Books About Books and #TheReadingList [Book Review] #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge

January 21, 2022

Do you love Books About Books?

Favorite Books About Books (white text alongside a tall stack of hardback books on a blue painted wood table)

Today for the #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on “Books About Books.”

Do you have a favorite Book About Books?

I fall hard for Books About Books and it’s one of my favorite and most read categories! Following today’s review, find a list of a few of my favorite “Books About Books” titles.


For today’s review, I’m highlighting my most recent “books about books” read:

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (cover) white text overe a graphic image of scattered open books

Genre/Categories/Settings: Contemporary Fiction, Books About Books, Ode to Books and Libraries, Multi-Generational Friendship, London (suburb)

My Summary:

The Reading List is a memorable debut novel about a list of library books, the magic of reading, and unlikely friendships. A widower, Mukesh longs to connect with Priya his bookworm granddaughter. He ventures into the local library and meets Aleisha, a lonely and sometimes surly teenager who is a volunteer at the library for the summer. Aleisha has discovered a reading list in the back of one of the books she was shelving and decided she would read the books on the list. When Mukesh asks her for a reading recommendation, she remembers the list and recommends the first book on the list. Mukesh and Aleisha strike up an unlikely friendship and connection through discussing the books on the list as they read them (she reads one book ahead of him).

My Thoughts:

Debut: The Reading List is a beautifully written and all around wonderful debut novel. Sara Nisha Adams is definitely on my “new authors to watch” list!

Main Characters: Mukesh and Aleisha are both lonely and start out as nonreaders. Aleisha begins to read books on the “found” list out of curiosity and boredom while Mukesh thinks he “should” read because his late wife was a reader and now his granddaughter is a bookworm. He hopes that reading will help him keep alive the close connection he had with his wife and make new connections with his granddaughter, Pirya. Mukesh and Aleisha form a bookclub of sorts as they look forward to sharing their thoughts about the recent book that Aleisha has recommended for him (from the list). Their conversations are sweet, a friendship forms, and reading becomes a lifeline for both of them.

Other Characters: The story includes other colorful and interesting characters from the library and the community. However, when the author devotes an entire chapter to a random character, I found it to be a distraction that took me out of the story and away from the main characters. Each one is an interesting character and the sections of random characters exhibit the same quality of writing, but I’m not sure of the purpose except to establish the sense of a broader reading community.

The Reading Life: The author captures so much of the magic, satisfaction, and enjoyment of the reading life! Books have the ability to create strong connections between people….even strangers! How many times have you been in a public place and found yourself trying to read the title of the book the person next to you or across from you is reading? Or when you notice a person reading a book you loved, do you feel compelled to start a conversation? Do you ever feel that a book is recommending a person? I.E. if this person is reading that book, they must be a great person! Book people really are the best people, and I think this a universally recognized fact!

Favorite Quote:

“Priya was reading a book he knew all about. He knew the world Priya was in right now. There was something magical in that…in sharing a world you have loved; allowing someone to see it through the same pair of spectacles you saw it through yourself.”

A Mystery: There is a bit of intrigue in the story, also. Where did the list come from? Who created it? For what purpose was it created? Is there a reason that certain books were selected?

Structure: The story is loosely structured around the actual reading list as Mukesh and Aleisha work their way through. Each book is discussed to varying degrees and your reading enjoyment will be enhanced if you’ve read some or all of the books (but it’s not necessary to have read any of them). However, there’s more to this story than a simple reading list. It’s a story of found family, community, grief, connection, and moving forward.

The Books: Mukesh’s reading experience starts with The Time Traveler’s Wife (a book Mukesh found while cleaning after his wife died). He wants to read the book she had last read before he returns it to the library. This in turn leads him to meeting Aleisha and receiving his first recommendation.

(if you’re curious!) The Reading List:

To Kill a Mockingbird
Rebecca
The Life of Pi
The Kite Runner
Pride and Prejudice
Little Women
A Suitable Boy
Beloved

Themes: the joys of reading, connecting with others through books, the book life, friendship, support, loneliness, sibling relationships, mental health, grief, complicated family dynamics, connection, and community.

***contains spoilers***
Content Considerations: mental health, suicide, cancer

Highly Recommended: I’m enthusiastically recommending The Reading List for fans of books about books and the reading life, for those who appreciate an uplifting story (except for hard hitting issues as mentioned above), for readers who may have read any or all of the books on “the list,” and for book clubs.

