I spent most of November reading: in bed, at meals, on our deck overlooking the ocean, on the beach and by the pool with SPF 50 sunscreen slathered on any exposed skin. Although I've gone back to reading "real" hardback books at home, the Kindle is still an absolute treasure trove for travel. I'm increasingly appreciative of the option to increase the font size, so I can continue to push back the date when I have to wear reading glasses.
I had been reading Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich before we flew away to Bora Bora, so I finished that first. It's worth reading for people who are interested in mystical / spiritual / transcendent experiences, although it wasn't as penetrating as I hoped it would be. William James' The Varieties of Religous Experience (1901) is still my favorite book in this area. Sam Harris' Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion is next on my list to read.
Then I started in with my true love - literary fiction:
- A Gate at the Stairs, and Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore,
- Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout,
- Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom,
- The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow,
- Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan
- The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger,
- By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (whose short story, White Angel (1989) is absolutely on my Top Ten All Time list),
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
- Netherland, and The Dog by Joseph O'Neill
All of these were lovely in their own way, but I'm afraid I have to join the bandwagon and say that the best book of the month (and therefore the year) was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. My dear friend, Clarissa, had suggested we both read it for discussion during an upcoming trip we're taking together. I'm glad she did. It is beautifully written, complex, and well worth the accolades it's receiving.
One of the many habits I have that baffles Brad is to re-read books I've already read. After reading a plethora of new novels and short stories, I revisted a tome, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which I first read in Alaska in 2005. My blog review of my first reading is here. It has the same number of pages and footnotes the second time, and was just as funny and sad and all that, maybe heightened by DFW's suicide in 2008.
Then I re-read some other wonderful fiction:
- Three Junes by Julia Glass
- The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
- The Art of Fielding, which is in the same league as All the Light We Cannot See. I loved this book when I read it for the first time in 2012, and imagine I'll be re-reading it throughout my reading life. It's one of those first novels that I can't believe is a first novel, like The Kite Runner and The Lovely Bones.
After all that literary fiction, it was time for some palate-cleansing science fiction. I read William Gibson's new book, The Peripheral, and re-read old favorites Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition. Gibson is far and away my favorite science fiction writer, although I did also re-read Dune by Frank Herbert on this trip, which I've read maybe a dozen times.
In preparation for the New Year, I read and re-read several business / organizing / writing / inspiration books. (Asterisks indicate re-reading.)
- *The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do by Charles Duhigg
- *The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential ... in Business and Life by Leo Babauta
- *Zen to Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System by Leo Babauta
- *The Joy Diet: Ten Daily Practices for a Happier Life by Martha Beck
- *Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See
- The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What you Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown
Somewhere in there I also re-read a couple of favorite action adventure spy conspiracy thriller books: The Color of Night, and An Absense of Light, both by David Lindsey.
And that was about it. I'm looking forward to a 2015 full of reading and writing, and maybe some more Pacific Ocean sunsets.