I’d set a goal of reading 45 books this year, and I only made it to 34. I was determined to finish “John Quincy Adams” this year, and I did it. But it was a slog and I had to stop reading other things to do it. I’m going to aim for 40 in 2018.
I didn’t know much about Trevor Noah other than that he’d taken over at “The Daily Show,” so I wasn’t really interested when I saw he’d written a biography. But then I was out of things to read and “Born a Crime” was available as a digital download from the library, so I figured I’d try it. I’m glad I did. It ended up being my favorite read of the year.
Once again, many thanks to the good folks at Goodreads for tabulating all of this for me.
“Among the Ten Thousand Things” is the story of a family falling apart. Julia Pierpont shows the reader in exquisite and funereal detail all the ways in which the Shanley family — Jack the philandering artist, Deb the former dancer, teenage Simon and pre-teen Kay — is uniquely unhappy.
It’s a well-written, sometimes lyrical book, but it isn’t a particularly enjoyable one. I slogged through it, but I didn’t like any of the characters and every chapter left me feeling melancholy. Which I guess is the purpose of the Unhappy Family genre.
Well, friends, I still haven’t finished “John Quincy Adams: An American Visionary,” and Goodreads tells me I’m 8 books behind on my 2017 Reading Challenge. But I have been reading, albeit more slowly and sporadically than usual.
For some reason that I’m certain was just a coincidence and not at all related to politics, I started the year with some bleak stuff. In January and February I read Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” and Annie Proulx’s “Barkskins,” and they were both brutal. So much so that I didn’t read anything else for a month, at which time I read Ron Rash’s “The Risen.” It was neither as harsh nor as good as some of his previous work.
And then I skipped yet another full month of reading. That’s very strange for me, and I’m not sure what happened. I think I may have been in a fugue state. Maybe Baron von Strucker has turned me into a Winter Soldier. Who could know?
Anyway, I’ve been back on the reading rainbow since last month. I’ve recently read:
Tom Perotta’s “The Leftovers.” It was OK.
Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies.” Also OK.
Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Wise Man’s Fear.” It’s the second book in a fantasy trilogy, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first one. Hopefully the last one will be better — and less focused on our hero’s burgeoning love life.
Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime.” This is the best book I’ve read this year. It’s an interesting and surprisingly moving biography.
Rebecca Dinerstein’s “The Sunlit Night.” It wasn’t bad, but I had to force myself to finish it. I didn’t connect with any of the characters.
I have a couple more books waiting on my Kindle, and I just checked out Eowyn Ivey’s new book. June and July are usually heavy reading months for me; maybe I’ll get caught up on my reading challenge before August.
What’ve you been reading?