Thursday, November 6, 2014

my year (so far) in books

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At the start of September, I stumbled across my list of goals for the year -- a list that my energetic January-self had written, and my less-motivated rest-of-the-year-self had never bothered to re-read. There were a few that had stuck in my memory -- either because I'd already finished them, or had given up on them (ahem, "run a 5k")-- but one that surprised me was "read twenty books."

I promptly listed the books I'd read this year so far -- a sad total of five. Three-quarters of the year gone; one-quarter of the goal met. And then, fueled by some strange determination to prove to January's version of me that I could do it, I spent the next two months buried in books. Now, twenty books have come and gone, and I can't stop -- it's a lovely habit that's come, and stayed.

I've put my list of books here, just in case you're looking for your next good read, with a star next to the ones that I particularly loved:

* The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
* Beachcoming at Miramar (Richard Bode)
* The Secret History (Donna Tartt)
* Housekeeping (Marilynne Robinson)
* My Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion)
* Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris)
* Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris)
   In the Woods (Tara French)
* The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
  When You Are Engulfed in Flames (David Sedaris)
  Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls (David Sedaris)
  St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves (Karen Russell)
  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)
* The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Euginedes)
  The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (Roddy Doyle)
* The History of Love (Nicole Krauss)
  The Girl Who Played With Fire (Stieg Larsson)
  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Stieg Larsson)
  Normal People Don't Live Like This (Dylan Landis)
* The Great Divorce (C. S. Lewis)
  The Gift of Stones (Jim Crace)
* Snow Falling on Cedars (David Guterson)

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A few weekends ago, to mark the end of the twentieth book -- as an excuse for a party, and a way to get some new reading material -- we had some friends round for a little book exchange.

We asked everyone to bring along a book that they had read and enjoyed, wrapped up with the first line of the book written on the outside. Then, much like the rules of the game "White Elephant" that we often play at Christmas parties, we all drew numbers from a bowl, and then, in turn, each had a chance to pick a book from the centre and unwrap it OR to steal a book previously chosen by someone else. (With the agreement that each book can only be stolen twice).

It was so much fun! There was an amazing variety of books -- literature, romantic memoir, spy novels, plays, and a two-volume statistical study (which my husband happily took home). Something for everyone.

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And, just because I couldn't stop laughing at these food-themed literary puns, we had much too much fun with the snacks -- serving up Poisonwood Trifle and Bananas Karenina, with Huckleberry Gin and Tonics and some Sense and Sensibili-tea. (Groan!)


Kaylan said...

Oh what an amazing idea for a party!!! Love your ambition. I can't wait to finish editing weddings so I can read and relax :)

Red Red Completely Red said...

Thanks, Kaylan. It was a great night -- and we'll definitely have more! Are you still working on "The Goldfinch"? I haven't managed to start it yet!

Jo Jo said...

How about this one? 'My grandfather, the knife fighter, killed two Germans before he was eighteen.' I love this book and I haven't lent it to anyone yet who didn't love it - David Benioff - City of Thieves. Off to investigate your list more :)

Red Red Completely Red said...

Ooh, I haven't heard of David Benioff, or that title! Thanks for the recommendation!

Jennifer said...

If you liked The Secret History and In the Woods, you will like The Secret Place (also by Tana French).

Long, long ago I kept a list of every single book that I read. I did that for about half a decade before I stopped. Wish I had kept going; there are hundreds of unaccounted for books that I've read since the end of the list.

Jennifer said...

And let me just throw in one more title, perhaps one of my favorites of ever: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving.