Shelf Control #252: The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Stranger’s Child
Author: Alan Hollinghurst
Published: 2012
Length: 564 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge friend Cecil Valance, a charismatic young poet, to visit his family home. Filled with intimacies and confusions, the weekend will link the families for ever, but its deepest impact will be on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne.

As the decades pass, Daphne and those around her endure startling changes in fortune and circumstance, reputations rise and fall, secrets are revealed and hidden and the events of that long-ago summer become part of a legendary story, told and interpreted in different ways by successive generations.

Powerful, absorbing and richly comic, ‘The Stranger’s Child’ is a masterly exploration of English culture, taste and attitudes over a century of change. 

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy on a whim, at least 6 or 7 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

This was a total impulse buy! On a weekend trip with my daughter, we happened to find a really great bookstore, and this book was prominently displayed on their front rack. I loved the look of the cover, and while I didn’t feel like the back copy gave me a whole lot of information, I just needed to buy it!

I think the main reason I haven’t actually read the book yet is its length. It’s a big book! I do still want to get to it eventually, which is why it hasn’t ended up in my library donation piles just yet.

Have you read this book? Does it sound like something you’d want to read?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #251: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1920
Length: 208 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorp and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary—from the heiress’s fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary.

With impeccable timing, and making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a Kindle edition a couple of years ago.

Why I want to read it:

After reading the excellent new novel by Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, my interest in Agatha Christie is definitely piqued! I’ve only read one of her books so far, but I’ve been intending to read more.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Agatha Christie’s first published novel, and it’s also the book where she introduced Hercule Poirot. I feel like this would be a great starting place for me, and if I enjoy it (as I suspect I will), I can pick and choose more of her works to read.

Are you an Agatha Christie fan? Any recommendations on which books to read? Particular favorites?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #250: The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Search for Delicious
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Published: 1969
Length: 167 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of “delicious,” the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylen, to poll the citizenry. Gaylen soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define “delicious” and save the country. 

Synopsis from Scholastic.com:

Which food should stand for “delicious” in the new dictionary? No one at the royal castle can agree, and so Gaylen, a skinny boy of twelve and the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant, is sent off to poll the kingdom. Traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow — Gaylen finds more than he expected. It seems that the search for “delicious” had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.

Gaylen’s quest leads him through a wonderland full of fascinating people, ancient dwarfs, odd woodland creatures, and more. He meets the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest, and Canto, a minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and gives him a peculiar good-luck charm. Can he find the meaning of “delicious” and save the kingdom at the same time?

In The Search for Delicious, the award-winning author of Tuck Everlasting and other beloved books has created a magical world full of surprises and a tale brimming with excitement. Delighted readers will be reluctant to turn the last page of this imaginative, fast-paced fantasy.

How and when I got it:

My sister sent me a hardcover copy of this book (with the cover shown above) a few years ago.

Why I want to read it:

The only Natalie Babbitt book I’ve read is Tuck Everlasting, which I really liked. My sister insists that we read The Search for Delicious as children, but I’m sure I’ve never even heard of it! Sisters… never too old to disagree! In any case, she says that this was one of her favorite childhood books, and has been pushing me to read it.

The plot does sound charming, and while I don’t read a lot of children’s lit these days, for the sake of family peace, I probably should make time for this one.

There are many different editions that have been released over the years — this one with a mermaid makes me so much more interested in reading the book!

Have you read The Search for Delicious? Does it sound like something you’d want to read?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #249: Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Blackberry Wine
Author: Joanne Harris
Published: 1999
Length: 336 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From the author of Chocolat, an intoxicating fairy tale of alchemy and love where wine is the magic elixir.

Jay Mackintosh is a 37-year-old has-been writer from London. Fourteen years have passed since his first novel, Jackapple Joe, won the Prix Goncourt. His only happiness comes from dreaming about the golden summers of his boyhood that he spent in the company of an eccentric vintner who was the inspiration of Jay’s debut novel, but who one day mysteriously vanished. Under the strange effects of a bottle of Joe’s ’75 Special, Jay decides to purchase a derelict yet promising château in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. There, a ghost from his past waits to confront him, and his new neighbour, the reclusive Marise – haunted, lovely and dangerous – hides a terrible secret behind her closed shutters. Between them, there seems to be a mysterious chemistry. Or could it be magic?

How and when I got it:

I actually have no idea, but I assume I picked it up at a library sale at some point in the last 5 years or so.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve read Chocolat and one other book by this author, and I know I really enjoyed her writing. I’m assuming the cover was one of the things that attracted me to this book — so pretty!

The synopsis makes the plot sound intriguing — hints of magical realism? It’s hard to get a true sense of what it might be about, but I’d like to give it a try.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #248: Dreams Underfoot by Charles De Lint

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Dreams Underfoot
Author: Charles de Lint
Published: 1993
Length: 416 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Welcome to Newford…

Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.

