Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014--A Year in Books

"A simple wind of despair will easily break them. What must we do, my friends?"
All the faces in the crowd became serious.
"We must live in the radiance of tomorrow, as our ancestors suggested in their tales.For what is yet to come tomorrow has possibilities, and we must think of it, the simplest gift of the possibility of goodness. That will be our strength, that has always been our strength."
         --Ishmael Beah, "The Radiance of Tomorrow"

I'm beginning to think that I can tell a lot about my year by the books that I read, particularly the quality of the fiction and the topic of the non fiction. And also by the type and quality of the books I started, but didn't finish.

But the quality of my fiction I can tell if I wanted to work hard to get into a good book, whether i had the wherewithal to stick with it--or if I just needed to escape in an easy read.

The topics of my non-fiction speak for themselves. There's been a lot to learn this year.

And the books I haven't finished. These titles grieve me a bit. As in, I started it, enjoyed it for a night or two, but found that it was work and easily slipped back into something easy (those were often the times that i "had" to read one of the books the kids wanted me to read). I think a goal I may start with are the books I didn't finish this year.

Also, I don't know about you, but as I set out to choose/read books, I try to vary the topics and authors and perspectives that I read. Some of my titles were chosen with that in mind. But others were chosen just because that's what looked good on the library shelves.

A few notes before I start.
(YA) means Youth Fiction--but it's still good stuff. Sometimes I read it because my kids are reading it sometimes because it's fun.
A bolded title means I really, really loved it. And if you have a chance you should too.
And for the benefit of those really out there books, I provided a brief description (mostly because that's what I put in my own notes.)

2014 in Books

  • Beautiful Fools--R. Clifton Spargo (A fictionalized account of the the last affair of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, set in Cuba, 1939)
  • Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, & lead--Brene Brown
  • A Wrinkle in Time (YA)--Madeleine L'Engle
  • A Long Walk to Water--Linda Sue Park
  • Sister of my Heart--Chitra Banerjie Divakaruni
  • Song yet Sung--James McBride ( I couldn't put this one down. Interesting voices and topic)
  • Still Alice--Lisa Genova
  • Orphan Train--Christina Baker Kline
  • State of Wonder--Ann Patchett
  • Sycamore Lane--John Grisham
  • Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend--Matthew Dicks (A book from the point of view of autistic Max's imaginary friend.)
  • Parenting a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder-Auer/Blumberg
  • The Husband's Secret--Liane Miorarty
  • Revolution (YA)--Jennifer Connelly
  • Rescuing Julia Twice--Tina Traster
  • Written in My Heart's Own Blood (#8 of the Outlander Series)--Diana Gabaldon
  • Radiance of Tomorrow--Ishmael Beah (READ THIS BOOK!)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings--Maya Angelou
  • Where'd you go, Bernadette--Maria Semple
  • The Bitter Taste of Time--Bea Gonzalez
  • The Bookseller of Kabul--Selerstaad
  • Feed Me, Love Me--Katja Rowell, MD
  • Tim Gunn: A guide to Quality, Taste, & Style 
  • Your Fathers, Where are They? Your Prophets, Do They Live Forever?--Dave Eggers
  • Blink--Malcom Gladwell (Non-Fiction about how we make split second decisions)
  • The Language of Flowers--Vanessa Diffenbauch
  • The Invention of Wings--Sue Monk Kidd
  • Caleb's Crossing--Geraldine Brooks
  • Artemis Fowl (YA)--Eoinn Colfer
  • Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind--Ann B. Ross
  • The Invisible Bridge--Julie Orringer (A WWII book from a Hungarian point of view. Haunting in a different way)
  • The Light Between the Oceans--M.L. Stedman (Primarily set on a remote lighthouse island--This is a sad book)
  • Wonder (YA)--Palaccio
  • Choosing to See--Mary Beth Chapman
  • The White Princess--Phillippa Gregory
  • This is How you Lose Her--Junot Diaz
  • The House on Mango Street--Sandra Cisneros
  • Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe--Todd Wilson
  • I Saw the Angel in the Marble--Davis
The Books I started but didn't finish:

  • Guardians of Ga'hoole: The Capture (YA)--Lasky
  • The Day the World Ended at Little BigHorn--Marshall III
  • Unglued--Terkeurst
  • Sing Me To Heaven--Margaret Kim Peterson
  • A Sand County Almanac--Aldo Leopold
  • The Undertaking--Thomas Lynch
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me--Loewen
  • Flora & Uylesses (YA)--DiCamillo

So that makes my total: 39 books completed. 10 Non-fiction, 29 fiction, 4 Young Adult.
(I didn't include my repeat reads--I may be guilty of re-reading Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books. A Couple times)

Here's to a great year in books. Typing this list brought many remembrances. To me, that is the mark of a year well-read.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Half-finished thought...

[Full Disclaimer: I started this post on Sunday. Then I put it aside to add pictures later. And now it's Tuesday night and there are still no pictures. If I want you to ever read it, it'll just have to be the words!]

It's gotten quite bad lately. The kids have started to chastise me when I loose track of a sentence.

"Mom, what were you saying?"

I whip my head back toward my original intention, pulling my attention away from the one who stole it in the first place.

A blank look crosses my face. "Uh....I forgot."

Or I start to sweep the junk off the floor under the table. I make a nice little pile. I go to find the dustpan when someone needs me or I get distracted or something happens. And I totally forget about the sweeping and the pile of dust and food crumbs waiting in the middle of the floor. Until some child (or I) step through it and spread it everywhere again.

And that seems to be the story of this past year.

It's been the year of unfinished thoughts, projects, intentions.

As I type, there are four Christmas gifts that I cannot finish while the receivers are out of bed.

Looking on my bedside table, there are a couple books that I started, but have never finished. Not because they aren't great, but I just didn't. (Honestly, the ones I haven't finished have all been non-fiction.)

At my feet in the office, is a stack of soon-to-be discarded rough drafts of my novel, which although received so well, has stalled (and died?) in the middle of a major revision.

Throughout the year, I've started diagnosis/medication paths for children, to have them go nowhere.

I've started life changing conversations, only to not be able to have the time to finish them well.

A box of half-addressed Christmas cards sits on the dining room counter. (Consider them New Year's best wishes.)

If there has been anything that has characterized this year, it is the un-finished-ness of it. The things I haven't been able to follow through on, the things I've started, but not yet completed.

I want to think that this is a phase, that there will come a time when everything is completed, where projects and thoughts and intentions are brought to fruition. But I don't think it's going to be for a while.

So the question i have, how do I live life well in the middle of this: life unfinished, rough cut, unedited? I'm sure there is wisdom and patience to be found even in the midst of these stops & starts.

I'll go look for it in just a minute....

[If you've gotten this far, then let me wish you the merriest of Christmases, full of the traditions and events that warm your heart, the quiet moments of reflection and pondering that refuel your soul, and a reminder that our greatest gift isn't wrapped under the tree--He was born in a stable. Blessings. -S]