S., Skylar and I returned early last evening from Michigan. I had a wonderful, relaxing time with my parents and was also fortunate to see many friends throughout my time there. I am, of course, keening for some sort of routine at this point, since it is so easy to sink into the retired lives of my parents, where getting oneself to the gym and perhaps accomplishing one other task before cocktail hour is considered a full day, but with S. already on a plane headed south and myself following suit on Wednesday (separate trips for work for both of us) I am instead embracing the ad hoc nature of this December. It seems like a good day for the annual 2009 Reading Round Up. I am much happier with my reading this year than I was last year – I’ve discovered so many new authors, read so many good books! I’m coming to terms with the fact that as long as I work a full-time job and write I probably won’t read as much as I would like to, and I am much more comfortable with that than I was this time last year. Since I’ve done this reading roundup for two years now, I enjoy turning to the categories I created in previous years to see if any of the books I’ve read in 2009 fit into them, before creating new categories for this year. So, firstly – categories from this time, 2 years ago, that apply:
1. Book I lent to the most people: The Given Day, Dennis LeHane. Such a great historical novel! It takes a little getting used to if you are expecting just another Pat and Angie mystery but once you fall into this book it takes a long time to disentagle yourself from the power of the writing.
2. Scariest book: True Evil, Gregory Isles. Not a particularly good book, but for out and out scary it fits the bill – fortunately for me I read the majority of it while sitting by the pool at my hotel in Orlando while on a business trip.
3. Best book I read recommended by a fellow blogger: Stranger on a Train, Jenny Diski – thank you, Dorothy!
4. Most intriguing book: The Early Journals of Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
5. Hands-down, by far, my absolute favorite book of the year: What I Loved, Suri Hustvedt (I actually reviewed this book, I loved it so much! Well, you all know how I feel about this book…)
6. Book that I didn’t enjoy in the beginning, but totally won me over by the end: The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. Okay, okay – y’all were right. I just had to be patient. Definitely worth working past my irritation with the initial one hundred pages.
Wow, six catagories from 2007 still apply today…that’s actually more than I thought would hold up when I started. Now, for categories from 2008:
7. Annual author I try because my dad recommends him, but this year (unlike previous years) I actually agreed with my father’s recommendation: Don Winslow
Okay, um, rather embarrassing to admit only only one category from last year applies…onto this year!
8. The ONLY book my dog ate for reasons unbeknownst to me that, while I was enjoying it while I was reading it, I was much too lazy to replace and finish: The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh.
9. The book that WOULD have been my favorite of the year if Hustvedt hadn’t shown up so late to the game and trumped it: Winter’s Tale, Mike Helprin. Oh my goodness, if you haven’t read this I HIGHLY recommend it for a January read, or even this month, if you are searching for something. It’s an absolutely beautiful book with some of the most amazing characters I’ve come across and spectacular settings.
10. Author everyone else has been reading for years and years that I only recently began enjoying: Annie Proulx.
11. Biggest name-dropping and possibly most sexist book of the year: Losing Mum and Pup, Christopher Buckley. Did. Not. Like.
12. Book that helped the most in clarifying my own goals for my novel: Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore. You won’t find me raving about this book like a lot of bloggers out there since it raised for me some serious questions – to begin with I had trouble believing in the narrator’s absolute isolation – but I agree it is an absolutely beautifully constructed book and if one wants to know how to write, well, read this book. Much of it is perfect.
I read a lot of good books this year, and fewer than half of them are named here, but these are the titles and authors that stood out to me in one way or another most significantly. When I was reviewing my 2008 categories I noticed I made a below-the-radar mention that I hoped to increase my reading to 25 books in 2009 – I read 26. Since such an understate goal worked well for last year, I’ll note here that I hope to read at least 30 books in 2010. All signs point to the distinct possibility of this happening…thanks to the blogging world I have an endless “to be read” list and more authors I’ve wanted to try than ever before! Happy reading, everyone!