Last month, I was on track to meet my reading goal; however, I expressed doubt that I would reach that goal since I had started Patrick Rothfuss’s lengthy A Wise Man’s Fear. I was correct that I fell short of my goal, but I had taken a break from A Wise Man’s Fear to read two other books during December. I ended up 2016 having read 35 books, just one book shy of my goal.
The two books I finished in December were My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. I chose these because they appeared on the Goodreads Best Books of 2016 list, and they were both available at the library where I work.
I have read both Strout and Donoghue in the past. I had read Strout’s Amy and Isabelle when it first came out (1998). I recall enjoying it but can’t remember much about it other than that general sensation. It’s difficult to describe what is so good about My Name Is Lucy Barton. Not much happens. A woman is in a hospital, and her mother comes to visit. They talk and share memories. However, the characters are so vivid, so real, that you get caught up in their interactions and difficult relationship.
I had read Donoghue’s Room and absolutely loved it. I loved it so much, in fact, that I was tentative about reading anything else by her because she had set the bar so high. The Wonder doesn’t quite pack the punch of Room, but it is still a wonderful book. Similar to Room, it focuses on a woman and a child confined to a particular space. In this case, the main character is a nurse who trained under Florence Nightengale who is hired to tend to a young girl who allegedly has given up eating for religious reasons. As the child grows weaker, she is limited to how far she can wander. Donoghue’s book presents both a vivid historical story and a relevant contemporary criticism of the role religion and skepticism play.
I’m fine with coming one book short of my goal since selecting 36 was a fairly arbitrary goal based on having read 41 in 2015. I’m setting 36 again as my goal for 2017. As much as I love reading, having a goal keeps me from slipping into lazy habits.
In 2016, I read 35 books:
- The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014 (ebook)
- Ubik (library book)
- Purity (library book)
- Station Eleven
- The Fracking King (ebook)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane (library book)
- Americans Against the City (library book)
- Ploughshares Winter 2015-2016
- Hold Still
- Ancillary Justice
- My Paris Kitchen (ebook)
- Ancillary Sword
- Better Living Through Criticism (library book)
- Fatal Puzzle (ebook)
- Patience (library book)
- Ancillary Mercy
- Pierced by the Sun (ebook)
- Ploughshares Spring 2016
- Remember to Remember
- Zero K (library book)
- Saga Volume 6
- Doubt (ebook)
- Art, Inc.
- The Girl on the Train (library book)
- Planetfall (library book)
- Kitchen Confidential (library book)
- Ploughshares Summer 2016
- Life and Other Near-Death Experiences (ebook)
- The Plague
- Food of Love (ebook)
- Graphic Design: The New Basics
- The Art of Memoir (library book)
- My Name Is Lucy Barton
- The Wonder