“Stop Reading! You’re Avoiding LIFE!!” – My Mother

“Stop Reading! You’re Avoiding LIFE!!” – My Mother

2015 Books Collage 1

Years ago, when I was a junior in college, I started writing down all the books I was reading in a notebook. Just a simple list so I could actually see how many books I was getting through in a year. I adore reading; it is my meditation practice and my church experience. I used to get in trouble for reading too much. (My mother thought I was avoiding life, although I don’t recall anyone ever telling her that she painted too much.) I get cranky, really cranky, if I can’t read every single day. There are so many books, and so little time. My job in particular sure seems to take a lot of time away from reading. In elementary school, I won first prize in 3rd grade for reading the most books over the summer. The principal announced my name, and I walked down from the bleachers and got to stand in the middle of the gym floor, holding my prize – a book, natch. It was Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret wrapped quite neatly in yellow tissue paper.

So I decided to make a little collage of all the books I read in 2015. It turned out so colorful and varied!2015 Books Collage 2 2015 Books Collage 3 2015 Books Collage 4

Consider Me Dazzled: My Favorite Books of 2015
Like I said, so many books and so little time. So most of these weren’t published in 2015, it’s just that I finally got around to them.

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    This one took me by surprise. It was like drowning in a pool of lush, goopy, descriptive prose. Oh my gosh. Every page was a gift. (A+S review here.)
  • The Buddha Walks Into the Office by Lodro Rinzler
    This book gave me actual practices that I use daily now in my work life. Most important is setting an intention – any intention – for the day, writing it down and taping it on my monitor. If I don’t achieve my intention, okay, no big deal. I just acknowledge it and do it again tomorrow.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
    This book was a raging hit for good reason. I particularly loved how closely it hit home – the museum life in New York City and the desert heat in Arizona.
    (A+S review here.)
  • An Unfinished Woman by Lillian Hellman
    She’s a true broad: brave and caustic and ambitious. She was a Broadway playwright who was blacklisted as a Communist and the longtime lover of Dashiell Hammet. Her play The Children’s Hour is just weird enough to be one of my personal favorites.
    (A+S review here.)
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    Anthony Doerr was highly recommended by the booksellers of Porter Square Books in Cambridge. He quickly became one of my favorite authors. If he’s good enough for Harvard students, he’s good enough for me. I felt a terrible pang when Doerr hit the bestseller list, but that’s a terribly selfish sentiment. The more people reading good authors, the better. The blindness of the protagonist, small Marie-Laure, is a trait that Doerr also gave to the title character of his book of short stories, The Shell Collector.
    (A+S review of Anthony Doerr’s The Shell Collector here.)
  • The Maytrees by Annie Dillard
    I read this quiet, beautiful book that takes place in a paint-filled pine shed on Cape Cod during a cold visit to Iceland. The books central couple, Lou and Toby Maytree, are as flawed and ultimately loving as I hope to be.
    (A+S review here.)

Ugh, What A Waste of Time

  • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
    OK, I just don’t care what Michiko Kakutani has to say about this book. It was not great. I was so sick of Lena’s simple sentences – and not sexy simple sentences like Hemingway. I just mean like the ones I’m typing right now. And this ain’t no novel.
  • Victoria: A Life by A. N. Wilson
    Was I literally supposed to hate Queen Victoria after reading this biography? Because now I do. Thanks.
    (A+S review here.)
  • JB by Archibald Macleish
    So many things here that I hate: free verse, metaphorical stories about the Bible, the circus, and references to Satan that are actually serious. Blech. Thanks, Pulitzer Prize Committee for the recommendation. On opposite day.
  • In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
    Judy, Judy, Judy. I am waiting for you to satisfy me the way you did with Summer Sisters. It doesn’t help that I hate books where every chapter is told by a different character. Pick one or just write a short story.
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