Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reading in 2006

Once again I find myself disappointed with the number of books I read last year: only thirty. The prior year's tally was twenty-nine and I had hoped to to get closer to fifty in 2006, but a girl can have too many hobbies, if you know what I mean. Among the thirty there are a number of gems and a couple of losers that I forced myself to finish reading since it took me until mid-year to decide that a book that doesn't interest me by the time I am a quarter of the way through it is worthy of closing and setting aside to make time for something more worthwhile.

Among the winners this year are Breathing Lessons and Digging to America. These books leave me wondering how I have managed to miss Anne Tyler since she is now among my favorite authors; I had never heard of her until 2006. Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates was another gem, as well as Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson, and the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The non-fiction winner is Crunchy Cons by Ron Dreher. This book put into words many ideas that have been swimming around in my head for the last few years and added a few new ones--it is always a plus when a book makes me think!

Night by Elie Wiesel was my top choice overall. It is a raw and honest look at the Holocaust that I wish everyone would read. I found myself squirming in my chair a number of times with tears in my eyes because of the books intensity.

My two biggest losers for the year are Vanishing Acts and My Sister's Keeper, both by Jodi Piccoult. As of yet I have only met one other person who doesn't care for Ms. Piccoult's writing style, so I don't expect much agreement in this. Although she has a knack for finding deep meaning in everyday things, I feel that she overuses this technique in her writing. Every character in her books happen to be deeply emotional and philosophical and, to be honest, I just don't encounter this in real-life--especially when it comes to men. Vanishing Acts was the most frustrating in this respect because I kept wondering when I would ever encounter a man such as the characters she portrays. Don't get me wrong, I don't think men are brute beasts or anything like that, but in my experience I don't find them to be much like, well, women. I find her writing to be lacking in realism.

So for 2006 those are my winners and losers. Right now I am reading Jane Eyre and Organic Housekeeping.

Was 2006 a good reading year for you? What are you reading now?