2019 Reading Re-Cap

Looking back over what I've read this year, I feel like 1) This year has been LONNNGGGGG. 2) Some of the books I read were SO good, I can't believe they have only been a part of my life for less than a year!?!

So here are some stats, highlights, and other thoughts.

Goal: to read 52 books -- Actual: 88 books. A little over half by women. Only about 12% by people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds than me, though (not counting a couple works in translation by European authors.) So that could stand to improve. About 1/3 were audio books, I think only 6 were actual paper books. The rest were e-books.

Some of my best author discoveries this year were: Wendell Berry, Kent Haruf, and Mary Oliver -- HOW have I only just read these authors this year, you ask? No idea. None. I read Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry and fell in love. Plainsong and Eventide by Kent Haruf, and I've been holding off on his other ones because his oerve is small and I'll be sad when I run out. And Mary Oliver, I've been galloping through basically everything she ever wrote. 



 


A couple other notes: 
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson - you know what, I read Gilead and was underwhelmed. But this one, I listened to on audio, and then bought a paper copy because I loved it so much. I'm really not sure how to explain why, though.

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett - so normally cheesy romance plots get a hard pass from me. But I guess set it in a cathedral town and weave in a millennium-long mystery involving ancient Saxon manuscripts and I'm in. I completely loved this book, especially protagonist Arthur Prescott and the nods to P.G. Wodehouse, and I've been mildly obsessed with cathedrals ever since. I wish the author had left the ending a little more open to writing a sequel. But all the same, I'll be fan-girling all over the rest of his work shortly.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper - without a doubt, this is the book I've been recommending more than any other this year. The story is all twisty and turny, and the suspense is such a great slow burn, and the setting so atmospheric. I was on the edge of my seat until almost the very end, and the ending definitely gave some food for thought. I would join a book club for this book.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - This might sound weird, but what I really loved about this book was the structure. You have two lines descending from the same family, split by the Atlantic Ocean. And for a relatively short book, it does a pretty great job of covering 300+ years! Each chapter is the story of a pivotal time in the life of one character, and you follow the family lines to the present day. I really loved this book. 


This year, I moved towards e-books in a big way -- one of my favorite things is the ability to "highlight" within the Kindle app, and then share highlights to Goodreads. I get most of my reading material through the library, so this is a super convenient way to save and revisit the passages I love. Here are a couple highlights -- literally!


"Then he got into the pickup and cranked it and drove out of the drive onto Railroad Street and headed up the five or six blocks toward Main. Behind him the pickup lifted a powdery plume from the road and the suspended dust shone like bright flecks of gold in the sun." - Plainsong, Kent Haruf (Haruf's spare prose just feels like Colorado to me: the long horizon, the wind-scoured sky.)


"And I knew that the Spirit that had gone forth to shape the world and make it live was still alive in it. I just had no doubt. I could see that I lived in the created world, and it was still being created. I would be part of it forever. There was no escape. The Spirit that made it was in it, shaping it and reshaping it, sometimes lying at rest, sometimes standing up and shaking itself, like a muddy horse, and letting the pieces fly." Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry



"We are too tightly tangled together to be able to separate ourselves from one another either by good or by evil. We all are involved in all and any good, and in all and any evil. For any sin, we all suffer. That is why our suffering is endless. It is why God grieves and Christ’s wounds still are bleeding." Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry



"I whisper over to myself the way of loss, the names of the dead. One by one, we lose our loved ones, our friends, our powers of work and pleasure, our landmarks, the days of our allotted time. One by one, the way we lose them, they return to us and are treasured up in our hearts. Grief affirms them, preserves them, sets the cost. Finally a man stands up alone, scoured and charred like a burnt tree, having lost everything and (at the cost only of its loss) found everything, and is ready to go. Now I am ready." Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry



"maybe death isn’t darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us— as soft as feathers— that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes, not without amazement, and let ourselves be carried, as through the translucence of mica, to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow— that is nothing but light—scalding, aortal light— in which we are washed and washed out of our bones." Owls and Other Fantasies, Mary Oliver





"and though the questions that have assailed us all day remain—not a single answer has been found— walking out now into the silence and the light under the trees, and through the fields, feels like one." Devotions, Mary Oliver






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