Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: 2022 Author Discoveries


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Since today is a "freebie" week, we get to choose our own topic. I'd like to highlight my favorite author discoveries of 2022. This was actually last week's prompt but you know how that goes. It seems like I've been behind all month...

Favorite Author Discoveries of 2022

John Boyne - The Absolutist

Kim Fay - Love & Saffron

Damon Galgut - The Promise

Maggie ShipsteadSeating Arrangements

Steven RowleyThe Guncle

Claire Keegan - Foster and Small Things Like These 

Lydia Millet - Dinosaurs

Have you read any of these authors? What were your favorite author discoveries of 2022?

Sunday, January 29, 2023

January Reading Wrap-Up

Hello, friends. As the end of January approaches, it feels like this month has been at least eight or nine weeks long! We started the month with a nasty GI virus that thwarted out New Years plans, then spent most of a week with my parents in central NY. After returning to Connecticut, there was just enough time to pack and prepare for our trip south. That trip included a couple of days in beautiful Beaufort, SC where we were able to relax and catch up with friends. 

We got back to Florida mid-month. It's been nonstop hurricane clean-up and dealing with "complications" ever since. The road to recovery will be long and slow, but seeing the above blooming beach daisies last night gives me hope.

With all of this activity, I read only two books in January... both long (over 400 pages) and literary. Both were read/listen combinations.

by Douglas Stuart

This debut novel by Scottish-American writer and fashion designer Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize in 2020. Hugh "Shuggie" Bain is a sweet boy growing up in a Glasgow public housing project with an alcoholic mother, absent father, and older siblings desperately trying to get away. 

Stuart's writing is wonderful and I was completely invested in the story, but the misery was unrelenting. This has to be one of the most depressing books I've ever read, yet I couldn't set it aside. As a read/listen combination, Angus King's Scottish accent in the audio version brought even more life to the novel.

Stuart's second novel Yound Mungo, released in 2022, is also highly-rated, but it will be a while before I'm ready for another heavy, sad tale.

Trust by Hernan Diaz
audio narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, Jonathan Davis, Mozhan Marnò, Orlagh Cassidy

I finished Trust last night and thought it was brilliant! It tells the riveting story of 1920s-era Wall Street tycoon Benjamin Rask and his wife Helen in a most unusual way. The novel is composed of four parts, each adding depth and layers of intrigue, which allow the reader to gradually form an understanding of the Rask's lives.

The first of the novel's four sections is a novel within the novel. "Bonds" is a fictional account of the Rask's lives. Publication of that novel enrages Rask and causes him to tell his own story in the form of an autobiography/memoir. His unfinished memoir becomes Part II of Trust. In Part III, we hear from the young woman Rask hires to ghost write his memoir. Part IV is Helen Rask's journal.

I flew through this novel in just a few days... very unusual for me, especially considering its length. The audio version (this was a read/listen combination for me) was outstanding. Each section is read by a different narrator. Each is excellent.

Trust  was the winner of the Kirkus Prize and longlisted for the Booker Prize. It was also named one of the 10 Best Books of 2022 by both The New York Times and The Washington Post. I've added his earlier novel, In the Distance, to my reading list.

February plans//

February usually marks the beginning of our season of winter visitors, but things will be a little different this year. Our daughter and her fiancĂ© are coming later this week for a long weekend to celebrate her birthday, but that's it so far. 

Hopefully, that will translate into more reading time. I've pulled several books from my shelves that I'd like to read soon and have also downloaded a couple of kindle samples. Both samples are books I'm not familiar with, but learned about while listening to podcast year-end favorite episodes. I'll let you know next time where I decide to start...

How was your month? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

2022 Reading Reflections and 2023 Intentions

Before we get too much deeper into January, I'd like to reflect on my 2022 reading and lay out some intentions for the year ahead.

Overall, 2022 was a challenging year... the death of my father-in-law, two stress-filled real estate transactions, and Hurricane Ian. Thankfully, it was a good year in books.

By the numbers:
52 books read - a comfortable one book per week pace
74% fiction, 26% nonfiction 
74% female authors, 26% male
70% new-to-me authors, 30% authors I'd read before

print/ebook  22%
audio  20%
read/listen combo  58%

print/ebook   40% own / 60% library
audiobooks   45% own / 55% library

Shortest book / Longest book
 Foster by Claire Keegan 89 pages 
Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark 592 pages

Most shelved / Least shelved (goodreads)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


Read/listen combinations:  Last year I tried to get an audio edition of every book I read. Reading just one book at a time works best for me and I love listening to audiobooks on my daily walk. Nearly 80% of the books I read in 2022 had an audio component.

