Books

Reading Better | March.

I added another 17 books to my Read shelf (Goodreads link) last month. It was a great month for quantity and quality – four 5-star, four 4-1/2-star, eight 4-star, and one 3-star. Close readers might note that the “4-1/2 star” category is a new one. Five stars is a really tough grading system. I rarely even finish something that doesn’t merit at least three …  so most of my books are gonna land in four star territory. I still want a way to differentiate between “I loved it” and “I REALLY loved it, but it wasn’t as AMAZING as …”, so … 4-1/2 stars.

Here are a few more stats from March’s book journal summary page:

  • less than 60% (10/17) were words on a page – four of the audio books were 1-2 day listens (A Thousand Ships, Summerwater, Exciting Times, and Slaughterhouse-Five) … those shorter books fit a lot easier into my listening life these days.
  • nearly a third – 65% (11/17) – were borrowed, two I owned, and four were purchased … only one of them “new” (Writers & Lovers, for Modern Mrs Darcy bookclub – my sister also belongs so I know any paper books will be read at least twice … and I do love to own bookclub books so I can mark them up freely)
  • only three (18%) were non-fiction – apparently that spike I saw in February (4/13) was an anomaly!

My Reading Intentions leaned heavily toward Connection and Delight:

Connection – 16
Growth – 9
Diversity – 7
Delight – 16

Again, not every book was a Delight. Against the Loveless World was the “no” here. I read the book because it was on the Aspen Short List (and because Margene and Sarah read it too – yep, I take both tea AND book recommendations from these smart ladies!). I do think the book belongs on that list. and I’m glad I read it.

One book was simply a Delight. Love Lettering. I loved the NYC setting, the happy ending, and the smart writing. This was the book I read in bed on my Kindle when everything else I was reading (on the page) was a heavy, or dark. and of course once I got about 2/3 through, I read the rest in one sitting.

Five books nailed all four intentions:
1. The Office of Historical Corrections
2. Dust Tracks on a Road
3. Girl, Serpent, Thorn
4. Sabrina & Corina
5. Stories of Your Life and Others

Other notes from my journal summary (and yes, these are all listed with those ♥):

♥ all the short stories! I read four (and my first two finishes for April were also short stories)
♥ Ted Chiang. favorite discovery of the month for sure! (see below)
♥ Pride & Prejudice re-read, focusing on the humor and snark, and reading along with Novel Pairings.

I joined Novel Pairing’s Patreon Classics Club (another virtual bookclub, with classes and special podcasts) and that re-read of Pride & Prejudice was because of that. I had so much fun with this re-read because they encouraged me to focus on the humor and snark. and oh my, there’s a lot of both. I laughed out loud reading parts of it and I don’t think I ever did that before. and I still teared up for the happy ending(s). Slaughterhouse-Five was another Novel Pairings pick (for April … it just arrived a bit early in my Libby queue) and I’m looking forward to their discussion. Chelsey & Sara are the english teachers I can only wish I’d had 🙂

My book journal is still providing endless enjoyment … seriously, those little covers that I print, cut, and paste! and then putting pen to paper … and flipping through so many filled-up pages.

and, finally, this month’s sleeper recommendation* is Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others. I’m not sure a “sleeper” can really be a book that was published back in 2002; and Ezra Klein interviewed Ted Chiang on last week’s podcast. and yet …

This book nailed all four of my intentions. I can’t stop thinking about/talking about it. the themes of Time, God, Free Will, and Math … I especially loved that Chiang mentioned Slaughterhouse Five in the end notes … I thought the two books paired well, too.

One of the things I love about my book journal is writing things in my own hand. This book challenged that! so I printed my Kindle highlights, and then noted them. Still paper and pen (with a little glue and paper).

Ezra Klein says “listening to Chiang speak, I I understand his stories better. He speaks like he’s carving marble.”

Oh my. and yes.

Have you stumbled across some unappreciated backlist this month? please share!

*a book 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.

11 Comments

  • Sarah

    I think I mentioned on Sunday that I put the Ted Chiang collection on hold at the library — and I had to actually delay the delivery because it was ready for me before I was ready for it! I’m hoping to get started on it today and am really looking forward to it.

    I have the same sort of struggle with star ratings. For me, 3 stars is “it was good, but not great”; 4 stars is “this was really good, but not mind-blowing”; and 5 stars is obviously “this is amazing; must read!” There’s quite a bit of gray between 4 and 5, but honestly even if I had a 10-star scale, I think I’d still struggle with how to rate some books!

  • karen

    It appears you have hit your reading stride and are reading those books at record speed! I am trying to carve more time in my day to read but this week just wasn’t the week with all the tasks I needed to get done around this house.

  • Kat

    Spring cleaning inside and outside has put my reading on the back burner a bit. (although I started Perestroika in Paris!!) What excellent reading, Mary!

  • Margene

    I listened to Ted Chiang on the podcast and put his book on my must read soon list. Your recommendation and listening to him explain his thoughts on the stories hit all my buttons.

  • Bonny

    What a great reading month you had! I’ve often wished that goodreads star system used half stars, as there is a difference between a 4.5 and 5.0. As it gets warmer I think I may be reading less but I’m also glad to read outside. I’ve just discovered Woodswoman by Anne LaBastille, and I’m really enjoying it. I don’t think I’ll ever build a cabin by myself in the Adirondacks, but I like reading about someone who did.

  • Debbie

    You have read some incredible books this month and I enjoy reading your thoughts on them. Ted Chaing’s stories sound unique and interesting and I plan to listen to that podcast. Thanks!

  • Carolyn

    So glad to see you enjoyed Sabrina + Corina! I jotted a note to Sarah, curious how my experience of living IN the setting and AMONG the community might have impacted my take on the stories…wondering how readers outside our region might respond to it. I think 4 stars is a clear answer to that! What a reading month to celebrate.