About the Newford series:

Welcome to Newford, the fictional North American city setting for award-winning author Charles de Lint’s popular and beloved urban fantasy series.

Human beings share the city with European and Native American mythological legends, finding common ground as they live out their daily lives or find themselves swept up in adventures beyond imagination.

“As familiarly as though he were chronicling the lives of old friends, de Lint spins yet another magical story of the intersections between reality and the faerie and spirit world in this latest addition to the Newford opus, his twin loves of storytelling and music-making shining through every page…[H]ighly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review) on Widdershins

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy at one of our library’s big sales, probably 3 or 4 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve been hearing about the Newford books for years! In fact, I think I actually own copies of a few books from the series (all books that I’ve grabbed at various used book sales). Charles de Lint is considered a master fantasy writer, yet I’ve only read one of his books so far (The Mystery of Grace, a stand-alone novel that was excellent).

Dreams Underfoot is a collection of stories set in Newford, and while I don’t usually gravitate toward short stories, I’d want to read this book to get an introduction to the world of the series and then see if I want to continue.

Have you read any of the Newford books?

And if not — what do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #247: Cool Gray City of Love by Gary Kamiya

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco
Author: Gary Kamiya
Published: 2013
Length: 400 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Cool, Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal insight, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site or intersection in the city, from the mighty Golden Gate Bridge to the raunchy Tenderloin to the soaring sea cliffs at Land’s End.

This unique approach captures the exhilarating experience of walking through San Francisco’s sublime terrain, while at the same time tying that experience to a history as rollicking and unpredictable as the city herself. From her absurd beginnings as the most distant and moth-eaten outpost of the world’s most extensive empire, to her instantaneous fame during the Gold Rush, from her apocalyptic destruction by earthquake and fire to her perennial embrace of rebels, dreamers, hedonists and misfits of all stripes, the City by the Bay has always followed a trajectory as wildly independent as the untrammeled natural forces that created her.

This ambitious, eclectic, and beautifully written book draws on everything from on-the-ground reporting to obscure academic papers to the author’s 40-year life in San Francisco to create a rich and insightful portrait of a magical corner of the world. Complete with hand-drawn maps of the 49 locations, this handsome package will sit comfortably on the short shelf of enduring books about places, alongside E. B. White’s Here is New York, Jose Saramago’s Journey to Portugal, or Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy last year.

Why I want to read it:

I came to San Francisco in my 20s, and while I love my adopted city, I always feel like there’s more for me to learn and explore. I’ve been familiar with this author for a while now, thanks to the weekly column he writes for the San Francisco Chronicle, Portals to the Past, in which he highlights different stories from SF’s history. They’re always surprising, sometimes very funny and/or weird, and never fail to entertain.

I first heard of this book a few years ago, and I finally decided to treat myself to a copy last year, but sadly, haven’t actually taken it off the shelf to read yet. I think this is one that could be read in small bites, maybe just a chapter here and there in between other books.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #246: When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: When the Emperor Was Divine
Author: Julie Otsuka
Published: 2002
Length: 144 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family’s possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert.

In this lean and devastatingly evocative first novel, Julie Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of their experience; the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism. When the Emperor Was Divine is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today’s headlines.

How and when I got it:

I bought a used copy about 2 – 3 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

This book was a required summer reading assignment for my son right before his junior year of high school. No big surprise — he didn’t end up reading it. (I don’t think he’s clear on the meaning of “required”.) But once we had a copy in the house, I knew I’d need to read it eventually.

I’ve always been interested in learning more about the horrific treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII. I’ve read both historical and fictional accounts of the experiences of those sent to the internment camps. I know When the Emperor Was Divine is highly rated, although I don’t know anyone directly who’s read it.

I’m glad to have stumbled across our copy while looking for a Shelf Control book this week! I’m going to try to make it a priority in 2021.

Have you read this book? Would you want to?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Top Ten Tuesday: Home for the holidays

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is a Holiday Freebie, where we each come up with our own holiday-themed top ten list.

I was drawing a blank, until I started thinking about holiday celebrations in books, and from there, I started thinking about great fictional families that I’d want to celebrate the holidays with.

So, ta-da! Here are ten fictional families who I wish would invite me over for some holiday cheer…