Using the library: 2022 was the first year I actually tracked the source of every book I read. I'm fortunate to have two excellent libraries in FL, one for the island and one for the county. Between the two, they have nearly every book I want to read and will sometimes purchase books I request. The Sanibel library also gives me access to hoopla, which has a good selection of audiobooks.

A vague monthly reading plan: I like to have a plan, but not too much of one. A list of "possibilities" works well, especially when I give myself permission to stray from it.


Set a low goal on Goodreads: That takes away self-imposed pressure and allows me the freedom to spend more time reading the New Yorker, newspapers, etc.

Read/listen to more books I own: I love my libraries, but my physical and digital TBRs are out of control.

Try not to read as many new releases: Instead, I would to read more titles by authors I already know, more backlist  books, and more classics.

More statistics: I plan to keep track of publication year and page count of the books I read.

With my year-end posts complete, I plan to take a short blogging break. We're heading back to Florida to continue Hurricane Ian clean-up and oversee repairs. There is still no internet at our house, but we're hopeful it will be restored before the end of the month. I'll check in again as soon as I can. In the meantime, I hope your 2023 reading is off to a good start!

Friday, January 6, 2023

My Year in Books: 2022 Favorites

We're nearly a week into 2023, so it's time to officially wrap up 2022. I'll start with my list of favorite books today, then look at statistics and resolutions over the weekend.

Overall, 2022 was a good reading year. I maintained my usual pace of one book per week and that continues to feel comfortable. In addition to the true standouts, I've listed a few honorable mentions. I have also noted where fiction and nonfiction favorites were read/listen combinations, but my audiobook favorites were audio only.


Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout 
(read/listen combo, excellent audio)

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro 
(read/listen combo, excellent audio)

A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson 

Book Lovers by Emily Henry 

The Promise by Damon Galgut 

Honorable Mention 

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
 Foster by Claire Keegan
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (read/listen combo)
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow (read/listen combo)


by Gilbert King (read/listen combo)

Honorable Mention
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (audio)
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (read/listen combo)
Dinners with Ruth by Nina Totenberg (audio)


by Shelby Van Pelt 
narrated by Marin Ireland, Michael Urie

by Steven Rowley, narrated by the author 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year, 2023!

 Happy New Year, 2023! Our house has been a whirlwind of activity lately. Both NYC daughters and partners were here for a week around Christmas, overlapping with each other for four days in the middle. Winnie the Whippet (our new grand puppy) added even more energy and joy to mix. It was exciting spending time all together, but it was also nice to have time with each couple alone. 

Now as the holiday season draws to a close, I'm both happy and exhausted. Today should  be about packing away decorations, cleaning, and organizing... but I think reading, napping, and watching football will likely be the order of the day.

Holiday reading//

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

This was a perfect holiday read... comforting, heart-warming, and entirely predicable. I'm so glad I saved it for Christmas week. An endearing mix of characters find themselves together for Christmas in a country home in Scotland. Naturally there is a snowstorm, a family crisis of sorts, unexpected romance, and a happy ending. Though it doesn't quite reach the level of The Shell Seekers, this was still a delight. I've already decided to read another Rosamunde Pilcher novel next Christmas. Any suggestions?
(read/listen combination, audio edition narrated by Jilly Bond)

Current reading//

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

I've decided to begin 2023 with a book from my shelves. Purchased last summer with a birthday gift card, I'm only a few pages into this 2020 Booker Prize winner and plan to spend more time with it this afternoon. Have you read this one?

Our Christmas puzzle//

I'm a fan of the New York Puzzle Company, especially their New Yorker  covers. Our fall 1000 piece puzzle turned out to be unbelievably hard, so we opted for an "easier" 750 piece puzzle to work over Christmas. "Skating in the Park" was much more manageable, but the white lettering in the tree branches was definitely a challenge. Overall, a lot of fun!

Coming up on the blog//
I'm working on two posts for the upcoming week. My list of 2022 favorites will come first. Next weekend I'll post a 2022 wrap-up with 2023 resolutions. 

The week ahead//
We'll be back in central New York visiting my parents this week. A couple of appointments are on the schedule and we'll see other family and friends while we're there, too.

My knee is slowly improving, but daily walks have not resumed. I miss both the exercise and time with audiobooks! 

How was your holiday week? What have you selected for your first book of 2023?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.


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