The top 7 books to read in February 2023

Here are
The top 7 books
I plan to read in February 2023

January-February (not March this year) is the Japanese Literature challenge, in which I am (slowly) participating. I hope to read at least two books this month for this.
My French students keep me busy with reading French books with them.
I hope to be able to read a nonfiction in Italian by my favorite Italian author.
I read/listened to 12 books in January, so I should be able to read more than the titles below, but they are the priority titles for me this month.

📚 CURRENTLY READING 📚

Master of the Uncanny

📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Kidō Okamoto
Japanese short stories (before 1939)
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
168 pages
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I’m about 25%, and really enjoying these quirky stories!

“Born just after Japan transitioned from the Shogunate to Meiji, Kidō grew up in a samurai-oriented world being transformed by the West in many ways. As a reporter he covered domestic development and overseas wars, while also marrying a traditional geisha, eventually becoming a playwright and author. In addition to a number of well-received plays, he also penned more than fifty horror stories over a roughly ten-year period starting in the mid-1920s. Just prior to this period, the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 destroyed almost everything in Tokyo that remained from the Edo era, and Japanese horror itself was transitioning from the traditional uncanny stories to more modern horror structures.

While many of Kidō’s stories are retellings of tales from China and other nations, he also drew on a diverse range of traditions, including the heritage of Edo-era storytellers such as Ueda Akinari and Asai Ryōi, to produce a dazzling array of work covering the entire spectrum from time-honored ghost tropes to modern horror. The majority of his stories were collected in four volumes: Seiadō kidan (1926), Kindai iyō hen (1926), Iyō hen (1933), and Kaijū (1936).

Kidō remains popular for his elegant, low-key style, subtly introducing the “other” into the background, and raising the specter of the uncanny indirectly and often indistinctly. His fiction spans an enormous range of material, much of it dealing with the uncanny, and as a pioneer in the field his work formed the foundation for the new generation of Japanese authors emerging in post-Restoration literature.

This selection (12 stories) presents a dozen of his best stories: pieces which remain in print almost a century later, and continue to enchant readers—and writers—today. Finally, English-reading audiences can enjoy his strange visions as well.”

 

Rouvrir le roman📚 Rouvrir le roman,
by Sophie Divry
French nonfiction/ Book about books
Published in 2017
208 pages
Reading with French student F.

Interesting reflections on how and why authors write.

“This book aims to discuss preconceived ideas that weigh on the conscience of contemporary French writers. The main purpose is to show that the novel is not dead, and that literature is worth it.
Sophie Divry offers solutions to reset the novel into a place of research and adventure. She shares her ideas for a literature that is more demanding, more lively and more tenacious, more necessary for authors and readers alike.”

120 rue de la gare📚 120, rue de la gare,
(Nestor Burma #1)

by Léo Malet
French mystery
Published in 1946
215 pages
Available in English as
Bloody Streets of Paris
It counts for The Classics Club
Reading with French student E.

Wow, this is my first book by Léo Malet, and it is great fun! There are hilarious details, and I like how the detective Nestor Burma goes around to figure out what happened.

“Set in France during World War II, this is Léo Malet’s first novel starring detective Nestor Burma.
Burma’s assistant Bob Colomer, having just arrived in France after being held prisoner in a German camp, is murdered at the Lyon station as soon as he reunites with his boss. Colomer’s last words, whispered to Burma as he lay dying, are the address 120 Station Street, the same address Burma had heard from an agonizing patient in a military hospital.
And thus begins an investigation that will force Burma to revisit episodes from his past he thought he had buried long ago, and that will take him from Vichy France to Nazi-occupied Paris.
First published in 1942, this passionate noire novel is a description of everyday French life during World War II, where rationing, division of territory, and Nazi-imposed restrictions serve as the backdrop to this tale of intrigue.
It sealed the birth of the French noir novel, a cocktail of suspense, humour, poetry and social reflection.”

I am acually also reading two books on Orthodox spirituality.

📚 READING NEXT 📚

I am a Cat📚 I Am a Cat,
by Natsume Soseki
Japanese literary fiction
吾輩は猫である
was first published in 1905
Translated by Graeme Wilson and Aiko Ito
470 pages
IIt counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I have read many books by Soseki, The Gate for instance, but not this one, which might be his most famous!

“Written from 1904 through 1906, Soseki Natsume’s comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.
A classic of Japanese literature, I Am a Cat is one of Soseki’s best-known novels. Considered by many as the most significant writer in modern Japanese history, Soseki’s I Am a Cat is a classic novel sure to be enjoyed for years to come.”

Why Read the Classics

 

📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Nonfiction / Book on Books
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
306 pages

I’ll be reading it in Italian – part of my plan to read more books in Italian and Spanish this year.
I started a little some time ago, and found this wonderful sentence:

“The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying: ‘I’m rereading…’, never ‘I’m reading….’”

