Since my last post, I’m no longer “near 50”, I am FULL ON 50! Fifty is lovely; I’m happy to report. I’m still practicing radical self-care, staying busier than ever and challenging myself in new ways, and planning for a future with a guy who I adore.
While I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions, this year I did set two manageable goals for myself. I’ve been journaling at least four days per week, and I’m tracking every book I read going forward. I’m accomplishing both using DayOne, an iOS app that syncs with all my Mac devices.
My goal as an adult reader has always been a minimum of one book a week. I can usually maintain that pace without sacrificing sleep or productivity. Our snowy and frigid winter this year allowed for more reading time, and April looks to be conducive to another prolific month. Year to date, I’m ahead of my goal, but I’ll chalk that up to a couple of slender tomes and no bulky novels on the list.
Here are my 2018 reads in chronological order:
1. Where the Past Begins, by Amy Tan. A memoir from one of my favorite authors.
2. Homeland and Other Stories by Barbara Kingsolver. I love short story collections. They’re literary bonbons, providing immediate gratification to the time-crunched reader.
3. Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals. I heard an interview with Ms. Patillo-Beals on NPR’s Fresh Air one morning and bought the book chronicling the experience of one of the nine young black students who integrated Little Rock’s public schools. The courage that these young people displayed and the torment they endured should be unfathomable, yet it’s all too real.
4. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo. Oh, how I hated this book. There’s a scene in the movie Silver Linings Playbook where Bradley Cooper’s character throws Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms out the window. The ending leaves him so disgusted he shouts an obscenity and chucks it through the glass. That’s exactly how I felt in the final chapter of this novel.
This is Reese Witherspoon’s book club selection for February, and I fear it will be made into an even worse movie. No spoiler alerts, but I regret the time invested reading this schlock.
5. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk. The target audience is entrepreneurs, but I think creatives and activists and anyone passionate about their career can glean some knowledge and support from Gary Vee’s latest offering.
6. What She Ate by Laura Shapiro. Unexpected perspective and insight on some high profile women and a couple I didn’t know previously.
7. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. The best book of this year so far, and I doubt if anything will top it for the remainder of 2018. So timely, so powerful…it washed away the bad taste left in my mouth from The Light We Lost.
8. Fado and Other Stories by Katherine Vaz. Tayari Jones was profiled in the New York Times “By the Book” column and she recommended this author. Great call! A voice I’d never heard before and a luscious writing style.
9. Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones. I became a full-on Tayari fangirl after reading An American Marriage, and this book solidified it for me. It resonated with me as a former resident of Atlanta, and a child who grew up hearing about the Atlanta child killings.
10. Educated by Tara Westover. An appropriate subtitle for this book could be, “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” The daughter of Mormon survivalists escapes her isolated and ignorant childhood and becomes a student at Harvard and Cambridge.
11. Devotion by Patti Smith. A brief little morsel from a woman who I appreciate more and more as she ages. At 71, she can still bring a crowd to their feet at her concerts and then switch gears to write intimate memoirs and share her writing process.
12. My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl. Part cookbook, part memoir. Mouthwatering.
13. The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington. John Grisham wrote the forward to this book, which is my top non-fiction pick for the first quarter. This book made me so angry/exasperated/enraged, all the more so because this gross miscarriage of justice is so very recent.
14. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I was skeptical about this book initially. The author was the wife of comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, and she died in 2016 of an accidental drug combination. Not only did I finish the book with a better understanding of her obsessive search for the Golden State Killer, but I also appreciated the humanity she brought to the victims’ lives. I spent the week after reading it jumping at every bump in the night and waking with a start from dreams that were no doubt a result of peeking into McNamara’s world.
15. I Am, I Am, I Am, by Maggie O’Farrell. Referral from Parnassus Books owner and another of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. The author details more than a dozen close calls with the grim reaper, but the book is more an appreciation of the life we take for granted.
16. The Splendid Things We Planned, by Blake Bailey. I first read this when it was first published after David Sedaris recommended it to the audience at one of his Twin Cities performances a few years ago. This is my first re-read this year, and I came back to it after coming across an interview with Blake Bailey and David Sedaris following the suicide of David’s sister Tiffany. It’s not a happy book, but it’s an honest look at the devastation wrought by a family member with mental illness and addiction issues.