Your Book List: If YOU were to curate a reading list to leave in random places for other readers or non-readers to find, what books would you put on your list and why? Wouldn’t it be fun to start finding book lists lying around?! Hummmm….perhaps this will be a future blog post!

My Rating: 4 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (cover) white text overe a graphic image of scattered open books

The Reading List Information Here

Meet the Author, Sara Nisha Adams

Author Sara Nisha AdamsSara Nisha Adams is a writer and editor. She lives in London and was born in Hertfordshire to Indian and English parents. Her debut novel The Reading List is partly inspired by her grandfather, who lived in Wembley and immediately found a connection with his granddaughter through books.



A Few of My Favorite Books About Books/Bookshops/Libraries

(the first section are my most favorite and most highly recommended)

The Printed Letter Bookshop
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
How to Find Love in a Bookshop
The Last Bookshop in London
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
The Librarian of Auschwitz
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
The Reading List

* * *
The Last Chance Library
The Paris Library
The Lost and Found Bookshop
The Jane Austen Society
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The Library of Lost and Found
The Night of Many Endings
Cloud Cuckoo Land
The Personal Librarian
84, Charing Cross Road



 I’m linking up with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the January installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge.

Whats On Your Bookshelf Challenge



QOTD:

Do you love Books About Books?
Do you have a favorite?
Is The Reading List on your TBR or have you read it?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Best of the Best: 2015 to 2021 [Book Reviews]

January 14, 2022

Best of the Best: 2015-2021

2015-2021 Best of the Best (a young holds a huge stack of books in her arms and balances them under her chin

Image Source: Canva

Welcome to January and all the “Best Of” lists!

Inspired by Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog, I’m putting together my own “Best of the Best” list.

Each year that I’ve been blogging, I’ve put together a most memorable reads of the year list. This year I thought it would be fun to follow Davida’s lead and list my top SEVEN reads of the last SEVEN years and rank them in order. I’ve only been blogging for five years, but I started keeping records seven years ago, so I’m including all seven years. I’m also linking to my blog posts so that you can see the runners up if you’re curious.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

2015:

The Intention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (cover) (white lettering over a goldish redish sky background) featuring a few small flying birds)

(Preblogging) The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
(reviewed the first year I started blogging)

2016:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi cover (yellow background with red and blue and black designs)

(Preblogging) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (not reviewed on the blog)

2017:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (cover)

(I didn’t choose a favorite this year because I chose to use categories.) Looking back at the list now, I will have to choose Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman as my favorite of the year (not reviewed on blog).  See my complete list for the year here: 2017 Really Recommendable Reads

2018:

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (cover)

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
See my complete list for the year here: Most Memorable Reads of 2018

2019:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (cover)

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
See my complete list for the year here: Most Memorable Reads of 2019

2020:

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (cover)

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
See my complete list for the year here: Most Memorable Reads of 2020

2021:

a woman dressed in a rose dress stands with her back to the camera overlooking a balcony and a gold wall

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn 
See my complete list for the year here: Most Memorable Reads of 2021

Ranked in Order:

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Most Anticipated Reads Q1 2022 #T5T

January 11, 2022

Top 5 Most Anticipated Reads Q1 2022

a graphic picture of a blond girl holding an open blue book

I’m linking up today with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads for Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Anticipated Reads Q1 2022. ( maybe have a list of 6!)

***This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Top 5 Anticipated Reads Q1 2022

1.

The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman's Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson (cover) Image: old work boots sit atop a stack of books

I loved The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and it was my most memorable read of 2019 so I’m eager for the sequel!

2.

Passing by Nella Larsen

Passing by Nella Larsen (cover) Black and White Image: a young woman in a coat and hat pulled down to shade her eyes

One of my bookish resolutions in 2022 is to read one classic per quarter. This is my choice for Q1 of 2022. I also want to read it before I watch the Netflix adaptation!

3.

Quiet by Susan Cain and The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

One of my bookish resolution in 2022 is to read more nonfiction: Quiet has been on my TBR the longest, and I want to make it a priority this year; I came across The Woman They Could Not Silence during Nonfiction November. Both of these titles are high priority on my Nonfiction TBR.

4.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image: grayscale image of a man standing outside a building holding a blue/yellow/red torn flag

Sepetys is an auto buy YA author for me, so I’m eager to read her new release on 2.1.2022.