So now that my Italian is better, I’m really looking forward to dive deeper into this.

“From the internationally acclaimed author of some of this century’s most breathtakingly original novels comes this posthumous collection of thirty-six literary essays that will make any fortunate reader view the old classics in a dazzling new light.
Learn why Lara, not Zhivago, is the center of Pasternak’s masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago, and why Cyrano de Bergerac is the forerunner of modern-day science-fiction writers. Learn how many odysseys The Odyssey contains, and why Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories are a pinnacle of twentieth-century literature. From Ovid to Pavese, Xenophon to Dickens, Galileo to Gadda, Calvino covers the classics he has loved most with essays that are fresh, accessible and wise. Why Read the Classics? firmly establishes Calvino among the rare likes of Nabokov, Borges, and Lawrence–writers whose criticism is as vibrant and unique as their groundbreaking fiction.”

🎧 CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS 🎧

Blanc  The Wind in the Willows

🎧 Blanc,
by Sylvain Tesson
Nonfiction/ Travel
10/13/2022
240 pages
4H50

This one is closer to La Panthère des neiges (Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet) than the one I just listened by him.
It’s actually his reflections and notes taken over four winters, as he and his friend went through high mountains
It is not yet available in English, so here is my translation of the synopsis:

“With my friend the high mountain guide Daniel du Lac, I left Menton on the Mediterranean coast to cross the Alps on skis, to Trieste, passing through Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
From 2018 to 2021, at the end of winter, we were rising in the snow. The sky was virgin, the world without contours, only the effort counted down the days. I thought I was venturing into beauty, I was diluting myself in a substance. In the White [Blanc] everything is canceled – hopes and regrets. Why do I so enjoy wandering in purity?

🎧 The Wind in the Willows,
by Kenneth Grahame
Childrens classic
Published in 1908
288 pages
7 hours

I MAY have read this a LONG time ago, but don’t remember a thing about it.

“Spend a season on the river bank and take a walk on the wild side…
Spring is in the air and Mole has found a wonderful new world. There’s boating with Ratty, a feast with Badger and high jinx on the open road with that reckless ruffian, Mr Toad of Toad Hall. The four become the firmest of friends, but after Toad’s latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels?”

Eiffel Tower Orange

HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR JANUARY?

https://linktr.ee/wordsandpeace

Year of reading 2022 Part 2: Statistics

After the list of my 2022 favorites, here are my statistics.
Then tomorrow you can see the fun I had with the titles I read in 2022.

Year of reading 2022
Part 2: Statistics

I have used Book Roast’s CAWPILE, so I have even more graphs to share with you!
But she counts some things differently, so I’ll include my own graphs as needed.

With 140 books, that is, 20 more than my original goal, 2022 was a very good year of reading for me.
Let’s look at it more closely.

My total numbers of books read/listened to is actually the highest ever since I have started tracking it seriously through Goodreads and Google sheets:
92 books reads (92 in 2021!), and 48 listened to (73 in 2021) = 140 (165 in 2021), which is an average of 11.6/month (165 books in 2021, with a monthly average of 13.75).

Books read in 2022:
92
. That’s an average of 7.6/month
Total of 20,399 pages (21,654 in 2021), which is an average of 55 pages/day (59 in 2021).
That’s an average of 221 pages/book (235 in 2021).

So I tend to read shorter books.

Books listened to in 2022:
48
[73 in 2021]. This is an average of 4/month (6 in 2021)
Total of 24,600 minutes (22,153 min in 2021) with an average of 67 min/day (60 in 2021)
That’s an average of about 8.5 hours/audiobook. (5 hours/audiobook in 2021).

So, much longer audiobooks than in 2021, which makes sense,
as in 2021, I listened to a lot of Biblical books, which tend to be shorter.

In graphs, this is what it looks like:

2022 Books read per month

Total books, print and audio

2022 Pages read per month

2022 Average pages per day

With only 6 months above an average of 50 pages/day, not as impressive as 2021.

2022 Hours listened per month

2022 average minutes per day

Definitely happy here, with 8 months having an average of over 60 minutes per day – it means the house should be rather clean, as I only listen to audio books while doing house chores and gardening.

2022 genre

Nice diversity, getting more balanced.
With a major increase in scifi (double)
and children’s lit (five times more, mostly classics)

2022 format

Here again, things get more balanced.
Less audio, more ebooks.

2022 authors

11% more female authors than last year.
Male/female doesn’t matter for me,
as long as they know how to write well!
The diversity that counts for me is country of origin
and languages, as you can see below

2022 nationality

Exact same number of nationalities as last year,
but with different countries.

2022 languages

English books are less than 50%. See details below.
One more language than last year, as I read my first book in Italian.

