Right across the street at the library I’ve discovered a new source of ready-to-read reading selections: the books on the Librarians’ Choice shelf. Librarians and readers have a built in basis for friendship, and what do readers do? They share book suggestions. The shelf is another way of doing this.
Here are the most memorable books that I read in 2018: six nonfiction, seven fiction, listed in alphabetical order by author.
Choosing is not hard. During the year I highlight any book that I think might make the list, and when I gather them together, there they are.
I didn’t reach my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 78 (my age), coming up short by 5. Last year’s goal was 100 and I was 10 over. Why the difference? Maybe I spent more time listening to the news and watching the Red Sox.
My 79th birthday was two days ago, so I’m picking 80 books to accompany me this year.. I’m not obsessed with reaching the goal, although unlike my age, I do have some control over it.
• Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem, Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court
• Irving, Debby, Waking Up White: Finding Myself in the Story of Race
• Jeffs, Rachel, Breaking Free
• Orlean, Susan, The Library Book
• Smart, Elizabeth, Where There’s Hope
• Stevenson, Bryan, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
• Backman, Fredrik, Us Against You
• Carroll, James, The Cloister
• Honeyman, Gail, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
• Olsson, Linda, A Sister in My House
• Picoult, Jodi, Small Great Things
• Shakfak, Elif, Three Daughters of Eve
• Beha, Christopher R., What Happened to Sophie Wilder
Oh, the lazy days of summer. A slow pace for this blog. Here’s a little catch up.
Most important is Wheaties. Thank you thank you to the several friends who have bought me a box or two. For now, the shelves have been replenished, although with the old design. I have not idea what to expect when these are consumed. And, how long will that take? Which gets me wondering how long those little wheat flakes sit in a box—months? Years?
Last week my husband and I spent two night in Vermont, and this weekend we return for a family reunion. Thankfully the three and a half hour drive is primarily along winding roads through idyllic New England towns.
Some friends just sent me long lists of books they are reading, so tonight, as I listen to the Red Sox beat the Yankees for the fourth time in a row, I will go on line and see what books I can get from inter-library loan.
Life is good and for that, I am very grateful.
I’ve had a few days of relative solitude since the active July 4th week. For me, I don’t crave solitude because I need to get away from it all, although that is sometimes an added benefit. I need solitude because it restores me so I can get back into it all. Too much of a good thing, be it time alone or time in community, and it becomes not a good thing.
What I’ve just written sound simplistic, you might say, and I might agree. Nevertheless, I seem to need to clarify that for myself, and so I do, here in public. Sometime I can’t tell the difference between my simple thoughts and ones that might be profound.
Back to my reading, both simple and profound.
June was a productive reading month; thirteen books, bringing the count to 43 for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’m over half way to my goal of 78, may age.
July so far as been a little slow, but now that the 4th is behind us, I can pick up. We had about forty people watching the parade and enjoying a cookout. Folks brought delicious salads and dessert, my son-in-law was a masterful grill chef, my daughter did whatever was needed, and my husband was head gardener, but there’s still a great deal of work preparing and cleaning up.
And now for a reading day, and once again the power of reading washes over me as I sit outside with my books. Contentment, release of fear, trust in human beings, affirming that life is purposeful, and letting go of judgments, are some of the feelings that settle deep within me. I am aware I am privileged with the gift of time to read; with that goes challenge to offer something back to the universe. Reading time is not something to hoard.
A quiet day for me here, a day that is turning out to be a “My Day,” at least until we meet friends for dinner. I want everyone, those of us who like silence, solitude and simplicity, and those who always like to be with others, to have a day like this once in a while. On a ‘My Day” there are no outside obligations or commitments. I figure out what to do as the day enfolds.
Per usual, I’m staying home, satisfying my typical pleasures of reading, writing, meditating, walking, and, I must confess, keep an eye on the news. To my surprise, I realize I have just spent a couple of hours reading “Bernini: His Life and His Rome,” by Franco Mormando, purusing “Bernini and the Art of Architecture,” by T.A. Marder, and planning the four days I’ll be in Rome in April, which seems to be shaping into a Bernini visit.
her On this New Year’s Eve afternoon, as I watch the New England Patriots win again, I’m organizing my 2017 Goodreads Challenge and deciding what it should be for 2018. I challenged myself to read 52 books, but as of this minute, I’ve read 102. Wow.
I read for compassion and to keep from getting too involved in the daily drama of politics. I don’t read to compete with anyone, and certainly not with myself. Putting my list on Goodreads is a great way to keep track of what I’ve read.
Last January 1st I never imagined that I would read 100 books. Thinking I could to so again might encourage me to slip into a competitive mood, rather than read for compassion. 52 books still feels like a calming number, calming and attainable. I read for the love of reading. Besides, who knows what 2018 will bring.
You can see my list of favorites for 2017 here
Here’s my status report as of today.
• I’ve read 95 books so far this year. I set my 2017 Goodreads Challenge at 52. I figured one a week, but it looks like I’m on my way to doubling it. I think I’ll go for 100 next year.
• My bad: I got into watching too much news. Channel flipping indicates too much.
• My good. I’ve spend every morning looking out the window and praying, “No guns, no guns.”
• I spend a good deal of time each week visiting people who are more or less homebound. I love it, but am feeling the to get off by myself to write. Solution: Florence, December 3-16.
Here’s an update on my 2017 Reading Challenge. To date I’ve read 82 books. Traveling, however, has slowed down my pace. I just don’t have the time. My reading is pretty much relegate to Kindle reading in restaurants. Kindle tells me I have read 11% of The Medici: The Rise of Parvenu Dynasty 1360-1517, by Danny Chaplin, and have 14 hr. 28.mins left in the book (I’m skimming some). I’m also reading The Beautiful Necessity: Seven Essays on Theosophy and Architecture, by Claude Bragdon. Its 111 pages are filled with architectural drawing, but I can only digest a few pages at a time before I go out into the street and observe the real thing.
I confess that I spend some reading time wandering around the Feltrinelli bookstores at the train station and Piazza Republica--as well as enjoying their cafes. And today, for inspiration, I visited the Laurentian Library, designed by Michelangelo. And besides, back in May I reached my goal of 52 books.
In her recent book, My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues, Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review, discusses reasons people read. The follow are from a group of literary agents, English teachers, editors and authors she knows:
• “I read for sheer entertainment.”
• “I read to learn.”
• “I read to make sense of the world.”
• “I read to find out something new.”
• “I read to escape.”
• “I read because it makes me happy.”
• “I read for discovery.”
“Making sense of the world” comes the closest to mine: “I read for compassion.” I usually learn, discover, orfind out something new, and I love to escape, be entertained, and made happy. But if I don’t make a compassionate connect with some person or situation in a book, I stop reading. Last night I closed “The Widow Nash” after page 28. There was nothing there for me. But no worry, I live across from the library and am on my way right now to make my returns and pick up , which is waiting for me on the reserve shelf.
According to Goodreads, my read count for 2017 is 63. July list is a little meager due to family reunions, Red Sox baseball, and, I must confess, time spent watching the news. All worth a read.
* Grief Cottage, by Gail Godwin
* Dinner with Edward, by Isabel Vincent
* The Woman on the Stairs, by Bernhard Schlink
* My Life with Bob, by Pamela Paul
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