Where oh where did January go? I feel like 2023 just started yesterday. Nonetheless, we’re moving into February now, and it’s time to recalibrate for a whole new month of reading. Personally, I’m happy for that since January was not a particularly good reading month for me.
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Night Angels by Weina Dai Randel (February 1, 2023)
The American wife of the consul general of China is beginning to feel uneasy with the growing wave of Nazi sentiment at their posting in Vienna. And when Grace forms a friendship with a Jewish tutor, Dr. Ho initially tells her to keep her distance. But when Lola and her family are subjected to a brutal pogrom, he begins issuing Shanghai visas to the Jewish population of Shanghai, helping them escape when violence explodes after Kristallnacht. Night Angels is based on the true story of the diplomat and his wife who helped Viennese Jews escape the Nazis.
Skull Water by Heinz Insu Fenkl (February 7, 2023)
The son of a Korean mother and GI father growing up near an army base in the aftermath of the Vietnam War searches for an elusive cure for his uncle’s gangrenous foot. But as Insu dives deeper into Korean folklore and Buddhist teachings, South Korea is changing and modernizing in ways he struggles to keep up with. And Big Uncle attempts to teach him that there is more to life than just what we see and know.
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January was not particularly good for my reading. I’m not going to give you a number because I know a bad reading month for a professional reader for me might still be a really good reading month for somebody else. Nonetheless it’s not a good feeling. Reading slumps are a double whammy when you read for work because being in a slump is bad both for both work and leisure.
But the one thing that’s become a shining light in the last few weeks is short story collections. For whatever reason — maybe because I’m able to read them in short, independent chunks — the only two books I’ve managed to finish in the last couple of weeks are short story collections. So for anyone else struggling to get into their reading groove this year, here are a few historical short story collections and anthologies to try out.
Stories from Suffragette City, edited by M.J. Rose and Fiona Davis
This collection of short stories from celebrated writers all take place on the same day: October 23, 1915. Over a million women marched on that day for the right to vote in New York City, and these stories take a peek into their lives and experiences, portraying a vast and varied array of women.
Astray by Emma Donoghue
I talked about Emma Donoghue’s fiction last week and here we are again, because she has a collection of historical short fiction perfect for anyone looking for bite sized stories of the past. From gold miners to counterfeiters and attorneys, the characters in Astray explore centuries of wanderers and wandering across North America and beyond.