2023 in Books

Between sewing and reading, how is there time for anything else?? So many projects to make and endless numbers of books to read but there are only 24 hours in the day – ah, one of life’s challenges.

This year I managed to read 52 books. For me, an average of one book each week is great. Of these, nine books were audio. For the most part I enjoy listening to a book while I am sewing or driving. Sometimes the narration is disappointing. For example, my notes on Home Front by Kristin Hannah say “meh- poor narration in this audio version. Didn’t like the sound of her voices.” This can make a big difference. Conversely, I listened to This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel and my notes mentioned “Narration really well done – voices of Poppy, Mom and Dad are perfect.”

Here is the list of books I read in 2023:

The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey by Serena Bursick

The Affair by Lee Child

The Pig and I by Rachel Toor (memoir)

I’m Glad My Mom Died  by Jennette N McCurdy (memoir)

Call Of the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Good For You by Camille Pagan (dumb and predictable)

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus- Very depressing book.

Montana 1948 by Larry Watson

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Home Front by Kristin Hannah – meh- audio – poor narration in audio version. Didn’t like the sound of her voices

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen

The Patron Saint of Liars – Ann Patchett

Camino Island by John Grisham

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus  

The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett – Audio – great book.

Peacock Emporium by Jojo Moyes

Hour of the Assassin by Matthew Quirk 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (so good and such a surprising ending)

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Dressmakers of Prospect Heights by Kitty Zeldis

Camino Winds by John Grisham, sequel to Camino Island

Blue Moon – by Lee Child – audio

Happy Go Lucky by David Sedaris (audio)

The Yellow Room – Mary Roberts Reinhardt

Of Foster Homes and Flies by Chad Lutzke This short book is a gritty coming of age story – it is dark but I felt compelled to read this sad story.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harmon

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson (meh, not great)

Canary Girls by Jennifer Chiaverini (interesting but a bit slow)

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (audio)

Call the Canaries Home by Laura Barrow OK – story of sisters and family conflict

Caught by Harlen Coben (audio)

A Girl Called Samson by Amy Harmon – excellent read about a young woman who disguises herself and joins the military. Really good read!

The Road Towards Home by Corinne Demas  (sweet story of a relationship between two people in a senior home.)

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – Audio

The Way Life Should Be by William Dameron – mediocre book

Choosing to Run by Des Linden (memoir – Des Linden is an athlete – not a writer)

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin – very good read.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder 

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold 

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery  – inspiring memoir of a woman who walked the Appalachian Trail by herself with very little equipment or experience. The writing is lackluster – but what Emma Gatewood accomplished is amazing.

O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton

A is for Alias by Sue Grafton meh, not a great book

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson I loved this quirky book!

For you Mom Finally by Ruth Reichl – audio

Nora Nora by Anne Rivers Siddon  (Soo good!)

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – audio – narration really well done, voices of Poppy, Mom and Dad are perfect.

Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld – a memoir of a woman with little support who makes it through mental illness and foster homes to become a successful software developer. It moves slowly and even though she has an extremely difficult and challenging life, the book sounds like she is always whining.

Since I started keeping track of the books I’ve read, I have found it fun to go back and look at the books in list form. A few things jump out such as themes I was drawn to, books I didn’t enjoy but finished anyway (why do that when there are soooo many great books to read) and books I read for a second time. Last year I read two books for the second time. One was Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. By David Sedaris, this book is funny and a good one to listen to while sewing. I don’t have to concentrate on the book as it is a selection of humorous essays. I love Sedaris and his quirky family! The other book was This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. I read the book several years ago and have recommended it to a lot of people. The message about raising a transgender child is really well written – sometimes humorous and sometimes so sad. The audio book was just excellent and I am so glad I listened to it.

As for themes – It appears I was drawn to memoirs this year. I read five of them and all were interesting. Choosing to Run by Des Linden, winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon was a disappointment. This book was really hyped thus I had high expectations. As one reviewer said on Good Reads, ‘Des is an athlete not an author’. The writing is mediocre and basically the book reads like a log of her training. It moved along very slowly and is not one I would recommend.

The second theme I noticed was that of the strong female protagonist. Grandma Gatewood, A Girl Called Samson, Acceptance, Choosing to Run and Girl Runner all feature very strong women who achieved something they felt passionate about. I found a great deal of inspiration within these pages. My favorites from this collection were A Girl Called Samson and Girl Runner.

That is it for 2023 and the books I read; some were fantastic and others not as great. I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these. Did you read one or two of them? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

23 thoughts on “2023 in Books

  1. Wendy

    I read Sarah’s Key years ago and remember being stunned by the ending. I also read The Great Alone after hearing so much about it, and didn’t find it all that great. Sorry that you didn’t enjoy Home Front on audio. I read the book and enjoyed it. Do you follow Modern Mrs. Darcy? She reviews audiobooks from time to time and has much to say about the narrators. You might find that interesting.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Wendy – I haven’t heard of Modern Mrs Darcy. I will look into this – The narrators are a big part of the audio book experience. Thanks!! As for Home Front – I enjoyed the fact that the setting is right in our part of the Puget Sound. So when places were mentioned, I could really visualize them. But the book as a whole was sort of just ok for me. Sometimes it is mood dependent. A book might not appeal at one point in time and then at another, it could be really enjoyable.

