52 in 52 didn't happen, but....

I read more than I would have, if I hadn't tried.

Back earlier in the year, and I can't remember how early, I saw on Facebook, '52 in 52" and I jumped in. I'm not a forced-participation kind of girl, but I rarely lack enthusiasm for a group activity.

Which would explain why I got grounded for six months for sneaking out, in my pink ruffly oh-so-scandelous, spaghetti-strap pajamas, in the middle of the night, to throw pebbles at the window of a cute boy.

But back to books.

My oldest daughter, Sarah, years ago shared that she kept a journal, what she'd read each year. In 1990 I was 35, and she was in high school, so that was when I began. A little black, three-ring notebook, with a sheet of paper for each year, lined and the year written at the top. If I could have gone back to forever, I would have written down a good 50 Nancy Drew books, Sue Barton, Nurse, Perry Mason mysteries, and autobiographies and biographies that were chosen completely at random. Some of them were brilliant choices - Helen Keller, Ben Franklin, First Ladies, comedians, one book by a man who was dying of HIV. It's amazing my neck doesn't have a permanent crook in it, from all the time spent walking down the aisles of the library, head on my shoulder, looking at the book spines and choosing a book solely on the title.

In 1990 I read Old Man and the Sea, The Secret Garden, Lincoln, Roots, Centennial, Cheaper by the Dozen, Shell Seekers and Lonesome Dove. I don't know if that's all I really read, but possibly. The kids were 14, 7 and 5, so it's likely I had little time for reading, and when I did read, I was giving up sleep or personal hygiene.

Which makes it even funnier that in 1991 I read, among other books, The Sleep Management Plan by Dale Hanson Bourke. DHB is a lovely lady I've enjoyed following thru the years, but her book on how to learn to live without enough sleep is possibly one of the craziest notions I've ever attempted. I also read through the Bible for the first time, and maybe the lack of sleep led me to it? Maybe I was smack middle in her plan - cut your sleep gradually, over time, til you get used to it enough to kid yourself you're operating at optimum - so I just jumped into the entire plan. If you're going to read anything by Dale (which I recommend, BTW) go for her "Embracing Your Second Calling (have read it) or Everyday Miracles (wonderful for young moms).

Going back over the pages of this little book, I can see where I was at a specific time in my life. Some choices don't say much, but some do. Reading Parent Power, by John Rosemond in 1992 tells me we were possibly struggling a bit with raising kids. That was the year I read Chesapeake by Michener, my all-time favorite book by him. 1993 was 101 Ways to Simplify Your Life, and Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindburg, a book I hold dear.

In 1994 I finally read How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie; it was strongly suggested to me by my high school typing teacher when I was 17 and sassy, and I don't think she meant it as a compliment. I'm sorry Mrs. Dupue. You were right, but you were also still mean.

Years 1998 - 2001 are completely missing, and that speaks loudly. 2002 was sketchy, and in 2003 I spent a good amount of time reading about home budgeting - likely because we had kids in college and were broke! That the financial books are accompanied by 'Calm My Anxious Heart' makes sense.

Surviving the Death of a Sibling, by T. J. Wray, in 2004 speaks volumes. I've since recommended that book to many others. It was a year I leaned toward philosophy and Debbie Macomber, which may be the same thing.

Since then, skipping across the years, there was Safe People, Blue Like Jazz, A Girl Named Zippy (loved!), Obama's autobiography, Kite Runner, Water for Elephants, Jan Karon's books - all of them, Snow Flower, The Good Earth, Island of the Blue Dolphins, several by Geraldine Brooks, Night by Elie Wiesel which everyone should read once in their lifetime; The Help, Same Kind of Different as Me, Howie Mandell's autobiography, To Kill a Mockingbird (again), everything Sally Clarkson, Elegance of the Hedgehog (a favorite), When Helping Hurts, Story of Edgar Sawtelle, The Underneath (hard but beautiful read), Anna Karenina, Wrinkle in Time, A Christmas Carol (not at Christmas), Midnight in the Garden of Evil (hated!), Sarah's Key, Kisses from Katie, Ragamuffin Gospel, Blessings by Quindlan, What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty, The Giver, The Book Thief (loved, loved), My Antonia, all books by Kate Morton which robbed  me of time, kept the house dirty and no cooking done, but was worth it all.

Which brings me to 2014; this year I read Notes from a Blue Bicycle by Tsh, Nesting Place by the Nester, Kitchen Counter Cooking School which made me love my knives more than I had previously; several Laurie King were a delight; Looking for Me made me see I / we needed a dog, so we adopted Miss Lily. Church Planter's Wife gave me a look at my daughter's life now; I discovered Shauna Niequist (Bread and Wine) and love her wide-open, honest way of sharing her life; Oliver Twist was, of course, wonderful, and Extreme Grandparenting was life-changing.

Rather than the 52 I attempted, in actuality I got 27 books read, a little more than half of my goal, but I am richer for the pages I made it through. Snow Child was my last read, finished days ago and it was a mesmerizing read. Orphan Train made me want to stay in the bathtub til I shriveled up, just to read one more chapter. My favorite of the year was probably Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good; meeting Jan Karon was a delight, she was lovely as I was sure she was, and her writing poured over me like fairy dust, taking me to an entirely different place when worries and ISIS and the stuff of life was nibbling at my core. And isn't that what a book is supposed to do? Take us away, make us think harder, see life differently, or more clearly? Re-remind us of how hard life is, how beautiful it is, what a gift it is in between those two?

I haven't made my list for 2015, but the nightstands and coffee table and shelves and basically any horizontal spaces in my home bears up an offering. I'm planning to read both of Sophie Hudson's books (one already in my hands, and the other pre-ordered), Sally Clarkson's upcoming Own Your Life, a book on church history thick enough to use as a doorstop, but one chapter at a time, and Making a Literary Life - those are my non-fictions; Fiction choices I usually wait for Sarah to recommend, or check out lists on Facebook, what others are reading, or I discover a new author. And sometimes I still find myself walking down the aisles of the local library, head on my shoulder, perusing spines and choosing by the title.

So happy reading everyone, feel free to leave me your favorite read of 2014 or your all-time favorite. I'd love to hear what you've got your nose into.



Suzanne said…
I just finished reading "The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden" by Jonas Jonasson. Complete fiction, but set in South Africa and Sweden. I laughed out loud several times during the final chapters of the book. It's not a tough read at all; though he does delve into some of the history of South Africa and apartheid, it's not overwhelming or overly complex. I'd definitely recommend it!
Bev said…
Thank you Suzanne! I'm in CDA, Idaho now and plan to go to the local library today in search. Will put this one on top of my list. One of my very favorite genres of writing is historical fiction! Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Suzanne said…
Good luck - I hope you find a copy! I really enjoyed it. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Looks like we'll have rain later this week (we're just south of Seattle), so maybe you'll have snow and a White Christmas! I sure do miss those from PA.

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