Last January, I resolved to read more and I joined LibraryThing in order to log what I read. What inspired this decision to fill my days with more literature–a need to expand my horizons? A really good article in NYT Review of Books? A desire to improve my own writing? Why no, it was Bonnie’s collage of the covers of books she read in 2007 (right now she’s kind of creepily mirroring me with a blog of fondue, books, and oral surgery….). It was so pretty and it looked like a solid accomplishment. Here, this is something I did. Not enough of that in Momland, I think. Anyway, I wanted me that there pretty picture at the end of the year. For a while, I’d select the prettiest cover available for a book I’d read (there are usually several, often in several languages), but in the end, I went back and switched them to the cover I’d been holding in my hand for the time it took to read the book. I included books I read to Ben and Julianna, but not to Lily. So, I included Freddy books, but not Junie B. Jones (and let me assure you , I LOVE Junie B. But it seemed all cheaterpants-y to put those on). Here is is, click to embiggen:
Lots of good, a bit of great, and a smattering of ass. Favorite of the year? Hmm…Probably The Gargoyle. It was new and exciting and enthralling and sad and funny. Loved it. I also loved Nation by my beloved Terry Pratchett. It’s a young adult book, which seems to have been my genre of the year. I do love YA fantasy when it’s well written. It’s more hopeful than the adult version. No matter how bad it gets for our protagonists, they’re still teens and there’s hope for redemption. I like that. I’ve just finished Sabriel by Garth Nix, another of the genre. It was recommended to me by LibraryThing, based on the other books I’d liked. Dead on. Loved it. I re-read Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, aloud, to Julianna this year. Those are just fantastic books, so smart and engaging. Another of my favorite YA books was The True Meaning of Smekday. It’s genuinely hilarious, but still really well plotted.
As for the grown-up reads, well, The Gargoyle, as mentioned above, but also Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. That one I recommend getting both the book and the audio. It’s crazy long and complicated and involved and I liked being able to keep at it whether I was driving or sitting at home. If you take it on, I warn you that somewhere in the wilds of the middle you will think “How on EARTH is she going to bring this all together? It’s got more threads and characters than ‘Lost.'” But fear not. She does bring it all together and it is literally breathtaking. I was utterly blown away by her craft in the end. But I was doubting her in the middle. Stick it out. Like everyone else that picked it up, I really loved Water for Elephants (which I keep trying to type as “LIKE Water for Elephants”). I’d read some review somewhere that mentioned Thomas Edison’s experiments with elephants and was afraid that I was going to have to deal with elephant death in the book. By the end I thought that if she killed that elephant I’d go to her house and kick her butt myself. But it was happy! A happy ending! yay! Replay was one recommended on some NPR “You Must Read This” segment. It’s about a guy that dies at 4osomething and comes back to consciousness as his college freshman self. He lives his life over, with his knowlege gained from the first go round, and then dies at the same time. Comes back a bit later, lives his life, dies, and so on, each life getting a little shorter b/c it starts a little later. He encounters a woman who is going through the same thing. It’s really an interesting read and helps to live that fantasy of “If I had it to do over, knowing what I do now…”
To avoid? Well, I hated Marley and Me more than I hate finding raisins in my cookies. It makes me rant, so I should just move on. Let’s just say two words: crate training, and leave it at that. Idiots. Also was not a fan of White Horses by Alice Hoffman. Magical Realism and incest are not a good combo. Like psychedelic mushrooms and prison. Or fine chocolate and a spiked clamp on your tongue. Bad. The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle managed to make sex boring. So yay to him and Mrs. Boyle. Edgar Sawtelle I found really, really overrated. I was bored by it and just am not impressed by the Hamlet connections. So what? He read Hamlet. Me too, but I don’t natter on about dogs for ages.
I’ve started listening to Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin books (starts with Master and Commander that one that was made into a movie with the sadly miscast Russel Crowe. Should have been Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Imaginary Nell has been badgering me to read them for eons. I tried M&C ages ago and just couldn’t slog through all the naval lingo. Too much “topsail mast” and “starboard guns” and my eyes glazed over. But to listen while I sew or clean? Perfect. I just zone out during the battles and come back when there’s dialog in English. The first one was, to be honest, not fab. But I really enjoyed Post Captain, the second. And the library informs me that the third book awaits me at the front desk.
I could go on. I have wee reviews on LibraryThing if you are interested. And I”m tagging my books “2009” now so that I can have a new collage next January. And that’s what matters.