Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Opening the Book to a New Year

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day." - Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Is there anything better than the promise of a new year?  I love New Years for what it represents: hope, dreams, new opportunities, abundant possibilities.  (The parties and whatnot, I can do without.)  We've had a pretty quiet and low-key New Years.  My mother-in-law was here for the weekend and we didn't do much of anything other than watch episodes of The Muppet Show (a recurrent obsession of Boo's), play with new toys, and relax. 

Out with the Old ....
I ended the year by reading three books this past week.  

As I wrote in my review of Girls on the Edge, Leonard Sax identifies sexual identity, the cyberbubble, obsessions, and environmental toxins as four factors that are causing more girls than ever before to become depressed and to turn toward self-destructive behaviors.  He presents each issue in detail, with supporting case stories from his psychology practice as well as visits to schools throughout the United States and all over the world.  While these issues are familiar ones, the insights Sax provides were surprising to me and are ones that make this a must-read for anyone raising a girl or working with girls in any capacity.

I had a tough time with The Sonderberg Case by Elie Wiesel, who I have the utmost respect for and whose novel I wanted to like much more than I did.  (It is translated from the French.  I don't have much luck with books translated from French.)  It's a short book, but one that switches from first to third person too often and is packed with multiple, competing for attention plotlines.  I read the last part of this rather quickly - too quickly, I thought, which made me check it out of the library again so that I could give the last 50-some odd pages more of my attention.  While that made me understand a few more things, it failed to endear me to the book.

And finally, Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training by Tom Jokinen.  This is the reason why I don't do my Best Of lists too far in advance of December 31.  I ended the year with this, which I thought was rather apropos. I felt kind of morbid about beginning 2011 with a book about the death industry (as if reading about such isn't an exercise in morbidity to begin with) but this turned out to be so well-written, so funny, and so incredibly fascinating that it earned a spot on my Best Nonfiction of the Year list.  I absolutely loved this one. 

In with the New ...
I have three books due back to the library on Tuesday with no more renewals, so I had to decide which of these I could get to.  I like the idea of beginning the year with some poetry, so Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins made the cut as did Not My Boy!  A Dad's Journey with Autism by Rodney Peete.  (What didn't make it, you ask?  The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World, by David Kirkpatrick.  I'm going to check this one out again, as my interest is much greater than the time of two days I have to read it.)

I just started both of these yesterday and am hoping to spend some time with them today before taking Betty to Girl Scouts.  Not My Boy! has been on my TBR list for awhile, as I follow (and have chatted with) Holly Robinson Peete on Twitter and that there are some aspects of the Peetes' autism journey that are similar to our own. 

A Final Look Back on 2010

I finished the year with a total of 79 books read, an all-time record for me.  I'm happy with my stats, summarized here.  I read some great fiction and nonfiction books (links take to you my Best Of posts) and listened to some wonderful audiobooks.

I love starting the new year with a clean sidebar, ready to be filled up with a list of books that will be read over the next 12 months. But before removing it for good, I thought I'd share the complete list of books I read in 2010 with you:

1. The Financial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter
2. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (audio)
4. Poems from the Women's Movement, edited by Honor Moore
5. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
6. Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife - by Francine Prose
7. Prairie Tale: A Memoir, by Melissa Gilbert
8. Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win, by Anne E. Kornblut
9. The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory, by David Plouffe
10. Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box, by Madeleine Albright
11. Slamming Open the Door, poems by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno
12. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
13. The Generosity Plan: Sharing Your Time, Treasure, and Talent to Shape the World, by Kathy LeMay
14. The Heart is Not a Size, by Beth Kephart
15. The Day the Falls Stood Still, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
16. Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, by Mark Bittman
17. South of Broad, by Pat Conroy
18. The Killing of Mindi Quintana, by Jeffrey A. Cohen
19. Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times: What Good Causes Need to Know to Survive and Thrive, by Kim Klein
20. Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism, by Alison Piepmeier
21. While I'm Falling, by Laura Moriarty
22. Made for Goodness and Why This Makes All the Difference, by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu
23. Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris
24. Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger
25. True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff
26. Lift, by Kelly Corrigan (audio)
27. Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls
28. Someone Will Be With You Shortly: Notes from an Imperfect Life, by Lisa Kogan
29. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
30. The Best American Short Stories 2009
31. Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles J. Shields
32. A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore
33. Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet, by Stephanie Cowell
34. Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by Greg Mortenson (audiobook)
35. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
36. The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems, by Edward Hirsch
37. The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music, by Steve Lopez
38. Shadow Tag, by Louise Erdrich
39. Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, by Harriet Reisen
40. Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum, edited by Kyra Anderson and Vicki Forman
41. The Queen of Palmyra, by Minrose Gwin
42. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
43. The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien
44. The Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome, by Shonda Schilling
45. Walks With Men, by Ann Beattie
46. The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen
47. Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty: Poems, by Tony Hoagland
48. Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout
49. After the Workshop, by John McNally
50. Something is Out There. Stories by Richard Bausch
51. The Early Stories of Louisa May Alcott 1852-1860
52. Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, Stories by Lydia Peelle
53. The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Audio), by Muriel Barbery
54. The Blind Contessa's New Machine, by Carey Wallace
55. Little Billy's Letters: An Incorrigible Inner Child's Correspondence with the Famous, Infamous, and Just Plain Bewildered, by Bill Geerhart
56. Lay Back the Darkness, Poems by Edward Hirsch
57. Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World, by Linda Tarr-Whelan
58. American Music, by Jane Mendelsohn
59. Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O'Neill
60. Come to Me, Stories by Amy Bloom
61. We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication (Audio), by Judith Warner
62. Questions About Angels, Poems by Billy Collins
63. The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
64. Mrs. Somebody Somebody, by Tracy Winn
65. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, by Jon McGregor
66. Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (audio)
67. Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays, by Joel Waldfogel
68. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
69. Bad Marie, by Marcy Dermansky
70. A Mango-Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass
71. Saving Sky, by Diane Stanley
72. Too Much Happiness, Stories by Alice Munro
73. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink
74. The Quickening Maze, by Adam Foulds
75. The Gift, by Cecelia Ahern
76. What I Didn't See and Other Stories, by Karen Joy Fowler
77. Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls, by Leonard Sax
78. The Sonderberg Case, by Elie Wiesel
79. Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training, by Tom Jokinen

I hope your 2011 (reading and otherwise) is getting off to a great start and that you fill up the pages of your book with all good things. 

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

What a great list of books you have read. I have enjoyed reading your reviews for many of these. Happy N ew Year!

Trisha said...

Those three books you detailed up there are definitely on the serious side! Curtains sounds fascinating.

Jenners said...

What an eclectic list of books you read this year. I read "The Book Thief" this year too and it was one of my favorites for the whole year.

Last year, I read 79 books (which was an all-time record) and in 2010 I read over 100. I bet you do the same in 2011 ... you kind of get into the groove.

Happy New Year.

Jenna said...

I need to get my hands on Curtains!.. maybe it is a smidge morbid, but it still sounds wicked interesting.