January 2023 books read

  • Milkman – Anna Burns, 2018. Re-read; quotes pulled, TBD.
  • What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses – Daniel Chamovitz, 2012 updated 2017. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • Tar Baby – Toni Morrison, 1981. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • Rocannon’s World – Ursula K. Le Guin, 1966. Read for Calmgrove’s #LoveHain.
  • The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success – Andy Andrews, 2002. This came up in Your Best Year Ever where someone’s job title was listed as “brand manager for Andy Andrews” and I wondered “what’s that?” I’m surprised I didn’t encounter him back in the Susquehanna County Library days, as the simplistic Christian-ish inspiration genre was big there. It’s decently written but the conceit (despairing guy is sent back in time to visit seven famous people and get a very 1950s resolution from each of them) is laughable and the historical liberties are breath-taking. I marked this passage:
    • “If I touch a thistle with caution, it will prick me, but if I grasp it boldly, its spines crumble to dust.” I think he means a nettle. Boldly grasping a thistle will end badly, I’m pretty sure – even goats lick them to soften the spines before they eat them, don’t they? Maybe not – I’m not finding any evidence – but in any case, thistle spines are no joke.
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë, 1847. Many times re-read, this time for Great Books. Quotes marked, TBD.
  • Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do – Jennifer L. Eberhardt, 2019. I’d heard a lot about this book, but what prompted me to finally read it was a book group on Post. I deleted my Twitter account last year and Post is the closest replacement so far. But I should have realized that the format isn’t what I’m looking for in terms of reflecting on a book, so I probably won’t do it again. I didn’t learn much new, if anything, from the book, but it’s well-written and well put-together.
  • The Hidden Power of F*cking Up – The Try Guys, 2019. Like many people I had never heard of the Try Guys before the Fall 2022 Ned Fulmer scandal. I was mildly interested, and this very colorful book caught my eye in the new arrivals at the library. It’s OK. If you don’t care about these people there’s too much of their personal journeys, but there are also plenty of attractive photos and slightly funny anecdotes. C-grade self-help in an A graphic package.
  • Lady Into Fox – David Garnett, 1922 – Read for the Massachusetts Center for the Book January 2023 challenge, “A book less than 100 pages in length.” The one sentence response I sent in: “Strange and touching fantasy about the irrational power of love.” It had been kicking around on my e-reader because I knew of the title as a fantasy classic and the author as a Bloomsbury group member.
  • A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’ – Rachel Held Evans, 2012. I used to follow Evans’ blog, as part of my general curiosity about religions – her voice was sensible and interesting, and I always appreciated her perspective on feminist and LGBTQ issues. Her critiques of Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill were particularly pointed, and I was remembering how much I missed her (she sadly died at only 37) when listening to the fascinating The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast. I enjoyed this book, although the humor was a little forced.
  • The Hollow – Agatha Christie, 1946. I picked it up because of this thread on Ask A Manager, which compared the character Henrietta to Sayers’ Harriet Vane. I don’t really see it, but the book was OK though tainted with anti-semitism and racism (par for the course for Christie).
  • Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff – Dana K. White, 2018. Forbes Library is offering virtual author talks and this is the first one that caught my fancy. It was really delightful so I followed up with the book, which is basically the same content. The two main points I picked up from both are a) how to declutter without making a mess even if you’re interrupted (basically, use a donatable “to donate” box and put things where you would look for them as you go) and b) to treat containers as limits. White is very funny and relatable.


  • Humanists All” – James Engell, Harvard Magazine Jan-Feb 2023.
    • “In life as in academic disciplines, the arts and humanities, rightly conceived, draw freely from the single nectars of other fields to create a honey none alone produces.”
    • “Did we lose the Vietnam war, flail in Iraq, and occupy Afghanistan for two decades before letting it revert to the Taliban in two weeks all for lack of superior science, technology, engineering, or math? For lack of computers? Weapons? For lack of trillions spent? How many would have lived had our leaders known the history, religion, language, and culture of those countries?”
  • Restored to Nature: Landscape architect Mikyoung Kim’s healing arts” – Lydialyle Gibson, Harvard Magazine Jan-Feb 2023.
    • “Ecologically, the Ford site collects a huge volume of stormwater (finding artful solutions for excess water turns out to be a frequent creative challenge for Kim). which in her design will be cleansed and ‘daylighted’ into pools or perhaps a ring of mist that people can walk through—something sculptural and interesting, she says, but not hidden: ‘Part of the job of a landscape is to teach, and I think it’s important for people in a city to understand that this is a system that’s constructed, to see what the parts are, and how it works.'”

2 thoughts on “January 2023 books read

  1. To be done! I mark tons of quotes and the process of getting them copied off, let alone turning them into formless posts, is an eternal task…

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