  1. The Weasleys (Harry Potter series): I mean, obvious, right? I love the entire Weasley brood, and I hope if I went the Burrow for the holidays, I’d get one of Molly’s traditional sweaters.
  2. The Bennets (Pride and Prejudice): Or really, one of several families in Jane Austen novels, mainly because I’d like to dress up and go to one of their balls.
  3. The family of All-of-a-Kind Family (All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor): I loved these books as a kid, and always wished I could celebrate Hanukkah or any of the Jewish holidays with them! Even living simple lives, they make everything seem like such fun.
  4. The children of Marsyas Island Orphanage (The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune): Let’s hear it for found families! I love this book, and love the way the children and their headmaster form such a warm and wonderful family. I think opening presents with this group would be all sorts of fun.
  5. The Columbia Basin Pack (Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs: Here’s an entirely different sort of found family — the werewolves of the Mercy Thompson series. The pack house seems like such a fun place to be, even though it’s usually crowded, loud, and bit out of control. I can only imagine how wild Christmas morning must be. (I kind of hope it’s a tradition for all the big wolves to wear Christmas jammies too…)
  6. The Covey family (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han): I love Lara Jean’s family dynamic and how awesome her dad is, and you just know that the food will be amazing — especially if Lara Jean is doing the cookies!
  7. The March family (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott): Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents! But hanging out with Jo and Beth (my faves) and Marmee would be awesome anyway.
  8. All the characters in In a Holidaze (by Christina Lauren): To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m more interested in the people or in their Christmas cabin, but either way, I’d love to be there.
  9. The Murry family (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle): Hanging out with Charles Wallace and Meg would be fun, and I bet their Christmas would be all science-y and also filled with witches.
  10. Emily & Simon and everyone else in Willow Creek (Well Met by Jen DeLuca): I know the Willow Creek Renaissance Faire is a summer event, but can you imagine how amazing it would be as a Christmas celebration? All those fabulous costumes and revelries in the snow?

That’s it! I wasn’t sure I could get to 10, but somehow I made it (mainly by including a couple of family-esque groups as well as more traditional families). I’d be happy to be invited to celebrate with all of these folks!

What was your holiday topic this week? If you wrote a TTT post, please share your link!

Shelf Control #245: Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners
Author: Therese Oneill
Published: 2016
Length: 307 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Have you ever wished you could live in an earlier, more romantic era?

Ladies, welcome to the 19th century, where there’s arsenic in your face cream, a pot of cold pee sits under your bed, and all of your underwear is crotchless. (Why? Shush, dear. A lady doesn’t question.)

UNMENTIONABLE is your hilarious, illustrated, scandalously honest (yet never crass) guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood, giving you detailed advice on:

~ What to wear
~ Where to relieve yourself
~ How to conceal your loathsome addiction to menstruating
~ What to expect on your wedding night
~ How to be the perfect Victorian wife
~ Why masturbating will kill you
~ And more

Irresistibly charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and featuring nearly 200 images from Victorian publications, UNMENTIONABLE will inspire a whole new level of respect for Elizabeth Bennett, Scarlet O’Hara, Jane Eyre, and all of our great, great grandmothers.

(And it just might leave you feeling ecstatically grateful to live in an age of pants, super absorbency tampons, epidurals, anti-depressants, and not-dying-of-the-syphilis-your-husband-brought-home.)

How and when I got it:

I picked up an e-book copy of this book in 2017.

Why I want to read it:

I really don’t remember where I first came across this book, but doesn’t it sound amazing? As a fan of Victorian era fiction, I know I’ve found myself daydreaming about an idealized version of life in those times, with all the complicated clothes and social niceties and balls and courting rituals.

But oh, the reality! Just reading the description of this book makes me cringe (and makes me super thankful for running water, modern medicine, and the freedom to dress comfortably). I’m so curious about this book, and look forward to diving in and learning about the cold heart facts of intimate Victorian life.

Have you read this book? Would you want to?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Top Ten Tuesday: So nice, I’ll read them twice!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I Want To Read Again.

I’m a big fan of re-reading — sometimes to get a refresher on an ongoing series before reading a new installment, sometimes just for the pleasure of revisiting a book I’ve already loved.

Here are 10 books I’d love to read again (and for some, again and again…):

 

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert: With the movie coming out in 2021, it’s about time that I re-read Dune. I originally read the series over 20 years ago, and can’t remember much except for the terrifying sandworms.
  2. The Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black: Actually, I’m already rereading these books! I read the trilogy at the beginning of 2020, and loved them enough to now want to listen to the audiobooks.
  3. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: This is the only Austen novel that I haven’t already read more than once, and I’m fuzzy on the details, so I think a re-read is in order.
  4. Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I loved Daisy Jones, and I’ve heard that the audiobook is amazing, so I’d love to check it out.
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I’ve only read Jane Eyre once, and pretty recently at that. I think a re-read will help me appreciate it even more.
  6. Soulless by Gail Carriger: Ideally, I’d like to reread the entire Parasol Protectorate series. These books are so much fun.
  7. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley: Or really, any of a handful of books by this author, which are all so romantic and swoonworthy.
  8. The Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire: I’ve re-read several of the more recent books in the series, to prep when new books were being released, but I’d seriously love to go back to the beginning and listen to all the audiobooks.
  9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow: One of my favorites from 2019, and such a beautiful book. I’d love to experience it all over again.
  10. A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers: This one was a 2020 favorite, and it was so lovely that I’d like to read it one more time.

What books do you most want to re-read?

If you wrote a TTT post, please share your link!