2023 Reading

Somehow I read 66 books this year, not counting the 12 I abandoned. I don’t know when I manage this. I read a little bit in the early mornings when Edith and I are waiting for her nanny to arrive; I don’t always manage this but sometimes she plays independently and I sit on the floor of her playroom and read my book. Edith goes to bed at about 7pm and I go to bed about 9, so usually I spend at least an hour of that time reading. And on the weekends, I read during her nap — usually I fall asleep for 30 or 45 minutes and then when I wake up, depending on how much longer she sleeps, I have about that much time again to read. That’s it, really, but I guess it’s enough to really get through some volume.

This year, I didn’t absolutely love that many books I read. Maybe I didn’t happen to read many truly exceptional ones, or maybe I’m just getting more critical. I really loved:

  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Actually, I initially rated this one as very good, but now I think I loved it, because I have thought about this one quite a lot over the past year. It has stayed with me. This might be because I have a daughter who adores her nanny and whose nanny adores her and sometimes I think about how devastated I would be for both of them if that relationship was severed.
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. I almost never truly love nonfiction books, so I’m extra impressed by those I do.
  • Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. I’m late on this one, but boy does it live up to the hype. Single person representation!!! There’s so little of it, and this book gets so much right.
  • Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Books that I thought were really great, but didn’t quite adore:

  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • This Is How by M.J. Hyland
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. The writing in this is phenomenal. I can’t say I loved it, because I just do not care about a pack of animalistic men brutalizing everyone and everything they come across. But the writing brought me as close to caring about that as anything could, which is saying something.
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
  • The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
  • A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

Books that I enjoyed:

  • Agatha Christie (I finished up the Marples this year and started in on the Poirots): The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side, A Caribbean Mystery, At Bertram’s Hotel, Sleeping Murder, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Murder on the Links, The Thirteen Problems, Three Blind Mice and Other Problems, The Mystery of the Blue Train
  • Death In Venice by Thomas Mann, trans. Michael Henry Heim
  • Far to Go by Alison Pick. Incidentally this was by far the most painful book I read this year. I think of it often when trying not to think of it and every time I think about it, I have to jerk my thoughts away like I touched a hot stove. It really destroyed me.
  • Wise Children by Angela Carter
  • Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  • The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
  • On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • A Headful of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. Also a tough one.
  • The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • World War Z by Max Brooks
  • The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  • Tinkers by Paul Harding
  • Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, trans. William Weaver
  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
  • Three Men In a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  • Weather by Jenny Offill

Books I thought were pretty meh:

  • Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
  • A Heritage and Its History by Ivy Compton-Burnett
  • The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett
  • Changing Places by David Lodge
  • Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
  • I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
  • Agatha Christie: Nemesis, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories, The Big Four
  • Animal by Lisa Taddeo
  • The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang, trans. Deborah Smith
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr
  • The Great Mental Models vol. 1-3 by Shane Parrish

Books I thought were bad:

  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite

Books I didn’t finish:

  • Don Quixote by Miguel D. Cervantes, trans. Edith Grossman. I know it’s foundational and all, but I got the gist.
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
  • About the Author by John Colapinto
  • Mort(e) by Robert Repino
  • The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
  • Innocence by Penelope Fitzgerald. I will probably revisit this some day, I just wasn’t in the mood.
  • The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt
  • Underworld by Don DeLillo
  • Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I will probably finish this some day.
  • The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

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