Happy New Year!
Tomorrow I go back to work and reality after a wonderful two week break. I spent time with my family, decorated, shopped, and just generally had fun. I spent almost no time at all on social media. It was great!
Looking back on my year in books, I see a few trends, and feel an overall sense of satisfaction with what and how I read. I read 73 books in 2015 (in 2014 I read 77). But I read a lot of books in 2015 that were over 400, or even over 800 pages.
I read nine books that could be classified as classics. Among the classics I read:
Black Boy Richard Wright
Native Son Richard Wright
Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy
The Warden Anthony Trollope
Passing Nella Larson
Every one of the books listed above was a re-read for me. I indulged in a lot of rereading this year. I agree with Walter Mosley that if a book is worth reading once it's worth rereading. Blood Meridian was probably the most beautifully written--and the most violent--book that I read this year.
This year I fully realized my love for fantasy and speculative fiction. I read the entire Philip Pullman series His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; and The Amber Spyglass. The Pullman books are completely entrancing.
And, you guys, Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I never wanted this book to end.
Paolo Bacigalupi's The Wind Up Girl. Completely brilliant, unlike anything else I have read....And I have The Water Knife on the shelf, waiting for me.
And at the end of the semester, just when I needed a total escape, I finally read Deborah Harkness. I read A Discovery of Witches as I was wrapping up the Fall semester, and Shadow of Night over break. I doubt I'll be able to hold off on The Book of Life, even as a new semester begins. The combination of history, fantasy, and magic is irresistible. She had me at "Bodleian."
Two of my favorite books in 2015 were by Haruki Murakami: Norwegian Wood and A Wild Sheep Chase. A resolution for 2016: more Murakami!
I read 17 nonfiction books in 2015; two of the best were A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel and The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party by Daniel James Brown.
There was an apocalyptic trend in my reading in 2015:
California Eden Lepucki
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
Zone One Colson Whitehead
The Wind Up Girl Paolo Bacigalupi
Each of these books presented a word devastated by disease, environmental disaster, and capitalism run amok. I especially loved Station Eleven, which I read in August, and then re-read in November. I love Mandel's writing, and was swept away by the artistry of her book.
2015 was a good year for me, even as my work life threatened to take over my private life. Teaching just gets more demanding every year. But teaching also feeds my reading life: I am constantly handing students books, reading with students or teachers, and, of course, talking about books all the time. There is nothing I love more than introducing a student to a book that will whet their desire for reading. I love sharing my love of reading.
How was your year in books? What books are you looking forward to in 2016?