Friday, October 30, 2009

An Iffy Reading Year?

Usually at this point in the year, I can look back over my reading list and there are some clear winners that jump out at me. This year things are a little different. While there have definitely been high points:

Reading Lyddie early in the year for a library class.More recently, my reading of Pretty Dead and Elsewhere were pretty darn good.

But I can't say, looking back over my list, that there are any knock-me-over fantastic books. Maybe with the exception of The Hunger Games. It knocked me over a bit. Overall, the quality of my reading seems to have dwindled this year. It kinda makes me sad, but then again I can only account for this by thinking of all the dramatic (and wonderful) changes in my life.

Obviously, I started seeing Chuck, we quickly moved in together, and we have a full-grown (and expanding) family. I've been working my tail off, and I have this wonderful new full-time gig to show for it. I've morphed into the Pregonator.

All of these changes have left me with far less downtime and far more responsibility. I haven't managed to find a dependable reading routine this year, and I often pick short, easy reads instead of the more involved and inspired reading I used to do. For example, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle last year, and I found it to be one of the most inspiring, life changing, delightful, informative reads EVER.

None of those aha! moments this year, I'm afraid. Not in my reading anyway. My personal life, though, is full of them.

So I suppose I'm just finding myself on new and shaky reading ground. It's weird not being bowled over by my reading, and I miss that feeling immensely. I can only hope I get my reading bravery back one of these days and maybe my former instincts for picking books that will thrill and delight me.

Any suggestions for thrilling and delightful books?


  1. Well, you have had some distractions in your personal life, but boy have they been worth missing out on a reading routine!

  2. I was just thinking about what a great reading year I had. Hmmm... my latest greatest read was Lips Touch which you commented on yesterday. Seriously - it blew me away. Get it!

  3. I'm amazed you've had any reading time at all! :-) I still think about The Romanov Bride by Alexander Kent that I read last year. It's not a long book, but there's a lot to absorb.


  4. Thanks, Kathy! You're so right!

    Lenore, I'll definitely give Lips Touch a go. My library doesn't carry it (of course!), so it looks like I'll be purchasing or ILL'ing.

    Thanks, Lezlie! I'll check out The Romanov Bride.

  5. The Hunger Games is an awesome book and so is Catching Fire ( the sequel)

  6. I'm always amazed at the time people find to read even when their personal lives are crazy. It makes me skeptical of anyone who argues they don't have time to read.

    I've had two blow me away books this year -- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. The first one made me think a lot about cultural differences and understanding, and the second one just made me cry.

    I hope you find a good book by the end of the year :)

  7. I think it's surprising you find the time to read at all. I've had quite a wonderful reading year, I think. Some of my top reads:

    Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy (who won the Franklin O'Connor prize for it, in case I neglected to tell you.
    June Bug by Chris Fabry
    Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
    To Serve Them All My Days by R.F.Delderfield (a chunky epic - we're watching the mini series)
    The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    Sweetwater Run by Jan Watson (historical)

    I think you'd like the book on global warming that I'm currently reading and giving away -- sign up for that one! It's called A Climate for Change. Maybe a little Auster or Coupland would help? Do you read Nick Hornby? If not, he's another author I consider a must-read.

  8. Awww; I'm sorry you're having a not-great reading year. But I'm impressed you're still reading! :)

  9. Now that I'm thinking about it, my reading year has been okay. There have been a few books that were great. I second Kim's suggestion of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer.It's an awesome book.

    Have you read Topdog/Underdog by Susan-Lori Parks? It's a play. I think it won the Pulitzer. Try August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. It also won a Pulitzer.It's like reading a soap opera. It has adultery, incest, lies, deceit. . . It is a great play.

    Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs is a great graphic novel. Have you read Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell? It is great! I Love you, Beth Cooper is hilarious!

    Okay I've just went on and on. Happy reading!

  10. Don't worry too much about it. We all go through changes. I doubt I read much of anything (that I can remember) during the first couple of years of my oldest daughter's life. Too much going on. It's okay.

    BTW, just finished the sequel to The Hunger Games and it was freaking fantastic! You *must* get this one immediately. I liked it even better than THG. Just sayin'.

    And don't you have a birthday coming up? I seem to recall your day is between mine and my husband's.

  11. I have enjoyed a lot of the books I have read this year, but like you, nothing is really jumping out at me... It's kind of weird...

