Just Life

Reading Better | February.


I added a whopping 13 books to my Read shelf (Goodreads link) last month! one 5-star, ten 4-star, and two 3-star. 2021 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for reading better!

A few stats from February’s book journal summary page:

  • nearly 75% (10/13) were words on a page – I’m finding that COVID life and all the podcasts doesn’t allow much time for listening to books.
  • 38% (5/13) were borrowed and the rest were purchased – a definite improvement over January and probably about where I can hope to be given my library, the various book groups I belong to, and my preference for writing in books. (I did buy four of those books used and that makes me happy!)
  • 31% (4/9) were non-fiction – FOUR!?! wait who is this?! a few years ago I would’ve been stretched to read four non-fiction books in a year, let alone a month.

In terms of my Reading Intentions I saw more mixed results:

Connection – 6
Growth – 5
Diversity – 5
Delight – 8

Unlike last month, not every book was a Delight. and in spite of what I said last month, I think that’s ok. Some books I read for one of the other intentions and all the books delivered on at least one of them. Two of the books (Their Eyes Were Watching God and What We Lose) ticked all four of the boxes.

Two of my favorite things so far about 2021 reading:

  • my book journal. I am still getting so much joy from the whole process … and now I have 23 completed entries! (also, I have found myself referring back to those completed pages on multiple occasions and that makes me smile for future-me.)
  • committing to spend 30 minutes every morning with words on a page. I’m amazed at how productive that time really is, especially for non-fiction and “hard” fiction.

Based on all this – I don’t have anything I’d like to change for March (which seems like a pretty good place to be just two months in!)

Also, I love having a “sleeper recommendation” to make with these posts. Last month it was Upstairs at the White House. and this month it’s Narrowboat Summer.

My sister and I heard about the book on Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs Darcy Winter Preview: “women on a narrowboat on England waterways.” We agreed we Must Read. well, actually listen. the narration was excellent and the story, well, it was pure DELIGHT.

from my notes:

“Two middle-aged women looking for ‘new beginnings’ navigate a narrowboat through the English canals while the boat’s owner undergoes cancer treatment. unexpectedly WOW! ♥ the writing. the characters. the story. sweet without being too much. and of course I loved the setting.”

I also noted four quotations (which btw, is hard on audio – so that’s probably another indication of how much I loved the book) and here are two of them:

Maybe this, she thought, was what it would be like to be married … knowing that every time you left the house you had to run a check on the well-being of someone else before going. before deciding to stay out.

(and of course there’s knitting – that’s always worth at least a half-star in my book … when it rings true!)

Like everything else in her life, she’d thought knitting was something that needed to be done, rather than something she wanted to do. She had stopped when she realized it was cheaper to buy the children’s sweaters than to knit them.

These “sleeper recommendations” are books I haven’t seen All Over the Place. Granted, it’s not like I’m going anywhere, so my “place” is Goodreads, Instagram, and a few blogs. I’d love to know if you have any sleepers to recommend … and if you’ve read Narrowboat Summer, what did you think?!

13 Comments

  • Honore´

    Fun post AND I think “I’ll borrow a page from your book” -pun intended (I.am.so. clever – hah!): since I have yet to connect to my/a year-long read, I’ll read fiction in the morning, also! Duh! What took me so long to figure that out?!
    Thanks friend for waking up a few sleepy brain cells…
    Cheers~

  • Debbie

    Here is my “sleeper” recommendation: Fresh Water For Flowers by Valerie Perrin and translated by Hildegarde Serle. I didn’t know much about it before I read it and I think that added to how much I enjoyed how the story unfolded. I found it deeply moving and I will say no more about it!

  • Carolyn

    Mary, I took your advice and put a hold on The Switch and Flatshare…thank you! Sounds like it couldn’t be a better start to your reading year 🙂

  • Juliann

    Oh my – that is a lot of books! I am on a slow boat for reading but I am pretty sure that is the place I am supposed to be. Of course I had to look and see if my library had that Narrowboat book and indeed they do. I love the way you set up this post.

  • Alexa

    Always fasinating to see what you’re reading and enjoying – and thank-you for the Narrowboat Summer recommendation. Our ibrary doesn’t have it, it turns out, but it’s available in book form on Kindle – where it’s titled over here ‘Three Woman and a Boat’ (a reference, I’m guessing, to Jerome K Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’). Your enthusiasm for recording your reading and observations is palpable – hoping you continue to derive great enjoyment from it this month too :).

  • Bonny

    You read a lot of good books in February! I’ve always meant to read 84 Charing Cross Road but haven’t yet done it. I need to remedy that! Debbie’s sleeper sounds interesting and original and something I’d like to read. I think my sleepers are the Sarah Moss novels I’m enjoying. I had never heard of her before I stumbled upon Summerwater, and I’m glad she’s got a large back catalog.

  • Carole

    That’s a lot of books and in a short month, too! I love how intentional you are, not just about what you’re reading, but also about how you are memorializing it.

  • Sarah

    I’m sure you didn’t plan it this way, but did you notice just how colorful your reads were last month? I know the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but all the same I find I am delighted when a good book has a beautiful cover.

  • karen

    what a super productive reading month and it was a short month at that! I’ve been reading more in my days and I”m currently enjoying Cilka’s Journey AND Sarah’s Key both WWII books.

  • kym

    I always love a good “sleeper” recommendation. Sometimes. . . one person’s “sleeper” turns out to be another person’s “slog” . . . but isn’t that always the case with books??? We never know until we dive in! 🙂 I’m glad you’re leaving plenty of room in your reading for those that just pop-up, “sleeper” style!

  • Karen

    A friend recommended Meet Me at the Museum (which I loved) by the same author as the Narrowboat Summer. Such a lovely read. I tried to read The Guest List last month and just couldn’t.