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In a year that saw travel, adventure, some drama, and months on end of work craziness, I’m kind of amazed that I managed to read anything at all, let alone that I read so many wonderful books.  In times of stress and overwhelm, I turn to classics and old friends – nothing new there.  And the result is that I do find myself turning the pages of many, many fantastic books.  2019 was no exception.  And while this is always a hard post to write (I! Hate! Decisions!) here’s my very best of the best.

Doctor Thorne (Barsetshire #3), by Anthony Trollope – I have been slowly making my way through Trollope’s Barsetshire and liking each installment in the series better than the last.  I adored Doctor Thorne – laughed a LOT, cried a little, and enjoyed every single page.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot #4), by Agatha Christie – For some reason, I’d been thinking I had not read Roger Ackroyd before, but after figuring out the identity of the murderer, I now think maybe I did?  Either way, it was riveting and absolutely great.

Edith Wharton, by Hermione Lee – It took me a long time to get through this doorstopper of a biography of the enigmatic queen of American letters.  Lee’s exhaustive research was beyond impressive.  And fascinating.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski – This might be the most important book I read this year.  Life seems to get harder and harder, and I am feeling the effects of all that stress piling up on my shoulders.  The Nagoski sisters are full of tea and sympathy and tried and true scientific strategies for coping.  I’m already thinking of a reread.

Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf – For the longest time I have been someone who wanted to like Virginia Woolf.  I tried.  A LOT.  Mrs. Dalloway finally broke the barrier for me.  I was enthralled.

The Eagle of the Ninth (Roman Britain #1), by Rosemary Sutcliff – Ostensibly a book for younger readers, Sutcliff’s first installment in her Roman Britain series was exciting, heart-wrenching, and completely page-turning.  My reading experience was enhanced by the gorgeous Slightly Foxed Cubs edition I had, but really – there’s everything to love about this book.

 

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden – I can’t resist a nature diary, especially a richly illustrated one, and Holden had been on my list for so long.  It was gorgeous and luminous and everything I was looking for.

Anne of the Island (Anne of Green Gables #3), by L. M. Montgomery – It seems like cheating to include Anne on here, but anytime the fabulous Miss Shirley puts in an appearance, she’s a highlight.  Anne of the Island is my favorite, and probably most frequently reread, of the series.

I Was A Stranger, by General Sir John Hackett – One of the last books I read in 2019 was also one of the best.  Hackett, then a Brigadier General with the British Forces in World War II, was parachuted into the Netherlands shortly before the disastrous Battle of Arnhem.  I Was A Stranger is his memoir of several months he spent recuperating from his wounds and being hidden behind enemy lines by a family of mild-mannered ladies.  It’s a beautifully written, contemplative, tense and exciting book and a testament to Hackett’s gratitude to Aunt Ann, Aunt Cor, and Aunt Mien, who took unimaginable personal risks to shelter a stranger who became one of the family.

Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell – It’s hard, but I think this is my book of the year.  I loved everything about Wives and Daughters and already am thinking of rereading it.  For years I had an unfair prejudice against Gaskell and I’m so glad I’ve rid myself of that nonsense.

2019 was many things, not all of them great, but it was a WONDERFUL year in reading.  Old friends, new-to-me classics, rediscovered favorites, and lots of happy, cozy moments spent turning pages.  What more can you ask for?

Next week, my book superlatives – one of my favorite posts of the year!

Okay, here we go.  It’s taken me half the month, but I think I’m ready to set some goals for 2020.  This will be a year of changes – some I’m choosing (or hoping) to make for myself, and others for which I’m simply along for the ride – and my first resolution is to embrace the upheaval.  We’re going to move houses; the kids will change schools.  I’m looking at both of these changes as opportunities – opportunities to start fresh and to shed a lot of extra stuff we’ve been carrying around – in terms of personal property and emotional baggage.  It’s time.