In translation: 31 [52 in 2021 – due to Biblical books] 22% of all books read

  • 16 from the Japanese
  • 4 from the French
  • 4 from the Russian
  • 23 from the Spanish
  • 1 from the Chinese
  • 1 from the German
  • 1 from the Norwegian
  • 1 from the Swedish

In original language other than English: 41 – 29% of all books read
40 in French
1 in Italian

***

Out of a Total of 115 authors (105 in 2021)
59 were new to me (51%. It was 50% in 2021)

Books by the same author: 41 [69 in 2021]:
6 by Georges Simenon
5 by T.H. White
4 by Michel bussi
2 by Haruki Murakami, Yukio Mishima, Keigo Higashino,
Guy de Maupassant, Marc Levy, Jules Verne, Serge Joncour, René Barjavel,
David Foenkinos, Laurent Gounelle,
Diane Setterfield, Dorothy Gilman, Josephine Tey

8 Re-Reads: [28 in 2021, because of my Biblical project] 5%
Mostly read with French students
Le Pays où l’on n’arrive jamais, by André Dhôtel
Le Horla et autres nouvelles, by Maupassant
Cyrano de Bergerac, by Rostand
Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain-Fournier
De la Terre à la Lune, by Jules Verne
Le Petit Prince, by Saint-Exupéry
Human Nature, by Serge Joncour (read before in French)
Beginning to Pray, by Anthony Bloom, read twice in 2022

2022 publication year

Only 22% of very recent books, less and less every year.
Many more from the 19th century than before.

Oldest: The Year of My Life, by Issa Kobayashi (1852)
Newest: Progress Report, by Roman Lando, December 9, 2022

2022 source

Most books bought are part of my EStories audio subscription,
and books that have been on my TBR for a while.

About same balance as last year

33 countries these books led me to (24 last year):
France (37), US (30)
England (23), Japan (21)
6 books set in Russia
5 in space (one of these was on the moon)
4 in Antarctica
3 in Canada, Israel, Italy
2 in Argentina
1 in Scotland, Sweden, Norway,  Lithuania, Belarus, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, China, Tibet, India, New Zealand, Australia.
Plus in Persia, on an island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, in an unidentified desert, in the Amazonia region, around the Panama canal, and somehwre on Earth after some type of apocalyptic event.

I visited 10 US States:
Arkansas, California (5), Colorado, Florida, Illinois (2), Mississippi, Minnesota,
New York (2), Vermont, and Washington (2)

Shortest book: Dojoji, by Yukio Mishima –  33 pages
12 books under 100 pages – mosly novellas and children’s books

Longest book: Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda 574 pages
7 books over 400 pages

Shortest audiobook:
The Story of the Other Wise Man, by Henry Van Dyke – 53 minutes

Longest audiobook:
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils/ The Further Adventures, by Selma Lagerlöf – 17H06

Funniest: Revenge of the Libraries, by Tom Gauld

Most Unique Books:
The Heart of a Dog, by Mikhail Bulgakov:

“A rich, successful Moscow professor befriends a stray dog, whom he names Sharik, and attempts a scientific first by transplanting into it the testicles and pituitary gland of a recently deceased man”.
The Cloven Discount, by Italo Calvino:
This is a very weird (and hilarious too) book, about a viscount (and the narrator’s uncle), who gets split into two by a cannonball during battle. So now, we have two viscounts, a good one and a bad one. The story follows both, and makes us reflect I believe on human nature.

Most tearjerker: The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico

Most disappointing: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin

Creepy: The Last House on Needless Street, by Catriona Ward

Eye-opener: Digital Hell: The Inner Workings of a “like”, by Guillaume Pitron

Best reading companions:
Agatha Christie Poirot, by Mark Aldridge
Cliffs Notes on The Sound and the Fury, by James Roberts

Beautiful illustrations:
A Brush With Birds: Paintings and Stories from the Wild, by Richard Weatherly
Red is my Heart, by Antoine Laurain

Biggest discovery:
Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, by Isabella Lucy Bird

Favorite characters of the year:
Bastien (Entre eux mondes), Laurus (Laurus), Mary (Jamaica Inn),
Alexandre (Human Nature), Vadassy (Epitaph for a Spy),
Raymond McPheron (Eventide), Dilsey (The Sound and the Fury),
Philip and Fritha (The Snow Goose)

Classics I finally got to read:
I read 71 classics, that is 50% of all my 2022 books.
Check my 3rd (tab “sheet 1) and 4th list (tab “sheet 4”) of the Google doc

posted in this post, for the Classics Club.
The ones with the red margins are the ones I read – with the date.

