Reading Round-Up: January, 2022

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for January, 2022.

New Year’s Day, by Edith Wharton – This is something of a New Year’s tradition for me, although I don’t re-read it every year. But I love starting off the year with Wharton’s poignant and captivating (if tragic) novella.

Patsy, by Nicole Dennis-Benn – The story of a woman who leaves her native Jamaica for the United States – leaving a small daughter behind – not to guarantee a better life for her family but to put herself first, this came highly recommended. The writing was certainly enthralling, but I found the main character profoundly frustrating.

Welcome to Dunder Mifflin, by Brian Baumgartner and Ben Silverman – This very exciting Christmas present (thank you, Steve!) lived up to every bit of anticipation. Baumgartner (better known as Kevin Malone on The Office) and Silverman collect the recollections of cast, crew, studio executives and others to compile what really is the ultimate oral history of The Office. I loved the show on first-run and have watched it multiple times on re-run, and this was a magical read.

A Time to Keep Silence, by Patrick Leigh Fermor – This collection of three long-form essays about Fermor’s experiences staying in monasteries was a quiet, contemplative read – and beautifully written. I enjoyed the first essay the most, and would have loved more of the third.

A Countryman’s Winter Notebook, by Adrian Bell – Slightly Foxed has collected a wide range of samples from Adrian Bell’s newspaper columns about nature and country living, hinting at three more seasonal collections to come (I keep checking to see if the spring collection has been announced yet… not yet). I loved this.

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare – Reading Twelfth Night on the actual Twelfth Night seemed like a good idea. It was a fun way to see out the Christmas season (twins! disguises! hijinks!) but probably not destined to become a January tradition for me.

Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars, by Francesca Wade – Fascinating – the author discovered that five very different women, writers and public intellectuals all, lived in the same small Bloomsbury square in the period between World War I and World War II. She takes readers on a spin through the lives and work of the modernist poet H.D.; detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers; classicist Jane Harrison; economist Eileen Power; and Virginia Woolf, who needs no introduction. It’s a fantastic concept and a wonderful book.

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village, by Maureen Johnson and Jay Cooper – This is a slightly longer version of the absolutely hilarious essay (which originally appeared on CrimeReads) and I giggled my way through it in one sitting. So much fun, and I’ll revisit it many times.

Mrs. Tim Carries On (Mrs. Tim #2), by D.E. Stevenson – Can’t go wrong with D.E. Stevenson, and especially with Mrs. Tim! This volume of the eponymous lady’s diaries finds her carrying on through World War II. There are poignant moments (husband Tim is caught up in the Dunkirk evacuation and is missing for a time, but spoiler – he’s all right) and lots of laughs to break up the wartime gloom.

Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman – I devoured Gorman’s first poetry collection in a day; it was just what I needed to read – beautiful, cathartic, and galvanizing.

Through the Woods, by H.E. Bates – I love to open the year with some seasonal reading, and this journey through the months in an English wood was a lovely, contemplative read.

Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World, by Mark Aldridge – Another very exciting Christmas present (Steve nailed it!) – I was anxious to read this after seeing it recommended by Michael Dirda in The Washington Post. It’s a journey through Hercule Poirot’s life and career in books, film, television and popular culture – absolutely fascinating. Also, Poirot is definitely the greatest detective in the world. Move over, Holmes.

Jane’s Country Year, by Malcolm Saville – This was a wildly anticipated pre-order for me (reprinting a classic from the 1940s that I’d seen recommended on Miranda Mills’ YouTube channel more than once) and it absolutely lived up to the anticipation. Jane is a young girl, sent to live on a farm with her aunt and uncle while she convalesces from a long illness. She quickly falls in love with the farm and with country life, and her year of hiking around the countryside, birding and wildflower spotting with new friends, is a total delight.

Slightly Foxed No. 72: The Cat Who Was Cleopatra, ed. Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood – As usual, I enjoyed every essay in the latest issue of Slightly Foxed – although this was an odd one out for not adding to my to-read-immediately pile. There was a fresh perspective offered on some of my old favorites, as ever, but nothing that grabbed my attention or tempted me to add to my Amazon wishlist. But even when that happens, it’s 94 pages of bookish delight in and of itself, so a win all around.

Original Letters from India, by Eliza Fay – Fay was a contemporary of Jane Austen, accompanying her lawyer husband to take up practice in Calcutta. The letters she wrote home to her parents and sisters chronicle every step of her journey, from taking in theatrical performances in the presence of royalty to being captured and held prisoner by insurgents. Talk about an adventurous woman!

The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves #2), by P.G. Wodehouse – When you need to laugh, Jeeves always delivers. This early volume of Bertie and Jeeves’ adventures chronicles the romantic travails of Bingo Little; Bertie’s narrow escape from Honoria Glossop; and the alarming adventures of Claude and Eustace – and more. It was just what I needed during a very tense week in the news cycle here in Virginia.

Whew! Some month of reading, indeed. I think February will be a lighter month, so if you made it to the end of this post (well done!) there’s relief ahead. But I did read a LOT of good stuff in January. I’m not sure I can even choose highlights. There was Amanda Gorman; she has to headline any month that contains her poetry. But what I needed most this month was comfort and levity, and there’s not much better in that respect than Jeeves, or Dunder Mifflin – and I had both, which made such a difference in my state of mind during a long, stressful news month.

What did you read in January?

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