I approach the subject of books cautiously. In some circles, talking about the books you’ve read is akin to bragging about going for a run on Twitter. I don’t run, so reading about people running causes me to feel woefully inadequate and reminds me of my soft body, poor cardiovascular fitness, and general predisposition to lounge on my couch and read books.
Now I’m now going to mercilessly boast about books I’ve read this past year.
I love ‘Best of’ book lists. My book resolution is to make my way through the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2013. So far I’ve read only one, The Wave, which is the most beautiful and heartbreaking book ever written. I’m trying to savour Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, but I am instead obsessively plowing my way through it, carrying it everywhere I go, reading it in car wash line-ups and any moment I have good light or access to my couch.
I confess to having a Kindle. It is great for travelling, particularly since I’ve fulfilled my last year’s resolution to only travel with carry-on luggage. No checked bags, ever. I’m pleased to report I’ve conquered this item that truthfully made it to my bucket list, but that also means that I am resigned to carrying a Kindle instead of heavy, oversize hardcover books. It is also deceptively easy to purchase books on the Kindle, as my credit card bill will reveal. Now that I’ve passed 40, the light and large print do help, especially at night.
But a Kindle cannot stand alone. There’s a lack of permanence in my e-reader. I forget which books I’ve actually read. I can’t lend the books to my friends. It is challenging to flip back and forth, and I no longer can bend the tips of pages with important passages. I miss the tactile element of books, and also pine for the time spent rearranging new books on my shelves. So now I’ve gone back to purchasing real books, while saving Kindle books for travel.
Here are some of my favourite books from 2013:
1. The Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala – as mentioned, this is the most beautiful and heartbreaking book ever written
2. Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon – a meticulously researched and eloquently crafted book on parenting, and more importantly, on love and acceptance. Andrew Solomon is a rock star in the world of children with differences (and, come to think of it, don’t ALL children have differences?).
3. Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan – a fictional account of Frank Lloyd Wright, but really a love story. I thought about the ending of this book long after I finished it.
4. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn – I don’t care about this book’s mass popularity. There’s a reason everybody has read it – it is that good.
5. Me Before You, by Jo Jo Moyes – I gobbled this up on a beach vacation – another lovely, but sad book.
6. The Still Point of the Turning World, by Emily Rapp – yes, I am predisposed to books about beloved children and grief. The author manages to write both an intellectual and heart-wrenching book.
Writers write, and writers read, and as I never cared if my kids read Calvin and Hobbes or chapter books, I don’t care if people are reading Oprah books or old classics, on e-readers or otherwise. Every book you read inspires, motivates and educates – this is never ever wasted time.
On my night table now: The Circle by Dave Eggers, Handling the Truth by Beth Kepart and Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. And that damn goldfinch book, which will be finished by New Year’s Day if I can successfully hide from small children, teenagers and husbands demanding food and attention.