Books present for a while on my TBR that I finally got to read
(other than the classics just mentioned):
Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée, by Thomas J. Craughwell
Le Voyage d’Octavio, by Miguel Bonnefoy
Eventide, by Kent Haruf
Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda
Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit
Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, by Haruki Murakami
A is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton
This Holy Man: Impressions of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, by Gillian Crow
The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin
Laurus, by Eugene Vodolazkin

Which authors new to me in 2021 that I now want to keep reading?
Eric Ambler, Isabella Lucy Bird, John Buchan, Blake Crouch, David Foenkinos,
Paul Gallico, Anna Katharine Green, Alexander Grin, Kanae Minato, E. Nesbit, Guillaume Pitron, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, Josephine Tey, Bernard Werber,
Cornell Woolrich

I have read more books from series than I thought:

2022 series

From the new ones started this year (18 series),
I want to keep reading books coming after:
The Three-Body Problem, Les Fourmis, The Man in the Queue, Fer-de-Lance,
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, The Roman Hat Mystery, The 39 Steps,
The Leathenworth Case, The Story of the Treasure Seekers

Best title:
It Can’t Happen Here

Longest book title:
Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America

Shortest book title:
NOA, by Marc Levy

MORE FUN RECAP TOMORROW!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

2022: November wrap-up

NOVEMBER 2022 WRAP-UP

November went really fast. I was very bad at posting on my blog, even though I participated a bit in Nonfiction November and Novellas in November.

BUT I read a lot of short books (novellas), in six different genres. In fact, I am now at 107% of my yearly goal – 129/120 books.

Most importantly for me, I read my first novel in Italian, by Italo Calvino. Teaching myself to read Italian (mostly with Duolingo) had this one goal: read this wonderful author in the original text.
It was not easy Italian, but I learned a lot and so much enjoyed the experience that I’m planning on reading more in Italian, and also go back reading in Spanish.

My Japanese studies are going well, and I’m starting reading tiny little books for beginners – level 0! I am giving here the link to these free Japanese books by level. But if you are studying Japanese yourself, you probably already know about this famous resource.
Right now, I’m mostly using these 3 tools for Japanese: Duolingo, Anki (the JLPT 5 deck), and Wanikani (to learn kanji)

📚 Here is what I read in November:

15 books – most of these in translation or in language other than English
11 in print 
with 1,709 pages, a daily average of 56 pages/day
4 in audio
= 29H58
, a daily average of 59 minutes/day

5 in literary fiction:

  1. Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, by Nikolai Leskov – from the Russian
  2. The Lifted Veil, by George Eliot
  3. Bel-Ami, by Guy de Maupassant – in French, with a student
  4. Crimson Sails, by Alexander Grin  – from the Russian
  5. Le Petit Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry – in French, with a student

2 in historical fiction:

  1. The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico
  2. The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Emmuska Orczy – audio, WITH THE FABULOUS NARRATOR RALPH COSHAM!!

2 in mystery:

  1. Respire, by Niko Tackian – in French, with a student
  2. Where’s There’s Love, There’s Hate, by Adolfo Bioy Casares – from the Spanish

2 in fantasy/literary fiction:

  1. The Heart of a Dog, by Mikhail Bulgakov – from the Russian
  2. Il visconte dimezzato, by Italo Calvino – in Italian

2 in children’s lit:

  1. The Story of the Treasure Seekers (Bastable Children #1), by E. Nesbit – audio
  2. Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling – audio

2 in nonfiction:

  1. Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, by Isabella Lucy Bird – audio
  2. Novelist as a Vocation, by Haruki Murakami – from the Japanese

 MY FAVORITE BOOKS THIS PAST MONTH

Very very hard to pick only 2 this month.

Unbeaten tracks in Japan The Scarlet Pimpernel

READING CHALLENGES & RECAP

Classics Club: 27/150 (from September 2022-until September 2027)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 9/12 books – During the year: 15
2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: 10/12 books
2022 books in translation reading challenge
: 29/10+

Total of books read in 2022 = 129/120 (107%)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 33 (several because of Nonfiction Nvember!)

 NO OTHER BOOK  REVIEWED THIS PAST MONTH

MOST POPULAR BOOK REVIEW THIS PAST MONTH

Talk to me

click on the cover to access my review

MOST POPULAR POST THIS PAST MONTH
– NON BOOK REVIEW –

The top 9 books to read in November 2022

BOOK BLOG THAT BROUGHT ME MOST TRAFFIC THIS PAST MONTH

Caffeinared reviewer
please go visit, there are a lot of good things there!

TOP COMMENTERS 

Karen at Booker Talk
Marianne at Let’s Read

Deb at Readerbuzz
please go and visit them,
they have great blogs

BLOG MILESTONES 

2,621 posts
over 5,130 followers
over 265,760 hits

📚 📚 📚

Come back tomorrow to see the titles I’ll be reading in December
How was YOUR month of November?

2022-Monthly-Wrap-Up-Round-Up400

Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction
has created a Month In Review meme
where you can link your monthly recap posts
Thanks Nicole!