I’m going to blame Josephine Nuese for my latest reading goal/obsession.
In her book, The Country Garden (1970), Josephine takes the reader through her garden starting in January and continuing month by month to December.
Which reminded me that the author of another book I’m currently reading, Seed to Dust by Marc Hamer, also starts with January in a garden.
See where this is going?
The next thing I know, I’m going through my library rounding up all the books that appear to start with January and end with December. Then I found a few more books that start in another month, like September, but end a year later, and decided to include them on my list.
Then I was on the internet looking for other books that follow this same pattern so I could buy them and start reading them this month and read them all year, one month at a time.
As one might imagine, things were starting to get a bit out of control as I began to pull books of my shelves and continued diving deeper into this rabbit hole looking for books that fit my criteria.
So I paused, got my wits about me, and came up with some rules, some guidelines “because-who-wants-rules”, to shorten my growing stack of books.
I decided to eliminate books of letters between two gardeners, even if they started in January and went for a year. I actually had two such books on the stack but decided to set those aside for now. I’ll save letters for another reading project.
I also eliminated diaries that went on for more than a year.
Then I eliminated a couple of books because though they had “A Year of” in the title, they didn’t have a clear distinction in the chapter headings for each month.
Here’s the list I’ve come up with so far.
|This Hill, This Valley by Hal Borland (1957) – I read this book last year, but it’s quite good and worth a re-read.|
|A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (1948) – I listened to this book in the fall of 2021, but this time I’ll read it.|
|Diary of a Modern Country Gardener by Tamsin Westhorpe (2020) – I’ve had this book in my library for a while and though the author doesn’t start with January, I can skip to January and then come back to the beginning.|
|The Country Garden by Josephine Nuese (1970) – This is the book that got me thinking I should find a bunch of January to December books. Of course it’s included!|
|A Year Unfolding: A Printmaker’s View by Angela Harding (2022) – This is the only book from this list on my Kindle. I almost set it aside (electronically) because the months aren’t specifically noted, but I can figure out which season she’s in.|
|A Year in the Maine Woods by Bernd Heinrich (1995) – I think this one will work. I ordered a “good used copy,” as they say, for not too much. We shall see when it arrives.|
|A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (1989) – I also ordered a good used copy of this one and am waiting for it to show up.|
|Seed to Dust: Life, Nature & a Country Garden by Marc Hamer (2021) – So far this is a lovely book. I think I was up to March when I decided to do this little reading project. I’ll pause and let the months catch up to wherever I was.|
|Seasons of Wonder by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse (2022) – This is not a gardening book or nature study, but otherwise fits the “rules” I decided on, so it’s on the list. I’ve ordered it.|
|Mrs. Greenthumbs by Cassandra Danz (1993) – I pulled this one off my shelf and was delighted to see it is month by month because I haven’t read it in quite some time. It will be fun to re-read. (Yes, I realize I could have re-read it at anytime, but now it’s part of a fun reading project!)|
|Birds, Art, Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear (2017) – I found this one via some online searching because I wanted to include a book about birding. I like to be well-rounded that way. I’m waiting for a good used copy to arrive.|
|The Nature of Oaks by Douglas Tallamy (2021) – I read this one last year and remembered it started in September but I can start with January and read from that point.|
That’s twelve books. I should really stop there.
My plan is to read all the January chapters in January, February chapters in February, etc. You get the idea!
I’m still open to suggestions for other books written this way, with chapter headings that are the months of the year, ideally. So if you know of any other such books that would be worth reading, leave a comment or send me an email. (But be quick about it. We are at the half-way point of January as I write this. I’ll need time to find a copy of your most excellent suggestion, whatever it is.)
At some point in my book search, I decided it might be interesting to add a book of fiction to the list, one that starts the story in January and ends it in December. Try finding that in an online search! I’ve done several searches, which usually came up with lists of books published in January, lists of best books of the year. In other words, nothing even close to what I’m looking for, but I’m still searching.
Earlier today, I went to my local Barnes & Noble bookstore and was looking at books in general when someone asked if I needed help finding anything.
“Yes, do you know of any fiction books where the story starts in January and ends in December?”
She answered, “Oh, you mean a planner?” As though I didn’t know the word for a planner.
No, I mean a fiction book where the story starts in January and ends in December. Does such a book exist? She had no idea.
(Let me know if you know of one!)
Even without a work of fiction, I think I’ve got a pretty good list of books for my little month-by-month reading project. I’ve even gone so far as to make a spreadsheet listing all the books and the months of the year so I can keep track of my reading.
And then I made a little graphic to go with my project because that was just a fun thing to do.
If you want to read along with me month by month, pick out a couple or all of my suggestions, and do it! And let me know if you do.
Regardless of whether or not anyone follows me down this rabbit hole of January through December books (is there an official term to describe them?), I promise (threaten) periodic updates!