 of her books this year and each one was tremendous, thought provoking, and each lingered in the most wonderful way!
  • The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl. ** This book is life changing… and I loved it so much that I am going to spend the entire year with it… in my backyard. Two weeks in and I am discovering new things already… I can’t wait to see where my backyard and Margaret take me!
  • Above Ground by Clint Smith. A moving volume of poetry that took me back in time to when my children were small. I loved Clint, but these poems reminded me of a forgotten time!
  • Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward. ** This book was so necessary in a time where the “whitewashing” of history is happening in real time. I have not stopped thinking about Annis and her journey.
  • Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan. I would not have even known about this book were it not for the Read With Us book club… we read The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida and I needed to know more… so a bit of Googling led me to Brotherless Night. This story is one that has not left me, it reminds me that even the obscure story needs to be heard!
  • My Friends by Hisham Matar. ** This was a Netgalley book that “picked me” … an editor emailed (I am sure a volume of readers) and suggested I might enjoy this book. I am so glad I followed her suggestion! This book would have been my top read (if I did not read Rilke and Tommy Orange!) This book opened my eyes, changed how I think about the displaced… refugees… those without a homeland. Thank you, Hisham for writing such a compelling, beautiful, heartbreaking story!
  • Rilke… my goodness, I love Rilke so much. I read two Rilke books this year (a re-read of one by a different translator.) The more I read Rilke, the more I want to read more. There will be more Rilke in 2024 as well!
  • This last book barely squeaked under the wire… Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange ** (it will be out next March) It has only been a few days but I have not stopped thinking about the Star Journey. This might be Tommy’s best book ever… at least until he writes another one! Ha!

There you have it… 11 books… roughly 10% of my reading year.

I will be back tomorrow with my Year of Unraveling review!

Photo by Anthony 🙂

Unraveled Wednesday | 1.1.20

Unraveled Wednesday | 1.1.20

Happy New Year, dear Unravelers! I am sorry for the very heavy image laden post today, but there was a lot of reading in 2019!!

My year of knitting was so very good, but honestly… my year of reading might have been a bit better! I did not hit my reading goal, but I read some of the best books this year! Of the 148 books I read – I deemed 58 of them to be “five star” books. Of those 58, these have indelibly changed me: When All Is Said, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, Red at the Bone, Timbuktu, Just Mercy, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, Report from the Interior, The World That We Knew, The Nickel Boys, Grief is a Thing with Feathers, and The Dutch House. These eleven books are books I cannot stop thinking about. Every one of these books still calls to me and I look forward to reading them all again!

The other common theme my reading had this year was how many authors I discovered and then proceeded to try and read as many of their books as I could! John Boyne won the year with 6 novels (many 5-star and one very indelible read: The Heart’s Invisible Furies) Louise Erdrich came in second with 4 of her books on my list, including one indelible: The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. Nineteen authors all had multiple titles in my year of reading – I have learned that a good writer is sometimes a prolific writer!

2019 was the year of social justice or at least my efforts to learn more about how to be a good ally, an educated citizen, and not just a “watcher from the sidelines!” Nineteen of the books I read this year helped to educate me about many things from the Mueller Report, to White Privilege, to the Whistle-Blower Complaint and even a book about Global Warming. Being an informed ally is important to me but all this reading has shown me how much I still must learn, so you can expect to see more of this kind of reading in 2020.

My standby of a good mystery was reinforced with seventeen novels read in 2019 and most of these were parts of ongoing series with characters that I have come to know and love deeply. These books are the best therapy on earth for me! A few pages in and I am off on a journey to figure out who did it and how will it all come together!

And, finally I listened to 88 books this year – a significant number and I am so grateful to my library for having so many audio book choices!

And, in case you think I have done no knitting… I got a Sweater Quantity of yarn for Christmas from Steve and almost immediately cast on a Felix Cardigan – the body is almost done and sleeves are up next – this will be my first finish of 2020! I love the yarn color (Galaxy) it is black, but not quite with a purple-ish, teal-ish hue. I spent an hour after dinner last night learning the sewn tubular bind off – I think Steve has it memorized too from me saying it out loud over and over and over and over. Hahaha!

That is all I have for today! If you wrote a post to share today, please leave your link below and thank you!


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