What’s On My Bookshelf – March

It seems weird to be writing about what I read in March towards the end of April, but it is what it is.

To be honest, March was the most dismal month reading-wise that I can remember in a long long time. For a start, it wasn’t a prolific reading month. My day job has been more manic than usual and after logging off work I’ve felt as though my brain can’t absorb anything more and have lolled in front of the TV for a couple of hours rather than heading to my reading chair. I could, of course, go for a walk, but, well, the dodgy ankle. Now that it’s beginning to cool a tad I’m hoping it won’t be quite so swollen by the end of each day. Anyways, the lolling about watching telly is not a coping mechanism going forward, but there you have it.

So, not only was I reading less, but during March I also had not one but two DNCs (did not complete). I won’t tell you what they were as they were books that I really thought I’d enjoy and that I know other people (whose opinions I respect) had enjoyed, and I don’t want to take the gloss off someone else’s enjoyment by expressing an opinion that I suspect is more “it’s me, not you” in nature. Besides, as my mother says, ‘If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all…(or talk about the weather).’

As a result I only completed one fiction book in March – Death on the Limpopo by Sally Andrew.

This is the third in the Tannie Maria (Recipes For Love and Murder) series set in The Karoo in South Africa, and, I think, the strongest mystery so far. It was, of course, filled with food (as have been the others) and we all know I love a culinary cosy. This, though, had a darker undertone than your ordinary culinary cosy and brought in elements of South Africa’s political history that I found interesting. A great read.

There’s a fourth Tannie Maria – The Milk Tart Murders, but I can’t get it on Amazon, iBooks, or Australian online bookstores. It might have been on Book Depository – my go-to online bookstore – but they’ve just announced that they’re closing up this month. I loved Book Depository as not only were their cookbooks often cheaper than they are in Australia (especially UK-published books) but I was able to get books from them (again mostly UK-published books) that weren’t available in Aus. Heigh ho.

Non- Fiction

One Italian Summer, by Pip Williams

Pip and Shannon dreamed of living the good life. They wanted to slow down, grow their own food, and spend more time with the people they love. But jobs and responsibilities got in the way: their chooks died, their fruit rotted, and Pip ended up depressed and in therapy. So they did the only reasonable thing – they quit their jobs, pulled the children out of school and went searching for la dolce vita in Italy.

Pip and Shannon’s idea of dolce vita is, I suspect, different from most. Volunteering as WWOOFers – willing workers on organic or sustainable farms in exchange for food and lodging – Pip and her family found themselves living on the farms of strangers.

I wanted to love this, I really did, after all, I adored The Dictionary of Lost Words, but I struggled a tad. Okay but not what I hoped it would be.

A Pocketful of Happiness by Richard E Grant

This, however, I loved. I listened to the Audible version and I think I enjoyed it more because I could hear his voice.

Richard E. Grant emigrated from Swaziland to London in 1982, with dreams of making it as an actor, when he unexpectedly met and fell in love with renowned dialect coach Joan Washington. Their relationship and marriage, navigating the highs and lows of Hollywood, parenthood and loss, lasted almost forty years. When Joan died in 2021, her final challenge to him was to find ‘a pocketful of happiness in every day’.

This book is based on Richard’s diaries (he’s faithfully kept a diary since childhood) and in it he shares in raw detail everything from Joan’s diagnosis to her treatment and eventual death. Interspersed in this is their meeting, their life together, the roles that changed his life and his fascination with Barbra Streisand.

This could have been depressingly morbid, but it’s not. It’s a love story and it’s joyful and heart-wrenching and really quite beautiful. I particularly loved the entries where he says things like “Sunday – Nigella sent soup and bread”.

There were times I found myself driving along with tears rolling down my face and others where I was laughing out loud. I suspect this will be one of those books that stays with me for quite some time.


Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen

I had to read this one for the cookbook club I’m in – the review will be posted on BKD during April. While it’s not a book I would have chosen, I’m glad I read it.

Baking Wisdom, by Anna Olsen

I got this one from Net Galley for review purposes… and you’ll find that review here. Spoiler alert – it’s perfectly titled.

Notes From A Small Kitchen Island, by Debora Robertson

I really need to get around to writing a review on this one – which means, of course, that I need to cook from it. More than a cookbook it’s a collection of essays/articles with recipes to illustrate the words and I adored it. A very close second for my cookbook of the month.

Home Cooked by Kate Humble

This was my favourite cookbook of the month you’ll find my review on BKD. Kate Humble is who I want to be when I grow up and this book – which I’ve read for the words as much as the food – is full of ingredients, ideas, fabulous photography, and a life that I’d love to live with the food I’d cook if I lived it. I posted Kate’s easy-peasy recipe for beer bread on BKD.