  12. I went through the same things as my personal life came together. Heck, the year I was pregnant with Ellie, I only read like 32 books and I think only one of them was anything I could call GOOD. Once you learn to balance everything out, it will come back. I've read over 100 books this year and I don't think I've EVER done that before!

    As for exciting reads, look to the YA section. Here are a few I've read this year that were awesome:

    THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, which you know already. Read it. Then get THE ASK AND THE ANSWER. You may thank me later.

    The Maze Runner by James Dashner

    Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

    When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

    Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (Dude, it's KILLER UNICORNS!)

    Willow by Julia Hoban

    Impossible by Nancy Werlin

    Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis

    Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore both totally rocked my socks off.

    My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger. I think you would adore it.

    The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. She blows Stephenie Meyer out of the frigging water.

    The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Cross between Nathaniel Hawthorne and George Ramero. Equals awesome.

    There are a few to get you going. Promises.

  13. And the Lord said, Thou shalt prioritize. :) If you are looking for a relatively quick wondrous read, I recommend Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale or Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a long wondrous read Eco's The Name of the Rose, a SFF wondrous read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, or a play wondrous read Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello.

  14. Eric, I'm back on the library holds list for Catching Fire because I was in a reading slump the first time it came in. I'll get back to it this next time.

    Kim, it's funny you say that about The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. I picked it up at a garage sale for a buck recently, and it's sitting on a shelf around here somewhere. I don't have Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close because I was resisting Foer for years (my literary archnemesis, akin to Updike), but I may have to lay old grudges aside and give it a go anyway.

    Nancy, I didn't realize Van Booy had won a prize for the new book! How awesome! I think I might spring for a keeper copy of this one. I've been itching to re-read The Secret Lives of People in Love, too. Or at least dip into a few of my faves from that collection. I picked up Oracle Night by Auster last night. So far, so good!

    Thanks, Eva! I am very thankful for that part of it. :)

    Thanks for the recs, Vasilly. I haven't read any of the books you mentioned, but I'm especially interested in the plays. They're usually a way to get a quick dose of awesome in a small package.

    Tammy, indeed! My birthday is November 10th. I usually celebrate for two weeks before and three weeks after (joking, almost), but haven't had time or the presence of mind this year. Maybe I'll buy myself a book. lol

    Isn't it weird, Kailana? Just a really odd feeling.

    Heatheroo, I was thinking of you when I wrote this post actually. I remember your reading taking a dip when Ellie came along, so I'm sure I'm not alone here by any stretch of the imagination. Thank you sooo much for the recs. I'm especially interested in Forest of Hands and Teeth. That one sounds GREAT! The idea of the killer unicorns just cracks me up.

    LOL, Trisha! Exactly. Thank you so much for the wonderful recommnendations. I've read both the Haddon novel and the Atwood in past years, and I'm right there with ya in loving those. I'll definitely be looking into the others you mentioned.

  15. Wow. I could've written this post. Well, not as well as you (you are so much more articulate than I am!), but my reading year sounds very much like yours! No outstanding books as in previous years. Nothing like The Book Thief or Dispatches From the Edge or Odd Thomas. I think the one that comes closest (so far) is Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Have you read it? I highly recommend it!! It may very well be my #1 read of 2009. And, of course, Tana French's two mysteries are high on my list. Overall, though, it's been a bit of a weak reading year. Too busy at work, too addicted to Facebook, too busy with my photo blog. Time to reconsider some of these activities, me thinks. :)

  16. Congrats on all the 'real life' wonderfulness! I love reading comments to posts like these - I think I just added 4 books to my tbr? sigh. I have actually had a really good reading year with so many really goods that I can't even think of them. I would echo The Help and The Book Thief (but you've read that already?) I loved Olive Kittredge. Unfortunately, I have twice failed to finish that Foer book - just sayin'. I have created a category: "books I probably would love but I'll never finish". :)

  17. My life has been really crazy this year too, and I notice a definite lag in my reading. Nothing seems to jump out at me as being spectacular.

    Looking back over my reading list, I did realy enjoy Admission, by Jean Hanf Korelitz (which you might enjoy as it's a novel about college life and the admissions process).

  18. Sometimes life gets in the way -- even when your life is good. Better to have a bad reading year and a great life than the other way around.

    I do hope next year is a better reading year for you, though!


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