Wednesday, January 24, 2024


Maybe because it is winter. Maybe because it is cold outside, and we stay inside more often. Maybe because January is a quiet month and a good time to read. I find myself reading more books in January. 
A long time ago, I started to keep a list of the books I read. I have filled several small volumes with titles, authors' names, and notes about the books. I didn't include the books we remember from childhood such as Nancy Drew, Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, Jane Eyre, Mary Poppins, Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn nor did I include books from college such as The Illiad and The Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, Beowulf (how I ever got through the old language of that book, I don't remember), and all the other world literature that was required reading at that time.
Looking back on my list, I realized that in the last few years, I have read my favorite book of the year in January. The titles include Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell, The Wild Places by Richard MacFarlane (the one book I needed a dictionary at my side as I read it), The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, The Library Book by Susan Orlean, and last year, The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. This year, I think my favorite could be Word by Word: The Secret Live of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper, a lexicographer, who is one of those people who decides which words will appear in a dictionary, defines the word and changes the description as the usage of the word evolves. She makes something that seems like an unexciting life into something magical and important.

  Two good reads

By fourth grade, my parents allowed me to check out books from the adult section of the library. My first choices included history books, especially about the White migration across the Plains in the 19th century and the effect on the Native Tribes already living there. The most recent book I read about this era, The Heart of Everything That Is, was another gut-wrenching, unmasking view of that time in our history.
I also discovered a love of mysteries. I remember reading my way through the Mr. and Mrs. North series written by Francis and Richard Lockridge about married sleuths who solved mysteries in the manner of Agatha Christie novels. I also powered through all of Christie's mysteries. Playing Clue with my sister increased my interest in solving "Who Dunnits." I enjoyed reading how an investigator explored the other characters who became prime suspects. I found good company in Presidents Kennedy and Obama who also liked this genre.
What kinds of books do you read? Mysteries or non-fiction? Sci-fi? Generational stories? History or Biographies? Romances? What piqued your interest in these genres or themes? Do you have a favorite from last year?


One of my favorite writers, Margaret Renkl, wrote three wonderful essays about winter in her state of Tennessee. You can read them in the New York Times here: 

Check out her website here:

Good book recommendations by friends:

Mary, Marcia, and Letty recommend:  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

The Magnificent Lives of Margarie W Post by Allison Pataki

Bill recommends: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James MacBride, West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge, and Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson

Christy recommends: Horse by Geraldine Brooks and Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Rose recommends: Wannabe: Reckonings with the Pop Culture That Shaped Me

Marcia recommends: Horse by Geraldine Brooks, Demon Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver, and Trust by Herman Diaz

Mary, Marcia, and I all recommend stories by Kate Quinn:  good reads

Check out this updated version of the 100 Must-Read Classics. How many have you read?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers. I answer each one.

I do not post Anonymous comments because of problems with spammers.