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December 29, 2022


I am going to buy Feline Philosophy!
I have read War and Peace, I loved it.
My reading is much more lightweight than yours. We loved Lincoln Highway and Demon Copperhead. Both excellent and I recommend them to you.

Dear Beth,

Happy New Year, and thanks again for sharing your always interesting reading list. I read far fewer books in 2022 than for many years, mostly due to work pressures and looking after my aging mother. There's a fair amount of filler on there ('The Practice of the Presence of God' and 'The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die' were an amusing contrast, and entirely useless! I never seem to learn that variants on self-help are rarely anything other than ultimately dispiriting) but also some standouts: 'Zone' by Matthias Enard, and Murdoch's 'The Sacred and Profane Love Machine' were meaty novels that sated. 'A Canticle for Leibowitz' is also highly recommended. Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey was read over breakfast, six pages each morning, which was just the right rhythm. This translation was new to me and I look forward to her version of The Iliad. Annie Dillard was Annie Dillard in all the best ways. The most interesting 'new' book (and maybe there's a lesson there that most of the good books were not new!) was Michael Easter's 'The Comfort Crisis' which I did not expect, and often think on.

Beginnings and Endings, Maggi Dawn
Shelf Life, Simon Parke
Zone, Matthias Enard
Slow Rise, Robert Penn
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
Playing God, Andy Crouch
Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
The Kids, Hannah Lowe
The This, Adam Roberts
Lunch Poems, Frank O’Hara
The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell Berry
Metaphysical Animals, Clare MacCumahail & Rachael Wiseman
The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, John Izzo
Square Peg, Round Ball, Ned Boulting
The Life We’re Looking For, Andy Crouch
The Genesee Diaries, Henri J. M. Nouwen
The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, Iris Murdoch
Flatland, Edwin A. Abbott
Red Sauce Brown Sauce, Felicity Cloake
The Comfort Crisis, Michael Easter
Hello, Stranger, Will Buckingham
Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller
The Shepherd’s Life, James Rebanks
The Same Sea, Amos Oz
Morning, Allan Jenkins
Einstein’s Dreams, Alan Lightman
We Still Have the Telephone, Erica Van Horn
Zen and How to Get Out of Your Mind, Cameron Self
Life is Hard, Kieran Setiya
Underland, Robert Macfarlane
By the Pricking of Her Thumb, Adam Roberts
All We Want, Michael Harris
Holy the Firm, Annie Dillard
The Odyssey, Homer (trans. Emily Wilson)
Off the Clock, Laura Vanderkam
We Can’t Run Away from This, Damian Hall

Best wishes,

PS I LOVE 'A Time of Gifts'

I cringe with shame, having read only two titles (PLF and Tolstoy) out of your impressive list. In my own defence I can say I've read W&P several times and as a pleasure not a duty. Embarking on it for the second time while living in Stoke Newington, a north-eastern suburb of London, I had the good luck to pluck a virgin copy from the shelves of the local library. And to find that it came with a book-marker, proper names on one side, patronymics on the other. You moved it along as you read; no wearisome flicking back to a fixed printed page. I was careful to replace the marker, reflecting sadly that it was almost certainly destined to get lost and subsequent first-time readers might well struggle with those -itch endings.

Hi Beth, I'm enjoying your blog, especially your artwork and this list of what you read last year. I've tried several times with W&P, think I may need a reading group to help me, as I did w/ Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, such a satisfying few months. I agree that Tolstoy is such a wonderful story teller; I remember pausing while reading Anna Karenina to savor some passages.
I've read Bolaño's The Insufferable Gaucho, loved its connection with Borges, one of my favorite authors. I read his 2666 several years ago, with such a well-constructed, creative design.
We read Olga Tokarczuk's Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead in 2021 in my book club during the second pandemic winter. The novel took place in a cold, remote and rural landscape that chillingly evoked the need for sunlight in my home as well as the subject matter of the book. I was so pleased when the author won the Nobel Prize and spoke of the impact translation has for readers and authors like herself who write in languages other than English. I found the film (Spoor) based on the novel on hoopla.
Another book I really liked this year was Pereira Maintains, by Antonio Tabucchi, with allusions to the dangers of creeping fascism within a comfortable, sometimes humorous framework and a likable protagonist. I'd like to see the film w/ Marcello Mastroianni.
Cheers to a happy & healthy 2023!


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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.