December 2022 — Recommendations
Books, books, books
Before the year ends, I wanted to share some of the books which I have enjoyed reading lately. I kept the list shorter than last year. I hope you enjoy it!
2022 Fiction Favourites
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Reading this book transported me back to my childhood, to when we used to play Super Mario Bros in those grey and red consoles. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is the story of two friends who become world famous game designers overnight. It is the story of how the friendship and business of Sam and Sadie are forever intertwined, ebbing and flowing through the years, making the reader feel the tension that surges in friendship when unacknowledged attraction is involved. I found this novel an original and deep read that I couldn’t put down!
The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz
My friend maryooh@ recommended this page turner. The Latecomer is the story of four siblings born in Brooklyn when IVF (in vitro fertilisation) wasn’t common. The three eldest siblings are triplets who have wildly different personalities and can’t connect between each other. The narrative takes us through what drives them apart touching on topics such as dysfunctional family dynamics, unresolved trauma, privilege, and race. If you need further proof of recommendation, this book also featured in the NYTimes list of 100 Notable Books in 2022. ¡Gracias María!
🎧 Audiobook: ✅
Joan by Katherine J. Chen
For as long as I can remember, I have heard the name Joan D’Arc (Juana de Arco) mentioned here and there, but I actually had no idea who she was and what she had done until I read Joan.
Joan D’Arc was born in 1431, five hundred and ninety-one years ago. She is now considered a patron saint of France, but back in the day, the contributions she made to her country were not recognised by those around her. Joan is a reimagining of her short life, anchored in the retelling of her childhood experiences and accomplishments in the battlefields, a female underdog taking over the destiny of her nation. I found the prose beautifully written and the narrative captivating. Unsurprisingly, I ended up falling in love with Joan.
🎧 Audiobook: ✅
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Marian Graves was one of those rare beings that knew from the get go what she wanted to do with her life: her dream was to become an aviation pilot. Marian Graves was born at the beginning of the last century, when aviation was starting to develop.
A great circle is the largest circle that can be drawn on any given sphere. The story begins with Marian’s disappearance as she embarks to fly over the North and South poles, at a time when it wasn’t conceivable to do so. Great Circle is an engrossing novel that narrates Marian’ journey towards the skies, stopping at nothing to make her dreams come true and the expensive price she had to pay to do so. Great Circle was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and as a finalist for the Women’s Prize.
🎧 Audiobook: ✅
The Marriage Portxrait by Maggie O’Farrel
I absolutely loved Hamnet, so when I heard Maggie O’Farrel had published another book, I rushed to buy it. The Marriage Portrait is a modern feminist rewrite of the life story of Lucrezia de’ Medici. Lucrezia was born in 1545 in Florence, the fifth child of Cosimo de' Medici and Eleanor of Toledo, aka the Italian aristocracy at the time. Lucrezia’s fate was determined by the customs of her time, and so, while still a child, she was betrothed to Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. She died shortly after her wedding, in theory, of pulmonary tuberculosis. The Marriage Portrait fills in the blanks between Lucrezia’s short marriage to Alfonso and her mysterious death.
🎧 Audiobook: ✅
Autobiographies & memoirs
Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby
If you enjoyed watching Nanette or Dougals or any of Hannah Gadsby’s stand up comedy shows, you will probably enjoy reading her memoir. If you haven’t watched any of her Netflix specials, start there! They are wonderful!
Hannah Gadsby’s website describes her as a “world class award-winning funny person.”
Combining her exquisite brain and unique storytelling powers, her memoir walks us through her most memorable and defining life events. We accompany her through some of the toughest times of her life and get to hear about how she deals with trauma. Ten Steps to Nanette will equally break your heart and make you laugh. I cannot recommend it enough!
🎧 Audiobook: ✅(Recommended!)
Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld
A different type of recommendation. I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Gauld’s cartoons which so obviously target book lovers. If you need a bit of humour and uber-light reading, this book might be for you!
El Infinito en un Junco: La invención de los libros en el mundo antiguo | Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World by Irene Vallejo
This is probably the best book I’ve read recently, it is simply superb! Papyrus is a non-fiction recount of the history of books. Where were they invented? Why? From the library of Alexandria to the Roman Empire, Irene Vallejo takes us through a wonderful journey full of nested stories and innumerable unexpected facts. For example, I loved learning more about how the alphabet came to exist, about the first uses of indexation, and about library organisational systems. The content is simply fascinating! The Guardian writes: “...the Spanish historian and philologist Irene Vallejo sets out to provide a panoramic survey of how books shaped not just the ancient world but ours too.” If you’re a book lover, this book is for you!
In Other Words | In Altre Parole by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri is in love with the Italian language. It is as inexplicable as it is unavoidable. She doesn’t know why, but she can’t help but feel a strong attraction towards this beautiful tongue. After many years of taking Italian lessons and making little progress, Lahiri decides that the best way forward is to move to Rome with her family and learn how to speak the language properly. But she doesn’t just stop there, as an already established writer, she decides to write her diary only in Italian, forcing herself to express her thoughts using new words.
In Other Words is an experimental compilation of essays about Lahiri’s experience with the Italian language. The best part is that the left page is written in Italian while the right one is written in English, giving the reader an opportunity to experience both languages, side by side. I strongly recommend this book to any aspiring Italian speakers!
Family Lexicon | Lessico Famigliare by Natalia Ginzburg
“My parents had five children. We now live in different cities, some of us in foreign countries, and we don’t write to each other often. When we do meet up with one another we can be indifferent or distracted. But for us it takes just one word. It takes one word, one sentence, one of the old ones from our childhood, heard and repeated countless times… If my siblings and I were to find ourselves in a dark cave or among millions of people, just one of those phrases or words would immediately allow us to recognise each other.”
The above quote by Natalia Ginzburg gives us a sense of what the novel is about. Through a semi autobiographical and experimental storytelling, Ginzburg recounts what her family life was like during her childhood and part of her adulthood in Italy. If you are someone who only enjoys plot driven stories, then this book is not for you.
The thing that fascinated me the most about this novel is the unconventional yet superbly original lens that the author chose to tell her family story, while removing herself from the narration. Thank you very much Miki and Danya for this wonderful gift!
Links to buy the book
Always try to support your local bookshop. If you’d like me to add any bookshops to the list, let me know. Thanks to those who keep sharing new bookshops with me.
For UK and US readers, Bookshop.org is a great option to support your local bookshop. You can read more about it here.
If you’re using Gmail and the newsletter keeps going to your Promotions tab, you can try the following:
Open Gmail on your computer or laptop (it doesn’t work on mobile phones), and then drag the email from the Promotions tab into the Primary tab.
Add email@example.com to your contact list