Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Reading Life: 2016

(To see the books closer, right click to a new tab.)

    2016 was not one of my better reading years. I didn’t read as many print books as I had planned because I was really busy throughout the year with tasks. But, the upside is that during those tasks, I listened to more audio books than I ever have (24). The print books I read were generally longer and took longer to get through. Disappointingly, I abandoned several books I thought might be really enjoyable yet were not. Nevertheless, I am satisfied that I read off my shelves (12,654 pages of print books) as I intended and moved most of the books on to others. 
     This year was a Pat Conroy year. I had planned to read the rest of his books I had not at some point in the future, but after Conroy died in March, I decided to finish them all (except for South of Broad which I’d started on audio a couple of years ago but abandoned about halfway). I’m really glad I read the remaining ones together. They made sense that way, especially since I knew that Conroy wrote about his own life in his stories. Reading The Great Santini followed immediately by The Death of Santini was difficult because of the subject matter, but doing so gave good continuity.
     Another goal was to tackle a large tome on my shelves during the Winter challenge and chose A Father’s Tale (O’Brien, 1076 pages). It was an excellent book that I didn’t tire of. Like O’Brien’s Island of the World, I tracked protagonist Alex Graham’s trek on Google maps and Google images which made this read into a travelogue of sorts. 
     Of the twenty-eight audiobooks I listened to this year, my favorites were Brooklyn (Tóibín), The Nightingale (Hannah) and surprisingly, The Life We Bury (Eskens). I abandoned two (The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay / Jensen and The Little Paris Bookshop / George).
     Unexpectedly, I crossed several beach read authors off my to-read list: Mary Kay Andrews and Dorothea Benton Frank. Too predictable and too much gratuitous sex. 
     I read seven juvenile books (they probably don’t call them that anymore), and all but two were historical fiction. My favorite was Gary Schmidt’s Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
     One thing I’ve realized this past year is that I don’t need to spend time reading something I don’t like. Sometimes I’ve been my own worst enemy. And since I have plenty of books on my shelves to keep me busy for years to come, once I give a book a fighting chance and it loses, I’ll abandon it. Some books are long and slow-going and could easily fall into the abandoned black hole, but I’ve decided on an MO for those. Just as I’m doing with my current book, Russka (Rutherfurd), I’ll read a chunk and stop at a natural point in the story, lay it aside to read something else, then pick it back up again. Russka is so long and dense and covers so many years with so many people that it is easier to pull this off with it. 
     I’ve thought about picking up a directed reading challenge, one that gives you “rules” for picking your books, but I haven’t taken the time to it. For now, I’ll just read the ones I’ve chosen for the Winter Reading Challenge, invite you to join these seasonal challenges with no rules (leave comment), and press on!

No comments: