I’ve found it hard to give up reading time in order to write up these recaps. And I read a LOT of books in March and April so it felt a little overwhelming to go back over the details. I’m going to separate children’s books into their own recap for these two months.
The first book I finished in March was Red Rising by Pierce Brown. It was a book club selection. I am in a wonderful Zoom book club that has been meeting for almost 3 years. Thank you Conor for this selection. I don’t read a lot of science fiction. I enjoyed reading this book, but I don’t think I will continue with the series.
My second finished book this month was another book club selection, but for a different book group. I read Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding, along with my mom and Great Aunt Betty. We joined a quarterly book subscription from Riverstone Books in McCandless, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, this book was a miss for me – I found it way too depressing. If I hadn’t planned to discuss it with my family, I probably wouldn’t have finished reading Bright Burning Things.
I felt inspired to shift the mood and picked up two comedy selections in quick succession. I thoroughly enjoyed Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke. I don’t remember what put this book on my radar and I started reading with almost no expectations. All I knew was the premise that the entire book is written in Slack chat formatting. I laughed out loud many times while reading and really enjoyed the creativity in the author’s writing style. I don’t think this book is necessarily for everyone, but if the premise catches your attention, then I would recommend it.
After one comedy book, I decided to dive right into another, Hey Ladies!: The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails by Michelle Markowitz. This book was written in email form. However, the characters felt cliched and reading it sometimes felt like the drudgery of trying to clean out your email inbox.
A book that had been on my want to read list for way too long was Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I decided 2022 was finally going to be the year I read this book which had been recommended by many different friends. The writing was beautiful and thought provoking. Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about indigenous teachings and spirituality. As a Christian, I enjoyed reading her reflections and considered them through the lens of my own faith. The book is a collection of short stories, essays, and reflections and her writing is like poetry. Highly recommended for nature lovers.
I mentioned in my January recap that I have a long-term goal of reading a book set in every state in the US. When I was researching books for that challenge, I found Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild by Lee Sandlin. I listened to this book on audio and was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed Sandlin’s storytelling and the various narrative threads he wove together in his nonfiction account. I learned a lot about a specific part of American history. As is the case with many history topics, it made me want to continue to learn more.
Some books I finished this month I read in one day. And others I was slowly reading over several months. I started reading Winter Morning Walks: 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison by Ted Kooser in December 2021. The poems are all dated and I usually read a few poems each week. I read the final poem in the book on the first day of spring. Similar to Braiding Sweetgrass, this book of poems changed the way that I look at the world around me. Kooser has a keen eye and I loved the imaginative way he considered birds and trees.
I’m a mood reader. Which sometimes means if you give me a book recommendation, it might be a LONG time until I act upon that recommendation. And sometimes, I pick up a recommended book right away. I’m very glad I decided to read Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau on sort of a whim. This slim novel was recommended first to my parents by Mary Beth Harper. They both loved reading it and encouraged me to read it too. This book would be a great book club selection. My JCU book club will be discussing it in July!
I closed out the month of March with several audiobooks. I listened to Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren on a day off of church work, working on a jigsaw puzzle and cleaning around the house. This book first caught my eye when I was a full time student working part-time in the Yale Divinity School Library. I linked this book with Sara Miles’ Take this Bread, simply because both books have sandwiches on the cover. In reality, the two books don’t have a lot in common, aside from being faith based. In the years since Liturgy of the Ordinary was published in 2016, Tish Harrison Warren has gained a larger following as a New York Times Opinion writer. I knew that I didn’t align with her theologically, but I was still interested in reading her book. Overall, the spiritual practices she identified were good, but her commentary and storytelling was not very impactful.
Another case of the book cover confusion with my next audiobook, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I thought I had this book on my shelf at home, but realized after finishing listening to the audio, that I actually had Drive by Daniel Pink. In April, I decided to follow Grit by listening to Drive. While I enjoyed listening to Grit, in the end, I didn’t agree with the author’s premise. She was focused on perseverance and not giving up, but I think there are also important lessons to learn from knowing when to call it quits. It can be equally challenging for students and adults to continue to fight and persevere in a difficult situation. Sometimes the best way to respond to a challenge is by pausing and reassessing instead of redoubling efforts.
The final book I finished in March was Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford. This book had been on my radar for about six months. Thank you to Deirdre Byrne who reviewed this book back in September 2021 and influenced me to add it to my Goodreads Want to Read list. Ford is a powerful writer. Her memoir tells a heartbreaking story of a young woman’s relationship to her complicated family. Somebody’s Daughter is Ford’s debut as a memoirist and I will certainly read more of her writing in the future.
I still can’t believe how many books I read in March… and then followed it in April with another 11+ books! I’m definitely ahead of schedule for my 2022 reading goal.