January & February 2023

Dear fellow readers, I’m looking at my previous post date, January 9th, and it’s hard to believe that it’s March 16th, our Spring Break week here in Texas.

I had envisioned a dedicated and witty post today, but instead, mood dictates to alternate pictures with some of my latest reading updates for a lighter update.

Earlier in February, I finished reading I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, a compilation of short stories that made a great impression on me. Short stories is a genre that I’m appreciating more and more, it renders to a slow read if one wishes so, or a faster one, and as long as you finish a story, you can always come back later and not have to start all over or be lost. In my modest experience, good short story writers achieve a coherence that elevates each of the stories.

Laura Van Den Berg challenged some of my assumptions and offered disconcerting and yet not grotesque views of our modern fragmented reality. Lispector mentions in her introduction to this book that a pervading thought in the book would be ‘how strange it is to be ourselves.’

Intimations is, I ashamedly confess, my first book by Zadie Smith. It is truly small vignettes, each of them very relatable, as we all have lived through Covid and we both reside in the United States. After this, I don’t feel as intimidated to try another of her books. Please do recommend, maybe White Teeth?

Another confession, given that I have not read lots of poetry, Cavafy’s poems seem different and refreshing. Maybe, and only maybe, I am coming out of the huge reading slump. I’m not back to the reading capacity I have had most of my life, and I get that it’s not about quantity, it’s the fact that if I’m not reading I’m not well, and that reading means a lot to me, -from my spiritual nourishment to my so fashionable concept of mental health which the classics defined as leisure, and Charlotte Mason as Mother Culture. And it’s not strictly reading, but enjoying art, walks, music and/or podcasts, immersing myself in some creative endeavor or a small project around the house, trying a new recipe with my daughters, etc. Though not strictly reading, I’d say reading is at the core of all this.

I was given this delightful volume, The Novel Cure, which I adore, as well as the next two, Recitative, and The English Understand Wool, which will be my next titles by an author I’m also intimidated by, Morrison, and a new to me author, DeWitt.

Before closing, I must add that I have managed to finish some Calvino re-reads and new reads. Whenever I don’t know what to read, I sometimes pick Calvino, and his Invisible Cities delights me every time. One of my cleaning weekends last month, I also found the two books I hadn’t read that form his Our Ancestors trilogy, and listened to them. They are The Cloven Viscount, The Baron In the Trees, The Non-Existent Knight. They can be read independently since they are only grouped by style, genre and thematically, but they are not connected plots nor characters. I had read The Baron In the Trees, which afforded me a jolly time. If you are curious or a fan and wish to read a generous and insightful article on Calvino, this one published in The New Yorker by Merve Emre that Janakay shared with me I bet will satisfy you.

Most readers favor The Baron in the Trees as the best in those three. I do agree, but the three titles are such a blast. From the article, In response to a 1985 survey, “Why Do You Write?,” he declared, “I consider that entertaining readers, or at least not boring them, is my first and binding social duty.” He accomplishes this with high marks.

There’s more books presents and other titles of interest for the short term future, and hopefully my next upgrade will come soon.

10 thoughts on “January & February 2023

  1. Qué buena lista de ideas dejas por aquí. Curioso lo de los relatos, yo también los estoy apreciando cada vez más. Me apunto “I Hold a Wolf by the Ears”, no lo conocía ni había oído hablar de la autora, pero por lo que cuentas me interesa. Leí “White Teeth” hace muchos años y me gustó, muy recomendable. En cuanto a Toni Morrison, leí “The Bluest Eye” y “Beloved” también hace un tiempo, me quedo también con la que comentas, que no la tenía en el radar. Son historias durísimas por la temática, pero contadas con mucha humanidad y con unos personajes tan reales que se quedan contigo cuando terminas los libros. Lo dicho, una gran lista. ¡Un saludo!

  2. I’ve not read any Zadie Smith (though I have enjoyed the odd newspaper article of hers) but White Teeth was I believe her breakout novel and very well received.

  3. I agree, we do what we can. And we keep trying to get to that pre Covid depth, at least for me it all changed with Covid and with me joining work full time. In the meantime, I am enjoying the new phase as much as possible, and trying to keep a positive outlook. Glad to hear Morrison is someone you appreciate and Calvino is very accessible, at least all that I have read, If on a Winter… included, and his Why Read the Classics and translation books. I definitely love the joy he transmits. It’s very clear that he is a wonderful reader who loves many authors himself.

  4. I also miss the way I used to read. I feel I’m skimming so superficially all the time. Can I get back the deeper experience I once had? I try to sit down and read a paper book without distractions regularly, but I have a hard time resisting the digital lure.

    Calvino has always intimidated me, but your enthusiasm for him is inspiring. I have only read Beloved by Toni Morrison (brilliant, devastating, essential), I really should read more. No Zadie Smith. It’s impossible to read everything, which can make me feel despairing, but on the other hand how wonderful that there is such a wealth of voices available to us today! We do what we can.

  5. Novel Cure is a wonderful read – great for dipping in and out of. I’ve only just discovered Cavafy and can see his appeal.
    Hope you enjoyed your mid term break.

  6. Thanks, -as I read your comment I saw I typed Brake instead of Break! Sigh, dear me.
    If you pick any of those three books you won’t be sorry. The Novel Cure is a catalogue of sorts to read as one pleases. Invisible Cities is very thin, not a dread at all, easy to read and yet profound. It’s a gem of a book.

  7. Silvia, You read the most interesting titles. I have never heard of these, but I am writing down The Novel Cure and Invisible Cities, maybe also Intimations.

    I agree about how important Mother Culture is. It is how we feed our souls.

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