  2. Diann@LittlePenguinQuilts

    I’m always amazed when I read a list of books that someone else has read, and there are only a few on it that I have read or even heard of! One of my all time favorites is Lessons in Chemistry – such a good book. I really liked This is How it Always Is, too – it gave me a lot to think about. Some of yours are going to go on my list for what to read next!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Diann – Both of those books are favorites of mine. I have watched a good bit of the Lessons In Chemistry TV series and it is good, but not nearly as good as the book. Have you read any other books by Laurie Frankel? She has several and I have enjoyed them – none as much as This is How… But she is a great writer.

  3. Torry

    A is for Alias was Sue Grafton’s first bok in her alphabet series. I had read several of the other books before reading A is for Alias, and it was noticeably less well written than the others. Don’t give up on the series.
    I enjoy the Lee Child books, but haven’t read them in order.
    I loved the Jennifer Worth books! (I also love the PBS series, Call the Midwife. The first seasons were based on the books, but then they branched out. The writers do a marvelous job of historical accuracy. )
    I also read a few others on your list. Last year I read 61 books. I haven’t done audio yet. So far this year, I am on book six. But, based on previous years, I will have some weeks where I don’t get any read. It averages out. I also read a lot of magazines, which aren’t in the count.
    Thanks for sharing your lists and thoughts on the books.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Torry – Looks like we have some common interests with our books! Interesting about the Sue Grafton series. I read O for Outlaw first and thought it was pretty good so I picked up A for Alias and was really disappointed. Maybe I will try another one. As for Lee Childs, I am not reading them in order. My husband has read a lot of them so we have the books on the shelf – I have picked them up here and there. I also love Call the Midwife PBS series. I haven’t watched all of it but have enjoyed the seasons I’ve seen. I would love to hear what some of your favorites were from last year. 🙂

  4. Elana Goldberg

    I love your book list. I’m borrowing some of those to see if my library can get them for my residents. So…I did read many of those but my favorite was from a few years ago, This is How it Always Is. We did this one with my book group from work and the residents loved it. It was an interesting topic for them to read and from the discussions, we learned so much about one another and our evolving views. I also highly recommend that book. Sarah’s key was a read for me years ago and I completed it in synagogue on Yom Kippur…not a great idea! I just couldn’t put it down and then was soooo depressed. What a book!!! Amazing story. The House of Sand and Fog was a phenomenal book and the movie, surprisingly, was so well done too. I usually can’t deal with the movie after reading the book, but it was well done. Not a happy story but such a compelling one and it stayed with me even years later. The Great Alone we also did with my residents and they loved that. It was a tough one because of the length, but we all enjoyed it. I do admit though, many of my “seniors” aren’t really finishing many books. I have about 5 who can be counted on to complete the whole book, but so many others have eye sight issues and fatigue etc. We do books on tape for them when they can be gotten by the library. I need to try that myself just to see how it goes. Sadly, my commute to work is only 5 min so there’s not much time in the car. I just need to try it once and see what it feels like not to have a book in my hands. I am impressed with all that you’ve read. My husband keeps a list all year as well and loves to outdo himself. I can’t remember all that I read but am not a list maker. I just read, enjoy and hope I remember.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Some are list makers and some aren’t. I think it is a fun thing. Plus sometimes I think I haven’t read something, bring it home from the library and 40 pages in, I think oh – yes, I remember this! Argh – I actually did it just a few months ago – I checked Mrs Everything out of the library and when I started it seemed familiar. Looked on the book shelf and there it was. I had read it just a few months ago. Sigh.
      I love audio books – I have it on while cooking, doing yucky chores like cleaning the bathroom, and while sewing if I am making something I don’t need to concentrate on. The more books the better!!!

  5. Kristin

    Thanks for your list of books, Bernie! I, too love to read as well as quilt and knit. How do I find the time, I don’t know! I must recommend The Dutch House by Ann Patchett in audio…Tom Hanks is the narrator. Wow! I am with you, for an audio book, it has to have the right narrator or I just can’t listen to it.
    I have read several of the same books and now you’ve given me ideas for more! Some I recently finished are : The Keeper of Stories by Sally Page, Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Mayes, These Precious Days by Ann Patchett (memoir) Oh, and Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. Amazing!
    Happy reading and quilting from Bellingham!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Oh yes – The Dutch House was a fantastic audio book – Tom Hanks did a wonderful job narrating. I loved that one.
      Thank you for the suggestions.I have added them to the list I keep. I just put a hold on Remarkably Bright Creatures. That sound so good. Thank you Kristin! Hope all is well. Will you be heading to Gig Harbor any time soon??