5.

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn (cover) grayscale cover....a woman in a dark long coat walks into a grove of tall trees (red and black text)

Quinn is another auto buy histfic author, and I’m preordering her new release which publishes on 3.31.2022.



QOTD:

What is your most anticipated read in the first Quarter of 2022?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Resolutions #T5T

January 4, 2022

Top 5 Bookish Resolutions

a graphic picture of a blond girl holding an open blue book

I’m linking up today with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads for Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Resolutions.

Top 5 Bookish Resolutions

1.

Keep more accurate and complete records of book recs. I love to thank the blogger or reviewer and give her credit, but I don’t keep the best records or I think I’ll surely remember until I don’t. I’ve improved a bit over the past year, but this area definitely needs improvement.

2.

Read more nonfiction. I’d love my reading to consist of at least 20% nonfiction (which would be about 20 books per year).

3.

I want to do better at writing reviews immediately after finishing the book. I’m fairly good at taking notes, but I need to transfer those notes to a rough draft in WordPress before I lose them! Too frequently I have found notes/book quotes after I’ve already written and published the review! At the very least, I need to designate ONE place to keep notes!

4.

I’d like to read a few more classics. Perhaps one per quarter might be a reasonable goal.

5.

I want to continue:
reading diversely,
reading authors of color,
reading own voices authors,
reading books from other cultures and countries.



white 2022 on a blue background surrounded by white sparklers

QOTD:

Do you have a reading resolution?
Do we share any resolutions?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

#6Degrees of Separation: From Rules of Civility to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

January 1, 2022

#6Degrees of Separation: From Rules of Civility to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

#6Degrees of Separation (collage of covers)

 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Young women living in or near New York City (late 1800s to early 1900s)

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hashtag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, and even though it’s not one of my favorite stories, I have an idea for a chain that features…

“Young women living in or near New York City from the late 1800s to the early 1900s…”

I love New York City and stories set there (or near there) in the late 1800s and early 1900s are fascinating!

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (cover) Image: a woman in a long dress lies back in a lounge chair and a man sits beside her.....drinks are on a small side tableEven though Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is beautifully written and has received high praise, I remember feeling rather meh about the story when I read it years ago.

Amazon Summary: “On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.”


the way of beautyFIRST DEGREE. From Rules of Civility, it’s an easy leap to another young woman living in New York City, Vera in The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio.

My Summary: “As a child in the early 1900s in New York City, Vera Keller falls in love with a childhood friend who is nine years older than she. Through the years, they remain close. Although Angelo acts like her older brother, Vera is convinced that someday they will marry. One day she is shocked when he introduces her to his fiance, Pearl. Despite her heartbreak, Vera and Pearl become friends and Pearl introduces her to the Suffragette Movement. As Vera becomes entangled in their lives, her love for Angelo never dies. As a result of her love for Angelo and her commitment to Pearl’s cause, Vera has many challenges and difficult choices to make. The latter half of the book is told from Vera’s daughter’s perspective. Her daughter, Alice, enjoys benefits from the Suffragette Movement but also faces her own challenges in caring for her ailing father and in choosing between two men whom she loves.” My review of The Way of Beauty.


The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis (cover) Image: a woman in a yellow dress stands with an open book inside a large museum type roomSECOND DEGREE: Another story of a young woman living in New York City features Laura in The Lyons of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis. One other fascinating aspect is that the setting features the New York Public Library.

My Summary: “Told in two timelines, The Lions of Fifth Avenue tells the stories of Laura Lyons (1913) and Sadie Donovan (1993) and their experiences at the New York City Public Library. In 1913, Laura’s husband is the superintendent of the library and their family actually lives in an apartment inside the library. Laura wants more from life and is bored at home with her two children, so she enrolls in journalism school and becomes involved with a radical group of  women feminists meeting in Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, valuable books are stolen from the library and her family is under suspicion. In 1993, Sadie is the Curator at the New York City Public Library and also shares a secret connection with the famous essayist, Laura Lyons. The library experiences the theft of a few valuable pieces and Sadie’s job is in jeopardy. Truths come to light regarding Sadie’s family history as the case is investigated.” My review of Lions of Fifth Ave.

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2021 Reading Stats and 2022 Goals

December 30, 2021

Happy New Year Book Worms!

