Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Books of 2018

First -- Carol, I just found your comment on 12/19.  Don't know how I missed it  Send me your email address and I'll be happy to give you the information you asked about.

To anyone else who wrote a comment that never got posted, apologies!  I just found a whole bunch of them I had never let go live!  Too much happening last month, I guess!

I usually do a review of the books I read in the previous year as I start the new year.  This year's review will be very easy (and short).  I started keeping a database of all the books I've read in 2004.  I track the books read and whether they were "real books," Kindle books, or audio books.  Some may question if you "read" audio books, but the result is the same if someone tells you a story than if you read it yourself, so I consider audio books as legitimate reading.

The first two years, I read 13 and 15 books, respectively, which I considered way too few.  I started putting forth more effort to read and in the next few years, my total was between 25 and 35.  

In the year before my mother moved to Davis, when I was so concerned about her and driving to see her several times a week, my consumption of audio books skyrocketed and in 2012, the year before she moved to Davis, I consumed 78 books.  That may be the only thing I regret about moving my mother to Atria--no chance to listen to audio books when I am only 5 minutes away from seeing her.
The following years, I was back in the 30s again, though did manage to raise the number when Brianna started our "book club" that had me speed reading many of the books that she chose--or was going to choose.

This year is the lowest in many years -- only 15.  Strange that I feel embarrassed at having read so few.  It's not like I have to read a book or not.  The number 15 doesn't really accurately reflect total reading though because I have started and not finished many books, read chunks of other books (I often pick up a section of an Outlander book to read, for example, just to have that familiar home base again!).  Right now I am reading about four different books, all of which are interesting and it's just what I feel in the mood to be reading.

I am loving Michelle Obama's autobiography, though I am not far into it yet.  It is one of the most readable political autobiographies I have read, but I got sidetracked by a couple of other books that I read about that I started to read and that also caught my attention.  My reading habits are as "organized" as my cleaning habits, I fear.

I started this year reading "Dark Sunshine," one of my favortest horse books when I was a kid.  I found it on Amazon and ordered it, thinking I would read it to see if I  thought Brianna would enjoy it.  I loved reading it again, but it does not match any of Brianna's likes, so I won't give it to her.  I remember being in bed sick one time as a kid and my mother going to the library for me.  Her favorite book was Kipling's "Kim" and she was so excited to share it with me.  To this day I have not read it and to this day I still feel guilty about that!  (In fact I think I found it free for the Kindle and downloaded it and still have not read it!)  But I just couldn't get into it, and the books I loved as a kid are so special to me I don't want to risk "ruining" them by hoping Brianna will like them as much as I did.  She is not into animal books the way I was.

On my list of 15, however, are two books Brianna chose, "Holes" and "Bridge to Terebithia," both classified as "young adult" and both easy one-day reads.  She and I did a one to one discussion of "Holes" and we hoped to do "Terebithia" with the group over Christmas, but never did.

In preparation for the new season of Outlander on TV, I re-read "Drums of Autumn," a book I thought was my least favorite of Gabaldon's series, but I loved it on second reading and am enjoying the series as well, though I know that, sadly, it is nearing the end.

Walt and I have enjoyed both Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben as audio books on our trips to Santa Barbara and we read one Connelly and two Cobens.  Those were the only audio books on my list for this year, though I am currently listening to Gabaldon's "Lord John" series and trying to get into it, unsuccessfully (I listen on my iPhone while Walt watches golf at night, so I'm missing huge swaths of the plot as I fall asleep at some point!)

A huge disappointment was "The President is Missing" by James Patterson and Bill Clinton.  I feel this is a very bad pairing.  Whenever you come to a section that is an extended description of something, you know Clinton wrote it.  The plot wasn't even that good.

I read a book called "While My Sister Sleeps" which showed up in my mailbox.  It was a few days before the accompanying letter, from a Swap Bot partner showed up explaining why she was sending me the book.  By then I'd finished it but at the end there was a note about another book "The Only Child," which sounded intriguing, so I read that one too, written in the voice of a 7 year old child whose brother had been killed in a mass grammar school shooting and exploring the effect on his family and his community.  Kind of good.

Somewhere on Amazon I saw a note for "The Russian Hill Murders" about killers running amok in the area of San Francisco where I grew up.  Always a sucker for a San Francisco book, I read that one which was so-so, though did have some interesting tidbits about parts of the city with which I was unfamiliar (including a park 3 bocks from where I grew up, which was created after I left town).  I was happy to finish the book, but will not be reading the other books in the series (which do not take place in San Francisco).

Guilty that my friend Alec Clayton, who has written 9 books, at some point asked if I would write a review for Amazon. I was embarrassed to admit that I had not read any of his books.  The one I tried I didn't like, though I finally finished it and wrote a sort-of review.  But this year I tried his latest, "This is Me, Debbie, David" and quite enjoyed it.  It was good to write a good review.

Two books I deliberately chose and enjoyed thoroughly were "A Star Is Born," by Lorna Luft (Judy Garland's daughter) and a co-writer, Jeffrey Vance.  It tells the complete story of the movies by that name concentrating, not surprisingly, on her mother's 1954 version.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book though, like the Patterson-Clinton book it was pretty obvious which parts were written by Luft and which by Vance.  Still, the personal touch was nice (and surprising that she never even saw this movie until after her mother's death!  Though I guess it's not all that surprising since she was a young child when it was released.)

The other book I enjoyed was "White Houses," which tells the fictionalized account of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock, the lover of the first lady (though some deny that, but reading the letters between the two of them, there is little question in my mind!)  Interesting to read how this shy woman became one of the most powerful women of her era, and very interesting to read about her affair with Hickock while FDR was having his own affair elsewhere.
I even snuck a Nicholas Sparks book into the mix while watching Great American Reads and hearing so many people rave about itI read "The Notebook" because of its story about a woman with Alzheimers and I had mixed emotions about it.

Great American Reads was an interesting experiment and nice to see so many people reading and discussing books, though when the show was announced I knew that "To Kill a Mockingbird" would be the winner--and it was.  Apparently it never moved out of first place in the entire year of voting!

So.  15 books.  A very low year.  I guess if I have any new year's resolutions, it's to read more in 2019.  Maybe cutting back on politics and reading more for pleasure will give me a more positive outlook in the new year!  I guess my immediate resolution is to finish the books I currently have started -- the Obama autobiography; the new book club book "A Wrinkle in Time," which I've never read; "All the Best" by GW Bush, covering the letters he's written, including some to his Compassion-sponsored child; and "The Shack" by William P. Young, which someone on Swap Bot mentioned as her favorite book.  The Amazon description sounded interesting.

I wonder if I can finish all of these in January--it would be a good start to the books of 2019.

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