Other resolutions, in no particular order:

  • Get back on the running trails, and rediscover my love for my old sport.
  • Buy nothing new for three months.  This doesn’t include food, toiletries, other consumables, gifts or things for the kiddos – but as for myself, I’d like to be a more conscious member of the circular economy.
  • Go up in a hot air balloon.
  • Hydrate, eat the rainbow, move, and generally stop putting everyone else’s well-being before my own.
  • Continue to build my bread-baking skills, and experiment with new bread recipes.
  • Do another twelve months’ hiking project on the blog.
  • Finally finish that purge of all the junk we have been moving from house to house for the last decade.  I’m over it.
  • Related: give away, donate, or discard 2,020 items, and pick up 2,020 pieces of trash in my neighborhood.
  • Read what I want to read, and not feel pressured to keep up with buzzy new releases.
  • Finish a big family memory-keeping project I’ve been planning for years, in time for Christmas 2020.
  • Travel, have adventures, push boundaries, and get outside my comfort zone regularly.  (How’s that for specific?)

There – ten normal goals, plus one vague adventure resolution for good luck.  All over the map, but the common thread I can see running through this list is: seeking balance; paring down and simplifying life and prioritizing things like time spent in nature and with loved ones; and making the most of my time.  While this list is somewhat wishy-washy, I have an idea of what I’d like life to look like at the end of 2020, and it’s quite a bit different from what life looks like here at the starting gate.  I have some more thinking and a lot of work to get to that place, but it’s taking shape in my head – so that, in and of itself, is progress.

Have you made resolutions for 2020?

Hello from the Big Easy.  Laissez le bons temps rouler!  I’m here on business all week – so for those of you who are enjoying a holiday Monday off work right now, I salute you and hope you have a wonderful day, but I’m working and what’s more, I was working yesterday, too.  I’m at a week-long trial advocacy training conference that I know is going to be a wonderful and valuable experience, and I get to explore New Orleans a little bit in my very limited free time, so that’s going to be fun.  I got in yesterday morning at 8:30 a.m. local time – yes, that meant a 6:30 a.m. flight out of D.C.  #yawn.  So far the highlight has definitely been flying in over the bayou.  Wish I could get out and explore it, but that’s definitely not going to happen!  So – anyway – it wasn’t much of a weekend.  On Friday night Steve and I were able to escape for a date night, which was fun, but we mostly discussed our ongoing frustrations with our kids’ school situation, which was not fun.  Saturday was just a bumming around the house kind of day.  Steve spent most of the day hauling things out of the basement.  Long story, but our landlords’ aged and decrepit washing machine overflowed and flooded the basement.  Steve thought: no probs, we’ll just use our own washer that we’ve moved from house to house.  Well!  It didn’t survive the last move, and is even deader than the ancient model that came with our rental.  So, not great, but just the kick in the pants we needed to really apply ourselves to cleaning the basement.  While Steve worked on his portion of the job (hauling, moving, etc.) I spent the day breaking up bickering matches between the kids, who seemed determined to make it reeeeeeeally easy for me to leave on a business trip the next day.  And then – leave I did, at zero dark thirty, and have been holed up in a hotel near the New Orleans convention center in lectures and mock trials ever since.

Reading.  Most of the week was devoted to Madensky Square, which is on its final library renewal.  Deadline ahoy!  It’s proving much better than Magic Flutes, but a slower go.  But rather than hauling a library hardcover along with all of the conference materials (two BIG binders) I had to bring on the plane, I decided to leave it home, and as a result, I wasn’t really all that motivated to churn through it over the week.  So little motivated, in fact, that on Saturday I wandered off and read Wonder Woman, Vol. I: The Just War, by G. Willow Wilson (!!!) instead.  I’ve been looking forward to Wilson’s take on Wonder Woman for ages now, and she didn’t disappoint.  But never fear, friends.  The kindle came with me to the conference, so I’m not short of reading material.  Over the course of my plane ride and dinner on Sunday, I read through Whose Body? – trying to catch up on the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries I’ve not yet read, and this was one of them.  It was good, but not as good as any Wimsey novel featuring Harriet Vane.  Finally – I’m all over the place – after taking leave of Lord Peter, I started The Siren Years, a Canadian diplomat’s wartime diary detailing his posting in London in the late 1930s.  Right up my street.

