Monday, February 20, 2023

Reading Summary for January 2023


Looking back on my reading in January, it was a pretty good month. I was glad I pushed myself to finish Anna Karenina. As with some other longer classics I have read, once I got past the halfway mark it got better. Reading the biography of the Mitford sisters, The Six, got me started on a quest to find more books about that family. I read my first graphic novel for the year (a manga!), and I read some very good crime fiction. 

Nonfiction / Biography

The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters (2015) by Laura Thompson

The Mitford family was in the news a lot in the late 1930s and during World War II primarily because of the behavior of Diana, who married Oswald Mosley, and Unity, who was a big fan of Hitler. The book concentrated on the six sisters, but spent more time on Nancy, Diana, and Unity. I am hungry for more information about the family, so I am now reading The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell. My review of The Six is here.

Graphic novel

A Man and His Cat, Vol. 1 (2018) by Umi Sakurai (Writer and Artist)

This is a short graphic novel about a widower who lives alone and decides to get a cat for the first time. The story is mostly about him learning to live with and take care of a cat, and it is very sweet. This is a manga and I had to get used to reading the story from back to front and from right to left on the page. I have read volume 2 in the series now, and will be reading more.

Fiction / Classic

Anna Karenina (1878) by Leo Tolstoy

After owning this book for twelve years, I finally read it and I am glad I did. I learned a lot about life in Russia when it was written. But I found a large part of it depressing to read. My review is here.

Crime Fiction

The Graveyard Position (2005) by Robert Barnard

Barnard is one of my favorite authors. He wrote about 50 novels between 1974 and 2012. Some were series books but a large number of his mysteries were standalones. The standalone books have the best plots and subtle humor, but I have read and enjoyed most of his series books. This one is about a man who returns from abroad to Leeds, England after his aunt dies, to the dismay of the rest of the family, who thought he was dead. He will inherit most of his aunt's estate, once he can provide proof of his identity. Some long hidden secrets about the family are uncovered along the way.

The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (1979) by Lawrence Block

This is the third book in the series starring Bernie Rhodenbarr, who makes his living as a burglar. In this book, he has purchased an antiquarian bookstore, and his lesbian friend Caroline, a dog groomer, is introduced. Bernie is hired to steal a very rare book, and in the process gets involved in another crime. I liked the first two books but I think this one was much better. I like the characters and the writing and will read more books as I locate them.

A Midsummer's Equation (2011) by Keigo Higashino

This book is the 6th book in the "Detective Galileo" series but only the third book translated into English. I like the series very much, and each book is a bit different.  My review is here.

The Sign of Four (1890) by Arthur Conan Doyle

I have been a fan of mystery novels since my teens, but I did not read anything in the Sherlock Holmes series until the last few years. This was the second of the novels that I have read, and I was surprised to find that the novels are a combination of puzzle mystery and exotic adventure. My review is here.

Currently reading

I am reading The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell and Fender Benders by Bill Fitzhugh, a darkly humorous mystery about the country music scene in Nashville.

Status of challenges

  • Both the crime fiction book by Keigo Kigashino and the two manga were read for the Japanese Literature Challenge. And I recently read Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka.
  • Several of the books I read in January also fit categories for my Bingo Reading Challenge.
  • Six of the books I read in February count for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

The images at the top and bottom of the post were taken on a recent visit to the Woodland Loop at the Natural History Museum, in the Mission Canyon area. It has been years since we walked in this area. Another lovely walk.

My husband took the photos. Click on the images for the best viewing quality.


Bookertalk said...

It’s years since I read Anna Karenuna but do remember it was a bit gloomy. A lot of Russian fiction is like that it seems

Cath said...

That's a nice spot in your photos!

You had a good reading month, especially finishing Anna Karenina! And I hope you enjoy the Mary Lovell Mitford sisters book as much as I did. I have The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling and want to read it but haven't read and don't own book 2. Do you think it matters?

Kay said...

I agree that you did have a nice reading month. I loved the pictures! Would love to walk in that area. I'm finally back to my regular morning walk and even after just a short time, it makes me feel so much better. Plus, it's the time I listen to podcasts that are mystery author events and also audiobooks. I'm way behind on my podcast listening though, so I'll be catching up there for a bit. Hope February has been and will be a good month for you, Tracy!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great Robert Barnard fan. In 2013, after his death, we saluted him on FFB.
The number of contributors now gone, is so sad.

Margot Kinberg said...

That does look like a beautiful walk, Tracy; thanks for sharing it with us. You had some good reading this month, including a few authors whose work I really like (Barnard, Block, and Higashino). I'm glad you reminded me of Anna Karenina, too. It had been too long since I thought of that one.

TracyK said...

BookerTalk, I do want to read more Russian fiction, I think I have only read three books and they were all longer books. I would like to try some shorter ones now.

TracyK said...

Cath, it was a wonderful place to walk. The Loop isn't very long but you can walk it multiple times.

I am enjoying the Mitford sisters book but I am reading it slowly. It is organized in a way that works well for me, and I have learned a lot more about Jessica, which was one of my goals.

I would go ahead and read The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. I don't think you would miss anything by not reading book 2, and this one has a more interesting plot.

TracyK said...

Kay, After we started walking regularly my stamina improved so much and I feel better overall. Soon I will have to convince meself that it is time to start gardening more regularly and then I will get more regular exercise.

February has been good for me reading-wise but my reading is slower overall.

TracyK said...

Patti, Thanks for including that link to the remembrance post for Robert Barnard. That reminded me that I have the two book he wrote as Bernard Bastable with Wolfgang Mozart as a character, and I still haven't read them. I have many of his books I haven't read yet.

I do miss the bloggers at that post who are not still around, especially Rick, who I knew the best.

TracyK said...

Margot, I have more books by those three authors you mentioned: Barnard, Block, and Higashino. Lots of books by Barnard and Block, and my husband has two more books by Higashino that I haven't read. Looking forward to more by those authors.

Todd Mason said...

A couple of novels in Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone series have country-music-industry/Nashville settings, in does the second novel in Donald Westlake's short series of stories about tabloid The Weekly Galaxy and its staff, BABY, WOULD I LIE?. Of course, among no few others, but both came to mind, particularly given your interest in Muller's work.

TracyK said...

Todd, I definitely want to read more in Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone series. I have a few more of the early books, although I have thought about starting again later in the series. But not sure where to start.

Re the Westlake novel, I have the second novel in the Sara and Jack series, and I had forgotten that it was about country music in Branson, Missouri. Baby, Would I Lie? is a perfect title. I will have to read it soon(ish). I loved the first book, Trust Me On This.

Todd Mason said...

The three short stories in the series are built around their colleague Boy (?)Cartwright (I think that's his surname)...shall dig up the titles.

I'll suggest again that TROPHIES AND DEAD THINGS was an excellent starting point for me in the McCone series, and LOCKED IN might be, too.

TracyK said...

Ah, Todd, I do see that you gave me that suggestion as a place to start with the Muller books, in the last post I wrote related to Muller. I am sorry that slipped from my mind, as I get older that happens more. I will put it on a list this time. I am sure I can find a copy.

If you find the title for stories about Boy Cartwright, do let me know. I did a bit of looking on line and it looks like one is titled Skeeks but that all I found.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks for triggering my own buggy memory! "Skeeks" and "Come Again?" may well be the Two BC stories...if eventually find/recall an actual third, I hope to let you know!

"Skeeks" was first in PLAYBOY and reprinted in A GOOD STORY AND OTHER STORIES; "Come Again?" was in THE MYSTERIOUS PRESS ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY, and may or may not have been reprinted since...both worth reading.