Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading
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:
Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading
My favorite books this winter include: A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan, This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, This Is Happiness by Niall Williams, Apeirogon by Colum McCann, and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Here's to more good reading!
Posted by: Debbie | 03/24/2020 at 10:32 AM
I think the top 4 books I read this winter would include The Book of Delights, This Is Happiness, Nothing to See Here, and definitely Late Migrations. Drive Your Plow ... is now on my list. Thanks for your intriguing description!
Posted by: Bonny | 03/24/2020 at 10:47 AM
These have been on my TBR list for some time. I'm sticking with some non e-books these days. I seem to be able to read them more easiy. I'm re-reading Olive Kitteridge before diving into Olive, Again. I have not read much this winter, I was in a slump for so long. But, topping the list is definitely Late Migrations (which i now see I read last August!!). So, Winter reading: The Dutch House, Clinch River by Susan Hankla (poetry), Big Chief Elizabeth by Giles Milton and When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. Also, I jsut finished "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter!"
Posted by: Vera | 03/24/2020 at 11:08 AM
Thank YOU!!! for your last.
My lists : Death in the Grand Canyon
and Lost in the Boundary Waters
also Gary Larson big book of cartoons. A must for me
Posted by: kathy b | 03/24/2020 at 11:51 AM
Thank you for talking about our favorite books from the winter of reading. I agree with your first three but haven't quite finished 10 minutes...I loved Apeirogon by Colum McCann, and Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, as well as The Beekeeper of Aleppo. I'm ordering from the local bookshop just to support them at this time and I'll put Happiness on my list!
Posted by: margene | 03/24/2020 at 12:16 PM
Mine were: "Writers and Lovers" by Lily King, "The Learning Curve" by Mandy Berman, "The Truants" by Kate Weinberg and "Such a Fun age" by Kiley Reid. Thanks for all the suggestions here!
Posted by: Kim Sheehan | 03/24/2020 at 01:13 PM
I have only read one of these, so now I have new titles to add to my list! My recent favorite reads: "The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell" by Robert Dugoni, "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones, "Bury Your Dead" by Louise Penny (yes, I'm catching up), "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren, and "Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland" by Patrick Radden Keefe.
Posted by: Sarah | 03/24/2020 at 03:59 PM
I agree on 10 Minutes 38 Seconds, I loved it! I read Red at the Bone last summer since I got an advance copy from Net Galley and I thought it was beautiful. I love how Woodson packs so much into this relatively short book. My other winter favorites would include The World That We Know, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, and Olive Kitteridge.
Posted by: Carole | 03/24/2020 at 04:03 PM
Thank you for this list--I am also having trouble concentrating on a book. These all sound good to me, I appreciate your reviews!
Posted by: gale z | 03/24/2020 at 11:38 PM
Great list (and I have added a number of these to my list! Thank you!) My favorites this winter include Night Sky with Exit Wounds (I am up next for On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous) The Murmur of the Bees (I know you did not like it as much as I did) and Apeirogon (which right now is on the best book of the year list for me)
Here is to calmer days with more focused reading! :)
Posted by: Kat | 03/25/2020 at 08:45 AM
I've had a couple of those on hold for quite a while and added a couple others. Thank-you Kym! My best winter read...Nothing to See Here. I've really slowed down!
Posted by: Patty | 03/25/2020 at 12:55 PM
So many great titles here to add to my list. Oh, when that library re-opens... A favorite winter read I've been recommending to other travel hounds is Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. For those of us with cancelled (postponed...let's say postponed...) trips right now, it could be a bittersweet read, though.
Posted by: Carolyn Seymour Thomas | 03/26/2020 at 08:37 AM