Watching.  The usual: one or maybe two episodes of The Great British Baking Show.  Also!  Very exciting news, you guys!  A new season of PJ Masks dropped on Netflix!  Okay, maybe not all that exciting for you, and – if I’m being honest – not all that exciting for me either, but certain people with whom I live (when I’m not swanning off to legal conferences) are very stoked about this.

Listening.  The Shedunnit obsession continues apace.  I think I’ve listened to about half of the available episodes so far and I cannot! get! enough!  I’m not even sure I can pick a highlight.  The show is such a great mix of history, literary criticism, and true crime.  I love the way the host, Caroline Crampton, tracks the golden age crime writers’ inspirations by profiling notorious real cases of the day, then loops in a discussion of the books in which the actual crimes and trials are mentioned.  It’s such fun, and I am loving every second.

Making.  Nothing, really, at all.  It was a busy week at work, getting ready for my conference, and made more complicated by home excitement (washing machine roulette!) so I didn’t really have time to do anything creative at all.  Plus, why bother to bake bread or make homemade soup when you’re going to be away all week and the other three people in your household never eat what you make?

Blogging.  I have some resolutions and a general theme for the year on Wednesday, and Part II of my annual reading retrospective on Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  Since I suppose it would be cheating to say I am loving Shedunnit for a second time in a row, I have to pick something else.  Think, think, think, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say.  You know what I’m really enjoying right now?  Reading my own books.  I know, you just fell over.  Don’t all get up off the floor at once.  I have been trying for more balance in my reading over the past couple of months, so this isn’t exactly new.  But it’s definitely picking up steam.  I love supporting the library and will never stop borrowing books – don’t worry.  We’re not going too crazy here.  But I have a collection of books I’ve curated to exactly my tastes and I’ve started making a real effort to actually enjoy them.  There’s no reason for them to sit unread on my shelves.  In all of January so far, I’ve only read one-and-a-half library books; all the rest have been from either my physical bookshelves or my kindle.  And I am having so much fun; it turns out, I bought these books for a reason!  Look at me go!

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Here we go!  One of my longest, most painstakingly put together, complicated – and favorite – posts of the year.  I’m sure there are avid readers out there who don’t track their reading, and don’t enjoy looking back over past years’ book lists.  I’m sure they exist.  I just don’t know any of them, and am definitely not one myself.  In fact, there’s very little I like more than a good saunter through the previous year’s reading.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

Facts and Figures

First, the basics: according to Goodreads, I read 127 books in 2019, for a total of 37,780 pages.  Wowsers!  The page total might be a little off – Goodreads page totals vary by edition and I’m not always diligent about making sure I have marked the same edition that I’m reading.  But it’s about there.  That’s more than my stated Goodreads Challenge goal of reading 104 books – a pace of two per week – but less than my secretly cherished goal of 156 books – a pace of three per week.  Three per week would have been a lot; I may have managed it had work been less busy, but it wasn’t, and 127 is still darn respectable, so I’ll take it.

Again according to Goodreads, the shortest book I read was the bite-sized novella The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While, by Catherynne M. Valente.  And the longest book was the dense doorstopping biography Edith Wharton, by Hermione Lee.  Edith Wharton was wonderful, but it did take me a loooooooooong time to get through it.

Lots of other people read Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, this year.  It was a re-read for me – I read it for my book club, and also to prepare for watching the fabulous adaptation on Amazon Prime.  And it seems I was the only Goodreads user who read Summer Places this year.  What a shame!  Simon Parkes paintings, interspersed with essays about plein air painting and the Hudson River School.  Why don’t more people pick that up?  The mind boggles.  I’m not being sarcastic.  It’s a beautiful book.

Pass the Pie

Oh, how I love pie charts.  Let me count the ways.

What I Read…

First, the basics.  As expected, I read more fiction than non-fiction this year – that’s normal for me.  The proportions are about the usual, too.  In the past few years, I’ve gotten more into poetry and I am always looking to increase the number of books of poetry I read – but fiction is going to be the top every year, and that’s just how it is.

