One of the 2012 goals was to read 50 new books. While I still have 18 days left, I will fall short of this goal by about 9 or 10 (depending on how the current books go), but that’s OK. I read a lot of really awesome books and pushed myself to seek out novels, memoirs, and nonfiction that are outside of my normal interest and comfort zone. One of the things I’ve been trying to accomplish with my entertainment reading and viewing ( I say entertainment since I do a lot of reading and often documentary watching for work) is to watch more classic films, read the books I skipped in high school English, and try to choose nonfiction topics of things I only know a bit about. I also really tried to check off books that were word of mouth recommendations instead of just things I heard on NPR or in Oprah magazine.
There were books I struggled through like On the Road. While I had an appreciation for the style and writing of Kerouac, I think the reason people are assigned to read that book in high school is because it embraces adventure and the quest for a fulfilling and meaningful life. Maybe it’s because I read it during some tumultuous months of budgets and mortgage payments, but as an adult I had a hard time relating to the characters– on more than one occasion I thought that they all should go get real jobs. Sometimes my pragmatic side can’t shut up enough to escape into a book I guess.
I read books that have long sat on my shelves like Loving Frank which I bought, then forgot about. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in historical fiction and good storytelling. I could barely put it down, reading it over a three day weekend. There were some quick entertaining, guilty pleasure reads like Jennifer Weiner’s Then Came You which was fun (and needed) in the same way as a relaxing Friday night in with a romantic comedy in my pajamas.
I was most surprised by how much I loved Steinbeck’s East of Eden and how much I disliked Katharine Graham’s Personal History, a Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography that put me to sleep more than a few times. That always is a bit sad to me- when a book that has been on the list for so long ( since high school I think) ends up being disappointing. That book in particular I think is most to blame for my not reaching the 50 goal–642 pages that were very tough to get through in certain areas( I definitely employed grad school perusing techniques there.)
One of the most recent- and most loved reads- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I have no idea why I never read this when I was younger- perhaps it was never assigned or maybe I just skipped over it. Whatever the reason, I’m sad that my younger self did not have the experience of this book, but I’m so happy I finally read it. I loved the characters and how much the protagonist, Francie, reminded me of myself. She has a love of reading and writing that reminded me a lot of my 8 year old self- a good reminder as I set the new goal for 2013 to really focus on my writing ( like the blog!)
She also is a huge library lover- something else that was renewed for me this year. I have really come to cherish the library this past year. I’ve always been a fan and supporter of all libraries, but the local Somerset library is just an awesome place and I look forward to my weekly visits, just like when my mom used to take me as a kid.
The best part of trying to reach the 50 new books goal was really a re-dedication of my love for the written word. And it’s not just because I didn’t have cable to fall back onto- there were many nights when tired eyes or headaches made reading difficult, relegating me to my one local TV station or a movie. I think my passion for reading was renewed this year because I let myself realize how awesome it is to spend a night at home in comfies with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, devouring a book. I renewed my childlike love of books and reading, allowed myself to forget about the to do list and housework, and dive head first into escaping into a novel.