Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here is part one of two posts sharing my reads for January, 2020…
New Year’s Day (Old New York #4), by Edith Wharton – I thought it would be fun to re-read Edith Wharton’s novella, New Year’s Day, on actual New Year’s Day… and it was. I love this melancholy and ruminative story about things that are not what they seem, and I think I may make an annual re-read a tradition.
One Woman’s Year, by Stella Martin Currey – Another fun one to start off the year, I finished up this recent Persephone reprint, which combines commonplace book, diary, recipe collection and humor. It’s such fun to revisit a slower, more seasonal time in my reading.
Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, by Elizabeth von Arnim – Loved, loved, loved this novel in letters (one-sided) from the titular heroine, Rose-Marie Schmidt, to the vapid and useless Roger Anstruther. Rose-Marie is a thoroughly wonderful character, and her letters to Mr Anstruther – who cannot at all appreciate what a gem his pen-pal is – are a delight. Everything is in here – lovely nature writing, musings on books, elder-sisterly advice… I loved every page.
Great Goddesses, by Nikita Gill – I tore through this collection of poetry updating the Greek myths for modern times, and it was everything I want in a book of poems. Often sad, always beautiful and thought-provoking, and very relevant. Gill has another collection of poems and prose poems based on fairy tales, and I expect I will be seeking that out soon.
This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, by Melody Warnick – This came recommended by Anne Bogel on her short-form podcast One Great Book, and I did enjoy it. Some of Warnick’s lamenting about her struggles to love living in Blacksburg, Virginia – I have a friend there, and it’s actually a beautiful area – did come across as a bit tone-deaf and unaware of her privilege, but I mostly tuned that part out and focused on her practical suggestions (many of which would have come in more handy for me when I was miserable and homesick in Buffalo – I don’t really need help loving northern Virginia).
More to the Story, by Hena Khan – After loving Khan’s first middle-grade book, Amina’s Voice, I was eager to check out her homage to Little Women (with a Pakistani spin). It was absolutely wonderful. Jameela and her sisters felt so real – their struggles and heartaches and the love they had for each other, too – and I wanted to gather each one up for a big hug.
The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, by Catherine Reid – I’ve been staring at this book on my shelf since my dear friend Susan gave it to me for Christmas 2018, and I finally got around to reading it – and staring wide-eyed at the gorgeous photographs. It was absolutely stunning, and made me hanker for a return trip to PEI – my grandparents took me there on vacation when I was twelve, and I have never forgotten the beautiful scenery or the breathless excitement of being in “Anne’s house.”
The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2020, by Lia Leendertz – I have come to cherish and eagerly look forward to Leendertz’s yearly almanacs, with their gorgeous nature writing and beautiful pen and ink illustrations – not to mention the garden tips, recipes and lore bursting from the pages. I read 2020’s installment in one gulp, although I expect I will revisit it each month all year long – the new addition of a monthly section on what’s going on in the hedgerow was my favorite part.
Well, that takes us to about January 11th. I meant to recap my entire month’s reading, but there were sixteen titles and I want to be respectful of your time and attention. So I’ll do the rest next week and going forward either split each month to come into two parts or do just one omnibus recap at the end of the month as dictated by my reading list. Anyway! January got off to a strong start, as you can see – I enjoyed everything I read, to the point of finding it near impossible to pick a highlight. Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther was definitely one, and The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables was another, but really – the whole month was filled with one readerly delight after another. In 2020 I have decided to worry less about buzzy new releases or literary trends and just read what makes me happy, and you can see the results – sixteen books (eight here and eight more to come), all of which I enjoyed.
How was your January’s reading?