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Saturday Book Review, y’all

December 31st, 2022


St. John’s Wort/yellow flowers, photo by Nancy E. Row

Hullo, hullo, dear readers. Happy New Year’s Eve and here is a round-up to end all round-ups for the year, with a great selection of eclectic titles. What are you reading today?

Turn the TV off, grab a book and get over here.

When I was a kid, some of our best family times involved everyone reading. Ignoring each other, occasionally; sometimes avoiding each other entirely, sure, even in the same room. Funny, you know? My fave was when we were companionably eating dinner together-but-apart, while we all read.

My family, both sides, Mom’s and Dad’s, and our extended families, grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins, most of us enjoy reading, swapping books, talking about literature.

Here’s the thing — reading, together and apart, can be one of the most sociable things on Earth. Fun for the babies, the little kids, the struggling readers, the big kids and grown-ups… and for those of us who live to read. Happy New Year, welcome 2023.

Forget about the phone, the TV, the Netflix and all of the rest and find something to read.

Up first:

Leftover from Christmas, I have a very special copy of “Reindeer in Here: A Christmas Friend,” written by Adam Reed and illustrated by Xindi Van. (OK, TV tie-in on this one — it was also an animated special on CBS/Paramount. Simon Spotlight, 2017/2022, $29.99.) This book is about not being like everyone else, and yes, that is perfectly fine. Set comes with a picture book and a plush toy, and is perfect for a belated gift now, or to stash until next year.

“City Spies: City of the Dead,” by James Ponti, is skedded for release Feb. 7, 2023 (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2023, ages 8-12, grades 3-7, 389 pages, $18.99). In this fourth book in the series, the kids head to Cairo to do some international codebreaking.

Along those lines… “The Lost Library,” by Melbourne-based writer/illustrator/designer Jess McGeachin, is a cool new picture book, and no, it’s not just for library geeks such as myself (Viking, 2022, $18.99). Oliver moves to a new house and is feeling out of sorts. Luckily he has his books for entertainment, plus an extra he finds in his closet. One thing though… it’s marked, “Please return to: The Lost Library.” With his new friend Rosie, they set out to return the book. Beautiful. Reminded me of China Mieville’s classic, “Un Lun Dun.”

Shannon Gibney’s “The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be,” is a new release for the new year (Dutton Books, 2023, 237 pages, $18.99.) The jacket calls it “a speculative memoir of transracial adoption,” and that’s a great description for this well-researched, well-thought-out journey to make sense of a hidden past. Gibney, a mom of two, author and college prof, lives in Minneapolis. Interesting read.

Just started reading “Remember Me Now: A Journey Back to Myself and a Love Letter to Black Women,” an engaging combination of stories, poems and letters “to sisters of all walks of life,” by Faitth Brooks (Waterbrook, 2023, 194 pages, $23).

She can write, man. I’m just saying. (Speaking of “man” — the guys need to read this one, too, and get clued in. Sorry but not sorry. It’s true.) After I finish this review, I’m spending the rest of the afternoon on the couch, curled up with Faitth’s book. The dedication reads: “To my mother, grandmothers, and ancestors, who survived so I could soar.” Beautiful. (Look for her podcast, too, Melanated Faith.)

Peace. Love. Happy 2023. Please, God, let it be better than the past few years.


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