Mid-January feels like a good time for a reading year review of 2017. In recent years, I’ve done my best to stop fussing over how many books or pages I read as compared to an arbitrary goal or my previous reading year. But two developments this year captured my attention.
December reads? December rereads, more like. Six of the 10 books I read were books I’ve read before … in some cases multiple times. The holiday season is a time for nostalgia, apparently.
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan
This completed my 2017 rereading of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I’d forgotten how cleverly done the last book was. The first four draw on Greek mythology in fun and silly ways. The last book uses character development and plot to engage with ideas and questions ancient Greek mythology wrestled with and explored. My favorites: Your fatal flaw can also be your greatest strength. And: Is it possible for heroes to survive their own hubris? Continue reading “Reading Wrap-Up: December Reads”
Oh, hello. It has been a while! I did so much work-related writing in October and November that I could not bring myself to write another word. Now that I have some breathing room, I give you my fall reads, in one handy place. Continue reading “Fall reads: October & November”
My September reads are long overdue. What can I say? It has been a hectic month!
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Having loved The Goldfinch, I was pleased to scoop this up during a Nook sale … several years ago. As this has become my Year of Reading Classical Literature, it was a perfect time to (finally) read this novel about a group of Classics students. Continue reading “Overdue! My September Reads”
As we’re almost halfway through September, I’m overdue for a recap of my August reads. But first:
When you amass an enormous beast of a library, the time inevitably comes when you want to read the books you already own. I mean, that’s the theory. In reality, I’m still lucky to read 50 percent already-in-my-library, 50 percent brand-spanking-new. Continue reading “Reading wrap-up: August reads”
My July reads have been shaped largely by the fact I’ve been traveling.
First, as I do every summer I can manage it, I came home to Greece. Granted, I was born and raised in the US. But both of my parents are from Greece. Whenever I return, my favorite uncle says to me, “Welcome home.” It feels like coming home. Continue reading “Reading wrap-up: July reads and purchases”
My June reads focused on my two reading projects: Ancient Greek literature and the Gilmore Girls reading challenge (which we’re doing at Books, Ink). Perhaps unsurprisingly, my library holds many of these titles already.
I apparently have a lot to say about my June reads, so we might as well jump right in:
Blue Nights and Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Joan Didion is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. It was a treat to read/reread her work for the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge. (My piece for the challenge is here.)
Blue Nights has been languishing on my bookshelf for years. Who knows why? Maybe I wanted to wait, to savor it. Maybe I was scared of how sad it would be. She wrote it after her daughter’s death, which followed shortly after her husband’s death. As you might expect, it explores grief and loss—both of others and, as we age, of the self we have known. The blue nights of the title provide an overarching metaphor for how brilliance prefigures its own end. This notion is threaded throughout this moving, poetic memoir.
Slouching Toward Bethlehem may be my favorite essay collection of all time. It’s Didion’s 1968 nonfiction writing about, among many other topics, the Haight-Ashbury, Las Vegas weddings, morality, self-respect, and writing. It’s gorgeous and awe-inspiring—a must read for nonfiction writers.
In the Preface to the collection, Didion writes that being “so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate” may invite others to overlook her, to their detriment. Because, Didion continues, “Writers are always selling somebody out” (italics in the original). It’s harsh, but possibly too often accurate. What I love so much about Didion’s nonfiction is, she never lets us forget that she’s there. She never lets us forget that what we’re seeing isn’t objective truth but what she saw and experienced. It’s a kind of integrity I aspire to, and not just in my writing.
Jason and the Argonauts by Apollonius of Rhodes (bought this year)
In this epic poem (dating to the third century BC), Pelias, the king of Iolcus, sends Jason on a quest to recover the Golden Fleece from Colchis. This is because Jason is the rightful heir to the kingdom, and Pelias wants to get rid of him. Hence the impossible quest. Jason gathers a group of heroes, and they face treacherous challenges and setbacks along the way (obvi).
I might love this more than The Odyssey, for the following reasons: Continue reading “Reading wrap-up: June reads and purchases”
Well, our May reads are in the history books. Or at least in our Goodreads “read” file. I can hardly believe how quickly this year is flying by!
All of the books I read this month related either to the Gilmore Girls reading challenge we’re doing at Books, Ink or my personal project to read classical literature and books inspired by it. Only two of the six books I read this month were part of my existing library. But I’m making allowances for the Gilmore Girls challenge.
Almost halfway through May, and I’m just getting to wrap-up my April reads. Ah, what a reading month, though. I met my ongoing goal for 50 percent of my reads to come from my existing library. And, well, there’s a little surprise at the end. I won’t spoil it. You’ll see (wink). Continue reading “Reading wrap-up: April reads”
My March reads reflect my current reading phase.
In the past, my reading phases were often based on place: Russian literature, Japanese literature, memoirs by or about Middle Eastern women. Then, a few years ago, I began reading primarily contemporary literary fiction. Maybe because I was engaging with book lovers on social media, I was hearing more about contemporary books. Maybe it was just where I was in my reading interests. Continue reading “Reading Wrap-Up: March Reads”