The Year in Books

DSC_0543My makeshift stand-up desk for sustained reading

It was a year of Will and Winston. A year of drama, poetry, and history. A year of reading from my shelves, a year of reading aloud until I was hoarse, a year of reading with friends. A year of book podcasts. It was a good year for books.

Disclosure: I turned sixty (the letters aren’t as neon as the numbers). How did that happen? I’m happy to be old, really. But I push myself to get all I can from my remaining years. If I live four more years, I and my siblings will have outlived my folks. (My sister died at 67.) It would be helpful (so I imagine) to know how much time I have left. When will closure come?

How does this affect my reading? I toggle between two options.

1) Reading books to release them from my shelf. These are bookshelves groaning with books I own but haven’t yet read. Not many are books I need to keep. But I can’t let them go unread. I don’t want my books to be a burden on those who survive me.

2) Reading the most excellent books I can in the time I have left. Hence: Shakespeare, Lewis, Chesterton, Burroughs, Trollope, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Undset, Wodehouse. I find that having a big goal prevents me from being sucked into books from Kindle First or Free Kindle books or any vehicle that feeds me mediocre reading.

Back to 2017.

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The Literary Study Bible was my edition this year. Single columns, few cross-references made it a good one for reading.

I joined a group on Facebook group that read all of Shakespeare this year. I listened to Arkangel Audio productions as I read along. I treated this as if I were taking a class, planning three-five hours a week for unapologetic reading time. Daytime reading.  I discovered plays I’d never heard of (Coriolanus) and some I wish I’d never heard of (Titus Andronicus).  Marjorie Garber was a helpful guide. Overall it was a fantastic experience.


I’ve been trying to read from my shelf without being so squirrely that I make a silly vow to not buy a book this year. (ha ha!) One of my first rules for living is: Friends buy friend’s books.

I joined a Seasonal Reading Challenge. Each participant sculpts a list for intentional reading the next three months. In truth, this challenge usually adds more books to my TBR (to be read) list because I get so many enticing recommendations from friends.

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See all those Hank the Cowdog books? I’m reading Harry (Potter) and Hank (the cowdog) and passing them off to eager grandsons.

The other piece is audio books. I looked for audio productions of books I owned but hadn’t read. I discovered the Last Lion trilogy on audio and my husband and I listened together. Fascinating stuff! Then, it turns out that in 2017 three full-length movies were released about Winston. Win!

                   

As to podcasts, my affections have cooled for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s What Should I Read Next? Primarily because her recommendations don’t closely enough match my likes. There were a few episodes I loved. But, honestly, I’m tired of her pitching her own book.

I discovered Circe Institute’s podcast Close Reads where I have found my tribe. I started at the beginning and have listened to David, Tim, and Angelina discuss Flannery O’Connor, Wendell Berry, Wodehouse, Kenneth Grahame, Austen, Marilynne Robinson, and Agatha Christie. I’ll be caught up soon; we start reading Howard’s End in January.

For the two people still reading this crazy long post, here is a link to my Goodreads list which includes fabulous food writing, new fiction, mystery, memoirs, and books on architecture, cultural studies, sailing, shepherding, and art.

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10 thoughts on “The Year in Books

  1. Here is something wild: I never heard of Modern Miss Darcy till I looked for preschool audio book recommendations. I ordered the first 8 Magic Tree House books for the oldest ones and I’m excited to my toes that all the boys like to look at books, hear books and be read to.
    You are my inspiration, by the way. I listen to way too much Clive Cussler while cooking, cleaning and driving. My poor stultified brain! Time to expand!

  2. Dear Carol, enjoy being 60 and keep reading and sharing your thoughts here. I do thank you for your insights. I admit to being an eclectic reader and it probably says something about me that my favorite book from 2017 was Hank & Jim…a book about the 50 year friendship of Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart. I am enchanted by the fact that two very different individuals became friends, remained friends and did not let there differences stand in the way of their friendship. Something to admire and hopefully emulate. love and prayers, jep

  3. I always enjoy reading your Year in Books posts! So much of my reading this year was for my courses, which I have loved, but I have also mourned the loss of time to read more personal choices. Plus, each history course I’ve taken has resulted in book purchase or two, which were added to the many, many unread titles already on the shelf.

    I like the picture of your reading tracker. Are you Bullet Journaling? I have a similar spread in my journal.

    Happy New Year, Carol! I pray this upcoming year brings many more blessings, both family and bookish.

  4. You covered a lot of literary ground! Well done.
    I’m in a different stage of life, so I plead mercy on my pathetic reading list for this year.
    Always glad to read your posts!

    • Heather, I passionately don’t want to cause anyone feel their list is pathetic. I couldn’t have read my list twenty years ago. Seasons are different for everyone.

      One reason I read more is pulsatile tinnitus (a fancy way of saying that I hear my heartbeat in my ear.) The “whoosh whoosh” is enormously distracting when going to sleep. Whereas I used to fall into bed and soon fall into slumber, now I have to sooth myself to sleep with reading. Bingo! One hour a day of reading more!

  5. Happy 2018 from one of your Aussie readers. Noticed more than two people read to end of your interesting blog. My favourite read from 2017? Revelation:Apocalypse Now & Then, by Paul Barnett as commentary to ESV translation of Revelation in Bible.

  6. I enjoyed your 2017 reading recap! I also have cooled as far as reading Modern Mrs. Darcy. Her pitches for her own book have become non-stop. You inspire me- I don’t have much time to read, as I am still working, but am I right in remembering that you work away from home also? Wow, I have no idea how you get so much reading in but it truly is impressive, and I admire your selections.

Comments are cinnamon on my oatmeal!

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