Bookwyrm’s Hoard: 2023 the Year of the Rabbit

Posted on January 26, 2023

It’s a New Year, the Year of the Rabbit in Chinese tradition, and already I feel overwhelmed by all my resolutions and the pressure to keep them. I am hoping I don’t hop away from everything but rather stand my ground and, at the very least, keep my most important ones.

High on the list is being better about turning out a Bookwyrm’s Hoard post every month for those of you interested in what books I am reading, what movies I’m watching, and what Great Courses I am checking out, so I can give you all my recommendations. I will also try to include a list of some of the new books we have gotten in for the month and which ones I am looking forward to reading.

The Library is going through some changes, bittersweet, over the last couple of months, some librarians moving on to the next adventure, some old faces in new jobs and new faces in old positions. It is a time of fresh ideas, updates, culminating long-simmering projects, and new materials and programs for the community.

At the end of every year and the beginning of the new one, it has always been for me a time to reflect on the experiences, joys, and tribulations I have gone through while anticipating the hopes, resolving to make changes, and fretting about the challenges to come. With all the ups and downs of my life, I have been comforted by the constant companionship and wisdom of books. I enjoy sharing with others the discoveries I have made in their pages and in the scenes of the movies I’ve enjoyed.  Now is the time to share with you all my top picks from 2022 and give you a preview of things to come in 2023.

My favorite books and movies of 2022 range from fantastical novels to dark mysteries and philosophical examinations of climate change, as well as a movie based on a short story by one of my favorite authors. My number one book of the year was a tie between the delightful Regency fairy tale “Half a Soul”, the first in a series about an alternate London in which fairies are real and having a major impact of the lives of the characters. It is packed with dry humor, an insightful examination of neurodivergence using fantasy elements, and a lot of romance and adventure. The second book at the top of my list is “The Murder of Mr. Wickham”, a manor house mystery featuring characters from all of Jane Austen’s novels- I ADORED IT! The mystery was twisty with plenty of suspects and the detectives were adorable.  I was rooting for them to realize that not only were they perfect at solving crimes they were perfect for each other. Having read all of Jane Austen’s books I got a real kick out of seeing old characters in new situations, but I don’t think you need to be a hard-core Janite to appreciate this well-written cozy mystery (that I am desperately hoping is the first in a series). It also has a lot to say about trust, love, and acceptance, overall a delightful book.

Another good mystery, this time of a darker nature, is the “Decagon House Mystery”, a classic that was inspired by Agatha Christie and features an eerie setting, a clever killer, and a group of college students in a mystery club trying to figure out why they have been targeted by a killer on an isolated vacation. I also quite enjoyed a horror novel with an intriguing premise: what if the things you created as an artist started to bleed into reality? “Malice House” features a young artist fleeing a broken relationship by going to her recently deceased father’s house in order to have a place to live. While trying to decide if she should fix the place up and sell it or stay, she comes across a manuscript unlike anything her father had written before. She is excited to illustrate his book of macabre fairy tales for adults but finds surprising resistance from her father’s cult like fans in town. The things take a turn when it seems as if reality itself is warping into her and her father’s grim imaginings. This is a horror novel that reads like a thriller and ends in a way that there may be a sequel; I will be looking forward to it.

This year also brought me another highly anticipated sequel, from my favorite book of last year and I was not disappointed. Becky Chamber’s “Prayer for the Crown Shy” is the follow up to her first Tea Monk and Robot adventure: “Psalm for the Wild Built”. I took great comfort in returning to this depiction of a brighter, gentler future for humanity filled with warmth and introspection. This is a series that can appeal to die hard science fiction fans and people who don’t typically read sci-fi.

In non-fiction I turned to the wisdom of one of my all-time heroes, Jane Goodall, in her aptly named “Book of Hope”. As the past couple of years have gone by and I have read and watched the news and seen the devastation of climate change impacting every person, animal, and plant on the planet, I have needed hope, direction, and guidance. I found all three in Jane Goodall’s experiences and observations. I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with the challenges facing humanity.

In movies, my favorite this year was “Drive My Car” based on several short stories by one of my favorite authors: Haruki Murakami. This beautiful movie explores people’s relationships, acts of creativity, and the nature of stories- the ones we tell others and the ones we tell ourselves. It’s about how all of us have disappointments, loneliness, dreams, and desires, and how the people around us can help us endure and appreciate every aspect of life.

In 2023 I have so many books and movies and Great Courses I am looking forward to diving into, my biggest problem is time, because the library collection is always changing and growing. In the next few months alone there is: Grady Hendrix’s “How to Sell Your Haunted House”, Leigh Bardugo’s “Hell Bent”, Stephen King’s “Fairy Tale”, in non-fiction Murakami’s “Novelist as a Vocation”,  Graham Robb’s “France: An Adventure History”, Eduardo Garcia and Sara Boccaccini Meadows’s “Things You Can Do: How to Fight Climate Change and Reduce Waste”, and Nancy Marie Brown’s: “The Wisdom of the Hidden Folk: How Iceland’s Elves Can Save the Earth”. I also have a ton of books checked out of the library and it keeps growing into a tower at my bedside. Look out for next month’s Bookwyrm’s Hoard when I will discuss some exciting new acquisitions from our talented local authors!

So let us enter into the New Year with our TBR (To Be Read) pile stacked high and a promise to ourselves to try our best to keep our resolutions, or be kind to ourselves when we have to let them fall away or adapt them to suit the vagaries of the New Year.