From the Good Doctor to Antibes: books read in 2023

Spread the love

The first book I completed reading in January 2023 was The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut, a novel of conscience in post-apartheid South Africa. The last was Ett år runt Antibes, a lavishly illustrated travel book by my friend Kristina Svensson. So that’s the the title of this post explained!

Rolling reading resolution

My rolling reading resolution is to read to the end at least 50 titles every year. Every year I manage it by the skin of my teeth. Once again, in 2023, I just made it. (Partly helped by the two books I was reading at the end of 2022 that got carried over to the New Year.)

Doing my Bullet Journal accounts at the end of the year I discovered there were no less than 55 days in 2023 when I did not read in a book. As I reckon I can read an average sized book in 6-7 days, there’s 8 more titles I could have read if I’d read every day. But life and other commitments intrude. I’m glad I read as many books as I did, and pleased with the variety.

I try to read a book in Swedish every quarter, and I managed that. During the year, every year, I try to read at least four books in translation. In 2023 I managed five. I read flash fiction, poetry, memoir, historical fiction, detective fiction, science fiction, at least one classic, essays, oral history, fantasy, realism and magical realism, children’s books and books on the craft of writing. I even managed to read one romance, and confirmed my irritation at the tropes of the genre. (Sorry, romance lovers!)

Reading fast and slow

Tom Gauld’s Baking with Kafka was probably the quickest read. It’s a collection of his often literature-related cartoons. Highly recommended!

The longest read was Jonathan Raban’s Passage to Juneau. It took me 23 days to read Juneau’s 435 pages, one day more than it took to read the whole of MC Carey’s 1350 page trilogy about Koli. I used to count Raban as one of my favourite authors, in particular for his book Coasting, about sailing around Britain and into his past. But Juneau was tough going.

Favourite reads

My favourite reads of the year in the order in which I read them:

  • Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven. So very much more than post-apocalyptic SF.
  • Sara Stridbergs Beckomberga (in Swedish), about a child, her parents and a Swedish mental asylum.
  • What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde. A wonderfully realised character, an Iranian political refugee, fights cancer and can’t stop herself making her daughter’s life a misery. (In English translation.)
  • Lucy Caldwell’s These Days. One family’s fate during and after the German bombing raids over Belfast in 1941.
  • Sebastian Barry’s Old God’s Time. In the form of a detective story, that warps into a cold case mystery, that becomes a meditation on grief and sanity, this book explores the horrible abuse of “illegitimate” children in the care of the Catholic Church in Ireland. There are ghosts too.

I’m not going to say anything (more) about the books I found least enjoyable!

Finally, here below – in alphabetical author order – are the 50 titles I completed during 2023. Maybe there’s something here for your own reading list?

All the books I read in 2023

As usual, titles connect to the book’s page on GoodReads where it exists. Author links go in the first instance to the author’s (and translator’s) professional website, in the second instance to their Wikipedia entry. In the third instance to anywhere remotely relevant I’m able to point you!

Read more …

Spread the love

Leave a comment