Sunday Salon: And So Begins a New Year
Happy New Year everyone! I thought I’d devote the musings portion of this week’s Sunday Salon to my plans for the fresh new year. I’m quite happy with my reading in 2011: while I hope for fewer reading slumps in the future, I found so much comfort, provocation, knowledge, thoughtfulness, and ultimately happiness in the books I spent my year with. Thus, most of the ‘trends’ I want to follow in 2012 are just continuations of this year’s habits. Looking back at last year’s post, I could almost just copy & paste! But where would be the fun in that? Instead, I present to you my planned trends for next year in my new, more succinct style (with a hat-tip to the UN).
Eva, planning that 2012 will be another banner year for reading, does hereby resolve
to continue to:
- read diversely, both geographically, ethnically, and temporally speaking;
- deepen my relationship with authors who are previous acquaintances and/or firm favourites, rather than ‘saving’ them for who knows what;
- explore publishers/imprints/editors that have been rewarding in the past;
- use the library as the primary reading source;
- delve into suspense-type books (mysteries, psychological horror, etc.)
- reread (this deserves even more focus);
and to begin to:
- explore ‘imaginative books’ (a story that includes elements you don’t encounter in everyday life such as high fantasy, urban fantasy, magical realism, sci-fi, steam punk, etc), especially the more quirky/unusual/marginalised offerings;
- seek out a larger variety of nonfiction authors, from geographic, linguistic, ethnic, and scholarly angles
- browse the 100s and 200s of the library more frequently
and to always remember that:
- reading is a joyful, life-enhancing activity that benefits from large doses of whimsy and following one’s heart.
There is one project I want to undertake, inspired by Amy’s Nigerian Literature Fridays and my mother’s and my upcoming trip to Mexico, which begins at the end of May. Until we leave, I’d like to read at least four Mexico themed books a month (although I might sometimes substitute documentaries for books). I won’t be doing a weekly feature like Amy, but a monthly one sounds just right.
I’ve also signed myself up for a read-a-long, despite my notoriously poor record for such things (I either get impatient and read far more quickly than the schedule or I forget about the book and end up finishing it months later). But this one’s so clever! Terri and JoAnn are hosting a read-a-long of the (giant) epistolary novel Clarissa (which I wasn’t at all interested in before I read o’s post on it last month, which made me immediately add a free ebook version to Athie, my Nook) in which participants read the letters on the same day they were (fictionally) written. It will begin on January 10th and end on December 18th: in between, there are five hundred thirty-seven letters to tell the story! Definitely worthy of a full year read-a-long. Between that and the five challenges I’ve signed up for, I’ve got just enough structure to enrich my more whimsical general approach to reading.
I suspect 2012 will be a wonderful year, all the more wonderful for being shared here on my blog. Cheers to all of my readers and fellow bloggers, who give me more support and inspiration than I know what to do with!
And now, for the final books of 2011. There were many wonderful ones, which made for a splendid last fortnight of reading.
Books I Loved and Found Every Page a Delight
Reread The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley if…you’ve developed a total girl crush on Kearsley and her characters (I just wrote about this one more seriously a couple of days ago).
Read Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin if…you’re in the mood for a fairy tale for grown-ups (without any overt magic) or you’re always curious as to how northern European authors portray Italy in their fiction or you love novels that focus on women.
Read Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros if…you’re looking for a powerful short story collection or happen to live in south Texas and get excited at local settings or you love to be bowled over by incredible writing and strong characterisation.
Reread The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs if…it was so fun and slim the first time that you can’t resist revisiting it six months later (I also just wrote about this one more seriously a couple of days ago).
Read The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi if…you find fiction that incorporates folklore from various cultures (mainly Cuban in this case) irresistible or you’re always up for a good coming-of-age story or you think it’s fun when an author doesn’t spell out for you everything that’s happening and why.
Read The Magic Lantern by Jose Tomas de Cuellar, trans. by Margaret Carson if…you love late nineteenth century literature or you prefer your classics to be short with a wry point of view or you’re going to Mexico City in a few months and want a glimpse of life there over a century ago (just me?).
Read Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery if…you’re in need of a sweet comfort read and want to branch out from the Anne series or you’ve always been a writer at heart or you need a chapter book to read-a-loud to the children in your life.
Reread Ghost Hunters by Deborah Blum if…you love scientific history and can’t resist another time around with those late nineteenth/early twentieth century members of the Psychical Research Society (see the gushing post I wrote on my first read).
Read Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai if…you enjoy novels whose narrative jumps around in time or stories of brothers and sisters or you think it’s a treat to read a book with an almost Woolf-like focus on inner lives set in Old Delhi that covers the Partition.
Read The Universe and the Teacup by K.C. Cole if…you enjoy popular science essay collections or want to re-kindle a love for/fascination with mathematics or just want to a taste of the big concepts of math and physics or you’re always looking for women science writers.
Books I Would Have Loved, Except for One or Two Little Quibbles or Books I Really, Really Liked
Read Kraken by China Mieville if…you’re looking to be swept away by a strong authorial voice and imagination and don’t mind a bit of edginess in a novel (aka quite a lot of violence and swearing) or you love urban fantasy or you just want to meet some memorable characters.
Read A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett if…you want to delve into classic US literature or you perk up when a story features an unusual-for-its-time-and-gender-norms storyline or you just love an author who is kind to her characters and in love with her setting.
Read Death of a Prankster by M.C. Beaton if…you can’t get enough of Hamish Macbeth or you find it thrilling when a fictional character enjoys a quiet, not-conventionally-ambitious life.
Read In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood if…you love reading essays on genre by an author of that genre or you’re a fan of Atwood and/or speculative fiction.
Read The Reenchantment of Art by Suzi Gablik if…you’re curious about modern art and its relationship to society or you enjoy thoughtful nonfiction that presents new points-of-view/challenges existing paradigms.
Books I Definitely Liked, Although They Didn’t Blow Me Away or Books that had Great Points Counterbalanced by Not-Great Ones
Reread A Fine and Private Place by Peter Beagle if…you want to be disappointed after wonderful memories of your first reading with how pseudo-philosophical and young much of it feels, and the unconvincing way the women are portrayed, although there are still some powerful scenes in it and you continue to love Beagle’s ear for dialect.
Books That Aren’t For Me but I Could Still See Some Good Points
Read Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin, trans. by Chi-Young Kim if…you’re curious to see how the Victorian ‘angel of the house’ trope plays out in twentieth century Korea and you’re willing to slog through weird narrative decisions (frequent use of second person) and stereotypical characters.