Sunday Salon: Reading From Year to Year
A little late, but I’m finally doing a TSS post again! I can’t pre-schedule them like I can most of my other posts, which is why one hasn’t appeared in ages. That, and my reading slump kept re-appearing, so I didn’t have any books to talk about anyway. Fortunately, that problem finally seems to have disappeared, and just in time for 2011 to end.
Which brings me to today’s ‘musing’ topic: how important is it to you to finish all of the books you’re reading by the stroke of midnight on December 31st? I tend to like things neat and tidy, so in the past this has been tremendously important: there’s no way I would start a huge book on the 30th, for instance. And I have many fond memories and staying up waiting for the new year while curled up with the last few chapters of a book. The exception would be in 2009: I started Moby Dick in December as part of a read-a-long (hosted by Ti) and thus didn’t finish it until 2010, since I was trying to match my pace to the group’s pace (except, I still finished it too quickly: I just loved it so much I couldn’t make myself stop reading). The world didn’t end, and it doesn’t bother me terribly that Moby Dick is on my ‘read in 2010’ list despite beginning it in 2009, but I’ve noticed with my reading selections this week that I’m automatically ruling out huge books until the new year. Old habits die hard, I guess, and I just like the ‘blank page’ feel of beginning a new year without any books half-begun. Plus, it makes it easier to know where a book ‘counts’ on my lists! Funnily enough, I don’t care at all about carrying over my reading from one month to the next; it’s just January 1st that seems to demand a new start. What do y’all think?
On a somewhat related note, a few days ago I felt a kind of panic thinking that I hadn’t read nearly enough, that I had so many more books I wanted to get to before the year was out, and that there just wasn’t enough time. I imagined writing a TSS post that captured that panic, except that it only last a couple days or so, just enough to kickstart my reading. Now I’m happily devoting as many hours to reading that I can find, but I’m not worried about falling short of half-conscious goals. Thank goodness! So I hope everyone else is enjoying their end-of-the-year reading, rather than trying to stuff in as much as possible.
And now on to the one-sentence book thoughts portion of the post!
Books I Loved and Found Every Page a Delight
Read Psmith in the City by P.G. Wodehouse if…you love fin de siecle literature and wry humour.
Read Death of a Perfect Wife, Death of a Hussy, and/or Death of a Snob by M.C. Beaton if…you’re in need of a funny, comforting mystery series or love it when a main character has chosen a simple, quiet, umambitious life.
Reread Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier if…you’re curious to see how your perceptions of Maxim and the narrator can change as you age.
Reread The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins if…you want to re-visit one of his best novels and get happily re-acquainted with all of the characters, especially Miriam.
Books I Would Have Loved, Except for One or Two Little Quibbles or Books I Really, Really Liked
Read Weird Sister by Kate Pullinger if…you love pyschologically creepy stories or plots driven by everyday evil.
Read Maizon at Blue Hill by Jacqueline Woodson if…you love Woodson’s wonderful ability to create believable characters or just fiction set at boarding school and don’t mind a very short book.
Books I Definitely Liked, Although They Didn’t Blow Me Away or Books that had Great Points Counterbalanced by Not-Great Ones
Read The Dead Path by Stephen Irwin if…you’re in the mood for a horror book and can overlook a narrative voice that’s a bit off in favour of a strong plot.
Read The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff if…you want a classic ghost story (Ouija boards! students by themselves in an old dorm!) and don’t mind stereotypical characters and a kind of odd backstory to the ghost.
Read The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff if…you love haunted house books with some truly creepy scenes and aren’t concerned by characterisation that’s a bit flimsy and a plot that takes awhile to get going.
Books That Aren’t For Me but I Could Still See Some Good Points
Read The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, trans. by Betty Radice if…you have absolutely no expectation of romantic love letters but are instead curious about aspects of daily life for medieval monks and nuns.
Format Explanation: I’ve arranged my one-sentence thoughts into rough groups by how much I loved/didn’t love the book. You’ll notice that there are five groups, presented in descending order from most to least loved; remember that these represent a judgement of my reading experience, rather than the actual book (for a bit more detail, see my books read page). The first three (loved through liked) are all categories I would definitely recommend, more or less enthusiastically; the final two (didn’t really like and wish I’d abandoned), I’d (usually) still recommend but to those with different tastes than myself. I hope the new structure is helpful for anyone who wasn’t always sure how I felt about a title based on my one-sentence recommendation! :)