It’s been a minute since I’ve taken time to sit down and put non design-related thoughts on the blog. We’ve been incredibly busy over here at SFI with projects wrapping up, new projects kicking off, and managing the shop…oh yeah and raising three human children who are out of school at the moment 😉
All that said, it’s somehow been a banner year for books for me. I’ve managed to almost double my typical yearly book amount in the first six months of 2022, and I attribute that to a couple things:
- Audiobooks. Incorporating listening to books in addition to reading physical (or electronic) copies has been a game-changer in terms of expanding my reading. And not only for me, but for my kids, as well. These days we are rarely listening to music in the car, but rather using that time driving (and believe me, with three boys in school and sports, it’s a LOT of time) to step into other worlds and stories together.
- I had a plan. I’m participating in this reading challenge from The Literary Life Podcast (about which I cannot say enough wonderful things), which really kickstarted my reading for the year and gave me direction for what to read next. I think a ton of people get off course in their reading because they finish a book and don’t have anything in the proverbial queue, which creates a lull, which often leads to a complete drop-off. Also, Truman (my eldest) is doing the kids’ version of the challenge, so he’s added a fun element of accountability.
Some of my picks have been quite “high brow” and will impress; some you’ll absolutely judge me for – who cares 😉 So without further ado, what I’ve read so far this year:
- Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier is my GIRL. I didn’t love this as much as Rebecca, but it was very wonderful.
- The Hobbit – A re-read; we listened to a BBC production of this audiobook in the car with the boys.
- Delighting in the Trinity – One of those rare books that truly changes my life. Read it.
- The Midnight Library – I don’t know that I loved this one like the rest of the world seemed to, but it was still a fun/easy read.
- The Dearly Beloved – Honestly, I read 60% of this one and just quit. It made me so angry. Cannot recommend.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream – we listened to a lovely BBC production of this with the boys and it was SO fun. Also, shout out to classical education, which allowed my 9-year old to help me understand Shakespeare better.
- Anna Karenina – Maggie Gyllenhaal read this to me, which was lovely.
- Surprised by Oxford – Memoir of a beautifully-souled woman in a place that’s incredibly special to me.
- The Way of the Wilderking – this is the final book of this fantastic trilogy. We devoured all three during our nightly read-aloud time.
- A Tale of Two Cities – Still weeping.
- The Word is Murder – A very fun “cozy mystery” for the modern age.
- Murder on the Orient Express – Always a fan of Ms. Christie.
- Lady in Waiting – Not THAT one (if you were a female Christian in the early 2000s, you know what I mean). This was an interesting memoir of Anne Glenconner, a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret. Like I said, it was interesting, and also quite sad.
- I Capture the Castle – Adored this short read. Fun characters, dreamy setting, simple and beautiful plot. The movie isn’t bad, either.
- Circe – I devoured this quite quickly and really enjoyed it. However, I recently listened to a critique of it by a true classicist, and apparently there were many liberties taken that could be considered disrespectful to the primary sources. But, again, I loved it.
- The Last Thing He Told Me – A bestseller that’s made me wonder if the reading world has lost its actual mind. Fragile plot, zero engaging characters, gratuitous in its naming of landmarks to the degree that I looked into whether or not the city of Austin somehow funded the book… SKIP.
- Piranesi – Perhaps my favorite read of the year so far. Read it. Like, now.
- The Golden Key – We’re trying to get more MacDonald into our lives, and this made for such a lovely read-aloud with the boys.
- Tiger Rising – Read aloud to the boys. We normally love Kate DiCamillo, but this was the first of two misses from her for me this year.
- War Horse – Lovely story I listened to with the boys.
- Because of Winn Dixie – Second DiCamillo miss for me (boys liked it, however).
- The Enchanted April – Enchanting, indeed. Highly recommend.
- The Dutch House – I feel like “poignant” is overused when describing books, but alas: it fits.
- The Whimsical Christian – A series of essays by Dorothy Sayers, one of my favorite thinkers of the 20th century. I wrote down approximately one million quotes to save from this book.
- Serpent & Dove – No.
- Fable – No muscles were strained here, but the story was engaging…
- Namesake – …apparently engaging enough for me to immediately read the sequel.
- Just So Stories – Another audiobook I shared with the boys. Kipling is always a good idea.
- The Magicians Nephew – I read the full Chronicles of Narnia to the boys a couple years ago, but we decided to listen to the audiobooks this year. Even better the second time around.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- A Court of Thorns and Roses – The series for which I will be most harshly judged. I’m including it in the list for the sake of transparency, ha!
- A Court of Mist and Fury – The second (and best) of the series.
- A Court of Wings and Ruin – The third, and where one should stop (I made it about 30% into book four and stopped; totally different in all the ways).
- Tending the Heart of Virtue – I gifted this to the boys’ school librarian after reading. So lovely.
- The Horse and His Boy – One of my favorites from the Narnia series.
- Practical Magic – Not like the movie at all, but so different that it makes enjoying them separately possible.
- The Machine Stops – Carey Mulligan read this short audiobook to me. Only read if you want goosebumps because of Forster’s ability to basically see into the future.
- Throne of Glass – I decided not to judge a book by its cover, and it was a mistake. Big no.
- Prince Caspian – Narnia continues.
- A Room with a View – Read this, be moved, watch the film, be moved again.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Dufflepuds.
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – I read this years ago, but wanted to revisit it again in audio. Still loved it.
- The Silver Chair – Puddleglum.
- Phantastes – Another MacDonald read. Couldn’t have made it through without guidance.
- The Last Battle – Further up, and further in. Live like a Narnian, friends.
- Persuasion – Don’t tell anyone, but this was actually my first Austen. I get it now.
- Raising Emotionally Strong Boys – When David Thomas speaks, I listen. Big recommendation energy.
- The Year of Our Lord, 1943 – Dense, but fascinating. Alan Jacobs is invited to my imaginary dream dinner party.
Whew. Not sure I can keep this pace up, but I’m currently averaging 1.9 books a week, which isn’t bad. Current reads include The Age of Innocence and The Plot, while reading The Princess and the Goblin aloud to the boys (will make my third George MacDonald for the year!). I just started listening to Range (have heard such good things), and the boys and I are listening to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (I randomly disagreed tremendously with introduction of the edition we’re listening to, but I’m letting it slide).
What about you? Have you read any of these? Any great recommendations for us? I’m all ears!