Your turn…

DebDonnaSue, and I would love you to share what you’ve been reading…the linky is below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

42 thoughts

  1. Hi Jo, a great line up despite you feeling that you didn’t get much reading done during the month. I was sceptical of Moosewood but found I made quite a few recipes from the book. I also think that Richard E Grant has had an interesting life. I heard him interviewed on the Converation Hour on the ABC radio which I enjoyed. I hope life slows down on the work front and your ankle improves. Take care, happy reading and thanks for being a stunner of a co-host xx

  2. An honest appraisal of your month’s reading Jo, which is why your posts resonate so much. You are insightful and kind (not mentioning what books you didn’t finish) and I appreciate that. Hopefully this next month is better for you in regards to your ankle, day job and reading. Take care and thanks for the books you mentioned, Richard Grant’s book really interests me as I’ve heard him speak and he tells it like it is.

  3. There is something more tantalising reading a recipe from a cookbook than Ms Google. I am impressed with your month of reading even though you mentioned you didn’t read as much.

  4. I also started a book this month that was recommended here on the #whatsonyourbookshelfblogchallenge and did not finish it. Just not my cup of tea but like you perhaps it is just me. I also know that certain genre’s don’t work in my dream department! I do love cook books though and use my Anna Olson one all the time. I thought I had signed up for BKD but haven’t seen any posts. Like you I adore cookbooks. Bernie

    1. I wonder why you’re not seeing the BKD posts? Glad to hear you’re another cookbook fan – they really are about so much more than just a bunch of recipes.

      1. I am not a fan of cooking from my phone. I like to write on recipes; changes I made and how we liked it. I usually add the date and who or where I made it for. Bernie

  5. Non fiction is great when you’re not really into reading, you can dip in and out without losing the gist. I only reviewed 2 fiction books this month. I love Richard E Grant and I may get the audio book for my holiday. I love the fact it’s him narrating. Kate Humble always comes across as so outdoorsy, cheerful and natural. I’d love to read her book.

    1. Kate Humble is another who is a brilliant narrator. Sometimes I think it’s their voices that add to the enjoyment of the book.

  6. Great name, Kate Humble. I wonder if she has ever thought of titling a book ‘Humble Pie?’ Seriously though, I am still in a reading funk and could use a good jolt, or just a really good recommendation. I’ll look over some of the suggestions from this month’s entries and see if anything strikes my fancy.

  7. I might check out the Richard E Grant one – I often mix up him and Alan Cummings for some reason. And I also mix up their books. So weird.

  8. The Richard E Grant one sounds good. I have read ‘Notes from a small kitchen island’ but not made anything from it yet. I thought it more a good read than one I will cook from – will be interested to hear what you think.

    1. It was an excellent read… I’ve marked a few things to make but haven’t actually made them yet.

  9. Aw Jo – so sorry you haven’t had a good reading month. Reading in my opinion is one of the greatest pleasures in life (second to food!) Your South African cozy mystery sounds interesting. I would also be drawn to the Pip Williams one. Maybe I will look out for it in the library in case I don’t warm to.

    1. I borrowed my copy of the Pip Williams from the library – it was just sitting there beckoning to me…

      1. My husband has been complaining about my ever increasing pile of ‘to be read’ books by the side of the bed. I said it keeps growing because I see books at the library and have to take them out while I see them otherwise I might not remember/find them again!

  10. I shared mine but it looks like I’ve done something wrong? It doesn’t seem to been seen by the “reading bloggers”. I removed the pingback that now I see that nobody has done, maybe that is the issue? Can you let me know what I did wrong please so that I can continue to participate? Many thanks!

    1. Hi Toby, not sure what you’ve done… I’ll link you up and then drop back to check out your post too…

    2. I tell you what you’ve done wrong – nothing! I haven’t put the link in my post… my bad. Thanks for linking up and we’ll see you next month…hopefully…

      1. That’s good to know. I just thought it odd that none of the hosts saw my post so I felt I must have done something wrong. I figured out the linky thing today and added it there. I’m not terribly encouraged actually so might not participate going forward. It could just be bad timing too. 🤷‍♀️ But thanks for looking and commenting. I appreciate it.

      2. I tend to go in on Sunday mornings and comment on everything – and pick up any later links on Monday evening. The other hosts tend to comment towards the end of the weekend too… life and all that…

      3. Thanks Jo. I think I got it now. It looks like my post is noticed after I link to the linky thing. I thought tags would do it but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve got a few more to check out myself. Thanks for your help 👍

  11. That’s a lot of baking books! But I loved your description of Richard E Grant’s book impacted you. Nothing beats a book that can make you laugh and cry.

  12. I feel for you re: the day job. Mine’s been kicking my butt for months, leaving me exhausted and lolling in front of the TV or scrolling my phone mindlessly. Here’s hoping we both get a break and more time and energy to read.

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