Bookish Chatter | Is it Still March?

Yikes! I can’t decide if March is flying or dragging — it’s been a tough one for me. Despite that, I’ve had an A+ week of reading which makes everything better, right? I’m here today to share what I’ve read since last Wednesday. I hope you have a hot beverage handy because it was full of outstanding books!

Books Finished This Week:

Convenience Store Woman made it to my TBR because of my effort to read more books translated from Japanese. It was a quirky little book that had me thinking about my own expectations for myself and my children. In this book, Keiko is in her mid-30s, unmarried, and working part-time in a convenience store. No one in her life can understand how she’s happy with her life and everyone is constantly trying to get her to find a new job or a life partner. She tries to comply with their expectations, but she soon finds out that she cannot live her life for others and must do what she loves. There were a lot of little plot point that I didn’t understand, but I believe that’s because my cultural norms are very different than Keiko’s! But I really enjoyed living in her world while reading this novella.

The Violin Conspiracy was incredible! Ray is a young black man with an undeniable talent for playing the violin, despite the prejudice he faces and the dismissal he experiences from his mother. When his grandmother gives him her father’s violin, he feels as though it’s the most precious gift in the entire world. And his life is turned upside down when he finds out that it’s actually a $10 million Stradivarius. Soon — everyone wants a piece of Ray and his violin and he’s facing multiple lawsuits: from his family who claim his grandmother couldn’t have known its worth and that they should be awarded some financial compensation for it and from the family who owned his great-grandfather and insist that it was stolen from them.

And when the violin goes missing and a ransom demand is left in its place, there are plenty of people who could be responsible. And we get to travel across the globe to find it!

This would be an excellent choice for a book club. Not only is the plot propulsive and exciting, but the racism and bigotry that Ray faces his entire life would make for a rousing discussion.

The Peace of Wild Things is a slim volume of poetry, but I’ve been reading it for about a year. Berry’s poetry is a perfect for a beginner; I believe that most of us can get something out of almost all of his poems. And this book is totally approachable and a great place to start! (And I’m so excited to be moving on to Ada Limón’s The Hurting Kind!)

I hesitated to pick up Memphis due to some bad behavior by the author on Instagram when it was longlisted for Aspen words. But I knew I had to get past that when it received a nod from the Women’s Prize for Fiction, so I got back on the library waitlist for the audio version.

And friends: I am so glad that I gave it a shot. It was so good. My brain keeps comparing it to The Love Songs of WEB Dubois, but bonus points: this one is much shorter and much more approachable. There are some really painful parts (trigger warnings for spousal abuse, childhood sexual abuse, racism, images of war, memories from 9/11, to name a few) but there was so much joy and beauty interspersed throughout the narrative that it made the sorrow more manageable. And I think that’s the root of Stringfellow’s behavior on Instagram — not to excuse her behavior in the least. From what I’ve learned, this is a semi-autobiographical novel and these characters are her family. Any perceived criticism of them must really hurt if she hasn’t done the hard work to separate herself as much as possible from this narrative.

This book is worthwhile and important, despite all of the drama surrounding it in the bookish world. I hope a lot of people read it.

Song of Solomon might be my favorite Morrison novel yet! It centers around Macon Dead and his family and we learn his ancestral history as the book goes on. This book had moments that were seriously creepy and delicious. It was dark, brooding, and Morrison wrote some amazing imagery on these pages.

This is another Morrison book that I think I will return to again and again. She tucks so much meaning into every word and image that it’s impossible for my simple brain to comprehend it all. I’m planning to read Tar Baby in April if anyone wants to read with me.

Bronwyn and I finished Samantha Learns a Lesson last night. Samantha is no Addy, but she’s pretty impressive given her time and place. Nellie and her family are given work by one of Samantha’s neighbors and Nellie is finally able to go to school. When Nellie is teased by the other kids because she’s so much older, Samantha is not going to take it. She takes it upon herself to get Nellie caught up with her peers.

Samantha gives us a fascinating look at fairness and equity in American society during the Victorian period. I’m looking forward to starting another book with Bronwyn tonight!

Slow & Steady:

I am finally making an honest effort to get through Tomb of Sand, the 2022 International Booker winner. I bought this last summer and have dipped in and out of it, but hadn’t committed to it until now. I’m reading 40 pages a day and am now about halfway through it (it’s 700+ pages).

I have to admit that it’s been slow going for me and I’m really hoping that there’s more action in the second half!

