I am a little behind with this, as Christmas and a wonderful break in the sun after New Year’s have delayed my posts. But I didn’t want to leave my 2016 series on my Year of Important Books without some reflection on the books which journeyed with me throughout the year.
My aim last year was to re-visit some of my favourite books from childhood, books that as a child I read over and over, books that were important to me in my development as a reader and as a person. It was hard to pick from the many I could have chosen, but in the end I am glad that I picked the ones I did.
My reading list consisted of (in order from January 2016 to December 2016) : The Yearling, Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, Watership Down, Little Women, A Study in Scarlet, If Only They Could Talk, A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, and The Fellowship of the Ring.
As I look at the list now I have to say those were solid choices, both in the impact they had on my life as a child and on the enduring mark they have made on literature as a whole. There’s a reason why these books are not only beloved by me. They all deserve the many awards and accolades they have been given.
I loved re-reading these books. It was a great deal of fun to dive back into them and to be reacquainted with these wonderful characters and stories which had impacted me so greatly way back when.
In no particular order, here are some of my thoughts on the series:
- Favourite book of the year – okay, this is hard. But I have to give
this to the very first one I read, The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Oh my, what a book. There is something about the writing and the voice of the book that is utterly compelling to me.It’s haunting and beautiful, just like life. And that ending. I know I’m going to read this one again.
2. Least favourite book of the year – also hard to pick, because notwithstanding anything I say here I really did love them all. But I would have to pick Alice In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll for this. I think possibly because all my favourite memories of Alice are actually in the second book, Through the Looking Glass. Not being able to revisit the Jabberwocky was so disappointing! I know it’s not fair to judge this book badly because it didn’t fit my faulty memory, but there you go. And as I said in my original post about it, if I hadn’t loved it as a child and read it for the first time as an adult, it wouldn’t have held too much appeal to me. The dream ending was also a bit much.
3. Book I felt most conflicted about – hands down, this was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. All that moralizing and the flowery writing was difficult to trudge through. And I hated that it was bothering me so much, because I had nothing but love for this book as a child. However, in doing my research on Alcott herself I came to really appreciate the book in a way I never could have as a child. So, this one was a tough one for me.
4. Best part about the series other than the books themselves – As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed doing the background reading on the authors and getting to know them a little bit, too. It was interesting to hear of their trials and tribulations on the way to publication, and how their real lives were often reflected in their books, whether it was the landscape they wrote about or the characters in the books themselves.
So I leave my Year of Important Books with a little regret. There are other books I could have read, such as Dr. Doolittle, or Charlotte’s Web, or The Phantom Tollbooth, and many others. Ah well, perhaps another time…
Which brings me to this year, and a brand new series. I have been having some trouble deciding what to focus on this year. I would really like to continue my Year of Reading Lewis, there are many books of his I would like to either re-read or tackle for the first time that I missed in my first go-around. And there are other authors I could focus on, too.
But in the end I decided to let someone else make the suggestions and am tackling the Reading Challenge on the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. I really enjoy her “What Should I Read Next?” podcast, and when I saw her Reading Challenge I thought it might be perfect for me.
She actually has two streams: Reading for Fun and Reading for Growth. I have decided to mix and match a bit on these, so will be pulling from both lists to discover my books for 2017. If you want to follow along, here is the link to the Reading Challenge on her website with more info. The two lists are:
Reading for Fun:
A book you chose for the cover
A book with a reputation for being un-put-downable
A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit
A juicy memoir
A book about books or reading
A book in a genre you usually avoid
A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read
A book in the backlist of a new favourite author
A book recommended by someone with great taste
A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet
A book about a topic or subject you already love
Reading for Growth:
A Newberry Award winner or Honour Book
A book in translation
A book that’s more than 600 pages
A book of poetry, , a play, or an essay collection
A book of any genre that addresses current events
An immigrant story
A book published before you were born
Three books by the same author
A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author
A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending
A book nominated for an award in 2017
A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner
Intriguing lists, right? I am probably going to stay mostly on the “fun” side of the block, but who knows what might happen? And there may be times where one book might fit more than one of these categories.
And throughout the year, I’m also going to continue my Book Bingo challenge I started last year but didn’t get too far on. Some of those books will fit under the Reading Challenge categories, too. Efficiency is my middle name!!
I hope you join me! I’ll be back next week with my first book: A book I chose for the cover.