As I was getting ready to write a blog post today I got a little shock. I knew I had not been very active for the first month of this year but what I didn't realize is that I wasn't very good about posting at the end of last year either. I think I was in a bigger slump than even I knew. One post in December. No Christmas posted. It's like it came and went and I didn't even edit or share a photo. The thing is, it was a great Christmas and I will now have to make an unpublished event so that I can share it with the boys later. Also, I took photos of all the new books that I got for Christmas so that I could share them here with you and guess what? I never shared my winter books with you from 2017. So, I set aside the new books so I could share the December books. So many good ones in that pile above. To keep things timely, so I can move on, I'll just tell you a bit about each book. Maybe in the comments, you can share with me whether you have read any of these books and what your thoughts were..here we go.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I really loved this book and I learned so much. It read like a novel but it was his Memoir of a family and culture in crisis. It was the perfect book to read at this time in history...The quote on the back cover, "An American classic, an extraordinary testimony to the brokenness of the white working class but also its strengths. The most important book of 2016. You cannot understand what's happening now without first reading J.D. Vance." Rod Dreher. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it
Gratitude by Oliver Sacks. A wonderful book. Small and powerful. Maybe some of you have read Sacks over the years but this little gem was written in the last few years of his life. He wrote a set of essays in which he movingly explored his feelings about completing and coming to terms with his own death. "It is the fate of every human being," Sacks writes, "to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death." It's really about what is unique about each of us and to find the gratitude for the gift of this life.
Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson. So I did read some really fun books and this was one of them. I love anything Paris but this was a memoir about living the American dream in Paris. Craig Carlson also loved Paris. So much so, that he eventually moved there and found that even with all the great food Pais has to offer, what he really missed most was an American breakfast. So he decided to open a diner called Breakfast in America. The book is about how that process happened and why it nearly failed. If you've never been to Paris you will feel the pull as you read this. He makes Paris come alive. The other thing that I loved was the human part of the story...but you'll have to read this yourself to find out about that.
Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins. A lovely little book of poetry that someone like me gets. I think reading and understanding poetry can sometimes be difficult so when I find a writer I can relate to, I almost always by all their books. Billy Collins is easy to read and understand. If you have never read him and have an interest in poetry, give him a try. "He takes the mundane thing and shows you its mystery. He takes the mysterious and strips it naked." The Washington Post.
The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman. You all should know by now that I love anything that Fredrik Backman writes. Well, I know at least one of you know that because I got this lovely little book in the mail from my good friend Ruthanne Annaloro. It came shortly before Christmas and it was perfect for sitting with a glass of port in front of the fire, curled up with Gracie. It's a short book with a powerful message about a father and son who haven't seen each other in a while. The father has a story he needs to share before it's too late.. for the rest of the story, grab your drink of choice and a warm fuzzy, and get started. Your friendship Ruthanne, is a gift that gives all year long. Thank you, my friend.
heart earth by Ivan Doig. Another small gem. I think small gems are perfect for November and December when days and time are short. Ivan was raised by his father and maternal grandmother. He grew up with little memory of his mother who died when he was only six. Later he found a grouping of her letter and through those letters he found out what his mother was all about. This is a prequel to his wonderful book This House of Sky. In this book, he learns of his life before his mother died. It was beautiful writing and heartfelt. I love this quote about his writing. "Ivan Doig uses words like oil paint to create canvases of enduring value and originality." Michael Dorris
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and I had trouble with this one. They were short stories that travel back and forth between India and American, charting the emotional journeys of the characters seeking love beyond both nations and generations. I just got lost and found this book, not to my liking. I'm not even sure if I finished it. I did want to include it here though because I know that we all have different reading preferences and I know some of you would really like this. That's the good news about reading and writing, we don't all have to enjoy the same books or authors. I would be curious if any of you have read this and really liked it. I sometimes feel that how we react to a book, could just be where we are in time and that at another time, if we re-read the book we would understand it in a different light.
The time Mom met Hitler, Frost came to dinner, and I heard the Greatest Story ever told, A memoir...by DIKKON EBERHART. I so enjoyed this one. It was fun and informative. Dikkon Eberhart's father is the Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, Richard Eberhart. The book is about his growing up amongst literary giants. They were dinner guest, and family friends, including Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot and more. They would read him bedtime stories as a child and helped him with his homework. As lovely as it all sounds Dikkon really wanted to find his own way and the book is also about his struggle to find his own identity and his writing life. I highly recommend it if you love reading, writing, and memoir. Which I do. I'm also including a link to this book because the cover is just so darn beautiful. Talk about a photo that just grabs you. Check it out.
Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan. This was one of my very favorites. I met Kelly at the Random House book event in New York, another blog post I want to get up. Had I not met her and heard her speak and then have gotten a few minutes to speak with her later, I might have missed out on this gem. Oh, no I wouldn't have...I got it in our gift bag. This is a totally down to earth, good read, relatable book. A few chapters might not grab you but most of what she has to say will and her humor is wonderful. That is a hard thing for an author to pull off I think. She does it well. She is also so compassionate and honest when she talks about the death of her Dad and her Best friend. Going forward I will now go back and read all of her books...
So this is my winter list through December 2017. I love reading and keeping track of my books. For a while now I have been a member of Goodreads. I love how it keeps me focused and organized and lets me know how I'm doing and it also connects me to other readers and we share comments and recommendations and I love reading reviews there from my friends. Last year Goodreads tells me that I read 54 books. I felt really good about that. I traveled to many places and met so many lovely people and also learned so much about this world in those 54 books. This year I hope to break that record. Happy Reading every one...go make a few new friends and learn a few new words...make reading fun and relaxing. I know I do...Cheers.
"Intervals of dreaming help us to stand up under days of work." Pablo Neruda, Memoirs
"Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable." Louisa May Alcott