While this blog ranges over an outdated map of my mind, one of the two common elements that hold it together is books. I don’t have many bibliophile followers, but for any who happen upon my pages, welcome. Each year at this time I look back over the year in books. I started doing this when I joined Goodreads. I don’t put every single book in Goodreads, but it’s a fair register of what I’ve been up to. This year I set a reduced goal of 65 books (I knew I’d be moving and commuting less, and I do most of my reading on the bus). Happily I ended the year with 83 officially read, but then the first five months of the year were still spent in daily commutes.
Three years ago my wife discovered the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge. I can’t say just how much I look forward to the new year just to begin reading the books I select to meet that challenge. The reason I do this is to force myself into reading things I might not feel like reading, or often, books I’ve been putting off for some reason or another. It only amounts to a dozen books and if I can’t get through twelve in a year, something’s terribly wrong. Margaret Atwood once said something like “Show me a person who’s read a thousand books and I’ll show you an interesting person.” I didn’t really need that quote to set a goal, and I don’t think of it as bragging for readers to share their experience with books. I started getting into books in middle school, and although I didn’t keep track in those days I likely read a thousand books before I graduated from high school. Branches begin to bend to the light early on.
So, were there memorable books this year? My reading, due to contractual obligations (I brought them on myself), has tended to be dark. There were, nevertheless, spots of light. Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and Paul Bogard’s The Ground Beneath Us were early favorites. I managed to stop my ears enough to miss spoilers from Jeff Vandermeer’s wonderful Annihilation. Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World was artfully done, and Gregory Alan Thornbury’s Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? was a saunter down memory lane. Selections from my reading challenge fiction that I really enjoyed were Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl, and Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves. And Lee Irby’s Unreliable. And and Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind. The last inspired non-fiction title I read was Susan Fair’s American Witches. I always appreciate suggestions, just sayin’. Reading is the balm in my personal Gilead, and I look forward to a 2019 full of books, even if I can’t keep the pace of years past.