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The books I read in January 2023

Each month my goal is to read five books on a variety of topics and from different genres. Here are the books I read in January 2023. If you click on the title, you’ll go to the longer post on More to Come. Enjoy.

Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America (2022) by Leila Philip is a fascinating look at the one animal, besides humans, that has an inordinate impact on their environment. Philip, a delightful storyteller who blends history and science in ways that make both interesting, came to her fascination with the weird rodent that scientists dub “ecosystem engineers” when she discovered a group of beavers in a pond near her home. She would visit the pond to observe them as they worked tirelessly to shape their environment; when they disappeared, she was determined to find out more about these creatures. We are all the richer for her exploration.

No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) (2021) by Kate Bowler explores how to handle the life you’re given instead of something from an unattainable dream. The toxic positivity of the current advice and prosperity industry asks us to ignore our humanness. Bowler makes the direct, honest, and humorous case that this is bunk. Diagnosed with stage-four cancer at age 35, this professor of history at the Duke Divinity School examines in a very accessible way how she’s come to terms with her new reality, its limitations, and the knowledge that, actually, not all things are possible. “Nothing,” she writes, “will exempt me from the pain of being human.”

And Then There Were None (1939), the classic Agatha Christie mystery, is the book that made Christie the best-selling novelist of all time (her books trail only the Bible and Shakespeare in sales). The plot is a delicious puzzle that begins as ten strangers arrive on an island invited by the mysterious U.N. Owen. Each has a dark secret and a crime to hide. One by one they are picked off, with copies of an ominous nursery rhyme hanging in each room suggesting the awful fates of those who are left. There is no one else on the island, so who, exactly, is the murderer? Even if you’ve read it before, And Then There Were None holds up on repeated readings.

The Cruelty is the Point: Why Trump’s America Endures (2022) by journalist Adam Serwer takes the reader back through the unvarnished history that made Donald Trump and today’s cruelty possible while looking ahead at where we may go as a nation. Comprised of fourteen essays originally published in The Atlantic, this is a hard book, almost dark at times, as Serwer repeatedly shows how white Americans have professed a belief in racial equality while pointedly declining to put the necessary laws and policies in place to see it to fruition, what the social scientists call the “principle-implementation gap.” Perhaps most disturbingly for white readers, he demonstrates time after time how cruelty and violence have been the chosen tools for maintaining our place on the top rung of society’s ladder. 

The Card Catalog

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures (2017) by The Library of Congress features more than 200 images of original catalog cards, first edition book covers, and photographs from the Library’s archives. It begins with the Library of Alexandria’s work to catalog the scrolls of ancient Greece and takes the reader through to the digital age, when the card catalog became obsolete. The book is a love letter to this artifact from an earlier time as well as an “ode to the enduring magic and importance of books.” At a time when libraries and librarians are under attack by the foes of democracy, we should all know the important role they have played, and will continue to play, in educating an informed citizenry. There are books about that. Just look it up!

More to come…


NOTE: To see the books I read in 2022, click here. Also check out my Ten tips for reading five books a month.

This Weekly Reader features links to recent articles, blog posts, or books that grabbed my interest or tickled my fancy. I hope you find something that makes you laugh, think, or cry. 

Photo of book by Blaz Photo on Unsplash


  1. Pingback: February observations | More to Come...

  2. Pingback: The books I read in February 2023 | More to Come...

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