Let’s break that down a bit more.  Starting with fiction, I read fairly widely across genres.  Classics were the largest component, which is – again – as expected.  The older I get, the more I know what I like and what I don’t like – and I find that I enjoy most classics more than anything else.  There are exceptions – for instance, I really didn’t get along with Flannery O’Connor this year – but usually, a classic novel or story collection is likely to be a winner for me.  I love a good mystery novel, too, and that shows in the high number I read this year.  What was more unusual?  Ten science fiction or fantasy novels, and sixteen historical fiction – neither a genre that I usually read much during the year; I always feel surprised that I didn’t read more historical fiction, but this year I’m not.  Sixteen titles made up a full 20% of my total fiction list this year, which is huge for me.  On the other hand, only one literary fiction title – that’s also unusual, and reflects a little less effort on my part to keep up with the big lit-fic titles of the year (and shelving some in historical fiction or science fiction and fantasy when they could, perhaps, do double duty).

As for non-fiction genres, again, I read fairly widely.  The largest category is culture, which was a bit of a catch-all for me this year – encompassing books about books, self-help (such as Burnout or Digital Minimalism) and books about cultural phenomena (like Lagom).  Biography and memoir combined for eleven titles, all of which I heartily enjoyed.  I read a little less than usual in the politics and history category, but more in science and nature writing.  And I’d like to read more travel books in 2020.

Who I Read…

Wow – I read a lot more women than men this year.  I usually read more female authors, but it’s a little closer to even most years; in 2019 I was heavily into female authors.  Only one “both” – not because I didn’t read other books with both male and female contributors, but this year I categorized those either male or female depending on the editor.  But I still had to have the “both” category because I read To Kill a Mockingbird: The Graphic Novel, an adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic by graphic novelist and artist Fred Fordham.  They don’t get equal billing, because: Harper Lee.  But Fordham needed some credit for his wonderful adaptation work.  And – this is very exciting – I read one book by a gender non-binary author this year!  That would be Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston.  (I’d love to read more gender non-binary authors in 2020, if anyone has recommendations.)

Where I Read…

It’s always a back-and-forth between the U.S. and England for the highly sought-after title of “most heavily read setting on Jaclyn’s booklist” – that’s a heavily sought-after title, right?  Don’t tell me if it isn’t.  It was a decisive win for England in 2019, with 32.3% to only 26% for the old U.S. and A.  Canada only had four titles this year, and the rest of the world (continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East) patched together sixteen.  (Countries covered, which I do track but don’t graph, were Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Iran, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.  Apologies to the rest of the world.)  As usual, there were a smattering of books set in fictional worlds, books set in multiple locations (where the characters moved around so much it was impossible to pin them down to a primary setting) and books with no setting (all non-fiction).

How I Read…

Very heavily weighted in favor of physical books.  Only one audiobook and two kindle books in 2019.  I read five journals – all issues of Slightly Foxed – and six comics or graphic novels.  Hoping for a bit more variety in 2020, but I’ll always be mostly a physical book person.

And finally, the source of the books.  Again, one sourced from Audible and two from Kindle, and the rest divided between the library and my own bookshelves.  I surprised myself by reading more heavily than usual off my own shelves this year – the library to own-shelves ratio was only two to one; it’s usually more heavily weighted to the library.  Although I poke fun at myself for my library addiction, I’m really happy either way.  I have a wonderful home library that I’ve collected carefully and thoughtfully, and I’m usually guaranteed to enjoy what comes off my own shelves.  But I just can’t quit my weekly walks to the neighborhood branch of my city library.  And I have no self control once I get there, but I’m also fine with that.

And there it is!  Another excellent year of reading in the books.  (<–see what I did there?)  2019 was a lot of classics and a lot of female authors, so it’s no wonder I’m looking back so fondly on my reads from last year.  My list could be a bit diverse, it’s true – unless I’m paying very close attention and making it a specific goal to read more widely, my list does tend to be very white and very English-speaking.  It’s gotten better since I started seeking out books by authors of color, LGBTQ+ and genderqueer authors, and works in translation, but there’s always room for improvement.  I don’t have a specific diversity goal for my reading in 2020, but I will continue to pay attention.

What did your 2019 in books look like?