2021 Reading Stats and 2022 Goals

Reflection: 2021 Reading and 2022 Goals (white text over a background of an open journal, pen, hardbbackbook and holiday candles)

Image Source: Canva

Brace yourself for a nerdy post, bookaholics!

Have you ever set a reading goal or considered a reading challenge?

Reading in 2021

I’d love to hear from you if you analyze reading data at year’s end. Although I’ve always been analytical, I think my appreciation for using data to plan was heightened during my tenure as a teacher when I poured over student data to inform my teaching. Now, instead of looking at student achievement, I’m paying attention to my own numbers as it relates to reading achievement. I realize that while numbers are not that important in a rewarding reading life, they do reveal some trends and inform future reading choices. It’s important to me that I’m reading diversely, supporting women authors, and increasing my nonfiction percentage. While this post about the numbers is mostly a self-reflection, I hope you find it interesting and possibly motivating toward considering your own reading achievement during the past year and setting some goals for 2022.

If you’ve read ONE book this year, you’re a reader and I encourage you to celebrate that read and accomplishment!

Blog Feedback

I’d also like to know (in comments) what you’d like to see more of or less of on the blog for 2022. Has the variety this year been satisfactory for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! In fact, I may put together a survey in January.

2021 has been another challenging year, but I’m also so grateful for wonderful books and delightful bookish conversation! Thank you to each of my followers and visitors! Thanks for the views, comments, and shares! I appreciate EACH one!
giphy

Best of 2021

See this post for a list of my most memorable reads in 2021 and this post for my top five memorable histfic reads of 2021.



Let’s Talk Numbers!

Total Books Read: 119

Remember….it’s really not about the numbers! It’s about the enjoyment of reading.

This number is down a bit from last year’s high of 131, but as long as I’m above 100 I’m satisfied. I averaged 25-30 books a year when I was teaching full time and the majority of those were read during the summer. For me in this season of life, 100 books is a comfortable number. I average two books per week and the weeks when I can only read one dense nonfiction or a 500+ page fiction are balanced out later when I can read 3 lighter, shorter books in one week.

My Year in Books (stats from Goodreads)



Books Abandoned (DNF): 7

I’m getting better at knowing my reading tastes and passing on books/genres that I know won’t be to my taste. I’m also not reluctant to abandon books that aren’t working for me. There are too many great books waiting to be read to make myself finish something that isn’t right for me at the time. Are you a fearless abandoner or a committed finisher



Women Authors: 102!

One of my goals in starting this blog is to support women authors writing about strong women and I feel like I’ve had success in this area. We’ve certainly come a long way since the days when women had to publish under a man’s name!



Diverse Reads: 20

For this number, I counted the books that take place in a culture other than my own, whose characters are ethnically different from me, and whose author is an author of color. It was my focus this year to intentionally read and promote authors of color. I have read other books in a broader sense of diversity, and it’s always my goal to read more diversely.

Library Books:

One stat I enjoy tracking each year is the percentage of books I read that are from the library.

Library = 41 (34%)
ARC (advanced readers copy from the publisher) = 40 (34%)
Own = 38 (32%)

I didn’t realize until I counted them up that the percentage is evenly distributed! Between library books and ARCs, 68% of my books are free! Great kindle deals help me buy books to own.



Fiction: (Broken Down by Sub-Genre): 107

The sub-genres add up to a more than 107 because a few books fall into more than one category.

Historical Fiction: 29
This is obviously a favorite sub-genre! See my top five memorable histfic reads in this post.

Literary Fiction: 4
This is a category that brings about some debate among readers….the most simple definition is that literary fiction is not genre fiction. Also, it’s character driven (usually) and known as literature written to explore the meaning of life and its issues….for example, most prestigious award recipients and national prize winners are categorized as literary fiction. My favorite title this year in the category is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Women’s Fiction: 57
Wow! This is the first time I’ve ever read this much “women’s fiction”! There were months when these books were a balm to my pandemic brain! Again, a reader’s definition may vary….for me they are books in which most characters are women and the plot centers around women’s concerns and issues….some in this category are lighter reads that readers refer to as “beach reads” or “vacation reads.” Two of my favorites in this category are Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb and Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce.

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Science Fiction: 8
Clearly, I don’t read too much in this category because real life is scary enough….mainly, the books I read in this category are best sellers that I want to form my own opinion about. Although I rarely read scifi, my favorite read in this category is the audio version of Project Hail Mary…simply fabulous!

