It was a great reading year but there are three books which are new all time fiction favorites.
Do you ever finish a book, set it down, and clap at it? I did with these…
Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott — The cover and title of this book hooked me in instantly. We follow the estranged Yaga siblings; Bellatine, young woodworker living a quiet life in Vermont and Isaac, con-man and perpetual vagabond. They are the great-great grandchildren of Baba Yaga and brought together when they inherit Thistlefoot, her chicken-legged house just shipped over from Ukraine. They decide to take Thistlefoot on tour, turn her front porch into a stage, and resurrect their family’s puppet show but something followed the house from the old country and from the old days… and so much more! Oh I loved it so much that I also read… The Lumberjack’s Dove also by GennaRose Nethercott a long form poem; haunting, enchanting, and beautiful… and then I read another book about Baba Yaga, and for extra measure the Strega Nona children’s books.
Piranesi by Suzanna Clarke — Piranesi lives in great halls which he assumes is the whole world. He is simple and loving, with a tender heart for other beings. He is scientific and logical, and a meticulous note taker. He trusts, perhaps to a fault. I feel like it took me too long to give this book a try because I was unsure what it was exactly (and it is better to know less going into it) but you might like it if you enjoyed; the long game of Circe, The Deep by Rivers Solomon, maybe even the loneliness of Handmaid’s Tale.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield — I made myself a moody Autumn TBR and put this book on it after a used copy of it sat on my shelf for years. I went to start it in October, read the opening line; “It was November” and quickly shut the book. Too much potential. Come early November I’m on the subway with Eric heading to St Ann’s Warehouse to see Wuthering Heights (a glorious production) and our main character, Margaret Lea is on a train to Yorkshire to meet the illusive author Vida Winters. Perfection achieved. I loved every moment of this book. Atmospheric and properly bookish. Heaps of direct and indirect references to Jane Eyre, Secret Garden, Wuthering Heights, Dickens, and more. Imagine my luck – a new favorite stemming from some old favorites!
I also really loved:
- Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel
- William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Clueless by Ian Doescher
Two wonderful new Non-Fiction books I would recommend are;
- Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser
- Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller
I read some great Classics this year;
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (as of early 2023 there is also a nice exhibition currently on at the NYPL)
- Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
- Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
I also finished a reread of the Harry Potter series with my college friends. We all went to see Cursed Child on Broadway in March to celebrate and we also made a nostalgic weekend trip to Philly to see the HP exhibit at the Franklin Institute in July. I constructed a Lion hat à la Luna Lovegood which I am pretty pleased with, re-covered a Betty Crocker cookbook as Advanced Potion Making, and also painted a sketchbook to look like The Quibbler. BTW, I am a Hufflepuff, thanks for asking.
As for my 2023 reading goals…
I would like to keep pace and read about 70 books. It’s not about the quantity but for me the more books read, the more great books found.
I’m having a good time catching up on classics that I never read, that includes children’s classics. Tell me what your favorites are. I probably missed it when I was young and have plenty of childlike wonder to enjoy it now.
For the last two years, I have written a short review or reflection for nearly every book and posted it on instagram at the end of the month or season. I want to keep up with that. I find it helpful in organizing my thoughts and remembering the books afterwards.
What were your favorites reads of the year?