My Dear Little Kindle
Or my 2022 Reading List… So Far…
I’m nobody special, I was never the President of the United States, or the First Lady. I’ve never presented a TV show or become a millionaire/billionaire.
Still I have opinions and tastes and I like books.
You know, the hardbound ones that have heft and substance with pages to turn and sometimes pictures and maps to ponder. I like the feel of the paper between my fingers as I turn a page. It is almost like ceremony to read the last words of each chapter, softly grasping the top corner and gently folding it over the past as I look to the future of the story <sigh>. Books are satisfying in a way that the Kindle doesn’t even approach. And yet, I almost always read from the Kindle.
I used to travel a lot and the Kindle was always my friend. These days I spend a lot of my reading time in bed. It’s my go-to soporific. Better than pills or any other ‘sleep aid’ unless it’s cuddling with my husband. I like variety; sci-fi novels, serious scholarship, self-help, fantasy , reality, lightweight stuff and info heavy tomes. I spend at least an hour reading before sleep and often don’t quit until I can no longer keep my eyes from crossing. I can adjust it to balance with whatever light I have. The kindle also hurts less when it falls from my limp hands, landing on my chest or stomach, than does a big, heavy book.
I read at night because during the day I have too much to do and other things to read; reports, news, emails, etc. I have too much to think about to let myself go into another’s reality. But at night, the last thing I want is my own head space. That’s literal information. The last thing I do before dropping off is actually a dropping in which I will explain in another article. Meanwhile, here’s what I plan to read this coming year. Or hey, it’s a start.
Right now, I am reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Book Six of the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a fantasy, science fiction, historical mix upon which the Outlander television series is based. It gets some history wrong and it isn’t diverse. It takes place in the 18th century in the American South. Black people and Native Americans are portrayed, when they are present at all, in the most stereotypical fashion. This annoys me but Diana Gabaldon is very detailed and it’s easy to get lost in the story. I find it mostly relaxing because it has nothing to do with my reality.
Here is a list of some of 2022’s planned reading:
The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England — Dan Jones. Historian, Journalist and Presenter, Jones is often seen on British Television making history accessible and exciting for anyone with curiosity. This is one of several books he’s written and one of two of his in my list. He’s good but really, it just happened that way.
The Dawn of Everything — David Rolfe Graeber and David Wengrow. The two Davids (one an anthropologist and the other an archaeologist started their book as conversations between colleagues, an exercise in intellectual conjecture about the beginning of history and how it led us here. They completed it just before Graeber died of COVID related complications. Graeber was an activist, an anarchist and an internationally respected left-wing thinker. I plan to bring in one of his other books Debt, the First 5000 Years into my kindle for the latter part of 2022. I also want to know more about Graeber himself. He seems to have been a truly committed individual and I like people who fully engage with their lives and the lives of others.
Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy) — Chinua Achebe This is book one in the famous trilogy first published in 1958 which is continued in Arrow of God and No Longer At Ease. These books were recommended to me by my good friend, the young author Weirial Puok Balaung who is from South Sudan.
The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future — David Wallace-Wells Billed as ‘An epoch-defining book’ this one promises to be difficult to read but perhaps necessary.
The Celts: Search for a Civilization — Alice Roberts I will read anything by Alice Roberts. She is a paleo-anatomist, osteo-archaeologist, Humanist, television presenter and one of the best story-tellers ever.
The Power of the Dog — Thomas Savage I must confess that I have already read this book after seeing the incredible movie of the same name. The director and the cinematographer should both get Oscars. The book is called a ‘compelling psychodrama’. It deepens the understanding of the main characters in the movie even while it illustrates how the two art forms are clearly different. I’d recommend it. I probably won’t read it again but I have to include it here because it was a 2022 book. And it’s in my Kindle.
Wuthering Heights — Emily Bronte Yes, that Wuthering Heights. Sometimes it is good to revisit the classics.
Leviathan Falls — James S. A. Corey Science Fiction well done. I’m currently watching the recorded series 6 of The Expanse. Since books are almost always so much richer I’ll save this one until after I’ve finished watching the TV show (even though the story takes place at least 20 years after the end of The Expanse). That way I can see the characters as portrayed by the actors as I read, though the disconnect of having Alex mentioned in print and eliminated on screen will jar a little. The actor that played him should have gone. I have no argument with that. The evidence against him regarding his behaviour with women was just too damning. I am glad that some perpetrators of sexual harassment are being named and shamed. It is still not enough.
Humanism — Peter Cave Humanism’s proponents including Einstein, Freud, Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials), Alice Roberts and Frank Zappa sought and still seek to explain how to live an ethical life filled with meaning without a belief in God and an afterlife. This book is supposed to be a good introduction and explanation of the ‘religion’ without religion. I am looking forward to what it can teach me. (See ‘Losing my Religion — apologies to R.E.M.’ for my take on what religion actually is.)
The Brief History of the Dead — Kevin Brockmeier “The living carry us inside them like pearls. We survive only as long as they remember us.” It’s an old thought with new clothes and mixed reviews but I’m intrigued by the concept.
On Cats: An Anthology — Introduced by Margaret Atwood My two kittens are 9 months old, fascinated and fascinating. This just seemed fitting to dip in and out of — and it is. Sometimes we need a bit of fluff.
Death’s End, The Dark Forest, The Three-Body Problem — Cixin Liu I have never read anything by this author but he is supposed to be very good. He is part of the new generation of Chinese science fiction writers and he has won many international awards. I can’t wait to dig in. I love me some good science fiction!
The Salt Path — Raynor Winn ‘Uplifting’ is used to describe this book in several reviews. The author is a long-distance walker and this Sunday Times Bestseller is about this activity during Covid lockdown and also ‘loss, hope and love’. It just seemed like something to cry unselfconsciously over and then feel good about. Sometimes that’s just what is needed.
Constantine: Unconquered Emperor, Christian Victor — Paul Stephenson My own view of Constantine is that he was a consummate political animal who sought to forge the people he conquered and ruled into one cohesive, cooperative and suitably subdued group, the better to rule them. One religion to rule them all, instead of a ring. He hosted the Nicene Conference to sift through all writings purported to be by Christian writers in 325, threw out many manuscripts and kept those writings that supported the ‘new religion’ as he saw fit. I can’t wait to see what Stephenson has to say.
Finally… for now.
Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages– Dan Jones Supposedly the best popular history of the Middle Ages that exists.
Other books in my kindle include, The Water Dancer by Ta Nehisi Coates, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart by Robin Casarjian, American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures edited by America Ferrera, Where the Light Falls: Selected Stories of Nancy Hale and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari.
There are a few more books (many!) in my Kindle but that’s enough for now. There are also a few on my bookshelf that will demand attention as the year goes on (The Reckoning by Mary L Trump — which I have already begun reading, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli, How Did We Get Into This Mess? by George Monbiot to name a few). By the way, in no way are these books ‘in order’. I don’t know what will be read next. Just what strikes my fancy. Perhaps even something not on this list. Suggestions?
I’d love to know what’s in your kindle or on your bookshelf and you don’t have to be famous to have interests and opinions.