Issue Centered: 5
The main purpose of these stories is to focus on a certain issue. I usually enjoy these books unless they are heavily agenda driven by the author. My favorite title in this category is The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom (what if God appeared to you when you called out?)

Middle Grade: 12
I love a great Middle Grade read! There’s some enjoyable and engaging literature in this category for adults! Two of my favorites are Ghost by Jason Reynolds and Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga.

I’ve started a Newbery Project which you can find in my blog’s menu pages.

Young Adult: 6
I didn’t read in this category as much as in previous years. One of my favorites this year is Firekeeper’s Daughter.



Nonfiction (broken down into sub-genres): 12

This is a definite area for improvement for me in 2022! My goal is to have a 20% nonfiction percentage. In this second year of the pandemic, I have been more drawn to escapist reads! My favorite nonfiction in 2021 is The Day the World Came to Town (don’t miss the Broadway musical Come From Away streaming on AppleTV +).

Memoir: 6
Memoir is a favorite form of nonfiction.

Biography: 1

Narrative Nonfiction: 1
Nonfiction written in story format.

Essay: 4



Story Graph

You may have heard about Story Graph, an alternative book tracking app to Goodreads. I decided to use both Goodreads and Story Graph this year to compare them (a blog post about this coming soon). One of the delights of using Story Graph is that it provides you with neat charts and graphs to help summarize your reading. My Story Graph handle is reading_ladies_blog. Here are a few of my 2021 charts/graphs:

Story Graph 4

Story Graph 1

Story Graph 2

Story Graph 3



Let’s Consider New 2022 Goals

(please share yours in comments):

Goal 1:

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app). This is the easiest of the goals/challenges as it simply involves setting a number. This number can be adjusted throughout the year if you are reading above or below your goal. I recommend setting a reasonable goal and then raising it if necessary. My goal is 100 books. I met this goal in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, and it’s reasonable that I will meet it again. Retirement and pandemic isolation help tremendously! The 2022 Goodreads challenge will be available at the first of the year. Are we friends on Goodreads?

My Year in Books (stats from Goodreads)

This year I used StoryGraph concurrently with Goodreads to compare and contrast the two platforms. A blog post about that is coming soon.

Goal 2:

I want to curate a satisfying reading life in which I read what I want, when I want! (Thus, no other challenges for me this year.) I’ve come to the conclusion that life is hard enough without adding book challenges.

My goals are simple: read at least 100 books in 2022, read widely and diversely, and increase my nonfiction percentage.



What reading goals do you have for 2022?

goal make things happen



Happy New Year! I hope you’ve experienced some pleasurable and challenging reading in 2021 and are eagerly anticipating the reading year ahead!

giphy

giphy-1



QOTD:

Did you meet your reading goal for 2021?

What is your 2022 Reading Goal?

Do you use a method for tracking your reads during the year?

Have you considered your best read of the year? (see my most memorable reads of 2021 in this post and my top five historical fiction reads in this post.)



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© WWW.ReadingLadies.com

 

Merry “Pandemic” Christmas! [Year Two]

December 21, 2021

Merry Christmas to Everyone Who Celebrates!

We are ready here!

Santa's Sidekick

Merry Christmas book friends! I certainly didn’t think we’d still be dealing with the Pandemic again this Christmas. Because the Omicron variant is surging in our area, we will again limit big family gatherings and celebrate the birth of Jesus in quieter, smaller ways.

There’s a meme going around that says “2022 is pronounced 2020 too” ….. I just want 2020 in the history books! I definitely want to see the terms and conditions of 2022 before I get too excited! We’re all vacinated and boosted at my house and I hope you are also keeping safe in ways that make sense for you.

As I reflect on 2021, I realize that blogging and sharing book reviews with you has brought me a tremendous amount of joy. I greatly appreciate your support, comments, likes, and shares! Thank you! I treasure the virtual friendships that blogging has brought into my life!

At Christmastime, we have HOPE and JOY and whatever your traditions, I wish each of you healthy and safe holiday celebrations.

Emmanuel…God With Us

I’m taking a few days off this week and I’ll be back on 12/28 with my favorites of the year post. Until then….here are a few of my favorite songs….

Luke Bryan, O Holy Night

Josh Groban, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

(my fav verse)

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

Do you love Flash Mobs?

