This past year was another very productive one for me reading-wise. More carpool lanes, more waiting through music lessons and the insomnia that comes with menopause meant more time to read. I ended up reading 145 books for the year. Whew! I’m tired just thinking about it.
I mainly read nonfiction, but I did manage to include a bit more fiction this year. “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman is one that will stay with me. The tender and often hilarious depiction of community in this book had me hooked. Backman has become a new favorite author. I also really loved “Angle of Repose” by Wallace Stegner. It’s an older classic but still enthralling. “Hope was always out ahead of fact, possibility obscured the outlines of reality.”
There were a couple of books that I read as the authors left us, which made them more special to me. “The Shepherd’s Crown” by Terry Pratchett was one of these. We have it cataloged as young adult, but even an adult can’t resist a quote like, “Tiffany knew that if a witch started thinking of anyone as ‘just’ anything, that would be the first step on a well-worn path that could lead to, oh, to poisoned apples, spinning wheels, and a too-small stove … and to pain, and terror, and horror and the darkness.” Another author we lost was Oliver Sacks. His book “Gratitude” was incredibly graceful: “Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
Nonfiction books I loved include “Big Muddy Blues: True Tales and Twisted Politics Along Lewis and Clark’s Missouri River” by Bill Lambrecht. The Dakota Access Pipeline controversy was beginning to explode just as I began reading this one. This book was a great look at where the Missouri River has been and where it’s headed. According to Goodreads, this was the least popular book that I read last year, but it was one of my favorites, so you can’t always judge by popularity. Another favorite was “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, which I decided to read simply because I haven’t been able to see the musical. I loved the book, but I still hope to see the production.
I relied at times on books to help me stay sane or keep my spirits up. One of those books was “Hope in the Dark” by Rebecca Solnit. Her thoughts on the subject were quite helpful: “To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on your futures, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.” She has become another one of my favorite authors. “The Geography of Genius” by Eric Weiner also helped me keep my spirits up: “The story of the world is not the story of coups and revolutions. It is the story of lost keys and burnt coffee and a sleeping child in your arms. History is the untallied sum of a million everyday moments.”
I have made a list of more of my favorites, in no particular order, from 2016. And now, onward to 2017!