She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain. (1873)
~ Louisa May Alcott ~
Last year it was a popular Nerdfighter New Year's resolution to plan on reading 50 books in the next 12 months. I resisted the urge to play along. I could just see myself getting all stuck on the rules. (What counts as a book? Fiction and non fiction? Just fiction? What about a collection of short stories? What about a graphic novel? What about a big pithy cookbook full of anecdotes and technique chapters? What if I read half a book, does it count as anything?!) Yeah, I get like that. I could also see myself, as of about October, starting to choose my reading material based on length. (yeah, yeah I'll read "The Giver" twice and then "Catcher in the Rye" *snicker* that'll boost my count!) So I just did my usual reading, vacillating between periods of voracious fiction consumption and several weeks of "reader's block" and back again. Picking from my ever-growing "to read" list willy nilly to suit my mood, in other words, sheer enjoyment reading with no agenda.
Overall I had a great reading year. I did read 41 books that I remembered to write down, and several more besides (not including graphic novels and the majority of the non fiction that I read). I found new books to fall head over heels for, shared some of my all time favourites with my sons, learned a bunch of new stuff (about art, autism, parenting, cooking) and found great pleasure, comfort and inspiration in the written word.
Reading Round Up 2009 (feel free to turn this into a meme if you want to play along):
Favourite books of 2009:
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I didn't read anything I didn't like. I did have two books I only made it halfway through:
-Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, which is brilliant, but I needed something with more of a steady narrative at the time. I plan on finishing it soon.
-Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis I have wanted to read it for years. It was light and amusing, and everything you would expect it to be, but no more than that, and I lost interest after awhile.
Most useful non fiction:
Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (she is one of my heroes, and has helped me understand so much about Autism and the great possibilities that exist with the challenges)
Longest and shortest books:
Probably Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling respectively.
I was purposely lighter on rereads than usual this year, but a year without Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter ( read 5&6 to my sons) isn't much of a year at all!
I also read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, once to myself and once to my sons.
Favourite character of the year:
It's gotta be a tie between Owen Meany and Ignatius J. Reilly. Both completely blew my mind.
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree.
One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
This analogy resonated deeply, becoming part of my internal imagery about my own life.
Books read aloud:
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Harry Potter 5&6 by JK Rowling
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (part of the wonderful Bartimaeus Trilogy)
Most fun reading moments:
-sketching battle maps as we went along to keep E&L abreast of the action in LotR
-seeing my sons get caught up in the books that we read together in their play and art
-sharing the trashy, trashy fun of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris with my sister (team Eric!)
-laughing my way through Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons again (wait, that's another reread...busted! I am a chronic rereader. Combine great fondness for certain books with an exceptionally poor short term memory, maybe with a little aspie perseveration in there too and you have someone who loves rereading!)
-Elliot with shining eyes asking if we could start LotR over again from the beginning after we'd just finished the last word
What made you cry:
-Dumbledore & Dobby (I practically blubber all the way through the last book)
-all the beautiful parts of hope and struggle that choke me up every single time I read LotR
First book you will read in 2010:
I think I am up for a reread of Slaughterhouse 5...my soul needs a little Billy Pilgrim right now.
(is there a rereader's anonymous out there somewhere? Hello, my name is Evangeline and I am a rereader...)
Here's to another year of reading!
(art courtesy of Hey Oscar Wilde It's Clobberin' Time by Leigh Gallagher)