One of my favorite New Year’s traditions is moving the list of books I read in the past year onto the Booknerd page, which has lists for the past eleven or twelve years. I just counted how many years there were over there and already forgot the number, probably because I’m listening to Sam Cooke’s Greatest Hits at a very loud volume.
Usually I also start the year by making a list of my most favorite reads from the past year. I’m not going to do that this year. Not only because I’m pretty full up lists for the forseeable future, and because this year was a bummer reading year. I read a lot of decent to okay books, but only a few launched themselves into my heart like my friend Kurtis‘ The Winter of the Robots, which sounds a little like ass-kissing but I’ve thought of his book every damn day since the weather decided to be negative godhatesyouyoushouldmovealready degrees. That’s the sign of a good book, when images and scenes come back to you randomly.
I blame the bummer year on the fact that I started it off badly. The triple whammy of Pete Townshend’s unendingly boring memoir, coupled with the mean-spirited How Should a Person Be? and The Orphan Master’s Son nearly put me off reading entirely.
Though for some reason I keep forgetting that I read and loved Eleanor & Park. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps the story is so similar to my high school experience that I’ve already adapted it as part of my personal history. I can’t explain the forgetting otherwise. Same goes for You Are One of Them by Eliott Holt. Even Sister #2 said she couldn’t decide if she liked the book on its own merits or if she liked it so much because it reminded her so much of me. I know how that goes. I felt the same way about When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams which I raced through so I could give it to my friend Kelly because it was a book destined to belong to and be loved by her. I was right. She loved it, and when she talked about how much she loved it at writing group this summer, I cried.
Besides starting off on a bad page, I made another giant mistake in my 2013 reading. It involved reading four or five books right in a row about writers. Unlike my very intentional reading of female musician memoirs, this series of novels with writers as main characters was totally by accident. Boy did it suck. The books were all okayish. I finished them. But writers are boring as fuck, stuck inside their own heads, and each of the authors used the fact that their characters were writers as a sort of shortcut for why they were closed off holier-than-thou assholes. Barf.
So what’s the one book I’d wish you’d read already damnit so we can talk about it? Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll. I just need one other person in my life to revere this book as much as I do. If you read it and hate it, don’t tell me because it will probably break my heart (or make me question your taste in everything).
What’s one book you read this year that you wish everyone read already?