How do you select your next read? (February 2023 reads)

After I am done with a book, I ask myself “what should I read next?”

This year, I am doing an A-Z challenge by the author’s first name. I started my year going in order where it was A for Alex Michaelades (The Silent Patient) and B for Brit Bennett (The Vanishing Half). Then it quickly went out of order. It jumped to E for Eve Rodsky (Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World) because I heard about this book on a podcast. Then afterward it was Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare. When I borrowed Spare from the library, I was on a very long waitlist. I think I was 2000th+ in line and I am not exaggerating. I did not mind the wait because I could read other authors from now until it was my turn, but then a few days later, I was able to borrow Spare. There goes my attempt in reading my next book in alphabetical order.

Also, I am part of a couple of book clubs. I think I’ll be hopping around the alphabet all year long.

Last year, I focused on reading books only from my TBR pile and what was laying around my house. I think it was easier to select my next read because I wasn’t tempted to listen to book podcasts or look at bookstagram for my next read.

How do you select your next read? Comment below!

February mini-book reviews

Spare by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex

“My memory had been spotty since Mummy disappeared, by design, and I didn’t want to fix it, because memory equaled grief. Not remembering was balm.”

Royal life is sure stranger than fiction. All these protocols no longer romanticized my childish thoughts of what it means to be a member of the royal family. The experiences the royals experience from the Crown and from Prince Harry’s memoir are not too far off. You don’t have to be a monarchist to watch and enjoy The Crown and Spare. Honestly, I did not care too much until I watched one episode of The Crown and I’ve been in a rabbit-hole gobbling up all things UK Royal life. My fascination with it comes from my love of learning history — regardless how good (or horrifying). Hates the press.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

““She was nobody here. It was not just that she had no friends and family; it was rather that she was a ghost in this room, in the streets on the way to work, on the shop floor. Nothing meant anything.”

A story about a young adult woman who moves to another country on her own and I guess for the 1950s it was considered bold. The background was fairly mundane: she didn’t leave Ireland because she was in trouble nor unhappy nor fleeing political distress — she just got the opportunity to go. As the story progressed, I saw a lot of myself in Eilis as I am sure many young adults do too when they venture off to a new city or state for college or for a new job. As soon as they arrive, they try to figure out how to build a life in their new city. The book made me reflect on my excitement and fears of coming into a new chapter in life in a new school, new city, new stage in life (i.e. motherhood), etc. 

Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors by Andrea Nguyen

I would recommend this book to anyone who does NOT live near any Asian markets. Nguyen provides some interesting alternative ingredients such as subbing tamarind paste with homemade pomegranate syrup or rock sugar with apples. I challenged myself to find the ingredients Nguyen listed by not going to any Asian grocery stores even though there are many Asian markets within a five-radius of my house. I could not find everything. For example, there was a beef stew recipe that called for lemongrass and star anise. I couldn’t find either of those items in a typical American grocery store and I was tempted to go to an Asian market where those ingredients are readily available. Instead, I googled “what is a lemongrass substitute?” Based on my Google search, lemon zest could substitute for lemongrass. As for the star anise…I cheated. I already have Chinese five-spice powder in my cupboard. One of the ingredients in Chinese five-spice is star anise (plus cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and szechuan peppercorns)… I got this Chinese five-spice from an Asian market so that’s why I feel like I cheated. Maybe I could have used cinnamon sticks or cloves instead? Those are usually available in non-Asian markets.

Tag: What’s on your Bookshelf hosted by Sue (Women Living Well After 50), Donna (Retirement Reflections), Jo (And Anyways), and Deb (Deb’s World)

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13 thoughts on “How do you select your next read? (February 2023 reads)”

  1. Thanks for joining in with #WOYBS Julie. Your reviews are always interesting. I’m not sure about reading Spare but I appreciate your thoughts shared in your post. It’s always interesting to hear how others choose their next read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh lol I try to keep my reviews short and I try to keep it spoiler-free. “Spare” was not what I expected honestly. My favorite moments were the interactions between him and his father. It seemed like his father was warm and supportive of him. The parts about the media was also interesting but in a bad way. It was quite bizarre with how things appeared because of the media versus what happened behind closed doors.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am really struggling to pick and narrow down my book selections this year. I have a good 1/2 dozen going at any time and I’m constantly trying to simultaneously read books I requested from the library, ones I have waiting on my kindle, and ones I have on my nightstand that I was gifted at Christmas. So this year I’m reading a few books and the one that really grips my interest and I just can’t put down becomes my next read. .. while I silently eye the other piles and wish I could read even faster because I just have SO many I want to get to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a time I had so many holds and then one week, I had so many of those holds ready to borrow. It became so overwhelming. I kept extending a few too. At some point, I had to stop putting holds on other books until I finished all the ones that came my way. That made for a very large wish/TBR list.


  3. Hi, Julie – Thank you for joining us for What’s On Your Bookshelf. I read, and loved Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. I am currently 306th in line waiting for a copy of Spare from our local library. I have been lukewarm as to weather I truly wish to read this or not, so I am fine with the long wait. I like your A-Z approach to reading and look forward to continuing to follow your adventure with this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think “Spare” was a nice surprise for me. It was unfortunate there were so many headlines around the book, when I first listened to the audiobook I found myself hunting down lines about what the press was referring to. After letting that go, I did enjoy the book. I’m sure by the time you get the book next, all the fodder around his book will go ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Vietnamese cookbook looks great. We’re so lucky in Australia that our supermarkets are stocked with many items found in specialist Asian grocers. I read Brooklyn a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Thanks for linking up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In Los Angeles, even if I did go to a non-Asian big brand grocery store, they do have a pretty well-stocked Asian aisle. I am sure if I went to a brand grocery store in Nevada or Idaho, I’d probably won’t be very lucky.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I use to have these book-themed stickers where it had prompts like “read a book with an ugly cover” or “read a book published on the year you were born.” I didn’t finish the sticker set, I still have a few stickers left over. It was fun to kind of get out of my comfort zone.


  5. I love Colm Toibin and have read Brooklyn. I’ve no need to read Spare: I’m in the UK and it was largely serialised in most of the dailies. I used to choose my next read via book reviews – I look books up on Amazon and add them to a list. But now I’m choosing books via NetGalley, so it’s a different process, and I’m finding lots of new authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Spare” had a lot of press. I was so surprised to borrow it so soon. But after forgetting about the press, I enjoyed the book. When I use to have Amazon Prime, I use to get one of their free books once per month. I enjoyed that perk. For Net Galley, you do get e-books or physical books?


      1. Ebooks ..and quite often badly formatted, so reading is a challenge. But I’m enjoying the way it’s introduced me to lots of different authors..


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