What changed? For a while, friends had been asking if I wouldn’t mind sharing my reading list, but I didn’t have one. My friend Nina, who has long kept an annual list with pithy reviews, also inspired me (check out her favorites from 2016 http://ninabadzin.com/2016/12/24/top-5-books-2016/). And so my own year in books was born last January, a list that includes a very brief summary and, sometimes, a few thoughts, too.
I don’t plan my reading for the long haul. It simply unfolds as I go. On this year’s list, there are titles I first read as a girl and chose to revisit with grown-up eyes, as well as classics I hadn’t read before. There are books I stumbled upon in unlikely places and books I purchased soon after folding up their reviews. Sometimes, it was the right book at the wrong time, or maybe it just wasn’t for me at all, and I’ve left off titles I put down at the gate. I didn’t love everything on the list, but I never failed to love the process. Alas, there were so many books I did not get to read because 2016 ran out of time.
My favorites? Oh, I’m terrible at picking favorites of anything, especially books. I can only say that Amy Gottlieb’s The Beautiful Possible and Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow are the books that will stick with me most from this year, and I’m already rereading the latter because there are clues I missed (well that, and I have a crush on Count Rostov).
Though I read mostly fiction and memoir, I loved Daniel James Browns’ The Boys in the Boat, about the 1936 US Olympic rowing team. I feared the topic would fell me, but Paul Kalanithi’s memoir When Breath Becomes Air was everything the hype promised. Of the books I reread after years of distance, Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter remains one of the most powerful, and George Eliot’s Middlemarch is the classic that filled a 900-page gap in my reading history. And the last book on the list, Gavriel Savit’s Anna and the Swallow Man, finished just hours before the ball dropped, will, I think, haunt me for a while.
And now, on to 2017. So many books, only 365 days.
Wishing us all a year in which to worry less and read more!