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What I read: The Start of The Year Edition 2022

I read about 249 books last year, here are my favourites in a roundup from 2021. Here they are for the 2 years I started doing summaries:

I have them all under this category: What I read. I like to read food, history, mystery, style/fashion, and lifestyle. I no longer really read money books as they all say the same thing these days.

BOOK COUNT FOR THE YEAR

  • January: 14
  • February:
  • March:
  • April:
  • May:
  • June:
  • July:
  • August:
  • September:
  • October:
  • November:
  • December:

WHAT LITTLE BUN READ

  • Zoey and Sassafras (series) – He just started on this series and liked it. Finished the first book within the hour or so, it wasn’t that long.
  • Philosophy for Kids – Eastern & Western – He is sort of obsessed with this book now, he grabbed it and has been flipping through the pages which I am excited about

WHAT I READ

PRINCE OF MIST & MIDNIGHT PALACE

[ MYSTERY, THRILLER, ]

Zafon is truly a gifted writer. His books draw me in, and are excellent. The whole story centers around a mysterious figure who controls life in the background. I won’t give it away, but it was quite good. I have yet to read book 3.

Brazillionaires

[ BRAZIL, BILLIONAIRES, LIVES, RACISM, POWER, LIFESTYLE ]

This was quite an enlightening book on Brazil and being rich in Brazil. It talks about various billionaires, the level of animosity, stress, security, and deep dives into the various nuances of corruption at various levels of government and so on. I found it interesting as well, that they talked about how Brazilians do not see themselves as racist, but at the core, the whole system is set up quite similarly to the American one, filled with systemic racism that doesn’t seem outwardly discriminatory, but absolutely is. A great read.

WHY THE CHICKEN CROSSED THE ROAD: 18 SURPRISING SECRETS FROM CHINA ON SUCCESS, WEALTH, AND HAPPINESS

[ CHINA, LIFESTYLE, ANECDOTES, INSIGHT, CULTURE ]

I was not entirely sure what I was about to read, but I was pleasantly surprised. Of course you are going to be offended in some parts like I was, with what was written, and I found the writing a little juvenile for my taste, but I enjoyed the various chapters, particularly when it went into anecdotal stories, examples, and contrasts between people of various social levels. I especially found it intriguing that she detailed how she went into the country with preconceived notions. I won’t spoil it for you, but my favourites are her conversations with her maid.

CAPTURE YOUR STYLE

[ STYLE, PHOTOGRAPHY, OOTD HELP, PICTURES, SELFIES ]

I thought this was a book on style and I started getting annoyed 20% into the book, as I did not expect it. I did not realize it was a book on how to CAPTURE your style, as in take photos of yourself, selfies, props you need and so on. Now that I know what it is, I re-read it using some of the props in real life for personal selfies with Little Bun and so on. An interesting book if you want nicer outfit photos. This is a book better suited in physical book form, not ebook form. The pictures are useful, the little designs and so on.

ADULT CHILDREN OF EMOTIONALLY IMMATURE PARENTS

[ SELF-HELP, PARENTS, PARENTING ]

I had this book recommended to me by a friend, and I did see some of the same similarities in the way my parents raised me, and the way I reacted or turned out in response. I also felt like I had to read the book to make sure that I myself, do not end up being an emotionally immature parent, myself.

These emotionally immature parents include:

  1. Emotional Parents
  2. Driven Parents
  3. Passive Parents
  4. Rejecting Parents

Mine were #3. They kind of just left me to do my thing, and I became super independent as a result. It’s not to say I turned out badly, but I could have definitely used more guidance and direction than I got, whereas I felt like I parented myself. So I am working on trying not to OVER parent Little Bun, but at the same time, trying to be there for him in a healthy manner.

HEAT

[ CHEF, CAREER, MEMOIR, LEARNING ]

I love food and food-adjacent books, but not cookbooks. I like hearing about how they got into cooking, what they ate, their lives, and what they learned or found interesting about themselves, the food, or even other people! This book hits it all, and even dishes out some dirt on Mario Batali, and other famous chefs. If you are someone who loves food/cooking/chef memoirs and books like I do, this one is great.

NO. 1 DETECTIVE LADIES AGENCY

[ MYSTERY SERIES, FEMINIST, BOTSWANA ]

I wanted to like this so badly. I mean it hits everything for me – feminism, mystery, Botswana setting… but the writing was just too flat. By that, I mean the mystery themselves, was not that intricate or interesting. There was no drawn out searching, clues, and then the clever solution at the end. The solutions were clever and common sense ones. I am into the “omg I did not see that coming” sort of solution, and this book did not deliver for me. There are also multiple little mysteries here and there…

What I liked however, was reading how she built the business and especially learning about the culture and way of life in Botswana (not that I agree with all of it, obviously, as a feminist).

LADY IN WAITING

[ ANNE GLENCONNER, UK ROYAL FAMILY, PRINCESS MARGARET, LIFESTYLE, PRIVILEGED ]

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book. And I did. I think the whole book was equal parts privileged, and underprivileged in many ways, not just financially. I think even in proximity to “greats” like The Royal Family, does not cushion you from realities of life and decisions made, especially in the time where women were NOT expected to work, NOT expected to raise their own families themselves if they had the means, and NOT EVER DIVORCE. I enjoyed reading it because I enjoyed seeing the golden gilded cage she grew up and lived in for most of her life, versus the freedom us plebians have, that for me, is worth far more than being around such fame, wealth and prosperity (?).

