I really thought that I'd be spending more of my time these days reading.
I mean, I AM reading. But I'm also struggling with concentration, so reading has been more challenging than I expected. In fact, my reading has slowed down considerably in the last couple of weeks.
I'm sure this will change, but in the meantime, now that we've turned the corner on a new season (welcome, spring!), I want to share my Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading list with you.
Here goes. . .
I read Jacqueline Woodson's Red at the Bone just as winter was beginning -- and what a treat! I am always in awe of an author who can convey SO MUCH in such a compact package. Beautifully written, lyrical, spare . . . full of emotion and history and heart . . . and not even 200 pages. How does she do it??? I loved this book so very much. And now, it's on the Women's Prize long list for this year.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Polish writer Olga Tokarozuk (and wonderfully translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones) was a delightful diversion for me last January as I recovered from the flu. Full of quirky characters, there is something for everyone: a little mystery, a good deal of humor, touching relationships -- with some mushrooming, William Blake and plenty of astrology to keep things interesting. There is plenty to ponder, as well -- and especially our relationship with animals, nature, and hunting.
For me, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo is practically perfect in every way. It's an absolute treat! The writing is fresh and vibrant; the structure is imaginative and clever. The author presents a parade of characters that intersect through the course of the book -- sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes not. I loved discovering the connections between the characters, and I liked nothing so much as catching a little glimpse of one character in the background of another character's story. This book won the Man Booker Prize in 2019 (shared with Margaret Atwood's The Testament), and is also on the Women's Prize long list this year.
I read 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in the Strange World by Elif Shafak in mid-February. Initially drawn to this book by its unique title and beautiful cover, I found this to be a surprisingly uplifting story filled with compassion, generosity, and humanity. This is a book with perfect pacing -- it's almost like the author is casting a fishing line . . . reeling her readers in, and drawing us ever closer as the story progresses. The stories in this book are sad, yes, but at its heart, this is a loving tribute to friendship and the power of love.
I finished Niall Williams' This is Happiness recently -- just as the coronavirus madness was exploding into our lives, and just before the spring equinox. On the back of my copy of this book (from the library), there was a blurb from the Financial Times stating that Niall Williams’s prose is “life-affirming and written with a turn of phrase that makes the reader want to underline something on every page.” Oh, how true! There are so many, many wonderful nuggets of language, clever turns of phrase, witty laugh-out-loud words, and deep wisdom in this book! It's warm, whimsical, rather sorrowful but filled with hope – this is the kind of book that touches the soul and reminds you of what it means to be human. And it's a perfect, gentle read for our time . . . right now.
How about you?
What books would make it to your Top Five list of winter reading?
If you want to see what I'm reading now, or check out my recent reviews on Goodreads, just check out the sidebar here on my blog. You can find me here on Goodreads. And you can read my other Top Five lists by clicking the links below: