What I’m Reading : Episode 42, February 2022: All About Love
Without any effort on my part, the book I just finished reading and the two I’m currently reading all feature different forms of love. How apt for the month that includes St Valentine’s Day.
What I just finished reading
I failed miserably to read any Japanese authors for this year’s Japanese Literature Challenge (hosted by Meredith @ dolcebellezza) so have tried to make up for that by reading a novel set in Japan. An Exquisite Sense of What I Beautiful is aptly named because this is most definitely an exquisitely written novel of mistakes, regrets and lost love. David J Simmons focuses on a lauded British writer who returns to a resort hotel in the Japanese mountains where he wrote his best-selling novel and where he fell in love. It becomes clear he is hiding from his past. Highly recommended.
What I’m reading now
Our book club has changed the process for choosing our next read. We’re now taking it in turns to propose two books and the members vote for their preferred choice.
So this month we’re reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston which was one I proposed. It’s been on my radar for several years. Published in 1937 it didn’t get a very good reception initially but has grown in status to become considered as a modern classic and a canonical text within African-American literature.
It took me a while to get into the novel because much of the narrative is written in a dialect meant to approximate how Southern Black Americans spoke to each other in the early 1900s. But once my ear was tuned in as it were, I could pay more attention to the themes and characterisation. I’m only half way through so too early to judge my overall reaction.
I’d started reading You by Phil Whitaker but put it to one side to concentrate on the Hurston. I’ll return to Whittaker’s novel shortly, hoping to finish it and write the review before the end of #ReadIndies 2022 hosted by Karen and Lizzy. The novel, published by Salt, is a tale of a father estranged from his teenage daughter when his marriage broke down. He gets on a train hoping to meet his daughter and achieve a reconciliation. What’s unusual about this novel is that the story is told through the father’s imaginary tour of the past, flying through time and space to introduce his daughter to key moments in her family’s life.
What I’ll read next
March sees two Celtic nations go head to head. No I’m not talking about the annual Ireland vs Wales encounter in the Six Nations rugby tournament. That happened last week and Wales won (just thought I’d rub that into any Irish readers here!).
I’m referring to the fact that March sees a celebration of Irish and Welsh literature through Irish Reading Month hosted by Cathy @746books and Reading Wales 2022 hosted by Paula @bookjotter. I’m planning to join in with both though haven’t yet decided which books I’ll choose. I’ve just picked up a library copy of Snow by John Banville which will do nicely for Ireland. For Wales, I’ve also recently received two books by Margiad Evans, a critically acclaimed writer from the interwar years who had a life-long affinity to the Welsh borderlands. A Ray of Darkness and The Nightingale Silenced have been out of print for many years but have been re-issued by my favourite Welsh independent press, Honno.
That’s about the extent of my “plans” for the next few weeks, having made a decision at the start of 2022 that I would avoid too much structure in my reading. Now tell me, What are your reading plans for the next few weeks?
What I’m reading is in support of WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. WWW Wednesday is actually a weekly meme but I choose to do it just once a month.
17 thoughts on “What I’m Reading : Episode 42, February 2022: All About Love”
The Simmons sounds intriguing, though sadly I’m unlikely to get round to it.
Like you I shall be joining in both Dewithon and Begorrathon but March is also a month to commemorate Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett, who both died at this time, so I’ll be joining in with March Magics dedicated to the pair. I may have some books lined up (in fact some already started) despite also publicly eschewing reading challenges in 2022 for the most part. Go figure, as they say!
You can join me in the Association of Readers and Bloggers Who Are Consistently Inconsistent!
I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God and found it quite a thrill once I got into the rhythm of the dialect – much easier (and shorter) than Marlon James for example.
I’m reading Remote Sympathy this week and have my eye on Bell Hooks All About Love.
I tried Marlon James but had to give up on it – just couldn’t get into the dialect at all
I have just finished an extremely fast paced romcom which left me almost out of breath. Next book is a travelogue, it’s a genre I enjoy as it takes me armchair traveling all over the world.
I’ve never read much in the travelogue genre – maybe Bill Bryson doesn’t even count. Its my husband who is the fan, he has all of the Paul Theroux books
I’ll read Their Eyes later this year. I’ve already read/written up The Autobiography of Malcolm X for the end of Feb. Right now I’m reading Doris Lessing’s Shikasta and as soon as I get in the truck I’ll listen to (Canadian) Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber.
I’ve only read one Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing – but that was so many years ago I don’t remember much of it. I’ve added it to my list of “classics” I would like to read
Lessing writes in a number of ‘periods’. As I remember The Grass is Singing is a bitter account of a marriage in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. I’ve read a couple of later ones set in England – if you’re only going to add one.
Interesting that she set some in England. I’m guessing she left S Africa at some point
I shall certainly try to drop into both Wales and Ireland if I can fit something suitable in!!
I’m sure you have something lurking in all those vast shelves of books
Actually the Japanese Literature Challenge lasts until March 31, it always lasts for 3 months.
Simons’s book sounds good. I read another gorgeous short book set in Japan, probably my favorite in 2021: A Single Rose, by Muriel Barbery.
Here is my WWW: https://wordsandpeace.com/2022/02/13/sunday-post-53-2-13-2022/
I’d forgotten that it runs until end of March. Still not sure I can fit anything more in – this month my reading has slowed right down.
I just read Their Eyes in 2021. Others in my book club went on to read her memoir.
What was the overall verdict among the club members?
They loved it! 🙌