Monday, December 20, 2010

A year in books

I've been thinking about books ever since I saw the stamp that will come with the Studio Calico kit in January. Turning around in my brain is a layout about the books I've read this past year.

An English teacher, I read less now that I did before I taught. Still, Good Reads has helped me become diligent with keeping track of books I want to read and recording the books I have. (BTW, if you are on Good Reads, friend me and we can exchange reads!) With great delight, I realized I've read 22 books this past year (excluding school books I teach, papers I read for school, and books I reread a lot, like Agatha Christie and Laura Ingalls Wilder).

The last book I read was terrific: The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. I had gotten it at my book club Christmas party last year, where we exchange books and select the texts we'll read the next year. This book had a structure that took me a while to follow, but once I got to the end, I realized how fully wonderful the book was.

The last time I felt that way was reading Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King. In that book there were some odd details, but at the end, when it came together, I laughed out loud. Amazing.

The ending of Erdrich's book was brilliant--satisfying without being cute. Few authors, IMO, end books well. Steinbeck was great, and I love the endings of Ernest Gaines' books, and I thought this Erdrich book was up there as well in perfect endings. Added to her lovely writing, and it all just sang. I may go back and reread the middle section--I think I missed some foreshadowing.

Some of her sentences just jumped out at me--here's one that made it into my commonplace book, for obvious reasons, I think:

"Perhaps, I think as I settle the pot in the deep sink and run the purpose in life is to pay attention and to remember."

So what were the other books I read? Here were some of my favorites (pardon the lack of links--you can copy and paste to find out more about them):

  1. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
  2. Tragic Magic by Laura Childs (OK, a little intellectual slumming, but fun)
  3. My Life in France by Julia Child
  4. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
  5. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  6. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  7. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (OK, I love his books. They're fun.)
  8. The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins
  9. Fever Dream by Douglas Preston (more fun slumming)
  10. Impact by Douglas Preston (set in my home state of Maine!)
  11. The Bullhead Queen by Sue Leaf
  12. Sweet Land by Will Weaver (You MUST read this book.)
  13. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
I will probably read another couple books during winter break--I got Storm Prey by John Sanford from the library, and I'd like to finish Half Broke Horses and start The Help.


Keshet said...

I've been thinking about using Good Reads. I love Louise Erdrich. Love love love. And how did you like Molokai and Into thin Air? I read thin air a while ago, but read Molokai recently. I used to live in hawaii so it struck a chord with me.

Valerie said...

Boy, I need to start reading again. I read a ton of Erdrich in the 90s - and Into Thin Air, too. Loved it. Really want to read the Julia Child :)