Love Your Library, March 2023

Hosted, as always, by Rebecca of Bookish Beck, posting on the last Monday of each month. I’ve been trying to plow through some TBR titles this month, so there haven’t been that many library books, but here’s what I have checked out!


Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi (2020): I borrowed this as an ebook as backup for our return flight from San Francisco, but ended up reading it in the days after our return. In short: wonderful. I already knew how much love this story of Ghanaian-American addiction researcher Gifty, her dead brother Nana, and their clinically depressed mother had received, but it was a whole other thing to read it for myself. Gyasi’s first novel, Homegoing, was impressive but in retrospect felt a bit worthy; Transcendent Kingdom, by contrast, is full of strange corners, moments where the love of God, the love of family, and the love of science mix and meld and crash into each other. Gifty feels like a real person: driven, defensive, and trying her best. This ought to have won at least one prize the year it came out. (It was up against Hamnet and Shuggie Bain for the two big ones. I think it’s more interesting than, and just as technically accomplished as, the former; haven’t read the latter.)

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013): Read for The Great Reread project, and also as a buddy read with my mum, whose book club is discussing it this month. A fantastic revisit to a book I remembered loving but whose details had faded with time; reading it in 2023 feels like hopping into a time machine, in a really moving and effective way. I wrote a lot more about it here.

The Case of the Gilded Fly, by Edmund Crispin (1944): A Golden Age-ish murder mystery which I read after an initial foray into Crispin’s work with The Moving Toyshop. TMT was interesting enough but left me frustrated by its pervasive attitude of condescension towards women, and I wanted to see if this was a hallmark of Crispin’s writing more broadly. In short: unfortunately, yes. (Actually, TCotGF is worse in some ways, demonstrating not just condescension but outright misogyny in its treatment of a murder victim whose universal obnoxiousness seems to be based on her identity as a sexually aggressive, socially catty woman.) Although both mysteries were tantalising puzzles, I don’t think I shall be returning to Crispin in future.

She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan (2021): Absolutely loved this, a queer retelling of the rise of Zhu Yuanzhang, first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. What a way to get the taste of Edmund Crispin’s gender politics out of my brain. In Parker-Chan’s version, Zhu is a girl who takes her brother’s identity when her family dies in a famine, and rises from novice monk to commander of the Red Turbans, an army of indigenous Chinese who challenged the ruling (and invading) Mongols. Very well written, with a lot to say about power, fate, the value of the unexpected. A sequel is releasing this year and I will definitely be reading it. I wrote more about it here.


The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wengrow (2021): This was an alternate history of, well, everything, that I was very keen to read until I came across some criticism of Graeber’s methodologies that accused him of cherry-picking and misrepresentation. That shook my confidence somewhat, and then the introductory chapter didn’t grab me enough to make me want to keep reading all 700 pages of the thing (especially as this was an ebook, a format I read almost exclusively on my phone).


In Ascension, by Martin MacInnes (2023): It’s possible this is my first 2023-published read of the year! How times have changed. Anyway, loving it, hopefully more when I’ve finished.


10 thoughts on “Love Your Library, March 2023

  1. Transcendent Kingdom was ROBBED of the WP. (It was shortlisted the year Piranesi won; I was not a Piranesi fan, but even if I had been…) I’ve been considering rereading Homegoing.

    1. Oh, my bad, I got the wrong year! I really really liked Piranesi, and am happy it won, but TK is also wonderful and should have had more recognition.

  2. Thank you, as always, for your participation! I’ll add your link in now. (Is there a more intuitive way of linking in, do you think? I’ve never gotten e.g. Mister Linky to work). Gyasi is fantastic and should have won all the prizes by now. That’s crazy that you’ve only read one 2023 book so far!

    1. I’ve never used Mr Linky but people seem to have success with it–you could ask, eg, Kaggsy or Cathy of 746 Books how they host their reading events?

      I KNOW, what a weird turn of events! (It is turning out to be fantastic, though. Worth waiting for.)

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