January was a lovely start to 2016 reading. I read four books that count toward my Read My Own Damn Books (RMODB) challenge, and most importantly: kept my resolution to read “1 for 1” – for every 1 newly acquired, galley or library book I read, I want to read 1 book I’ve owned for longer than a year. I also read a diverse selection of books, read books from 5 non-American authors (although I need to expand more outside of English speaking counties), and made time to re-listen to some of my favorite books, which was excellent comfort reading during this busy month.
Books Read: 11
- Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
- My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
- Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Twelve Moons by Mary Oliver was the first book I read for the Read My Own Damn books challenge. I’ve been hoarding Mary Oliver’s backlist, and trying not to fly through them all too quickly. Luckily though, she’s so prolific that I still have a lot to discover. As always, I really enjoyed her beautiful poetry about nature and the wild world around us. (And, as you’ll see below – I bought 3 more from her backlist at Strand, so my pile of Mary Oliver poetry isn’t going to run out any time soon.)
I am so glad my RMODB challenge got me to pick up Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I’d been meaning to read this classic for years, and it ended up being my favorite book of the month. It’s so funny! And it’s so good. Witnessing Flora Poste encounter the Starkadders and pull them up out of their own misery is a treat that everyone should experience. It’s a backwards fish out of water story – similar to Mary Poppins. She improves the lives of everyone around her, and refuses to compromise her standards. It’s such a treat. I finished it on a Saturday morning, and later that day Graham and I watched the 1995 adaptation with Kate Beckinsale. The movie is never as good as the book, but it was still fun to watch Cold Comfort Farm come to life, and it has an excellent cast.
I got Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault out from the library this month. It’s a lovely YA graphic novel, the story of a girl who is a bit of an outcast at school. Her former group of friends no longer include her, and they’ve started making fun of her and making her feel lonely and sad at school. She finds solace in reading Jane Eyre, and soon finds comfort in her own mind and the world around her. It’s also beautifully illustrated.
Another book from my own shelves that I’m so glad I picked up this month is The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. This is my sixth by Le Guin, and I’m now convinced she can do no wrong. This was published in the early 1970s, but its parallels to the challenges and threats we’re facing today are a bit eerie. It’s imaginative, fascinating, and hard to put down. It’s a great entry point into her work, if you haven’t read any yet.
According to GoodReads, the fact that I absolutely hated The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield puts me in the minority. But boy did I hate it. It took me about 100 pages to get into it, but even at that point I was on the fence about whether I liked most the characters or not. Every single one felt like a caricature. And then the ending happened, which I won’t say much about here, but it made me so incredibly mad, and made the whole book feel manipulative to me. This was my first 1 star review on GoodReads in a long time.
I have a whole stack of Buddhist books I haven’t read yet, and I try to pick up one every few months because they do me so much good. They help me stay present and mindful, and help me be a more compassionate & patient person. I picked up Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm by Thích Nhất Hạnh this month because I’ve been experiencing a lot of anxiety and unnecessary worry about a whole host of unlikely scenarios. Like everything Thích Nhất Hạnh writes, this one is filled with grace and wisdom, and I benefited from my time spent in his care. But most of it is a more general guide to the Buddhist way of life rather than a deep dive into fear and how to overcome it.
Books Purchased: 8
I bought two books to complement & aide my journey through Proust: Marcel Proust’s Search for Lost Time by Patrick Alexander and Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time by Eric Karpeles. I had some Strand credit, and went on a little shopping spree. I bought: House of Light by Mary Oliver, Red Bird by Mary Oliver, Blue Iris by Mary Oliver, Peace is Every Breath by Thích Nhất Hạnh, and Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. I also bought one book on my honeymoon in Newport, from Spring Street Books: The Silent Traveller in San Francisco by Chiang Yee.