  6. Carole @ From My Carolina Home

    I’ve read a number of the books on your list, some I reviewed on my blog. I see several with interesting titles or from authors I’ve enjoyed that I’ll take a look at. I second the suggestion to follow Modern Mrs Darcy, I’ve been a fan of hers for several years. She does great collections in genres, and provides reviews on newly published books.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Last night I started reading her site. It looks like it is filled with super interesting lists and suggestions.
      So glad you and Wendy suggested this!

  7. Eva

    Hi Bernie! Wow, you have plenty of mood to read. I cant spend my time for this. With a full job, no way. But .. some are waiting, spanish ones to learn the language, so training books. But audio is super, I started with that. My favorite is Mary Nortons, The Borger… a childrens book, but for me with spend my less time for sewing first a very good story. Warm and cosy … and remembering to my childhood, loved the Borgers. And when my grandma could not find a thing… I said, … uhh the borgers have it .. it will come back or they could use, and the was pleased and calm.
    My favorite is reading the magazines Quilt Folk… if I am interested in a state… I check the issues I have. Next come is where Tierney is in!!!
    What I can recommend is „The Master Butchers Singing Club“… you know I am over the ocean and I love seddlers real stories… and this was amazing… and with a bittersweet happy end, but a happy end.
    They made a movie .. but the book is amazing. Because the poor poor people who took the seaway to the new world …people at home, poor, jealous, emotinal book!!!! but read it yourself… if you like and find it.
    Louise Erdrich is the author.
    To read pattern is may engisch training… and reading the blogs.. may be I should write a book, how to find the loveliest poeple while sewing and reading blogs?
    By the way, how far is Seattle or Portland for you?
    Big oversea hug

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Eva: I understand how hard it is to fit everything in! Reading, sewing and working full time. When I was working I had little time for hobbies. I admire you for your determination to learn Spanish and English. Do you study other languages as well? In school I had to have two years of a foreign language and I took Spanish. That was many years ago and I do not remember it too much.
      I wasn’t sure what you were talking about with The Borders so I looked it up. We call it The Borrowers. That was such a great story. I remember it well. How cute to tell your Grandma the missing item was with the Borrowers (The Borders). That is a sweet memory.
      I haven’t yet read the Quilt Folk magazines. They are a bit expensive. Sounds like you enjoy them. Maybe I should check into those. It looks like the next issue is about Colorado. I bet the photography will be amazing since that is a gorgeous state. My sister and her family live there.
      The Master Butchers Singing Club sounds great – I just read the summary and then added it to my list of books to read.
      If anyone could write a blog about learning a language while reading and commenting on blogs, it is you. That would be super.
      Finally – Seattle is a one hour drive from me and Portland is about three hours south of my house. Maybe you’ll visit???

      Big hug back to you Eva.

  8. Sandra Walker

    100% agree with between quilting and reading there’s not enough time! I always shake my head when people say they don’t want to retire because they’ll be bored. You put me onto Laurie Frankel a few years ago, and I’ve read several of her books, the one you mentioned here in 2022 and, like you, think it’s a must read for everybody. Just loved it. I’ve read a couple of Jennifer Chiaverini’s books and found them okay; haven’t read this one. Sarah’s Key is just excellent; I used it as one of the independent study books with my Grade 9 Honours students. I too keep a list of books with a synopsis and thought about each one. I’ve done this since before we got a computer! I will look into some of the others you’ve mentioned as especially good. My list is never-ending!!

      1. Bernie Post author

        Sedaris’ books are just perfect for an audio book while sewing. The essays are short and humorous – don’t have to concentrate much. So funny!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Nope – I am pretty sure Kristin Hannah doesn’t read my blog!
      Good to hear you enjoy these sorts of posts. I am always looking for the next good book to read. 🙂

  9. Heather Hamby

    I have only read a couple of the books on your list, including Lessons in Chemistry, which I liked a lot and I’m hesitant to watch the series because I know it won’t be as good. I haven’t read House of Sand and Fog, but I remember the movie as one of the worst I’ve ever watched. It was so slow and SAD and full of despair with no redeeming hope at all! I bet the book was worse just because it would take more time to finish and who wants to spend even more time feeling like that?? I prefer to actually read but end up listening to a lot of audiobooks so I can multitask and sew or drive or something else at the same time. One book I read this year that was amazing AND had excellent narration is The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. I highly recommend it! Do you use Goodreads? It’s a great way to keep track of books you have read and want to read, and you can link up with friends to see what they are reading and how they like it. <3

    1. Bernie Post author

      Heather, I cannot imagine watching a movie version of House of Sand and Fog. I don’t mind a sad movie, I have watched many, but this would be a miserable experience!
      I am adding The Rose Code to my list.
      I think the best part of my annual book list/post is all of the recommendations I get from readers!!
      As for Good Reads, I do have a log in and use it somewhat. But I forget…. Mostly I just keep a list on my phone. 🙂


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