Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday Salon: Reflecting on My Year in Books

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?


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like you read some real gems. 2015 was an okay reading year for me - I don't think I loved as many books as I usually do. Happy New Year!

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

You read some wonderful books and some books I hope to read myself. Hope 2016 is as successful in terms of literary moments.

Iliana said...

Happy New Year! Looks like you had a great reading year. And, congrats on reading quite a number of Classics. That's great! Here's wishing you a great reading year in 2016.

Bryan G. Robinson said...

I've wanted to read Blood Meridian for years and really need to read it. I loved Native Son when I read it years ago. A Wild Sheep Chase is hands down my favorite Murakami. Nothing else to me has equaled it, although he has come close.

bibliophiliac said...

@bermudaonion-Thanks and Happy New Year to you...rather belatedly.

bibliophiliac said...

@Annne Bennett-Hope 2016 is rich in books!

bibliophiliac said...

@Iliana-Thanks! I hope to do even better in classics in 2016.

bibliophiliac said...

@Bryan-Blood Meridian is definitely a must. I agree with you on A Wild Sheep Chase--I loved it.