Last year my dad announced that he had read well over 50 books in 2009. The year before his number was in the 60's and the year before that it was in the 70's. I've never really kept track of how many books I've read in a year but I can honestly say that I rarely go more than a day between finishing one book and starting another as the idea of not having a book to read makes me quite uncomfortable.
In 2010 I entered into a vague competition with my dad to see if I could match him book for book. I say vague because neither of us are particularly competitive and it's not really about how many books we could read but comparing what we had read and why.
I kept track of the books I read in a blue notebook, recording the title, author and a brief reflection on it. I wrote them down according to month. I think it's been interesting to look back on my year as reflected in the books I read, thirty-eight in total.
When Things Fall Apart - Pema Chodron
I adore Pema. She has been one of my greatest teachers. I have great respect for her and the teachings she shares with the world. When I read this book it was as I was adjusting to an incredible upheaval to my life. Born and raised in Calgary I was suddenly embarking on an entirely new way of life in a new country. I didn't have a job yet, nor very much money in the bank. Without my friends and family close at hand I had to rely very much on myself and on the support of my partner. I'm fiercely independent and sometimes this can be a detriment to my well-being. Reading this book acted as a reminder that being groundless is a great place to be as it will result in so much growth and change. It can be the source of inspiration and creation and should be seen as an opportunity. When things are at their most difficult is when we see where we need to change and where we are indestructible.
Nation - Terry Pratchett
An entirely whimsical, lovely tale, as only Sir Pratchett can create. His writing never ceases to bring me great comfort and fill my head with ideas for my own writing.
Walks In Hemingway's Paris - Noel Riley Fitch
A novel to accompany one on a trip to Paris. I began reading it a little before I myself embarked on the incredible London to Paris train journey. I can't say I'm a particular fan of Hemingway himself but the book is full of many other authors he was known to fraternise with. The entire trip was coloured with an insight to the creatives who lived and visited Paris in the 1920's, 30's and 40's.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby
A poetic reflection on life and what makes us who we are. It's also one of those stories which puts ones own situation in perspective. We are each of us so very lucky to have a human life and every opportunity we make for ourselves, no matter what our situation.
Big Stone Gap - Adrianna Trigiani
This book reminded me of my childhood somehow. It was the sort of chick-flick storyline in films I'd go to see with my mum and her best friend. It was a bit fluffy but comforting in it's own way.
No Time To Lose - Pema Chodron
A re-read. I have read this book four times now and each time I do something different sticks in my head. I don't think I can explain how beautiful it is to read and I don't know it's a book I can actually recommend as it might be a bit like suggesting someone read the bible. If you need to read this book it will find you, I'm sure.
Hickory, Dickory, Dock - Agatha Christie
I've never before read an Agatha Christie, but she is an English Institution and as my partner has every book she's ever written it seemed a natural choice. I chose this title for the illustration on the cover (A way of choosing novels which I can find no fault.) and it starred the delightfully endearing Poirot. Christie's way of creating characters is marvellous and I think this really was the perfect choice as my first Christie novel to embark upon.
Nietzche, a Graphic Guide - Laurence Gane & Piero
I understand many people are dubious about the merit of graphic novels as 'book'. Many believe this is just a glorified description for a comic book but I disagree. The best way I've found to explain it is with a comparison to television programs. A comic book is much like a soap opera. It might have the same cast of characters but the plots change drastically in a short period of time and the stories are never ending and often become repetitive. A graphic novel is more like a mini-series. It has a distinct beginning, middle and end. Graphic Novels: The Sandman Series, Maus. Comic Books: X-Men, Archie
In this case I'd found a sort of biography/study of Nietzche accompanied by the artwork of Piero. It was thought provoking and started me thinking that it would be an awful lot of fun to be a philosopher.
Cat Amongst Pigeons, Murder is Easy and Dead Man's Folly- Agatha Christie
I did a small binge on the Christie novels and got a bit of a headache. I do love her character development but I've never been a huge fan of mysteries. I decided to take a break.
Blackberry Wine - Joanne Harris
Unfortunately Joanne Harris is not as well known as she should be. Most people do know her work and don't even realise it. She is the genius behind Chocolat (Although my favourite novel by her is The Five Quarters of the Orange) and Blackberry Wine does have a nod to the characters in that novel.
I really do love the way she writes. Her stories are brilliant and this did not disappoint.
Wasting Police Time - PC Copperfield (Alias)
An airport novel based on a blog kept anonymously over a year by a member of the the English police force. A light, amusing read that got a bit whiney in bits but didn't fail to entertain.
The Psychology of Happiness - Samuel S. Franklin
I picked this book up on a visit to Cambridge, with a discount thanks to a friend. It was fantastic as it expressed so much of what I have found and believe in with Buddhism without the Buddhist language. I often struggle with wanting to share my thoughts on living a good, happy life with people without it coming across as preaching. I like to say that the teachings are the same but the packaging can be of your choosing. This book packaged my thoughts in a different way and I am grateful to Franklin for writing it. I was also pleased as punch to get an email from him when I mentioned the book in an earlier blog entry.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves - Lynne Truss
I picked this up whilst in Amsterdam. It was delightful to read although I wish it had covered a bit more, such as the use of * and /.
Gentlemen and Players - Joanne Harris
I love the diversity of her work. This was quite tense but in that wonderful captivating way. I couldn't out the book down but at the same time I didn't want it to end so I tried stretching it out as much as possible. As you can see from May and June I was quite busy. Reading was low on my list and I found myself only able to do so for the ten minutes before I fell asleep each night. I do not recommend this particular tale for helping one drift off to sleep. I think it actively kept me awake a few nights, but still, it was well worth the story.
...To Be Continued...