I’ve started Craft in the Real World and am finding it fascinating. This is written by an American man who was adopted from Korea and addresses biases that he’s discovered as a writer in America. I have written down so many quotes from this book and am looking forward to digging in even further. Although short, this one might take me a while because I am taking so many notes. But this is definitely a book for anyone who wants to read more books that are written outside of the US!

Bookish Coincidences:

I found two more bookish coincidences this week! When these coincidences happen, I always feel like the authors are winking and nodding at me. I see you. I know what you’re trying to do here. We are friends. And I love it!

+ The Addy books are mentioned in Memphis. Bronwyn and I just finished those American Girl books in February of this year!

+ The murder of Emmett Till is referenced in both Memphis and The Song of Solomon.

Okay friends – that’s about all I have for this week’s bookish chatter. Today I am excited to start Cursed Bread – one of the long listed books that has arrived from the UK. I am SO EXCITED to really turn my attention towards these books. I hope to be back on Friday with a post to explain my absence lately. Until then – take good care!


23 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | Is it Still March?

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  1. oh that spread of tiny book covers makes me so happy – what a great gift for you and your kiddos to be sharing all those books! I encountered TWO bookish coincidences this week and of course they made me think of you: “fake” art was a theme in both Portrait of an Unknown Lady and Now Is Not the Time to Panic, and Coalfield, TN (along with Memphis) was the setting for both Taft and Now Is Not the Time (that really amazed me, because Coalfield is a TINY town and how it ended up on both authors’ brains is … wow!) of course if I do end up reading Memphis, there’s another connection, too!


    1. I love your bookish coincidences!! Aren’t they so fun to find? And I love looking at this spread of tiny covers too. It was so much fun to add new titles over the last few months!


  2. What a meaty post Katie! I do love pouring over your reading posts. Once again I find things to add to my TBR list. I read “Memphis” last year and liked it. And, I just finished “Love Songs” (which – IMHO – is way, way, way too long!).


    1. Thanks, Vera! I’m so glad you enjoyed Memphis. I agree with you about the length of Love Songs, but I loved how it felt like such a saga. Sometimes I’m in the mood for books like that!!


  3. I’m glad to hear your good review of Memphis; I have it ready to go on my Kindle shelf, but I was wary about it when you mentioned the author had behaved badly. I still don’t know all the details, but as long as the book is good and her behavior wasn’t on the level of, say, a certain wizarding author, I will read it. I know March has been a tough month for you, but your reading certainly hasn’t suffered, and that’s a bright spot.


  4. Seeing all those Captain Underpants novels makes me get full of nostalgia and I love reading blog posts about what people are reading.


      1. My favourites which I borrowed from my brother were the ones about Prof Poopypants and the two part one on the Bionic Booger Boy.


  5. Ada Limón is one of my favorite poets and The Hurting Kind is on my desk and is frequently a meditation partner. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!


    1. I love this! I’ve only read 2-3 of the poems so far and looking forward to getting further in. Poetry is such a great way to start the day!


  6. I, too, was fascinated by the spread of tiny book covers of books you’ve read aloud. I have never seen anything like that. All the books sound so worthwhile, but the “Violin Conspiracy” sounded especially good.


    1. Thanks, Laurie! This is how I’m documenting the readalouds in my reading journal. I don’t tend to write anything about them in my notebooks, but I love seeing this spread as a reminder!

      And I think you’ll love the Violin Conspiracy – it was amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! Song of Solomon was just amazing. “Majestic” is such a great way to describe it! And The Convenience Store Woman was so different and quirky. And like you — I was relieved that it was short! I might not have been able to finish it if it was too much longer!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Cathy – I’d love to hear what you think about the Convenience Store Woman. It was such a strange little book! And yes — I’d describe Song of Solomon as a must read!


  7. Your posts always lead to additions to my TBR! In reading there is a lot of separating the art from the artist, and sometimes I struggle which way to go. I’m excited to read the Violin Conspiracy, it sounds like it has something of everything!


  8. How do you find the pics that you have in your reading journal? I love that they make the books easier to remember. Sometimes when I read my list I can’t remember anything about the book.


    1. Hi Carolyn, I get the pictures from Goodreads. I save them on my computer and then insert them into a word document so that I can resize them (I usually resize them so that they’re 2″ high.) And then I can print them and cut them out. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work, but it’s always worth it in the end! I hope this helps 🙂


  9. It sounds as if you had a good month of reading. I am reading a few poems each day from The Hurting Kind. I hope you enjoy it. I find it beautiful.


    1. Thanks, Jane! It’s been wonderful to have such good books in my reading rotation lately. And yay for The Hurting Kind — I am loving it so far!


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