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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.

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.


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