Thoughts About Resolutions

Last year (how is it that 2019 is last year? where did it go?) I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions.  This was unusual for me, because ordinarily I love making New Year’s resolutions.  I enjoy the clean slate, the expanse of days ahead of me, and the motivation to set and achieve goals.  But I was tired, a little raggedy, and just not into it last year.  So – I didn’t.

And the result?  Without setting any goals, to be honest, I didn’t achieve much of anything.  Now, that’s partly due to a crazy year at work.  I hit the ground running in January and it didn’t really let up all year long.  That made it hard to do anything for me, hard to think about my long-term goals or set any kind of big plans in motion, and hard even to get through the day-to-day.  When work is just nonstop, there’s nothing else for it.  I still read a lot – thanks, public transit commute! – and managed to get away for two vacations, including one without the kids.  So 2019 wasn’t a wash, not by a long shot.  But some things do need to be different in 2020.

For a professed change-hater, I’m staring down the barrel of a few big changes in 2020.  We’re planning to move again – just a local move, nothing too crazy – and with the move will come a change in the kids’ school situations.  I think both of these changes are going to be positive, but there’s no denying life is going to look different at the end of 2020.  And I’ve got a few private goals, too.

I haven’t got my 2020 resolutions sorted quite yet, but I do know I will have some.  And I don’t have a word of the year just yet, but my thoughts are coalescing around something like a theme.  More soon.

Are you a maker of resolutions?

While you’d never be able to tell from this picture (which looks COLD!) it was seventy degrees in NoVA this weekend.  Seventy! Degrees! In! January!  Totally wild.  And while I usually freak out about climate change anytime it’s unseasonably warm, this time I tried to relax and remind myself that we have always had one or two midwinter thaws for as long as I’ve lived here.  So we got outside a lot this weekend, and enjoyed every second.  On Saturday, we headed to Great Falls Park for a hike – us and what felt like everyone else in the greater D.C. area.  It was a beautiful day and people were definitely enjoying the park.  We saw plenty of wildlife, though – ducks, cardinals, vultures, geese, and the elusive Peanut-In-Jeans.  Still in search of fresh air, after we got home we walked down to the waterfront, meandered around for a bit, and then took the trolley back up the street and had dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar.  (Steve recently remarked that since we’re moving out of the neighborhood this year, we should make it a point to frequent our favorite spots while they’re still walking distance.  Not that we can’t pile into the car and drive over from McLean or Arlington or Fairfax or Oakton or Great Falls or wherever we land, but it won’t be quite as easy.)

Sunday was even hotter than Saturday.  Nugget fancied another walk to the waterfront, so that’s what we did – coupled with brunch at Mia’s Italian Kitchen.  We passed the rest of the day quietly.  I wrote a letter to my grandmother; cooked up a big batch of cabbage soup with Beyond sausage, white beans, and fire-roasted tomatoes; and baked a sourdough boule in my new bread cloche.  It came out decently well, but I have some practicing to do.  The kids dug in the sandbox and Steve watched football.  A good lazy Sunday to set me up for a week in which I have a deposition scheduled, not to mention a Very Important Meeting.  Wish me luck, guys.

Reading.  It’s been a busy reading week; I was flying through books left and right.  On Monday I turned to my first library books of 2020 – two weeks in; are you impressed?  I liked This is Where You Belong, but to be honest, it felt like a lot of common sense.  And I don’t need help feeling rooted or place-attached – maybe in Buffalo this book would have helped me more, but here in Virginia I’m right at home.  Next I turned to More to the Story and polished it off in a day – I loved it.  A modern, Muslim retelling of Little Women by a wonderful middle-grade writer; what’s not to like?  Next up – back to my own shelves for some nature writing, first with The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2020 and next with The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables.  Loved both, and closed Landscapes very reluctantly.  I ended Sunday by raiding my Slightly Foxed shelf and picking up Country Boy, which I’ve been meaning to get to for some time now.  It should stand me in good stead this week, I think.

Watching.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, again.  The kids are obsessed.  I don’t hate this new jag of theirs!  Peanut is worried that Hagrid is going to die, though.  A kid in her class told her that he does.  Steve and I both told her the kid is wrong (she likes spoilers, likes to know what’s going on) but she’s still anxious about him.

