My goal each year is to read at least 24 books. Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t, but that’s okay. I am a sucker for classics. Reading something that millions of people have read over generations and sometimes centuries, makes me feel connected and part of something bigger. I get the same feeling singing old hymns.
I have always loved Charles Dickens. I have read many of his books, we see the performance of A Christmas Carol each year, and I dragged my family to see the only statue of him in the world in Philadelphia. When I found out how horrible he was to his wife, declaring her unfit for her duties as a wife and mother after she found out about his affair with a 19 year old actress, and threatening to have her admitted to an asylum, I actually felt betrayed. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true. I had put him on a pedestal and he came crashing down.
It took me some time to forgive him, but I did. He was just a man after all, and I had held him to unrealistic, idealized standards that weren’t fair. We’re back on good terms. We visited his house in London this spring, and seeing the desk where he wrote A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations was surreal. But the real highlight for me was seeing a lock of his hair. It felt like I had met him in person.
The Pickwick Papers was not my favorite, and unless you’re a die hard Dickens fan, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. But I would recommend David Copperfield (“Janet! Donkeys!”), A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and of course, A Christmas Carol. He was quite a prolific writer and I’ll continue to chip away at the list. I’m happy we’re friends again.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea – Barbara Demick
I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago – Hape Kerkeling
What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim – Jane Christmas
A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time – Mark Adams
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt (second reading)
The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story – Diane Ackerman
A Piece of the World – Christina Baker Kline
The Circle – Dave Eggers
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
Unbecoming – Rebecca Scherm
Many Lives, Many Masters – Brian L. Weiss (second reading)
All That Is Solid Melts into Air – Darragh McKeon
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
The Last Climb – Thomas H. Cosgrove
The Light of Paris – Eleanor Brown
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
A River Runs Through It and other stories – Norman Maclean
The Pickwick Papers – Charles Dickens
Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog – Susannah Charleson
Younger Next Year for Women – Chris Crowley
The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
I really enjoyed All That is Solid Melts into Air, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Goldfinch is one of my all time favorites which is why I read it again. (In my discussions with people about it, I have found that they either love it as much as I do or they don’t. haha) I can relate to Theo on many levels and I still worry about him.
A Piece of the World was also good. There is a famous painting by Andrew Wyeth called Christina’s World which he was inspired to paint after seeing his neighbor, Christina crawling across a field while he watched from his window. This is Christina’s fictional memoir.
The books about the Camino de Santiago were annoying. There was lots of complaining and I didn’t like either one of the authors, but I did like Turn Right at Machu Picchu. I would recommend it especially if you have an interest in hiking the Inca Trail.
I would skip The Circle and The Last Climb. They were both boring, although The Circle does bring up some interesting points about social media and its impact on our lives. (Spoiler: it’s not good.)
In my experience, books are almost always better than the movie, but The Zoo Keepers Wife is one of the exceptions. The story has such promise, all the more so because it is true, but the movie far surpasses the book, which is very dry and dull.
To end on a positive note, Younger Next Year for Women has a good message. It’s one we’ve all heard for years: Exercise, make good choices about what you put in your mouth, and build a strong social circle. It’s an entertaining read that can be skimmed or I can sum it up for you: Exercise, make good choices about what you put in your mouth, and build a strong social circle. 🙂 And since Next Year is tomorrow, it’s a great time to start.
If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them! Happy New Year and Happy Reading!!