Top Five Books: Best of My Spring Reading 2022
Today is the Summer Solstice, and here in my corner of the world . . . it's summer alright! It's very hot (mid-90s), very muggy, and the sun is shining. Ahhhh. Summer. The shortest season of the year around here!
(Pay no attention to the weeds on the path. Damn thistles. There are always weeds somewhere in my garden . . . and today, they're on the path. As you can see, JoJo is still sporting her t-shirt collection, but only through tomorrow . . . when she finally gets her stitches removed. She loves finding the sunshine in the garden!)
Anyway. The Summer Solstice has arrived, and that means . . . it's time for me to share my Top Five reads of spring with you. Each quarter, right around the solstice or equinox, I think back on the books I read during the previous 3 months, and I choose my top five.
Here goes: my Top Five books from this past spring (the link listed for each book will take you to a published review of the book):
First up, I've got an absolute stunner of a book - The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard. This is the most compelling, satisfying book I’ve read in a very long time (and maybe ever). It's one of those rare books where an investment in careful reading totally and completely pays off in the end. (In fact, it's necessary.) The intricate plot is perfection, the writing is stellar, the characters are interesting and complex, and the foreshadowing . . . is everything. I highly, highly recommend this book -- BUT I'm also issuing a warning: Shirley Hazzard makes her readers work hard! This book is only for those who have patience to wade through a really challenging opening 50-60 pages (it takes a while to get into the rhythm of this one). And you must understand going in that there are no minor details in this book. The payoff is huge, but the reading is a commitment. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Next, I've got a refreshing and unique novel that is, well, pretty much. . . perfection. Trust by Hernan Diaz. It sounds like it might be overly complicated and tricky to read, but it really isn't at all. It’s cleverly layered, story upon story, with each layer providing readers a slightly different angle, a brand new piece of the puzzle. And it’s delectable! Beautifully written and absolutely compelling. Power. Wealth. Influence. Privilege. And the impact of . . . all that . . . on history. Extremely clever, and highly recommended. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Then, I've got a brilliant little book, perfect for a quick summer read . . . The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka. Otsuka's clever story structure and spare, poetic writing style combine to pack a real punch, resulting in a touching metaphor for life. First, using the voices of lap-swimmers in a community pool, Otsuka cleverly describes the mundane structures and habits of life that bolster us and give beauty and value to our days. Then, with a deep-dive into the life of one of those swimmers, she shows us what happens when cracks appear, undermining our bodies and minds and impacting those who love us. This incredibly moving book is so much more than it appears. (I gave this book 5 stars.)
Next, I've got another re-read - Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. I read this one when it was first published back in 2011, and I just loved it then. (In fact, it set me on a course to keep an eye out for anything written by Amor Towles). I decided to do a re-read this year while reading Towles’ newest - The Lincoln Highway - and recognizing a carry-over character/setting from Rules of Civility (Wallace Walcott and his family’s Adirondack cottage). Rules of Civility is every bit as wonderful as I remembered from my earlier reading – gorgeous prose, wonderful characters, and a fabulous, richly-described setting in 1930s Manhattan. (I gave this one 5 stars -- back in 2011 and again in 2022.)
Last, I've got an audiobook - Miracle and Wonder: Conversations With Paul Simon by Malcolm Gladwell, Bruce Headlam, and Paul Simon (narrator). Like many other readers, I'd actually give this book MORE than 5 stars on Goodreads if I could. It really is that fabulous. Not only is the content pretty incredible, but the entire production is just . . . amazing. It’s not so much an audiobook . . . as an extended (and very well-done) podcast. It’s fascinating. I listened back in March, and I'm still humming Paul Simon songs every day. (I don’t know if there’s even a written version of this book, but . . . don’t bother. This one NEEDS to be listened to.) (I gave this one 5 stars. Although I'd have gladly given it more.)
How about you?
What books would make it to your Top Five list of spring reads?
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 past Top Five lists by clicking the links below:
Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2022
Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2021
Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2020
Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2019
Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2019
Trust is on my hold list with the library... hopefully soon! And, I have added a couple more books to my list! Thank you!
