"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A few bookish thoughts as we ramble toward the new year...

Pathway in Priest Point Park, Olympia
Some rambling and bookish thoughts....

It is nearly a new year so time to look forward, time to reflect. 2015 was an odd year of reading for me. By and large the novels I read, especially the YA novels, have coalesced into a gigantic glob in my mind with few distinguishing themselves but for a few details here and there. One book had fun footnotes, another had realistic characters, while another was completely surreal. Not much to go on when, in later years, I try to recall plots and characters from these books. Four novels did separate themselves from the pack: The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks; All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. All these books were written for adults and three are book club selections. Hmm.  The fourth, The Martian, by Andy Weir, was the most oft recommended fiction book by me in 2015.

In sharp contrast, the nonfiction books I read this year all seem very vivid in my mind. I'm pretty sure I could write essays on each of them if called to. I learned about the Wright Brothers, all the stuff I thought I already knew but now actually know because I read David McCullough's book on these famous Americans. I felt anguish over the injustices played on women who are victims of rape as I read Missoula: Rape and Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer.  Two YA books will likely win several awards this year they are so good: The Symphony for the City of the Dead-Dmitri Shostokovich and the Siege on Leningrad by MT Anderson; and Most Dangerous-Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin. I recommended Being Mortal by Atul Gawande to everyone who would listen and bought it for my parents for Christmas.

The beauty of reading well-written nonfiction is there is never the sense of wasting one's time. The time spent reading is well spent if one learns something along the way.

Of the over 100 books I read this year nearly half were YA books published in 2015. These I read in an effort to identify the best of the best for our Mock Printz list and to see if I can identify the winner of the coveted Printz Award. Four books stand out in my mind: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby; Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman; and the two YA nonfiction books I mentioned above, Most Dangerous and The Symphony for the City of the Dead.

Speaking of award books. I am hosting a 2016 Challenge to read all the YA Youth Media Award winners for 2015. These awards will be announced on January 12th. Check out the details and join me by signing up on my blog post or on the Goodreads Group. The participants will attempt to read 8-11 books in the different categories. Check it out.

I did have several spine-tingling, special bookish moments in 2015. The first was the conclusion of the All-Pierce Reads event where we went with several friends to finale program to hear Daniel James Brown speak about The Boys in the Boat, his book about the 1936 Rowing team which won a gold in the Hitler Olympics. It is an amazing and fascinating story and it was so interesting to hear the author speaks about his research. The second, and this was my favorite, was centered around Harper Lee. My family and I decided to relisten to the audiobook of To Kill a Mockingbird in preparation for the publication of her second book, Go Set a Watchman. We were listening to the last chapter as we raced to Tacoma to see a screening of the movie of TKAM starring Gregory Peck. I had never seen the old movie before and was thrilled to have my family with me as we viewed it. Having just finished the audiobook together made the movie really come to life for us.
Anthony Doerr speaking in Puyallup

The third bookish moment was attending the Jim Taylor Memorial Lecture sponsored by the Puyallup Library. The speaker was Anthony Doerr, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr is a very interesting fellow, he had lots of random things to talk about mainly about his interests, which are very varied. His point, when he decided to write his masterpiece, he had a lot of disparate information to draw from based on all his earlier life experiences. I was completely charmed.

Blogging about books served as a creative outlet for me. It was a love/hate thing. Some days I was ready to pack it in while others I was ready to stay committed to the process for life. My biggest frustration with blogging is the unequal attention posts receive. If I participate in certain book memes like Top Ten Tuesday, I will have a lot of visitors and comments. But if I write a book review it is very likely it will receive zero comments, so I don't know if anyone is reading the reviews at all. I understand that is a common complaint by other bloggers so I am not too worried but it is discouraging.

My blogging goals for the new year are to start the transition toward retirement.  Up to this point I have mainly reviewed only the YA books I read. With retirement looming on the horizon (a year and a half away, I think) it is time for me to start turning my focus more toward books and reviews of the adult books I am reading. We'll see if this determination stands as the year progresses. I will stick with the memes I frequent now: Sunday Salon, Top Ten Tuesday, and Book Beginnings/Friday 56. I have started to built up a community of support in all of those memes and that is fun to feel like I have blogging friends.

Reading challenges for the 2016 year will be very similar to the ones I participated in this year: 1. Reading All the Youth Media Award Winners (YA); 2. Read all the Printz Award and Honor books; 3. Participate in Classics Club's Spin Challenges with a focus on female classic authors. Then I will participate in short term challenges that fit my fancy as the year progresses.

Enough rambling for one day... see you in 2016.



2 comments:

  1. You and I will retire the same time! I could have retired at the end of this year, but the house needs work and I'm not quite ready to NOT have a schedule/routine. I'm looking forward to discussing The Nightingale at BC. :)

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    Replies
    1. Some days I think I'd like to go longer, just so I can build up more money to travel and other days I am ready to quit right now. I'm sure you know what I mean.

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