“Hallelujah Chorus”

Merry Christmas

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 New-To-Me Authors 2021

December 21, 2021

Top 5 New-To-Me Authors 2021

New-To-Me Authors in 2021 (white text over a background of library shelves)

Background Image Source: Canva

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads for Top 5 Tuesday: Five New-To-Me Authors in 2021.

New-To-Me-Authors

Andy Weir

OK….I think I might be the only one who didn’t read The Martian?! After I read all the enthusastic reviews for Project Hail Mary, it was time to read Any Weir. Well, I was not disappointed! Project Hail Mary made my Top Ten Best of 2021 List (published on 12/28/2021).

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (cover) Image: an astronaut floats in space tethered to a gold and black object

Marilynne Robinson

I have had Gilead on my TBR for years now! I decided this was the year to finally read Gilead and I fell in love with Marilynne Robinson, and now I have plans to read the next three in the loosely connected series in 2022.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (cover) Image:

Jose S. Kilpack

After I accepted the ARC for Love and Lavender and posted my review, I had several readers comment that they love Kilpack. However, this is my first book by her and I loved it (made my top ten list this year), so I know I want to explore her backlist! If you’ve read her, what book would you recommend next?

Love and Lavender by Jose S. Kilpack (cover) Image: a woman in a long dress and bonnet stands alone in a field of lavender

Jason Reynolds

I have heard of Jason Reynolds and I have seen his poetry (For Every One), and I decided then that I wanted to read one of his middle grade novels. I made that happen this year when I read Ghost (and the other three in the “Track” series). I’ve heard him interviewed and was so impressed by his purpose and mission that I’ve love to read more of his work.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds (cover) Black text on a yellow background....a young African American boy is running off the page

Angeline Boulley (debut author)

Boulley is my only debut author on this list (although not the only debut author I’ve read this year). I was impressed with Firekeeper’s Daughter and I’m interested in reading her next work….especially if she continues writing as an “own voices” author for Indigenous People.

The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (cover) Image: the profiles of two native american young People (man and woman) in cultural dress


These are the first five new-to-me authors I found in my list. I’m sure there are more!



QOTD:

Have you read any of my new-to-me authors?
Who is your favorite new-to-you author?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

“Uplit” Recommendations and #AVicarageChristmas [Book Review] #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge

December 17, 2021

Do you have “Uplit” on your bookshelves?

UpLit What's On Your Bookshelf (white text in a blue text box against a background of reddish pink balloons against a blue sky

Today for the #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on “Uplit.” If this term is new to you, here’s a definition I found online:

‘Up Lit’ is the new literary buzz word, described as a trend for books with an emphasis on empathy, books that are uplifting and life-affirming, and which explore themes of family bonds and the human spirit. These types of novels focus on kinder, gentler human connections, but have an element that preserves realism.

Although I regularly and intentionally seek out “feel good” books with some substance (more in 2020 and 2021 than ever before!), I first became aware of “Uplit” as an official term and subgenre in this blog post by Lynne @ Fictionophile.

Uplit adds balance to my reading life.

Perhaps this is why I adore Middle Grade literature that often has strong themes of family, friendship, and hope.

However, “uplit” is not exclusively fluffy and light. The stories can include substantial themes but kindness, gentleness, empathy, and hope always shine through the darkness.

***Note of Caution: as with most subgenres, there can be a difference of opinion in the books that are included….the following list is not an “official” list and simply represents my personal opinions.

From my reading, here are a few of my favorite “uplit” titles (in no particular order):

Although those who curate lists often cite Eleanor Oliphant as their prime example of “Uplit,” I don’t know if I fully agree. Although there is kindness, quirkiness, and a ray of hope, the story is filled with trauma and has an unreliable narrator. The story is devastating. What do you think? Uplit or not?


For today’s review, I’m highlighting my most recent “uplit” find from The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Series (Book 1)

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate J

My Summary:

A family tragedy that happened years ago has caused Anna, the third of four sisters, to suffer from shyness and some social anxiety. She works and lives in Manchester and for the first time in years she comes home for Christmas because her parents have a big announcement. Coming home is difficult for her yet she adores her family. One night to escape her busy and complicated family and bossy sister, she goes alone to a pub where she meets a handsome and kind stranger. Simon is easy to talk to and she ends up spilling her family secrets. She’s mortified to later learn that Simon is connected with her father at his Parish. Can Simon and Anna salvage their new relationship, negotiate family complications, and create a magical Christmas?

