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Sunday Salon: And So Begins a New Year

January 1, 2012

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.

The Sunday

20 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2012 8:46 am

    Great resolutions Eva! I like that you are going to return to authors you love instead of saving their books. :)

    I’m going to read Clarissa this year as well. I have a paper copy and a ecopy for Homer. I really want to read it in paper form, but the book is MASSIVE, so I don’t know how that is going to work for me!

  2. Jillian ♣ permalink
    January 1, 2012 8:54 am

    I’ll be reading Clarissa w/Allie in April. We’re going to try for thirty days! I can’t wait to see what I think — and what you think. :)

  3. brolee permalink
    January 1, 2012 9:29 am

    Good luck with all your reading resolutions! I’ve added the Cisneros book to my TBR as I’m sort of obsessed with south and west Texas since roadtripping through there last year and loved The House on Mango Street! Happy New Year!

  4. January 1, 2012 10:09 am

    I love your reading intentions, Eva! And I hope that you find 2012 fulfilling not just in your reading life but in every other aspect as well!!!!

  5. January 1, 2012 11:10 am

    Great post, Eva! Good luck with your reading in 2012. :)

  6. January 1, 2012 11:16 am

    I can see that there are a lot of good books I haven’t read as yet and your list is going to be helpful! I also can’t get enough of Hamish Macbeth! Happy New Year of reading.

  7. January 1, 2012 11:18 am

    I’m glad to see Anita Desai on your list here. I just finished her new novella collection a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it. It was the first of her books I’d ever read, and I was wondering what to try next. I’ll definitely look into Clear Light of Day.

  8. January 1, 2012 11:59 am

    Happy New Year!

  9. January 1, 2012 12:48 pm

    Here’s to 2012! Good luck with your goals, Eva, and I always look forward to reading anything you post. :)

  10. January 1, 2012 2:12 pm

    I can’t wait to see what suspense type books you read as these tend to be some of my favorites. I recently finished The Leavenworth Case on your recommendation and found it to be such a good read. I couldn’t resist and downloaded another of the Green’s books for free on my kindle. I hope you have a wonderful year of reading in 2012 :)

  11. January 1, 2012 5:49 pm

    Happy New Year Eva! Here’s to a bookish 2012! (And also a travelish one as well.)

  12. January 1, 2012 6:46 pm

    Marvelous that you’ll be reading Clarissa! You’re in for a treat :)

  13. January 1, 2012 7:16 pm

    Happy New Year, Eva! Those sound like some great reading plans. I like the idea of the Clarissa readalong. If I didn’t have so many other plans, I might consider joining. (And really, you’re going to convince me to reread the Emily books when I don’t have time for that either!)

  14. January 1, 2012 8:34 pm

    Happy New Year, Eva! I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us in reading Clarissa…. o’s post has me even more excited to get started.

  15. January 1, 2012 9:54 pm

    Yay, a reading resolution post! I just did one too, although in a abbreviated form. I’m so glad you liked Enchanted April – it’s one of my favorites too, and the film is visually stunning as well. I’ve been looking for Elizabeth and Her German Garden, her account of her life on a country estate in Germany, for months in local used book stores with no luck. Oh well, on with the hunt!

  16. January 2, 2012 12:19 am

    I am definitely looking up Ghost Hunters! And isn’t Enchanted April just the best? Have you read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? Another one like that; simply wonderful.

    I hope 2012 brings you lots of good things, Miss Eva.

  17. January 2, 2012 1:04 pm

    Sounds like you have a great reading manifesto for yourself in 2012! I look forward to hearing about the great books that will come out of your reading philosophy.

  18. January 2, 2012 2:47 pm

    I can’t wait to see what reading adventures you embark upon in 2012! I’ve discovered so many wonderful authors through your posts.

  19. January 5, 2012 7:09 am

    aw, I’ve got to read Emily of Blue Moon. Somehow, even though I loved Anne, I never met Emily as a child!


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