(and those damned thistles... they are my greatest garden foe!)
Posted by: kat | 06/21/2022 at 07:50 AM
Your review of Transit of Venus was so compelling that I thought "I must read this ... now!" But it's a tough book to find around here. Hopefully, the library will dig out the one copy I found from their storage soon. I offered to help them!
Posted by: Bonny | 06/21/2022 at 08:52 AM
I think I'll give the Amor Towle's book a try. I've looked at it a couple of times at the bookstore.
Posted by: Dee | 06/21/2022 at 12:58 PM
I just loved The Transit of Venus, but I read it at the end of winter. I lent my copy to a friend who is a retired English professor and can't wait to discuss it with her. I do look forward to reading it again.
My five favorites from this spring are as follows:
-Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey
-Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
-The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
-The Swimmers by Julia Otsuka
-And a Dog Called Fig by Helen Humphreys
Posted by: Debbie | 06/21/2022 at 12:59 PM
I just finished Trust the other day and I'm so glad you recommended it. And, of course Miracle and Wonder is fabulous. I'm looking forward to reading The Swimmers. I might give The Transit of Venus a go, do you think I'd like it? (you're usually very good at predicting my reading likes/dislikes)
Posted by: Carole | 06/21/2022 at 02:05 PM
Miracle and Wonder for sure! I'm a Rules of Civility fan as well and The Swimmers was so well done. I'll add Trust for sure...a little uncertain about The Transit of Venus! I recently read a local author Roland Merullo (who is actually very well published) The Talk Funny Girl. Great story of hope and success despite dismal circumstances.
Posted by: Patty | 06/21/2022 at 03:50 PM
The Transit of Venus was also a solid 5 for me, but I read it right on the cusp and I'm not sure if I included it in my last response to your Top 5. But I'm going to include it because it deserves all the love! So...
Transit of Venus (5)
These Precious Days, essays by Ann Patchett (5)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (5)
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (4-1/2)
I've added The Swimmers and Rules of Civility to my reading list; thanks!
Posted by: Karel | 06/21/2022 at 05:09 PM
Your review of Miracle and Wonder is very similar to mine -- and I've had songs from Graceland in my head off and on ever since. I really enjoyed it, but I thought it was too short!
My favorites from the spring:
- The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
- These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
- Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
- Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
- Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
I've had quite a lot of excellent reads, too, but these were the five that earned five stars!
Posted by: Sarah | 06/21/2022 at 05:55 PM
Thanks for the list! I have "The Swimmers" and "Transit of Venus" in the Kindle, and I made it through the first section of "Trust" before I gave up. Maybe I should return?
My top five:
"Counterfeit" by Kristin Chen
"Portrait of a Thief" by Grace Li
"The Appeal" by Janice Hallet
"Fly Girl" by Ann Hood
"The Hotel Nantucket" by Elin Hilderbrand
Posted by: kim in oregon | 06/21/2022 at 07:28 PM
I finished Trust today and loved it! I haven't narrowed down my list of favorites to just five, but Popisho is one that I enjoyed immensely and it was fun (seems like a lot of 5-star books aren't "fun").
Posted by: Mary | 06/22/2022 at 06:56 PM
I've got to add Transit of Venus to my TBR (it's been on and off through the years as i just didn't think I wanted to take a dive into it). Popisho is also on my list for one of the best of the year, as is Tomb of Sand (I'm not quite finished, but I just know).
My list also includes Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, as well as all the others on Women's Prize shortlist. It's been a fairly good reading year so far and I think we have some big winners coming this fall.
Posted by: Margene | 06/24/2022 at 08:38 AM
I smiled when I saw the title of this post, I have not read five books since the Spring Equinox!
Posted by: sustainablemum | 06/25/2022 at 03:59 PM
Thank you for such interesting reviews. I enjoyed The Rules of Civility as an audiobook. I feel like I came into adulthood on Paul Simon's music so that might be a good audiobook for me. Trust is also intriguing since I love a layered story.
I think Still Life, The Island of Missing Trees, and The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse would be might best Spring reads.
Posted by: Jane | 06/27/2022 at 08:48 PM