Favourite Books I Read in 2022

At the beginning of the year, I was full of hopes and dreams. One of them was to read more than 30 books. That didn’t happen! So far, I’ve read for pure enjoyment 22 books in full. Before the year comes to an end, I may still finish the enormous Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, which I’ve been reading for almost two months now, and probably have time to pick up another play by Shakespeare. I’m ready to reveal my favourite books of the year, though, since I don’t see either of them climbing to the top spots.

My reading experience in 2022 was varied and mostly positive, despite some let-downs. Not only did I read books from various genres – literary fiction, fantasy, classics, allegories, historical fiction, Ancient Greek myth retellings –, but they were also of many formats, including novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections, graphic novels and plays. Although I picked almost only books that were new to me, I also reread Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós, having finished the project “rereading my old favourites”.

From the books that I read for the first time in 2022, irrespective of publication date, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

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Book Club Recommendations – Books Worth Discussing

Spending a couple of hours just in the company of a good book feels like heaven for many readers, including me. But reading doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. The most sociable readers have always the option of joining a book club either in person or online to discuss previously agreed books and have a lively, but respectful, debate.

Generally-speaking, any book is a good book to choose to read for a book club. However, some are bound to spark a more spirited discussion than others. It’s important to choose books that are interesting to muse about, that make readers think, maybe arrive at different conclusions, or look at the characters from different perspectives. I have five recommendations that I believe are good options to read in a book club.

 

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Although Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is full of fantastical elements, it focuses on very human experiences. This book, which is ultimately about memory and traumatic experiences, has as main character Piranesi, who lives in an immense house surrounded by the sea. He joins the Other twice a week to discuss their endeavours to discover some unknown knowledge. His emotions are portrayed with a meaningful subtlety. For such a short book, it provides many topics for discussion. How do memories influence our perception about ourselves? What clues about the ending did readers find? What did readers discern about what was going on in that world at various stages? Continue reading

Books to Read in a Weekend

The weekend is the perfect time to sit down, relax and spend a great couple of hours reading a book. If that book is shorter than 200 pages, it’s even possible to read it in full during only one weekend. Even if you are a content slow reader like me, who is not bothered anymore about not being able to read for many hours in a row, sometimes it just feels fulfilling to finish a book in two days. I haven’t managed to read many books in a single weekend, to be honest, but you could certainly read the following books in only two days (or even one).

 

Os Armários Vazios (Empty Wardrobes) by Maria Judite de Carvalho

When Dora Rosário’s husband died, she mourned him for 10 years. She couldn’t have anticipated how her outlook on life was about to change. Empty Wardrobes is a story about how three women let their lives be influenced by men. As it has an unreliable narrator, readers are forgiven for constantly questioning whether the characters actually acted in the way we are being told that they did.

 

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

A story about the decisions made by the women in the life of Chris Baldry, The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West features believable characters and various visual descriptions of the natural settings. After a long time without having news from Baldry, his wife and his cousin received the visit of Margaret Allington. She told them that he was in hospital with no memory of the last 15 years. Continue reading

Authors I Wish I Had Added to My List of 100 Women Writers to Read in My Lifetime

Back in 2016, the year I started blogging, I curated a list of 100 women writers that I wanted to read during my lifetime inspired by Jean from Jean Bookishthoughts. At the time, I was reading far more books by men than by women and was eager to change that. I’m pleased to inform that I’m now reading significantly more books by women! And I’m not even forcing myself to tick names off that list (I still haven’t read the vast majority of them). I’ve been reading and cherishing books by authors that aren’t on the list, thanks mostly to other bookish content creators introducing me to great female writers.

When I decided to pursue that long-term reading project, Jean’s own list was my starting point. I just included some other authors that I had already read and a couple of Portuguese writers. While I didn’t enjoy the books that I read by every single one of the authors on the list, I’ve read books by other talented women that I now wish were part of it. International Women’s Day seemed like the perfect time to mention them!

 

Maria Judite de Carvalho

When I curated my list of 100 women writers to read in my lifetime, I hadn’t heard of the Portuguese author Maria Judite de Carvalho, who was born in 1921 and died in 1998. Her work only came on my radar around three years ago. I’ve recently read Os Armários Vazios, Empty Wardrobes in the English translation. It’s a novella with an unreliable narrator that tells the story of how three women let their lives be influenced by men. Another book I’m interested in by her is Tanta Gente, Mariana. Continue reading

‘Os Armários Vazios’ (‘Empty Wardrobes’) by Maria Judite de Carvalho

My rating: 4 stars

Os Armários Vazios (Empty Wardrobes in the translation into English) by the Portuguese author Maria Judite de Carvalho seems to be a story about how three women let their lives be influenced by men. And “seem” is a precise and deliberate choice of verb, because the novella has an unreliable, albeit interesting, narrator, who makes readers question whether the characters actually acted in the way she is telling us they did.

When Dora Rosário’s husband died, she had to overcome many financial and emotional problems. It was only when her friend Gabriela got her a job at an antique shop that she managed to turn her life around and send her daughter, Lisa, to a good school. For ten years, Dora mourned her husband, engulfed in great sadness. Contrary to Dora, her mother-in-law, Ana, didn’t lose the will to enjoy life. She, one day, tells Dora about something that happened in the past and that completely changes her daughter-in-law’s outlook on life.

The feelings of the characters are not explored in depth throughout the entirety of the book. Nevertheless, at the specific moments that the focus is on their most intimate tribulations, the emotions are palpable. Dora’s grief at the beginning of the tale and her relationship with her daughter are believably portrayed. Lisa is very perceptive for her age, a characteristic Dora appears to find uncomfortable. Continue reading