A year in reading

It’s just after 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and I’ve completed my reading goal for the year.

I’m a list maker, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve kept track of my reading habits for more than a decade. GoodReads has simplified that process, and also made it easier to identify how my reading correlates to my well being. That’s more intriguing to me than the number of books assigned to each year; when my numbers dip, I’m usually consumed by some hardship. As Anna Quindlen wrote, “Reading has always been my home, my sustenance, my great invisible companion.” When we’re not together, I’m off.

2017 was a year of reconciling Colorado’s beautiful days and abundant outdoor opportunities with my passion for books. I’ve made my peace with the fact that I can’t engage in the physical practice of yoga while reading, but this year I also had to choose between skiing and reading, or riding my bike and reading, or hiking and reading.

Still, I was able to read 75 books.*

And what books they were. I am stingy when assigning stars on GoodReads; if I thoroughly enjoyed a book, it starts out with a three-star rating. If it was good enough but not memorable, the book is likely to snag two stars. Because of that, I was surprised to realize I rated 21 books with four or five stars this year.

These are my standouts of 2017. What were yours?

FIVE

  1. “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster (I can’t believe it took me 36 years to get to this one! What a delightful book.)
  2. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green (reread)
  3. “When Women Were Birds: 54 Variations on Voice” by Terry Tempest Williams (My favorite author 2017 introduced me to.)
  4. “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” by Chimama Ngozi Adichie
  5. “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur
  6. “The Futilitarians: Our Year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading” by Anne Gisleson (I’m still thinking about this one.)
  7. “A Child of Books” by Oliver Jeffers
  8. “My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues” by Pamela Paul
  9. “Noah Webster and His Words” by Jeri Chase Ferris
  10. “White Girl in Yoga Pants: Stories of Yoga, Feminism, & Inner Strength” by Melissa Scott (I helped edit this one, and I’m so proud of my dear friend for sharing her stories and insight!)

FOUR

  1. “Our Short History” by Lauren Grodstein
  2. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory” by Caitlin Doughty
  3. “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton
  4. “Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs” by Beth Ann Fennelly (Merits a re-read, and may merit another star!)
  5. “On the Teaching of Creative Writing: Responses to a Series of Questions” by Wallace Stegner
  6. “The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying” by Nina Riggs (I may bump this one up to five stars if and when I reread it.)
  7. “Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After” by Heather Harpham (This too was close to a five-star read. I had a great year of reviewing, clearly.)
  8. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry (Reread. I intend to revisit this fantastic book on Sept. 14 of each year, in my sister’s memory.)
  9. “Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America’s National Parks” by Mark Woods
  10. “The BFG” by Roald Dahl
  11. “May Cause Love: An Unexpected Journey of Enlightenment After Abortion” by Kassi Underwood

*Please note, I would never want someone to feel shamed because I read more than he or she does. I prioritize reading because it’s one of the most important things in my life. It is part of what makes me me. I do encourage everyone to read, but I also recognize that we all have different priorities. For example, one of my girl friends aims to spend times on trails each day. I … do not. I admire her drive, and it’s similar to how I feel about books. So, you do you. But if you want reading recommendations, I’ve got ’em!

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