A Year of Books If Not Reading

According to Library Thing, I read 33 books this year. It’s definitely a low for me. I usually get closer to 50 and last year got close to 75 as part of a challenge. It’s a testament to two things: moving to the farm and getting stuck with a couple books.

While the move to the farm has been great for the books–they are breathing freely on the open shelves for the first time in at least a decade–it did not leave a lot of time for reading. I try to get a few pages in each night but am so tired, I usually fall asleep after a few paragraphs. I have found a few afternoons to curl up in the window seat as the sun sets across the front yard with the same result, dozing off in the rays that slip through the magnolia leaves and reflect on the silver roof.

As I look at the shortened list, I see that I got really bogged down in American history, maybe as a result of the move to an antebellum home. Biographies of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington go along with commentaries about both the American Revolution and the Civil War. It took me all summer to plow through McPherson’s one volume history of the latter, not learning that much more but somehow wanting to connect with the past.

I have been reading fiction as a backlash to all that history. I’m halfway through my second Franzen for the year and finding The Corrections a little less accessible than Freedom. I read two by Pat Conroy and enjoyed them although I often found them ponderous and over written even as I bathed in the lushness of the language. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel was the best “found” book as well as the quirkiest. And then there were just fun books: Georgia Bottoms, which my mother has passed around to all her friends who have loved reading a “dirty” book, Must Love Dogs, A Red Herring Without Mustard.

I have the audio of the next Flavia deLuce just waiting for my road trip tomorrow. I’ll bet the rental (my husband was hit by a deer) has a connection for my iPod.

What’s on the reading horizon for 2012? Another attempt at not buying books. I have shelves of unread books that called to me at some point: Edwin Way Teale on the seasons, Wendell Berry on living an authentic life, and lots and lots of fiction. There are 43 books on the To Read list in Library Thing so maybe that’s a good starting point. A good friend recommended Gilead so perhaps I shall start with that once I endure Franzen’s angst and dysfunction. It can be wickedly funny and tragic all at the same time.

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