Before the pandemic, I’m guessing I averaged fifteen to twenty books a year with lots of magazines and “long reads” from different periodicals thrown in. I, like a lot of folks, read more during the pandemic and then cranked up my reading at the end of last year to prep for interviews for the podcast and then I joined two more book clubs. So as of May 1, 2022, I’ve already read 32 books this year. I have two books to read this week for interviews and three to read next week. I read fast, but I don’t speed read so a lot of my downtime is currently spent reading including a couple hours in the evening before bed with the occasional audiobook thrown in while I’m cooking or folding laundry.
The Madness & the Magic (audio) by Sheena Cundy — this is the first in her Witch Lit trilogy. It’s kind of like Jan Karon or Fay Weldon but with witches. Sheena was a guest on the show and sent me the Audible promo link for the box set. I love that Minerva is a woman dealing with menopause and a new romance with the local vicar (despite their religious differences). I haven’t had time to get to listen to the other two books but am looking forward to Minerva’s further schemes.
The Witch Wavelength by Sheena Cundy — this is Sheena’s most recent book and is a nonfiction exploration of her personal path on the ‘witch wavelength’ with several path workings with linked recorded audio for guided mediation. The book is very much like having a late night deep dive discussion with your bestie about witchcraft and beliefs and how we find our way to our path. She has a new podcast The Witch Wavelength that also features some of the music from her band The Morrigan’s Path.
The Magpie Training: Blackfeather Mystery School by Irene Glasse and Caine Dreamwalker — this is the first of a planned series of four books covering the year-long Blackfeather Mystery School trainings all named for our lovely inky-feathered corvid friends. This book also has linked audio for path workings and is a great read even for experienced practitioners as a good review of those basics — like protection and warding magic — that we sometimes let slide. Irene and Caine trade off on chapters depending on the subject matter but their voices weave together well and it never feels choppy. It’s out this summer and I am adding it to my list of recommendations for new practitioners.
Witch Life by Emma Kathryn — another book I read for an interview but thoroughly enjoyed. The book is structured so that you get an overview, ritual, spell, recipe, etc, for each of the eight Wheel of the Year holidays plus new and full moons. It’s another good beginner book that is a slice of, in this case Emma’s, personal practice. I think there must be something in the air in the UK with all these memoir-like witchy books. And I know there is often a cry of can we please have something besides witch 101 books. And yes, but also there’s a place for glimpses of these different personal practices as witchcraft evolves.
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover — this was my writers’ group read for April and not a book I would have picked up otherwise. It’s been the #1 contemporary romance seller for a bit and we read it as a “what is this author doing right book” as the vast majority of our group only write romance or erotica. Honestly I would classify this less as a romance and more women’s lit or New Adult. I was deeply frustrated with the plot and characterization and I think what Colleen Hoover is doing right is delivering to her fanbase which includes a lot of #booktok folks. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Yes, to fan service and commercial success for writers. I am not the target market for this book though. It does include intimate partner violence and two separate, brief descriptions of attempted rape so if that isn’t something you’re in the headspace for, I would skip it.
Elemental Psychology by Katrina Messenger — another book I read for the podcast and one I’m going to need to go back and reread. Messenger pulls together Jungian psychological typology with esoteric understanding of the four (five) elements. There is a lot to absorb and think about both as a human trying to understand one’s self, but also I found it fascinating as a writer as a way to think about character development.
Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown — this was the read for what I refer to as my serious bookclub. We read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower last month and brown draws heavily on Butler’s work in general to talk about an emergent approach to grass roots organizing and making a better world out of the mess we currently have. Like Messenger’s book, brown’s themes work on the micro as well as the macro level and this is another book I’ll need to dip back into and sit with to fully absorb.
Neon Gods by Katee Roberts — this was for my fun bookclub and is pretty much a steamy reimagining of Greek mythology acted out by humans on (a not quite) Earth. There are flashes of brilliant world building but also times when I was super frustrated at the plot holes or pasted up set pieces that didn’t quite work. I do wish I could turn my writer brain completely off sometimes and just enjoy some smutty romance without having to over analyze. Still, it was fun enough though I don’t think I’ll be reading through the series. There’s just too many other things I want (and have) to read.