I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions. I think they’re shortlived, sometimes counter-productive, and can lead to an awful lot of guilt. I do, however, resolve to read 20 books every year. Last year, I only made it to 15. I got hung up on one particularly good self-help book called You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero. Since I made a lot of big decisions last year, and am hopefully finally emerging from a long tunnel, it seemed appropriate that I do a lot of the hard work that the book encouraged. I got it for Mother’s Day in May, but didn’t really finish the work of it until August.
Here are the highlights of what I read in 2018:
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – I reread the book I received in Grade 6; its pages are worn and dogeared so I could return to passages that moved me as a 12-year-old. I remain as captivated, and even inspired, by Anne’s optimism and commitment to write. She is why I started a journal at age 12.
Other non-fiction books I read, which I also found tremendously helpful and inspiring, include:
Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work by Dave Isay (StoryCorps) – I’m a big fan of StoryCorps, and these are average Americans who share their stories of what they love about their chosen professions.
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown – I started the year off with this one, and it was an inspiring precursor to Jen Sincero’s book.
Bossypants by Tina Fey – Laughed until I cried.
Paperboy by Tony Macaulay – An Irishman’s personal story of growing up during the Troubles.
Prisoner 1082 by Donal Donnelly – An imprisoned IRA member who escaped tells his story.
Of the fiction books I read this year, I think I have to choose Ragged Company by Ojibway writer, Richard Wagamese, although Lori Lansens’ The Girls is close behind. I also read Wagamese’s Indian Horse, but Ragged Company resonated more with me – his characters really seemed true and real, and portrayed with such compassion. I read two by him this year as small acts of reconciliation, and I’m adding other indigenous authors to my list this year. The Girls is about conjoined twins – it’s told in both girls’ voices, and it is also beautifully written.
I also read:
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach – This had been on my list for a couple decades, recommended by Sue Brown, a creative writing teacher I had while living in the UK.
Sounder by William H. Armstrong – The story of an unnamed boy of colour and his relationship with his dog, in an oppressive racist setting of the southern American states in the early 20th century.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer – This was an endearing story with interesting characters, set in occupied Guernsey during the Second World War.
Murder in the Dark by Margaret Atwood – Read this while I got my first tattoo. Did I mention it was a year of big decisions?
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans – A Christmas tradition, and an easy read.
So, I don’t feel guilty about only reading 15 books, when I’d set out read 20. The fact is, it’s 15 books, and that’s a lot more than I could have said I’d read in a year, say, even three years ago. It’s a good resolution, if we have to call it that, and 20 is my goal again this year. I’ve begun the Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage as my first for 2019. What are you reading right now?