Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What I Read in 2015

Thirty-two books in 2015, the year I took notes so I wouldn't forget what they were about. Also, the year I turned 45. These events are related.

The First Book I Made Notes On, When I Realized That Already My Memory Was Failing Me
Silence, Thich Nhat Hanh
This book, by a Buddhist monk, made me see Jesus's death in a completely new light. Comparing the crucifixion to self-immolation, he says this: "I shared with Dr. King my understanding that when Jesus died on the cross, he made the choice to die for the benefit of others--not out of despair but out of hope and love, using his body in order to bring change to a desperate situation."

Books I Talked About On My Job Interview At A Bookstore
The types that work at bookstores are very different people who nevertheless fit squarely into these categories: reader and introvert at heart. And yet I wonder if maybe I was the first one to pull out my book journal on the interview and read aloud the mini-reviews I had written for... myself. Like this one:

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
She did not create a new world, but simply the absence of the old one. But how do people live? Think differently? Why did it take them twenty, thirty years to get electricity working again, when many had encountered it before? The plot points wrap up by the end in an interesting way, but it was a long, tedious route getting there, and I'm not sure why I stuck it out. I'm confused as to why this book has become popular; apparently another of her books, Last Night In Montreal, is worth the time.

My Iceland Kick
My Iceland Kick began when I discovered that most of the biggest, strongest men in the world came from there, so I needed to know what was in the water. Then I picked up some of their fiction.
Butterflies in November, Audur Ava Olafsdottir
The Greenhouse, Audur Ava Olafsdottir

The Extent Of My Young Adult Kick
Two words: Rainbow Rowell. A 13-year-old client of mine got me started on her, thankfully. Some of her novels are adult fiction, but to me, they all fell into the same category: great.
eleanor & park, Rainbow Rowell
Attachments, Rainbow Rowell
Fan Girl, Rainbow Rowell
Landline, Rainbow Rowell

Alexander McCall Smith, Naturally
Doesn't matter what happens in his books; what matters is that the books happened. Only one this year, and I'm currently finishing another.
The Novel Habits of Happiness, Alexander McCall Smith

Books By People Trying To Be Alexander McCall Smith
The Taliban Cricket Club, Timeri Murari

Books I Was Meant To Read
Some books are not to be read until certain phases of our lives. I've bought books only to crack them open years later, at what appeared to be the right time. Here are some books I was meant to read this past year, not necessarily because a plot mirrored my life's circumstances or a character reminded me of someone I know, but because they touched a place I couldn't articulate before I found them.
Lila, Marilynne Robinson
Slow Emergencies, Nancy Huston
Sick In The Head, Judd Apatow

An Assortment of Nonfiction
Grace Unfolding, Johanson and Kurtz
Discovering Your Soul Signature, Panache Desai
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast
What We See When We Read, Peter Mendelsund
Girl In A Band, Kim Gordon
Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the first 10 years of StoryCorps, Dave Isay
Do No Harm, Henry Marsh
Creativity: The Perfect Crime, Philippe Petit

Books That Were Enjoyable But Not Literary Masterpieces
Midnight In Austenland, Shannon Hale
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

Books That Were Literary-ish And I Liked Them
Bark, Lorrie Moore
Faith, Jennifer Haigh
Mislaid, Nell Zink
The Book of Strange New Things, Michael Faber

Books That Were Literary And I Could Have Done Without Them
The Gathering, Anne Enright

Books I Don't Really Remember and Hadn't Taken Notes On
Moods, Yoel Hoffman
Funny Girl, Nick Hornby

Books With The Words "Things," "Fall" and "Apart" in the Title
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron
Disclaimer: I did not actually finish Chodron's book until early 2016, and I look forward to telling you about it next year. But for a long time in October, these books sat together on my end table, consoling each other in their brokenness.

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