In a year when I read the fewest books since I started to keep records, the highlights were 12 books I rated four star and 3 which received that rarely awarded fifth star.
They were a good mix …
- four were non-fiction
- three were based in Africa
- three others were autobiographical
- two dealt with medical conditions I’d personally experienced
- one was a book on the craft of writing
- another was a Pulitzer prize winner
- one offered me a solution to the problem of how to write my personal story
- one signified a return to top form by the author of the best book I’ve ever read
- there’s also a few which ended up with four-stars when they probably only appeared to deserve three – but something elevated them, something I’d possibly struggle to define now
Each year I ponder (albeit briefly) on how to approach those unweidly sights – my TBR (to be read) pile and my TBR list. Frankly, I’ve yet to feel I’ve hit on the right solution. One considerable problem is I tend to read what strikes my fancy at the time. I fear to admit I sometimes even tire of browsing through the list of the unread fiction on my kindle and simply dive in to whatever happens to be under my finger at the time. I’ve tried various challenges to ensure I read what I have rather than allowing myself to purchase anything new, but the truth is I’ve probably purchased a fair number of average books and it would break my heart not to buy at least a few potentially excellent new books during the year.
What did happen in 2018 is there were an increasing number of books I DNF’d (did not finish) and which I made an active choice to put aside. Will I return to them? Unlikely, I feel. I see people mentioning they must give a book another go as it’s so highly recommended, I even see people commenting they’re so glad they did give a book another go as it proved worthwhile. But I just don’t see myself doing that now. When I was younger, I never gave up on a book – I’d have ploughed on, determined not to let it defeat me. Now I just think “too many books, too little time” and move on without guilt. So long as I’ve given a book a serious go, I have no need to be influenced by the recommendations of other readers; after all – reading and the books we each love is so subjective.
This year I plan to focus – as far as is possible – on those with the potential for excellence. I say as far as possible, for I believe I need those lighter reads to cleanse the mental palate between the weightier reads. And frankly, some “lighter” reads appeared on my highlights of 2018 list. But let’s see if by setting this intention I gain even more highlights for this year.
2018’s highlights for me were …
“Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje
“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalinithi
“On Writing” by Stephen King
“Record of a Spaceborn Few” by Becky Chambers
“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
“Gentlemen and Players” by Joanne Harris
“The Golden House” by Salman Rushdie
“I am, I am, I am: Seventeen brushes with Death” by Maggie O’Farrell
“Three Things About Elsie” by Joanna Cannon
“The Return of the Soldier” by Rebecca West
“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi
How about you? What were your stand-outs last year? Despite the overwhelming nature of my piles and lists, I’m always open to adding the potentially excellent! 🙂
© Debra Carey, 2019