Reading in 2023
I read 21 books last year. Nine on my Kobo e-reader and the rest were deadtree format. Seventeen of them were fiction. Five were non-fiction. Night-time reading with the girls continues, but with less consistency. Cold-weather-commuted to work by bus, which accounts for the increase in books compared with 2022 & 2021.
Fiction in 2023
- Ready Player One - Ernest Cline - 80s nostalgia and sci-fi tropes.
- To Be Taught, If Fortunate - Becky Chambers - “Hope isn’t about predicting the future; it’s about how you approach it.”
- Freeze Frame - Peter May - A locked (in-time) room mystery.
- Hail Mary Project - Andy Weir - “Human beings have a remarkable ability to accept the abnormal and make it normal.”
- The City in the Middle of the Night - Charlie Jane Anders - “Humans are experts at storing knowledge and forgetting facts.”
- Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin - “To design a game is to imagine the person who will eventually play it.”
- Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman - “Adults follow paths. Children explore.”
- The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz - “Diana Cowper had planned her funeral and she was going to need it.”
- Wonder Boys - Michael Chabon - “Writers, unlike most people, tell their best lies when they are alone.”
- Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks - World-building introduction to the Culture.
- Blackthorn Key - Kevin Sands - Fun YA recommendation from a middle-school teacher.
- The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin - If Zevin’s “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” was a love letter to video games, this is her love letter to books and bookstores. “The words you can’t find, you borrow.”
- Our Tragic Universe - Scarlett Thomas - A maddeningly storyless-story purchased for its beautiful cover. - “We should have stories not to tell us how to live and turn out lives into copies of stories, but to prevent us from having to fictionalise ourselves.”
- Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky - Evolution, generation ships, and the future of intelligent life.
- The Sentence is Death - Anthony Horowitz - Hawthorne and a meta-fictionalized Horowitz part 2.
- The Penderwicks - Jeanne Birdsall - “Parents almost always want what’s best for their children. They just don’t always know what that is.”
Non-Fiction in 2023
- How To Love - Thich Nhat Hanh - “Every one of us is trying to find our true home. Some of us are still searching. Our true home is inside, but it’s also in our loved ones around us. When you’re in a loving relationship, you and the other person can be a true home for each other.”
- Built to Move - Kelly Starrett & Juliet Starrett - “Can your ability to get up and down off the floor provide insight into how long you’ll live?”
- Excellent Advice for Living - Kevin Kelly - “Listening well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them
“Is there more?” until there is no more.”
- The Autism Partner Handbook - Joe Biel, Dr. Faith G. Harper, Elly Blue - Love on the spectrum.
- The Creative Act - Rick Rubin - “Look for what you notice but no one else sees.”
Top Three Books of 2023
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin
“To allow yourself to play with another person is no small risk. It means allowing yourself to be open, to be exposed, to be hurt. It is the human equivalent of the dog rolling on its back — I know you won’t hurt me, even though you can. It is the dog putting its mouth around your hand and never biting down. To play requires trust and love.”
Two friends — often in love, but never lovers. A beautiful story about friendship, love, trauma, work, play, time, art, and the creative process. A coming-of-age novel, for its multiple protagonists and for the video game industry they grow up within.
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky
“There had been those back on Earth who claimed the universe cared, and that the survival of humanity was important, destined, meant. They had mostly stayed behind, holding to their corroding faith that some great power would weigh in on their behalf if only things became so very bad. Perhaps it had: those on the ark ship could never know for sure.”
This book is full of wonder. A mix of science fiction and science fact. I’ve been told that I’m not great with spoilers, so I’ll proceed with caution and tempt you with an odd quote for a space opera:
“She knows that individual ants themselves cannot be treated with, communicated with or even threatened. Her comprehension is coarse, of a necessity, but approximates to the truth. Each ant does not think. It has a complex set of responses based on a wide range of stimuli, many of which are themselves chemical messages produced by other ants in response to still more eventualities.”
Built to Move - Kelly Starrett & Juliet Starrett
Future-proof your body through mobility, balance, breath, sleep, and nutrition. Ten quick health assessments with daily physical practices for improvement. An example assessment, the Sit-and-Rise Test:
“Stand next to a wall or steady piece of furniture if you think you will need help. From there, cross one foot in front of the other and sit down on the floor into a cross-legged position without holding on to anything (unless you feel very unsteady). Now, from the same cross-legged position, rise up off the floor, if possible, without placing your hands or knees on the floor or using anything else for support. Tip: Lean forward with your hands outstretched in front of you to keep your balance.”
Scoring this assessment:
“Start by giving yourself a score of 10, then subtract one point for each of the following assists or problems:
- Bracing yourself with a hand on the wall or other solid surface
- Placing a hand on the ground
- Touching your knee to the floor
- Supporting yourself on the side of your legs
- Losing your balance”
Humble brag: I scored an inelegant ten on this assessment. I figure that’s the past twenty years of sporadic yoga paying off. That said, I’d like to be a ten on all these assessments at eighty, which means strength training, mobility work, and increased protein consumption.
Glad to have found this book at 46, but it should probably be required reading at 16.
Family Books of 2023
It’s getting harder to fit in nighttime reading with the girls. This year we wrapped up the Lumberjanes graphic novel series with books 18, 19 and 20. We’re definitely going to miss Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Riple, but the first half (quarter?) of this series was the strongest.
Our family favourite for the year was The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, one dog, and a very interesting boy. Although published in 2005, this book has the nostalgic feel of the E. Nesbit books (from the early 1900s) mom read to me and my sis as kids. (As a side note, many E. Nesbit novels are available for free from the Standard Ebooks project.)
From an adult’s point-of-view, not much happens in the Penderwicks, but from a kid’s perspective every day in this novel is full of curiosity, adventure, heart-break, joy, friendship, and many perils great and small. So glad to learn there are four more books in this series.
I normally pair podcasts with my yearly reading recap, but it’s already mid-February and I want to post what I’ve got. :)