Books

Reading Better | September.


I added 18 books to my Read shelf last month, bringing my YTD total to 155 (Goodreads link).

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

over three-fourths (14/18) – were words on a page.
nearly two-thirds (11/18) were borrowed, two I owned, and five were purchased (four “new”, and one “used”).
only two were non-fiction … likely because I was reading from the Booker and NBA fiction lists.

My Reading Intentions continued to be pretty balanced, except that Connection is still lagging. I can only hope that number picks up as more folks read – and want to talk about! – new releases and books from the prize short lists:

Connection – 5
Growth – 8
Diversity – 6
Delight – 18 … all of them, even Jane Eyre (see below).

Only one book checked all four boxes:

Parable of the Sower, for MMD October bookclub (it’s also a January 2022 selection for Fiction Matters and I’m beyond delighted to have a great excuse to read it again so soon!)

Other ♥ notes from my journal:

♥ paper is way easier to borrow these days.
♥ finally read a 5-star Booker nominee (The Promise)!
♥ reading The Overstory (finally) and Bewilderment in the same month was a great introduction to Richard Powers.
♥ growth = learning about faith, trees(!!), the feminist lens, Japanese culture about “making” babies (Breast & Eggs … whoa!), Octavia Butler, poverty/social issues – it was a heavy month.
♥ recurring themes of STORY, and who gets to tell them.
♥ holding my TBR very loosely; only 11 of those 18 books were on my original TBR, and I haven’t even started nine of the books that were on that list.
♥ Jane Eyre re-read with Novel Pairings (it was the bookclub selection for September). 
and here’s where I wish my own handwriting were a bit more legible so I could just paste in a photo from my journal 😉 here’s what I wrote:

“well, this is complicated. I think it’s my 4th read of the book. and I was expecting that, with the Novel Pairings classes and podcasts, I’d love the book even more – maybe find it AMAZING (5-stars). Instead, they made me pay attention to all the troubling aspects in ways I couldn’t get past. maybe two stars? I did finish it. My 2013 Goodreads review (4 stars) said I LOVED Jane and the happy ending. sigh. Jane chose Rochester. and who had a happy ending? certainly not Bertha. But I decided to leave the 4 stars because I have LOVED the experience of reading along with so many smart readers. and learning more. I am enjoying the really close reading with the On Eyre podcast, hosted by Vanessa Zoltan, and Vanessa’s book Praying with Jane Eyre (which is 5-star deserving).”

I finished Praying with Jane Eyre a few weeks later and did give it 5 stars. This is a collection of personal essays reflecting on a particular text from Jane Eyre (there are 11 of these), Little Women, Harry Potter, and (even!) The Great Gatsby. Zoltan’s essays are beautifully written and have the perfect mix of head and heart (yes, I cried more than once). She includes tips at the end for making Sacred Reading a personal practice. I’m hoping to incorporate some of that into my own reading … still figuring out exactly how.

If you’re still on the fence about even putting this one on hold, Terry Tempest Williams wrote the Foreword. She and her husband (and a few others) joined Zoltan in June 2018 for a literary pilgrimage in Sussex Downs to read To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. “[She] learned through that process of reading To the Lighthouse in community with these brilliant, soulful people … that [she] wasn’t reading or writing deeply enough.” my sidebar note “me too”.

The Booker Prize announcement is November 3 – three weeks from yesterday – and I’m still reading Great Circle and The Fortune Men. I’m loving The Fortune Men and having trouble figuring out why Great Circle made the list. At this point, I’d be delighted if The Promise or The Fortune Men won … we’ll see!

My October TBR is going strong, and I’m most excited about Cloud Cuckoo Land … what are you most excited to read this month? (and if you have a prediction about the Booker Prize, do share!)

Here’s to reading better!

9 Comments

  • Debbie

    I couldn’t finish Parable of the Sower, it just made me sick to my stomach, I couldn’t sleep, & it gave me the creeps, but that is my usual reaction to dystopian novels. Instead, I read Caste, and although it is about some very disturbing parts of our history, it didn’t bother me in the same way. I wonder if it’s because it is non-fiction?
    I was disappointed in Great Circle, but the last 80 odd pages were fantastic!
    I should be getting a library copies of The Promise and Oh William! next week and I look forward to reading both books!

  • Bonny

    I don’t have any good Booker predictions. I read Bewildered and while I could appreciate discrete parts of the book, I was bewildered by it as a whole. I couldn’t even get into The Great Circle (and I tried twice). I think Shuggie Bain will always be my favorite Booker winner! I’m in a little bit of a reading slump bit am looking forward to Ann Patchett’s These Precious Days.

  • Kat

    I have no Booker predictions, but tho Shuggie was not my favorite… I am with Bonny. The discussion absolutely improved the novel for me!

    My book I am looking forward to… Oh, William! I am excicted to get it!

  • kym

    I found Bewilderment to be . . . a bewilderment, actually. Don’t see what the fuss is about, and ended up not finishing. Same with The Great Circle . . . I’ve heard mixed reviews on Cloud Cuckoo Land, so while I’m still planning to read it, my expectations are low. I’m looking forward to Oh, William! I’m reading (and really enjoying) The Lincoln Highway right now, and have heard really good things about Crossroads (Jonathan Franzen), so that might be next. I also just picked up Ruth Ozeki’s newest from the library yesterday (The Book of Form and Emptiness). Always so many good books out there . . .

  • karen

    I am impressed with your reading habits and your reading list. I am getting back to the reading fervor thank goodness, it was a little bit sketchy for a while. I am trying to hopefully make up for lost time and hit my reading goal which is not that high on goodreads but high for me 🙂

  • Penelope Witthauer

    Loved “Parable of the Sower” and I too still love “Jane Eyre”, despite the isssues. Starting “The Personal Librarian” by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. It is a novel based on J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, a black American woman who had to pass for white in order to hide her true identity. My TBR list continues to grow. I either need to read faster and more, or live longer. Maybe both! Happy Reading!

  • Juliann

    I just finished Bewilderment and the theme of caring for our planet and awareness of the bigger picture is showing up in so many of my recent reads. What kinds of books would fit the Connection catergory?

  • Sarah

    I have only read Bewilderment (loved it) and No One Is Talking About This (meh) so far from the short list, and now I’m wondering if I should even bother with Great Circle. I have it on hold at the library and still have quite a few weeks to wait for it, but no one seems to be loving it. I’d rather spend that time reading something wonderful. I also have The Promise on hold, but the wait is longer because my library has only one copy.

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