Sunday, January 28, 2024

Sanibel Sunday: January 28, 2024

Hello, from Sanibel Island. It's a cloudy Sunday afternoon and I'm looking forward to a lazy day of reading, blogging, watching football, and maybe a little time at the beach if the rain holds off.

We seem to be at a standstill on our hurricane reconstruction project. Evidently the painter is weeks behind schedule, so I'll be pleasantly surprised if they get to us before March! That's been frustrating, but the good news is that our landscape and driveway work should begin soon.

Recent reading//

Coming Home by Roasmunde Pilcher

My first book of 2024, Rosamunde Pilcher's chunky WWII novel proved to be the perfect kickoff for the new year. Buddy reading with Tina added to the fun and our daily email exchange was the best! I've been a Pilcher fan for decades, but had never read this 1995 gem. As always, I loved her characters and descriptions but, for such a long novel, this was a real page-turner, too. After over 950 pages, I still wasn't ready to leave the world Pilcher created and couldn't bring myself to pick up another book for days. Coming Home  has earned a spot on my favorites shelf and will certainly appear on my Best of 2024 list.

Currently reading//

by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
audio edition narrated by Robin Miles

My current read is the February selection for both the MMD book club and our library's book discussion group. In addition, Marie Benedict is the next speaker in Sanibel Public Library's Author Series and I was luck enough to get a ticket in the lottery! I'm at the halfway point now and enjoying this as a read/listen combination.

Up next//

I plan to pick up Belle Greene by Alexandra Lapierre, translated by Tina Kover next. This book is the MMD flight pick for February. I think it will be interesting to compare these two works of historical fiction about the same person - J.P. Morgan's personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene.

In the kitchen//

Salmon regularly appears in our dinner rotation, mostly because it's so good for you. But, in all honesty, I don't like it all that much. Last week I tried this Baked Pineapple Salmon  from Chef Jar and it's a game-changer. I prefer my salmon cooked more thoroughly than is often recommended, so set the temperature to 400 degrees rather than 375 and gave it a few extra minutes in the oven. I've already shared this recipe with my daughter and sister...  it's now my favorite way to prepare salmon!

The week ahead//

Our oldest daughter and her fiancĂ© will visit for a long weekend to celebrate her birthday. It's been a year since their last trip to FL, so I'll be curious to hear their assessment of the island's progress since Hurricane Ian. I think they'll be surprised at how far we've come. Can't wait to see them! 

How was your week? What have you been reading?

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


Sunday, January 14, 2024

My Year in Books: 2023 Reading Reflections and 2024 Intentions

Before we get too much deeper into January, I'd like to share my 2023 reading reflections and lay out some intentions for the year ahead.

Overall, 2023 proved to be a better year for us than 2022. We began to recover from Hurricane Ian, spent a lot of time with family, celebrated one daughter's wedding (and have another to look forward to in 2024), and gained a wonderful son-in-law. On the reading front, it was a very satisfying year.

By the numbers:

48 books read - lower than my usual one book per week 
79% fiction, 21% nonfiction  - the downward trend for nonfiction continues
69% female authors, 31% male
67% new-to-me authors, 33% repeat authors 

rereads: 8%, much higher than usual
in translation: 8%
classics: 13%
"big books" over 400 pages: 23%
average rating: 4.2

58% read/listen combination 
27% print
15% audio  

42% own 
31% library
27% own + library (for read/listen combos) 

Shortest book / Longest book
The Shortest Day by Colm Toibin, 31 pages
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry 964 pages


Read/listen combinations:  These continue to account for the majority of my reading and I tried to get an audio copy of every book I read. I primarily read one book at a time and love listening to my current read while walking. Total listening time, however, was down this year due to recurrent knee injuries.

Reading big books: Setting a lower goodreads goal in 2023 allowed me the freedom to read long books without worrying about overall numbers. Nearly 25% of the books I read were over 400 pages.

A loose monthly reading plan: This was my second year of using a loose monthly reading plan. Having a list of "possibilities" worked well, and I gave myself permission to stray from it occasionally.

Joining the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club: I joined MMD in May for the summer reading guide, then decided to stick around. I've enjoyed most of the selections (a couple ended up on my list of favorites), along with the author chats, book discussion forums, and events. The Lonesome Dove community/buddy read was a highlight of the year.


Opt out of the goodreads challenge... at least for now. 

Lean into big books: 2023 reminded me how much I love getting lost in sprawling novels, so my first book of 2024, and still my current read, is the 977-page Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher. It's excellent!

Make a priority TBR list: My goodreads tbr (to be read) list is ridiculously long. I've decided to keep a much shorter, fluid "priority" list to consult as I plan monthly reading possibilities.

I look forward to sharing another year of books and reading with you. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

My Year in Books: 2023 Favorites

We're well into 2024 and I'm finally getting to my 2023 wrap-up posts. I'll list my favorite books today, then look at statistics, reflections, and resolutions over the weekend.

Overall, 2023 was a very good reading year. I was slightly off my usual pace of one book per week, but that was mostly due to reading some really long books. (I'm looking at you, Lonesome Dove!) I did not consider rereads when choosing my favorites, but Pride and Prejudice would certainly be here otherwise. 


Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
(read/listen combination)

The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz
(read/listen combination)

Trust by Hernan Diaz
(read/listen combination)

Chorus by Rebecca Kauffman
(read/listen combination)

by Anne Berest, translated by Tina Kover
(read/listen combination)

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
(read/listen combination)

The Road To Dalton by Shannon Bowring
(print only)

Day by Michael Cunningham
(print only)

Honorable Mention
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
Pete and Alice in Maine by Caitlin Shetterly


Nine Black Robes by Joan Biskupic
(read/listen combination)

by Jake Bittle
(read/listen combination)

Sunday, January 7, 2024

December Reading Wrap-Up and A Plan for January

Hello, friends. After a holiday season filled with family and fun, we are finally  back in Florida. This is the longest we've been away in nearly a decade and it feels great to be on the island again. We are pleasantly surprised by the progress that has been made since we left at the end of May. There's still a very long way to go, but Sanibel is coming back strong!

It's been a few weeks since my last post and there's a lot to talk about this time of year. December turned out to be an excellent reading month, so I'll begin with a wrap-up. 

Books Read in December//

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney 
literary fiction, reread,⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Shortest Day by Colm Toibin
 short story/novella, audio, ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Day by Michael Cunningham
literary fiction, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang
fiction, read/listen combination, ⭐⭐⭐

nonfiction, ⭐⭐⭐ (I'm an outlier, most readers love this one.)

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery 
literary fiction, Booker Prize shortlist 2023, read/listen combination, ⭐⭐⭐⭐

One Woman Show by Christine Coulson 
literary fiction, novella, read/listen combination, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

January Reading Plan//

Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

I love Pilcher's novels and am starting the year with this 900+ page chunkster. Buddy reading with Tina is adding to the fun!

by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Next up will be February selection for the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. 

Posts to Write//
My Favorite Reads of 2023
2023 Reflections and 2024 Game Plan
Overdue Reviews

Also in January//
Now that we're back home, we can resume our Hurricane Ian repairs. There are also friends and neighbors to catch up with, postponed appointments to reschedule, and as many sunsets at the beach as possible!

I hope 2024 is off to a good start for you. What have you been reading lately?



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