CARNEGIE’S MAID

[ FICTION, CARNEGIE FAMILY, SOCIAL LADDER ]

I didn’t realize it was historical fiction until I read the note at the end. I really enjoyed it, even without knowing it was false. It seemed so real, so authentic. I especially liked the touches of social class distinctions between old and new money, the snobbery (THE SHADE!!!), and a sneak peek into the Carnegie family and how things COULD have played out.

THE GREAT GATSBY

[ CLASSIC, WEALTH DISPARITY, 1920s, LIFESTYLE ]

I read it (finally), liked it, and think I need to take an English lit course on it to really dive in deep and get all the nuances. Or re-read it again after I read up more on the themes presented in the book. Overall, I liked it. It’s a solid story, with interesting twists and insights.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

[ CLASSIC, WEALTH DISPARITY, SOCIAL CLASS, GROWTH ]

I can see why it’s a classic. Well written, interesting, and I definitely enjoyed the transition of Pip to the end. The expectations are not necessarily to be successful in terms of money, but as a person.

LITTLE EARTHQUAKES

[ WOMEN, DIFFERENT LIVES, LIVING, TRAGEDIES, HOPE ]

Following various lives of women at different income levels, and situations – quite an easy, light read to talk about various things people go through. I liked seeing through the lens of the various women in their situations, what they thought, what they dealt with. It was interesting.

THE HALF LIFE

[ DIVORCE, FINDING ONESELF ]

Not her best work. I found the protagonist annoying, but it is likely because I don’t enjoy pity parties. Major pass. The whole story was pretty weak.

 

WHAT I COULD NOT READ

It’s rare but it happens. Life is too short.

Dream of the red chamber

I am told this is a classic. I am sure it is. It is not for me.

 

FAQ

How do I read so quickly?

I don’t know either. I’ve been reading books for as long as I can remember. I feel like my sibling is the one who patiently taught me how to read one book, and from there, it exploded.

So, lots of practice? I have been reading for so long that words come easily to my brain, it’s like I see a picture of the word rather than reading the word individually. So “disastrous” would be a word that you read “dis-sas-trous”, but in my head it’s disastrous“, just one word, meaning imprinted. Makes sentences go a lot quicker.

Save for my parents, my entire immediate family is a family of voracious readers.

We read while eating, we read while walking, we read in bed… I guess I just followed what my older siblings did as they always had their nose in their books, and a few going at the same time (you know, the disrespectful way we read through half a book than leave it half open facing the table, spines cracked, no bookmark?).

I used to read 30+ books from the library a week – all young adult, easy stuff. I can read 2-3 books of young adult fiction in a current work day to give you an example, and as a child I had way more time than I do now, so I burned through books like a firestorm.

Our partners remark that they’ve never seen a family read so much, and I guess it’s true.

Where do I get my books?

A lot of you have asked and I generally don’t buy books unless they’re secondhand and in ebook format, for many reasons – price, environmental, space, and even then, I don’t buy books. I borrow them.

I read them on my Kobo ereader (also secondhand), and check out books from the library from Overdrive. If the book isn’t there, I generally don’t read it, UNLESS.. it is a book I REALLY REALLY want to read, then I MAY consider buying it if I cannot wait for it or find it. So far, I have only done this for Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Libraries are a gift, and we pay for them in our taxes yearly even if you don’t personally use them, so thanks.

How do I know what to read?

I don’t. I see recommendations and make notes, or put it on my Wishlist / On hold. I sometimes go into bookstores and browse, then decide if it is worth getting from the library. Or in secondhand stores, I pick up or buy books only if they’re photography / style-related where pictures and colour are a MUST (the one drawback to an e-reader).

I purchased only two physical books in 2020 that I couldn’t / didn’t want to buy in e-book format: Distinction (it was cheaper secondhand than the e-book), & Scoff (not available in ebook format at all).

Don’t you prefer physical books?

Who doesn’t!?

Aside from the cost, the space they take up, how heavy they are (we have a small bookshelf, most of it is Little Bun), I find them heavy to hold and hard to read in rooms unless there is bright daylight or very strong lamp light (I suffer from aura migraines and I’ve noticed dim light or lack of light triggers it when I am reading). I really like that the ebook illuminates the book.

I’d rather carry my entire library around with me in an ebook reader, plus be able to read with a backlight on.

I am currently considering a library option however only because we plan on buying a larger home in the future and I could allow a small library in my closet, perhaps.

Likely, it will only be filled with photography and style books however. Those are the only books I really want in physical copy and ebooks won’t suffice.

Where do I find the time to read?

I just make time for it. I have no other answer…

I’ve noticed if I am not watching TV shows, or aimlessly browsing on Instagram, I seem to have plenty of time to read if I am able to foist Little Bun off on my partner and/or keep him occupied otherwise.

I can go through a lot of books in a short amount of time if I am both interested, reasonably well-rested (or in a good mental state, not in limbo or stressed out) and the book itself is engrossing.

I read while brushing my teeth as you need to brush a full minute to two minutes (I have the reader on a stand), and I read while eating or drinking tea, I read while Little Bun plays or reads…. I read every time there is a spare moment.

1 Comment

  • Gail

    Please try some of the other Alexander McCall Smith books. I did not like the African-based ones either, but ate up the others, esp. ones with Isabel Dalhousie.
    I so enjoy your book lists.

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