My reading for 2011 took a serious dip this year once the move to Italy became a sure thing, but here’s the list:
- Gold by Moonlight, Amy Carmichael
- King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, Tim Keller
- Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, Rachel Simmons
- Italian Neighbors, Tim Parks
- Academically Adrift, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa
- Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath
- The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
- Hunger, Knut Hamsun
- Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
- Your Children Are Under Attack, Jim Taylor
- Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
- The Shallows, Nicholas Carr
- To Pause at the Threshold, Esther de Waal
- A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis (2nd time)
- The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, C. S. Lewis (2nd time)
- Collected Fictions, Jorge Luis Borges
- The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis (3rd time complete)
- Roald Amundsen; A Saga of the Polar Seas, J. Alvin Kugelmass
- Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, George Seaver
- Higher Education? Andrew Hacker and Julia Dreifus
I read so many more of the books on this list during last winter than this spring, summer or fall that just looking at it reminds me of cold and lamplight. And this year reading even the early books required a certain amount of discipline. Scanning the list, I can tell that I gave myself a higher than usual number of easy books just to keep the habit going.
My favorite book that wasn’t a re-read (i.e., C.S. Lewis) was The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr. Among other things, it takes one on a very readable tour of the biochemistry of memory. And it encourages sitting still and, you guessed it, reading. If you were thinking of reading this book and wanted a recommendation, you have mine. His blog is interesting, too.
Oh, and I really enjoyed Borges. Thinking of his stories reminds me of the orange seats on the one train in NYC, because I read them while making the rounds to all the doctors before we moved. Funny how books pick up associations with the places where you read them. Maybe the association was especially strong because both the stories and my location when I read them were maze-like.
And Italian Neighbors was good preparatory fun for moving to Italy. While Anglo-atheist Tim Parks has a perspective on Italy that may not match that of his Italian Catholic neighbors, he describes some of their peculiarities with a freshness and humor that is helpful to anyone moving in from the outside.
During the past two weeks in Georgia, I’ve been able to start reading again. I have three books going that I started before the end of the year, but in typical Christmas vacation fashion I also picked up a quick read at my parents and finished it off at midnight last night. It was a book about a famous trial that took place in the time (the 1940s) and place (the Chattahoochie Valley in Georgia and Alabama) where my parents grew up. The protagonist embodied many of the contradictions of the South during Jim Crow and Prohibition. The book was not my typical reading, nor was it that well-written, but it fit my mood. After three months in urban Italy, it was fun to experience a bit of reverse culture shock.
My goals for 2012? Finish what I’ve started (a modest goal, don’t you think?). Read along more often with Sarie’s Western Lit class. Maybe tackle the medieval volume of Susan Wise Bauer’s history series. Toss in some modern fiction now and then. Keep reading and rereading spiritual classics. And no doubt I’ll need to learn to read in Italian.
Will it all get done? I don’t know, but it’s fun to make goals and then see how they change as the year wears on.
What are your favorite reads from last year and reading goals for 2012?