Lists and Logs:
I decided to keep a reading notebook for 2018. Handwritten, of course, and then share bits and pieces here and on Ink in My Coffee.
Not because I want to boast. But I want to see what I choose to read, whether for pleasure or because I’m paid to read it, or for research for a project. I also want to see how certain books lead to other books.
Some of these books will lead to a new, upcoming feature called “Conversations with a Book.” Sometimes, when I read a book, I feel as though I’m having a conversation with the book or its author. I plan to share some of these with you this year.
I couldn’t wait to start the book journal until January 1.
From December 22 to 31, I read 26 books. Doesn’t sound possible, does it, and I’m not boasting. I read a lot. I was hungry for words. I felt creatively tired, and knew that I’m on a brutal deadline schedule this year. I wanted to use other people’s words as fuel.
Three of them I am still reading — not yet finished. So I guess the actual total of completed reads is 23, not 26.
16 were non-fiction. That included two cookbooks (yes, I read cookbooks like most people read novels) and one biography that’s background for one of my novels.
One of the non-fiction books will result in a “Conversation with a Book” piece. I took extensive notes as I read.
8 were fiction. Of the fiction, 7 of the 8 were mysteries (the only non-mystery I read was re-reading A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which I do every Christmas Eve).
1 was digital, fiction, recommended by a friend. The rest were print books.
Four of the mysteries were a huge disappointment. In fact, one enraged me so much I don’t want to read anything else by that author, and I certainly won’t buy it. One of the others I liked a lot, one I thought was a lot of fun, and two I liked and respected, although I found them very sad.
11 were books I own; 5 of which were re-reads, 2 of which I bought because I wanted to, and 4 which were holiday gifts.
15 were library books.
What does that all mean?
I have absolutely no idea.
But several books led me to order other books, and we’ll see where that winds up.
First Book of the Year
For some reason, the first book of the year is important to me. I’m not sure when that started or why.
We usually give and receive books for Christmas and start reading them on Christmas Eve (we’re Icelandic that way). But the first book choice of the new year started mattering to me.
I remember living in Seattle in the mid-1980s and making a big deal of the choice. My first purchase and read that year was Gail Fairfield’s CHOICE CENTERED TAROT, which is still a favorite.
This year, in keeping with my resolution to read more poetry, my first read, shortly after midnight was LOCKSLEY HALL AND OTHER POEMS by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It’s a small, old volume that was a gift from a friend earlier this year.
I’d read Tennyson before, but this time the rose-colored glasses were off. I was surprised by my negative reaction. He’s supposed to be romantic, isn’t he? To me, the poems felt like the male narrator blamed the women in the poems for the narrator’s own weaknesses, while pretending to wrap it up in adoration for her. I want to do some more research — I think I may have another “Conversation with A Book” piece come out of it.
The book includes:
The May Queen
The Lady of Shalott (which, interestingly enough, was referenced in one of the mystery novels I read in the past few days)
The Lord of Burleigh
Lady Clara Vere de Vere
I plan to re-read them, several times, slowly, in the coming weeks, and research the questions that I came up with in response to the reading. I’ll let you know if I find any answers!
My first choice of novel was something that was given to me over a year ago, and I hadn’t had the chance to read it. I liked the title, and I was looking forward to it. Sadly, when I picked it up, I discovered it was written in the present tense. I loathe novels written in the present tense. To me, it’s the author standing there, screaming in my face, “Look at ME! I’m a such a great stylist!” instead of getting out of the way and letting me experience the book.
So I put the book down. I will give it to someone who can enjoy it. No, I’m not posting the title and author — I don’t believe in author bashing.
I picked up another novel I’d been given several years ago and not had the chance to read, LUNCH WITH ELIZABETH DAVID by Roger Williams, and I’m enjoying it.
Is your choice of first book of the year important to you? Why or why not? Have you read Tennyson? What are your impressions?
Do you keep track of what you read? What tools do you use? How do you find it helpful?
I’m asking because I’m genuinely curious!