Blame it on the arriving of spring and the romanticism that comes with it, but the month of March always makes me want to go back to the classics. And since I had taken advantage of the Christmas sales and bought plenty of them, I picked up a couple, let you also vote for one additional one to read with me for the digital book club, and here we are. I will not be covering Jane Eyre, which I am still reading for the interactive book club discussion mid April, but instead will sum up the other three classics I read in this beautiful month of March.
On the last Sunday of February, at 5pm Lisbon time, I logged into a video call, joined by four of my friends to run my first digital book club and discuss Tara Westover´s memoir – Education. I had announced the interactive book club edition on Instagram and though more people signed up (I kept the limit at ten), we ended up being just five – and this turned out to be the perfect number so that everyone would be heard and voice their opinions. The conversation flowed for almost two hours, moderated by me and supported by some questions I prepared before hand, and so I thought I´d share them here, along with my review of the book, as I left it out of last month´s book club review article.
February is Black History Month in the US and Canada and so I chose for this month´s #bookclub three colourful books by Black and coloured authors, telling stories of identity, heritage, belonging and one´s roots. Noah´s autobiography follows his South African upbringing as a coloured person, while Wayétu Moore´s fictional story accompanies three Africans reuniting from different parts of the world in what will one day be Liberia. Bernardine Evaristo traces the story of twelve black women in Britain. And despite two out of three being fiction writings, I found all three books highly educational, touching in their own way and essential to anyone seeking to become an ally and educate themselves on this matter.
PS: I am still finishing a fourth book of this month, but since it will be the topic for this Sunday´s digital book club conversation, I am not adding it here, and instead reserving it for a future article perhaps.
I can imagine what you´re thinking upon reading that title – Choice of Magic has gone avantgarde and this month´s topic makes no sense. Well there´s little I can say to defend myself. January started off with two murder stories – Robert Galbraith´s Troubled Blood and Richard Osman´s Thursday Murder Club. I loooooved both of them, as I love pretty much any good crime novel, and I would have continued with the theme, if only I had had more crime novels around the house. But I did not, so I went for a book on marriage. My boyfriend should be concerned, I know. Marriageology is a book I read a couple of years back and reread now because I just love the author´s sense of humour so much, and the content of the book will never seize to be useful. As I am writing this I realise how it´s going to sound, but next I went for the heartbreaking classic Sense and Sensibility. I reread Austen every couple of years and this one I read in 2016 for the last time, but since my memory is just awful, it was wonderful to reread it now. And finally, I ended the month with some poetry (so far keeping to my resolution of reading more poetry and classics this year) and I read a beautiful bilingual edition of Pessoa´s TaBaCaRia. Here´s what I thought of them all.
Looking back at 2020 is quite a chore in itself – a year filled with unknown, ambiguity and anxiety, in which the expectations were as low as just surviving it. When the pandemic hit, I, like many others, set some goals for myself and remarkably enough, I actually met them – every single one of them, indeed. I divided them in a couple of categories: emotional goals (closely related to my family and friends), intellectual ones (related to my career, the blog and my self development), financial ones (related to my savings and debts) and physical ones (related to my eating and working out habits). My reading goal falls in the intellectual realm and is a thing that I have been setting for myself every year for the last couple of years, if not decade. This year I aimed to read 40 books – a goal I achieved a couple of days before 2020 ended, but what made this year special is the fact that all year long I stuck to monthly themes and every month I came to the blog with an article reviewing what I had read. This was most fun and will culminate into this article showcasing my absolute favourite books of 2020. As for next year, I plan to set a more ambitious goal as well as have some goals related to reading both classics but also contemporary writers more frequently, as well as poetry and plays. And now, let´s look back on the books I most loved during this most hated year and the reviews I wrote upon finishing them.
How fitting is it that this year´s last blog post is a book club – one of the things that brought me most joy in a most erratic 2020? This post is also the 50th post on this version of the blog (I am still missing about 100 posts that I haven´t transcribed from the last version of the blog but I will be tackling that throughout 2021.). And to wrap up this insane year, what better topic than magical universes? I read three books this month, hereby concluding my 40 book in 2020 reading challenge. I´m thinking of setting an ambitious goal of 50 books to read next year and to focus more on plays and poetry while also balancing the classics with new contemporary authors. 2021 will hopefully be yet another year of learning and growth and I cannot wait to take you along this reading journey through next year´s monthly book clubs!
I regularly find myself drawn to books written by great women – just today I started a book just on magnificent women´s work habits. And so, November has been a month where I immersed myself into three memoirs of some of my biggest contemporary role models – Maya Angelou, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama. Their books, all different and wonderful, have definitely inspired me through a period that hasn´t been exactly easy to navigate. I think this November´s #monthlybookclub might as such be the first book club where I rated all books I read a 5/5 without batting an eye. Here´s what I thought about each of them.
Last month, as I was searching my bookshelves for books to read in October, I cheerfully realised I don´t have that many unread books hanging around anymore. This year´s system – of choosing monthly themes for my #monthlybookclub seems to have enabled me to choose books from my library that were long waiting to be picked up. And so, I am happy that soon I´ll be able to buy new books without the underlying guilt of having a huge to read shelf at home. For the month of October I ended up picking books without a particular theme, instead just ending up with a small pile of “new” books – books by contemporary writers. Here´s what I thought of them.
If you´re reading this, I bet your first question is: how did she come up with the young angst theme? Well, as always, it kind of came to me. I actually intended this month´s book club to be dedicated to Romanian authors. I started off with a classic – Romanul adolescentului miop and quickly finished it in the Frankfurt airport on my way to Romania. Once in Romania, I intended to read some more classics, but then life happened. I raided my best friend´s grandma´s library and took home no less than 29 novels that I cannot wait to read. And while there were plenty Romanian once, I actually decided to start reading Colette´s End of Chéri. Just when I thought I had broken the theme, I realised I had stumbled upon another. Both novels explored young angst – the first, of a teenager who won´t quite fit in at school, the second of a youngster that won´t find love and fit in with women his age. I loved both books and sped through them super fast, so I am a bit confused about how I didn´t get to read more books this month, but I am determined to catch up in the upcoming cold months. In the meantime, here´s what I thought about the two books I read in September.
After July´s failed book club, I was determined to get back on track with my reading challenge and nail August. I figured July´s challenge failed so miserably because the books i chose were not light enough for the beach, which I found myself often on. So this time I chose some fiction – mostly science fiction. Soon on I also discovered a common denominator in the books´ themes – wickedness, the idea of evil. Despite the heaviness such a theme brings, the readings were light enough to devour about a book a week, so August brought me back on track towards this year´s reading challenge – which stands at 40 books (I read 27 so far). Here´s what I thought of these month´s books and which kept me awake at night.