Mixing things up a little bit today with a (hopefully) fun post. A leisure activity that I really enjoy is reading. I have pretty eclectic tastes and I enjoy discovering new books to read. So I am sharing some favorites from the past year that might help someone else discover a new title! And because this is mainly a design and sewing blog, I decided to pair each book with a pattern design of mine that I think matches the book in some way. I am choosing to share my Top 3 favorite books I read this year (along with 2 honorable mentions) Why Top 3? I completed 27 books this year (number 28 will overlap into 2023) which is a decent number especially considering that a few were thick tomes (Including The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James which does NOT get a top spot). But as I reviewed the list a lot of them were just mediocre and I only wanted to share the best of the best. I hoping to have a better mix in 2023! I am also sharing 2 honorable mentions to help round out the list. So here they are in no particular order and spoiler FREE!
THE TOP 3
MIDDLEMARCH by George Elliot
I actually started this book in December 2021 but didn’t finish it until well into 2022 so I am counting it for this year’s list. This book is definitely a long and slow read, but it also took me a bit to finish because I chose to take breaks along the way and read a few other faster books. The novel is broken up into “books” which are not not stand alone stories but do provide good points to take a break if you need one. Obviously this book made my Top 3 so I think it is WORTH the time investment!
I had it in my mind to read something by George Elliot. After looking through the options, Middlemarch stood out as her “best”. I definitely think it deserves the “masterpiece” designation. This sweeping novel has a huge cast of characters and, if you can look beyond the sometimes heavy prose, the story is really good! This book is definitely hard to read. I read ebooks and sometimes I would have to look up several words PER PAGE! (Love that I can do that). And there is a lot of superfluous rambling that I think could have been streamlined. But I do think it is worth the effort!
THE DESIGN: Little Cabins (Summer)
It is hard with a long book that covers so much to sum it up with a single design. I decided to go with my Little Cabins design in honor of my favorite character, Dorothea Brooke, who loved to draw “cottages” for the people who lived on the estate lands. These are pretty basic little dwellings in my design. Dorothea’s heart was so generous I am sure her designs were much more complex than these simple structures.
JAMAICA INN by Daphne Du Maurier
In total I have read 3 books by Du Maurier (not all this year), plus some but not all of the short story The Birds). 2 have been fantastic, 1 kind of disappointing. This year’s selection was Jamaica Inn and it definitely falls in the fantastic column! As I don’t want to give too much away I am not going to dive much into this one beyond saying that even I, who am very hard to surprise, did not expect all the twists! (Even though I did guess one of the big ones early on). I will say that if you want to go into this one completely blind DO NOT read the book blurb provided most places! It gives away a big plot point.
THE DESIGN: Landscape (Siesta)
I chose my Landscape design in the Siesta colorway for this book since so much of the novel takes place on the moors of England it is almost a character of its own! This design was created for my Canyon Collection which is dessert themed, but I think the abstract jagged lines fit the feel of the moors as well! And this colorway with taupe as the predominant color feels a bit more muted and misty.
A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles
If I had to pick just one favorite book this would be it based on its perfect combination of wonderful story and readability. I love that this book feels like classic fiction without all the weighty prose of something like Middlemarch. This book tells the story of a (former) Count Rostov who is sentenced to live the rest of his days as a “prisoner” at the Metropol Hotel. If you like books with lots of action this is not the book for you. I would estimate that probably the first 25% of the book is merely setting up the life and “landscape” of Count Rostov. A fast paced plot is not what this book needs. That is not the reality of the main character’s fate. What this book does, and does well, is give you a look into the life of a truly likable character and by proximity a very colorful supporting cast. The book jumps along in time so you get a lot of (light) history on the way. And there is some excitement too! I loved this book so much, after I finished it I could have flipped to page one and started rereading it immediately! I am not sure I have ever felt that way about a book before.
THE DESIGN: Playtime Tea Party (Dreamy)
It was difficult to decide on a pattern for this book, especially when restricted to my current library of designs. Since food plays an important role throughout the book I chose a food themed design. And I picked Playtime Tea Party because it is “fancy food” in a sense and that DEFINITELY would appeal to the Count. Also, there is an almost tea party in the book. (No spoilers beyond that). Plus I like the playtime theme because the Count, while a charming, refined aristocrat, also reveals a playful side on more than one occasion!
I decided to add a few other books to the list to round out the selections a bit. I enjoyed both of these. I wouldn’t rank them in the top favorites, but I would recommend them. And I chose them because they offer a different type of read for those who might not be interested in any of the books above!
THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW by C.S. Lewis
This was a reread for me as I have both read the book and listened to the audio book before (I am never sure if I should call that reading). The Magician’s Nephew is the (now) first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series. (I say now because I had a boxed set as a kid where this book was the last one. I think it was because that was the order in which they were written. But in terms of storytelling this tale is first chronologically.) I recommended the series to a family member and it motivated me to return to it myself. I only ended up reading this one book. It was fun to see what I remembered and what I didn’t. And of course it is great no matter how many times you read it! And for those of you unfamiliar with the series they are “kids” books. Younger than YA but I don’t know the technical term. I think at the library they are labelled J. So it is a fast and easy read!
THE DESIGN: Heart Trees (Sugar)
If I were to create a design from scratch inspired by this book I would come up with something very different. But when choosing from my existing library of designs I decided upon Heart Trees because a tree does play an important in the story and these heart shaped trees fit the fantasy theme of the novel!
HER ONE MISTAKE by Heidi Perks
This book was pretty good. Not a top favorite but I wanted to include it because it is from a popular genre: the modern thriller/celebrity book club pick/beach read type novel. I am not knocking this genre AT ALL! I love a good intense thriller that draws you in. A fast, fun read is a great type for the book rotation. And maybe I am just ultra picky. But so often I see a person share a book photo on social media and rave about it and I decide to pick it up and end up not liking it at all! One reason may be that I like PG-PG-13 books and too many of these would get a R rating if made into a movie. (Seriously why can’t book have ratings! I would love that!) But also maybe I just have weird tastes? So since I FINALLY read one of “these type” books that I enjoyed without any major objectionable content (that I can recall) so I thought it deserved a spot on the list!
THE DESIGN: Knock Down (Circus)
Not wanting even the design I pick to be any type of spoiler I chose my Knock Down design since the first main event of the book occurs at a school fair (which is mentioned right at the beginning of the book description).
I thought THE END was fitting way to wrap up this book themed post! I hope you enjoyed it and maybe found a new book to read. And if you DO read (or have already read) one of my suggestions I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know what you thought!
Until next time…
Thanks for reading,