Listening.  Podcasts, this week, just a few.  I caught up with The Book Riot Podcast and listened to a couple of episodes of Speak Up for the Ocean Blue.  But for the highlight, you’ll have to scroll down to “loving.”

Moving.  Hike on Saturday, run on Sunday morning, lots of walking all weekend.  Still a weekend warrior; I need to get back in the habit of gymgoing during the week.  My office has a lovely gym facility.  But last week I was out of the office most days, in depositions.  And this coming week I have a very busy Monday, a deposition on Tuesday, and the rest of the week isn’t looking any likelier.  I just have to find the time, and it sounds like excuses, but it really is hard to find an hour during the day (and it does take at least an hour, between going downstairs, changing, working out, showering, changing, and getting back to my desk).

Making.  Well, mostly, I told you up above – I made cabbage soup, sourdough boule, and a letter to my grandmother.  Three very satisfying things to create.

Blogging.  Thoughts about resolutions on Wednesday – spoiler alert, if you don’t make resolutions, you definitely don’t keep them and mostly don’t achieve anything notable at all.  Or at least I don’t.  And on Friday, the first in my three-part reading retrospective, in which I dissect lots of data about my 2019 reading in the most nerdily navel-gazing post of the year.  It’s gonna be lit.

Loving.  I am so excited about a new-to-me podcast I recently stumbled across, friends!  It’s called Shedunnit, and as Steve said, it was basically made for me.  It’s a storytelling-style podcast (my preferred style, which I like much better than long-form interview podcasts) exploring golden age detective fiction with a focus on women – both the authors and the sleuths.  I’m binging it, and so far I’ve listened to the introductory episode and to the first three regular episodes – about the “surplus women” in England after World War I and the Spanish Flu wiped out 700,000 men in a few years; queer stories in golden age crime novels; and a real-life murder case that inspired many of the golden age writers.  The next episode is all about the eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie, and to say I’m giddy about listening to it would be an understatement.  Golden age crime fiction is one of the greatest joys of my reading life, and I can’t wait to devour every episode of Shedunnit.

Asking.  Will you please keep your fingers crossed for me during my Very Important Meeting this week?  And also, what are you reading?

Yes, I know, Christmas was – what, three weeks ago? – and it’s well past time to let it go.  But I can’t quite move on, because I haven’t shown you my Christmas book haul yet, and there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned navel-gazing book haul post, amirite?  My family knows just what I like – BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS.  So that’s mostly what I unwrapped on Christmas morning and when we celebrated our family Christmas with my parents a few days later.  Here’s the haul, in all its glory.

From Steve (a.k.a. Santa)

  • The Secret Commonwealth, by Robert Kirk (NYRB Classics)
  • Balcony in the Forest, by Julien Gracq (NYRB Classics)
  • More Was Lost, by Eleanor Perenyi (NYRB Classics)
  • Great Goddesses, by Nikita Gill
  • Hangman’s Holiday, by Dorothy L. Sayers (Folio Society)
  • The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey (Folio Society)
  • Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen (Folio Society)
  • Emma, by Jane Austen (Folio Society)
  • Wonder Woman: The Just War, by G. Willow Wilson
  • Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus, Volume II, by William Moulton Marston

From my parents

  • Gin Austen, by Colleen Mullaney
  • Woodswoman, by Ann La Bastille
  • Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, by Michelle Obama
  • Eliza Hamilton, by Tilar J. Mazzeo

From my brother and sister-in-law

  • Saving Tarboo Creek, by Scott Freeman

So much great reading material here!  Steve added to my collections of NYRB classics, poetry, Wonder Woman, and Folio Society – and completed my set of the Folio editions of Jane Austen.  Hurray, thank you Steve!  My mom somehow found the one book I asked her for – Woodswoman – which I worried would be unavailable everywhere (it’s not exactly a buzzed-about title!) and added a few others that I wouldn’t have thought to buy for myself but that look delightful.  And my brother’s gift looks like a fascinating read.  Clearly, I have my winter’s reading planned out.

Did you open any book-shaped packages this holiday season?