My Thoughts:

I first came across this series in a post by Lisa @ Hopewell’s Public Library of Life Blog just at the time I was comtemplating light Christmas reads for December and rounding out my novella reads for Novellas in November. At 182 pages, this is a quick light read for your busy December days! Thanks for the rec Lisa!

Setting: Who can resist a quaint village in England’s Lake District?

Characters: A Vicarage Christmas is a poignant story of a lovely family comprised of four adult daughters with four unique personalities, a wise and kind father who is also the Vicar of the village parish, and a compassionate and understanding mother who holds the family together and is a gracious hostess. Then, there’s Simon who would like a future with Anna, and I can’t forget about the beloved family dog.

Themes: Lovely themes in A Vicarage Christmas include family dynamics, sibling loyalty, taking risks, grief and childhood trauma, reconciling with the past, community, and parents who do the unexpected.

Lots to Love! I enjoyed this “uplit” story of family, community, and finding love. After reading this novella, I am eager to continue with the series. I’m now on book three, but I think I’m loving book one the most! It was a perfect December read and introduction to the series.

Content Consideration: one trigger warning for memories of the death of a child (sibling)

Recommended: A Vicarage Christmas is an excellent example of “uplit” in my opinion! I’m enthusiastically recommending this heartfelt story for fans of “uplit,” for readers who love gently told stories with themes of family, faith, and finding love, and for those looking for a novella or quick vacation/weekend read.

My Rating: 4 Stars (3.5 rounded up)

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-starhalf twinkle-twinkle-little-star

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate J

A Vicarage Christmas Information Here

Meet the Author, Kate Hewitt

Author Kate HewittKate Hewitt is the bestselling author of many novels of both historical and contemporary fiction. She particularly enjoys writing contemporary issue-driven women’s fiction, and her novels have been called ‘unputdownable’ and ‘the most emotional book I have ever read’ by readers.

An American ex-pat, she lives in a small market town in Wales with her husband and five young(ish) children, along with their two Golden Retrievers. Join her newsletter for monthly updates and giveaways at http://www.kate-hewitt.com, or be part of her Facebook groups Kate’s Reads, to discuss all manner of books, movies, music and cooking.


 I’m linking up with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the December installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge.

Whats On Your Bookshelf Challenge



QOTD:

Have you read A Vicarage Christmas or is it on your TBR?

Do you read “uplit”?

What is your number one “uplit” recommendation?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Meet the Blogger, Christmas Version #festivebonbons

December 13, 2021

Meet the Blogger, Christmas Version

Meet the Blogger Christmas version (white text against a snow covered pine tree background)

I’m linking up today with Deb @ Deb’s World Blog for A Festive Bonbons Linkup.
Why bonbons?
T
he word ‘bonbons’ creates a festive feel. Bonbons are small bits of Christmas cheer like our questions. A bonbon is a sweet or small confection, especially a small ball coated in chocolate.

Here are Deb’s questions:

Festive bonbon questions

Christmas Tree:

I like to celebrate Thanksgiving before putting up Christmas decorations. Years and years ago, we bundled up the kiddos and picked out our tree from a tree farm. As the children became adults and we experienced an “empty nest,” we bought our first artificial tree. There have been a few iterations of the fake tree. We started with one that had color coded individual branches and the lights were put on manually, and now our tree is easy to assemble (three pieces) and is pre-lighted for the win! When the children were little, I would take them to pick out an ornament each year, so our tree was filled with treasured, unique, individual ornaments which reflected each child’s interests that year. Now that they’ve moved out along with their box of ornaments, I have enjoyed more thematic trees. The one item that never changes is the angel tree topper. I think it’s been on almost every tree we’ve ever owned (except perhaps the first few because I can’t remember the year I bought it).

My Christmas Tree

This was last year’s tree.

close up of my treetop Angel

This year’s tree with a closeup of the treetop Angel.

Christmas Carols:

I love ALMOST all the Christmas music, traditional and modern. Enjoy an assortment of a few of my favorites! What is your favorite Carol?

Christmas Books:

Luke 2: 1-20 is my favorite Christmas Story!

I don’t think I have a very favorite Christmas book but there are several books that have poignant Christmas scenes which I love. For example, Little Women and The Deal of a Lifetime. Do you have a favorite Christmas story?

(more…)