It is with great sadness this morning that I say goodbye to one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. I heard the news of her passing just a moment ago, and I can’t believe her voice is now silent. We will miss you terribly, Mary, but your poems will live on in our hearts. Thank you for what you did with your one wild and precious life, and for all the beautiful poetry you shared with us.
In 2018, I read 97 books. That’s pretty good for me in a year of change and loss. My reading has been a real solace after losing my Mom in July. Dedicating some time each afternoon for some quiet reading was magical and helped to fill the silence of those times when I used to talk with her on the phone each day.
There were some terrific books among those 97 that I read. So I’ve picked out my Best Nine to put together in a collage…And then a photo of the cover of my Number One favorite of the year. Each of those “best of the best” books was a wonderful experience for me. The stories captured me, the writing deeply impressed me, or they were just plain fun to read. Or all of the above!
2018 was also a year I returned to reading challenges. I used to join so many different ones, and loved the variety of reading they introduced into my life. I haven’t participated in as many in recent years, but I enjoyed getting back to some very nice ones this year. I am loving being part of The Classics Club! My 50-books-in-five-years goal is a lot of fun for me. I’m happy to say that since I started the challenge in March 2017, I have read 21 books from my list, although I haven’t finished posting reviews for some of them yet.
I also participated in The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge hosted for the eighth year by Adam (@roofbeamreader). Out of my list of 12 books that have been sitting on my shelves for years and years, I managed to read four of them. I’m happy about that even though it may look like another challenge fail for me. It IS four books that would probably still be sitting there, unread, so I consider it a success! I’ve signed up to continue on with this challenge in 2019!
In 2018, I returned to the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge which I hadn’t participated in for a number of years. It was so much fun this time! I do love reading mysteries, so this turned out to be a terrific way to spend the Fall months. For that challenge I read ten books and completely enjoyed every one of them! I’m looking forward to doing that challenge again in 2019.
The Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thons in April and October were highlights of this reading year for me, and I look forward to repeating those experiences in 2019 along with my other challenges!
My Best Nine of 2018:
And my NUMBER ONE favorite book read in 2018:
…was Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming! I listened to her narrate it on audiobook and loved it. It was a book of hope and dignity, the story of her life so far. For me it was a breath of fresh air, and it renewed my spirit and gave me hope that we can become better individuals, better people, and a better nation. She didn’t preach, she just very honestly shared with us how she became the person she is today. And I admire that person more than ever because of her honesty and integrity.
December was … fun, tenderhearted, busy, and full of books! It was a time of holiday and birthday fun. Our son and grandson both have birthdays between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so we have a week of celebrations each year! December was also “tenderhearted” because it was the first Christmas without my Mom. Of course it is always completely busy with holiday preparations and last minute gift shopping. And this holiday was full of books for each family member!
Despite the busy-ness of the month, I loved my reading and finished thirteen books (and am about halfway through my Classics Club “spin” book, Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche). The December book I enjoyed the most was The Outermost House, by Henry Beston. A close second was Zora and Me, by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon. It’s a fictional account of the childhood of Zora Neale Hurston for middle grade students. A Literary Christmas, full of delightful traditional holiday stories, was a fun audiobook to listen to while running all those errands. All in all, it was a very nice reading month.
I hope you all had a warm and book-filled December, too, my friends!
September was both a busy reading month and a busy family month! At the first of the month, I happily joined the Readers Imbibing Peril XIII challenge, hosted by Heather (@Capricious Reader) and Andi (@Estella’s Revenge) and got right to the job of reading from the list of genres that make up the focus of this challenge. It continues until the end of October, which is great because I’m really enjoying reading the books I chose.
I took a reading and blogging break in the middle of the month to travel to Salt Lake City for my mother’s Celebration of Life. It was a beautiful celebration of a life well-lived. My husband and I enjoyed the road trip, being with family, and spending time in the beautiful Rose Garden at Red Butte Garden where we have my parents’ memorial bench. Both my parents donated their bodies to the University of Utah Medical School, so the Garden and the bench are extra special to us, and the bench is a cherished place we visit a often as we can. The bench itself sits in the Rose Garden surrounded by beautiful roses, which they both loved, and is a happy, peaceful place for us to spend time.
My reading has been a great solace to me in the last two months. My extra hour of reading in the afternoon, dedicated to my Mom, has been wonderful! So despite the long-distance road trip, and all the planning that took up so much time, I was able to enjoy 7 books in September. It really should be 8 books, because I am almost finished with Rosamunde Pilcher’s, September, but, unfortunately, I won’t finish it before midnight tonight.
My September reads:
My audiobook pre-order of Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, arrived in the wee hours of this morning. It’s arrival is well-timed for me. We are leaving tomorrow for a week of travel and family. My mother’s Celebration of Life is on Saturday, and we are all gathering to honor and celebrate a life well lived.
Mom would have wanted to read or listen to this book and add it to the list of other DKG’s books she enjoyed. So in her memory and in honor of her passion for history, I will listen to this book for her.
We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too.
My reading in August was both pleasure and solace. The silence left after my Mom’s passing in July was deafening, but I know she would be pleased that I am filling our daily phone conversation time with books! It’s easy to stop everything you are doing when the phone rings and allow yourself an hour of talking about all sorts of things (especially books). So now I allow myself that daily time to read, and it is pure pleasure!
Here are the books I read in August. My favorite was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but I also loved listening to the very creative Ready Player One. I had set aside The Silkworm for awhile and then decided to finish it for the upcoming RIP-XIII reading challenge. (I started the challenge a week early because I have no self-control!)
August was an enjoyable reading month.
I am missing my Mom today…it’s her birthday and she would have been 99 years old! We lost her just three weeks ago, so celebrating her birthday today is a mixture of sadness and joy–she lived life to the fullest and left us with so many joyful memories!
After my Father passed away twenty-four years ago, I started a list of “Would Haves” because there were so many times when my brothers and I would say, “He would have loved this…or that.” I haven’t started a similar list for my Mother yet, but I will need to soon because there are already things happening that she would have liked! One thing for sure that will be on that list is the upcoming September release of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times. That one would have been number one on her TBR list!
Happy birthday to my beautiful Mom, my special friend. I miss you!
The two photos above show how my Mom prepared for book club discussions. I brought these two books home with me after she passed away three weeks ago, and I will never move the colored tabs she put there because they are such a delight to see! This is the way she always prepared for her book club, whether the one she lead at the Mt. Olympus Senior Center for 14 years, or for the local library book club that came once a month to her assisted living facility. She loved to read and talk about books, and she prepared well for the group discussions often reading the book twice, always marking the important points she wanted to remember.
My reading reflections for July are about my mother, since I spent three weeks of July with her at the end of her life. I am home now, tying up lose ends, returning slowly to routines, and trying to get used to life without her. But despite my sadness, there is also so much to comfort me — loving family and friends, many many happy memories, and an overwhelming pride in her for how she handled her life, especially life after my father passed 24 years ago, and especially again at the end. She showed great courage and dignity throughout it all, and I’m so proud to be her daughter.
The photo above is a list of the books she read in 2018. She read and listened to 10 books (including volumes 1-4 of the Harry Potter series) and was also in the middle of three other books when she fell ill: she was listening to the audiobook of Shanghai Girls, and reading the Kindle version of Dreams of Joy, both books by Lisa See, an author she loved; and she was in the middle of the Whitmore Library Book Club choice for July, a title I don’t remember now. At almost 99 years old, she was an avid reader to the end!