December means blogkeeping – Today, a 2008 book review

It’s December 1st! Happy 31st Birthday, A!

It’s the first day of the last month of the calendar year, and I am sitting at my desk, drinking a cup of coffee, surrounded by half-packed boxes and wondering what kind of crazy person moves into a new home during the holiday season. Then I gently remind myself the current owners of our new home simply wanted one last Thanksgiving in the house they’ve owned since the Eisenhower administration and we were kind and understanding to agree to it and possibly we wouldn’t have gotten the house had we disagreed anyway.

I have a small holiday weekend hangover. There has been pumpkin layer cake in the house every day until today. Last night S. threw away the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. The only thing left is the fixins’ for one last pomegranate martini. It is good to return to routine, to begin having oatmeal for breakfast instead of ungodly amounts of cake with cream cheese frosting, to return to bottled water with dinner in lieu of wine, to eat something that doesn’t resemble fowl. But this morning I feel like a little kid. I just want one more day, to sleep in, to watch movies, to eat cake!

But there is an awful lot to get to this month, isn’t there? And one thing I know for sure, the blogosphere explodes with end of the year tasks, and I already owe a dozen memes and awards and similar items, plus I want to review my resolutions from last year and plan those for 2009, so there is quite a bit of work to be done. Music Lyric Monday and Fess Up Friday will return in January, 2009. For the rest of this month I am going to concentrate on wrapping up 2008.

Since I am currently reading Dennis LeHane’s The Given Day, and given its length and how busy my December looks, and I imagine I will be reading it through much of the month, today seems like a great day to review the books I’ve read in 2008. LeHane’s writing in The Given Day, by the way, is stellar. First, let’s turn to categories from this time last year used in 2007’s book review and see which are pertinent:

1.”Literary fiction” I read because I felt I should, but was pretty sure I’d hate, that I ended up adoring: Um, whoa. I’ve already eliminated two categories from last year that don’t fit my reading list this year, but I am either totally mortified or incredibly proud that I didn’t read anything because I felt I should in 2008. Not sure which way I am leaning, yet…

2. Book I lent to the most people:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver. I am actually still waiting to get this book back…

3. Scariest book:

Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill

4. Best book I read recommended by a fellow blogger: The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly (Thanks, Emily!)

5. The one book both S. and I read:

The Thunderbolt Kid (or maybe it’s called The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid…it’s in the bedroom and S. is still sleeping…), Bill Bryson.

6. Most intriguing book: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon

7. Hands-down, by far, my absolute favorite book of the year:

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

So seven of the fourteen categories from last year hold up again this year. Here are some new categories for 2008. This year I only read 21 books…more than the average American, yes, and for me reading isn’t really a competition, but my goal for next year is to reach 25 books at the end of the year, or basically two per month.

8. Most Educational Book of the Year: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

9. NIcest Book of the Year (ie, the kind of book you can give your mother, your grandmother, your daughter that encompasses solid writing and a good understanding of plot and character without anything offensive included anywhere in the text): The Memory of Running, Ron McLarty

10. Book I bought because I thought it was by Richard Price but it turns out I got Richard Price and Reynolds Price confused but that’s okay because I have been a big fan of Reynold’s Price for a long time, so really I thought HE was the Price who wrote Lush Life that received so much attention, but it wasn’t: Noble Norfleet

11. Annual author I try because my dad recommends him, but this year (unlike previous years) I actually agreed with my father’s recommendation: Jeffrey Lent

So, there you have it – my end of year reading wrap up! I look forward to reading yours over the next month, and here is to a successful year in reading for 2009!

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8 Responses to December means blogkeeping – Today, a 2008 book review

  1. Oh, I love a good booklist. I know I’ll look through that and see if I can put together a collection for myself during the winter months. I already recognise a few names I know and like, especially Bill Bryson.
    It always feels impossible to get organised in a new home but it happens eventually. The first few days and weeks feel like such a mess but it’s always worth it.
    Can hardly believe it’s December already…

  2. Pete says:

    Great idea, Courtney. Will do a reading wrap-up soon. I liked reading yours and am interested in half of those mentioned but know that my reading card is pretty much full-up for now. And good luck with all the unpacking. New house very exciting! Hope the tooth is feeling better.

  3. Litlove says:

    Good luck with the moving! You’ll be in by Christmas by the sounds of it, and that will be lovely. Great list – I do adore eveyone’s wrap-up reading posts and their 2008 recommendations. I really want to read something by Kingsolver in 2009!

  4. Dorothy W. says:

    Best of luck with the moving — I hope it goes well and as painlessly as possible. I’ll be posting my end-of-year lists at some point in the next month, too — it’s such fun to read people’s lists and write my own!

  5. Courtney says:

    Elementary – I can’t recommend the Bryson book highly enough, it is truly wonderful. It ALMOST was my favorite book of the year.
    Pete – most people do a much better job than I do with their wrap ups – I am not much of a book blogger I fear, but I do try and do this each year!
    Litlove – oh, read The Bean Trees! And Pigs in Heaven. I don’t think you’ll regret either of those.
    Dor – thank you! As for painless, it looks like it is going to be COLD COLD COLD next week..but I do hope it goes smoothly otherwise.

  6. Emily Barton says:

    So glad you liked The Book of Lost Things. I’m still giddy over it. Oh, and the YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING? Just flat our genius (then again, what else should we expect from Joan Didion?). Good luck with the move! (I moved in December three times when I was single, because, yes, I AM that crazy!)

  7. Pingback: December means blogkeeping - Today, a 2008 book review | Martini Pomegranate

  8. nova says:

    I’ve been wanting to read The Year of Magical Thinking… this seals it.

    Hope you have a good move!

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