Thursday, December 05, 2019

Like a Runaway Horse - Random Thoughts on the End of 2019


I don’t mean to sound like some cliché-addled whiner today, but here goes anyway: Where has 2019 gotten to? I realized just today that reading-wise I’m not prepared for it to end just 26 days from now. I still have way too much to do.

Every year, I prepare a couple of Top Ten lists for December posting, one for fiction and one for non-fiction. I limit the lists, of course, to the books I’ve actually read and reviewed on Book Chase, so in the great scheme of things, they don’t much reflect the big picture. But they do represent my personal reading year, and when I go back and look at the lists from prior years they remind me of all the great books I’ve already read – and they get me excited about all the great ones already out there in the pipeline for the next year. 

But this year, I’ve got at least three unread books on my desk that I know very likely deserve to be on one or the other of the two lists. I’ve read the authors before, some of their previous books are among my longtime favorites, and I was so excited to get my hands on the books in the first place that I shelled out the hardcover price for each of them the week they were published. Problem is, they were published in October or November and I don’t think I’ll be able to read them before next year because of the books I’ve already lined up for December reviews. (And I really don’t want to rush through them anyway and cheapen the experience of reading some of my favorite writers.) I suppose the good news is that they were published so late in the year, that I can, by my standards (books published between October 1 of the previous year and December 31 of the current year are list-eligible), consider them for my 2020 lists. 

The Unpeelable Sticker 
And I suppose that I should confess to being something of a reading contrarian. I’ve mentioned before how I find celebrity-headed book clubs to be cringe-worthy. Oprah is pushing it? Reese Witherspoon chose it for “Reese’s Book Club? Well, no thanks then. Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed to be seen carrying around a book with one of their book club stickers on the cover because it makes me feel like a little lost lamb in a very large herd of sheep. And now to make things even worse, many of the books they choose come with their "stickers" actually printed as part of the book's cover; you can’t peel the sticker off even if you want to. 

That’s why I may be the last person in the world to read 2018’s Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’m about 200 pages into the 34th printing (geez, how many millions of copies has this book sold) of the book right now, but even that probably would not have happened if my wife had not mentioned last month that she thought she would enjoy it. So, dutiful husband that I am (it’s OK to laugh), I came home with a copy the next day. She loved it – although that’s not always a good sign because she also loves just about every Hallmark movie she’s ever watched. But 200 pages into Crawdads, I’m starting to think that she is right about the book.

Too, I wish I didn’t feel so much like a magpie these days. I’m just as guilty of acquiescing to an urge to acquire every shiny new trinket I spot (brand new books) as that well known flying-thief is. And that means that I have read exactly nine books so far this year that were on my shelves on the first day of 2019. Nine! And I have dozens of them staring at me all day long from my shelves and waiting patiently for their turn to finally come along. Some of them, I keep reminding myself, have been sitting there since the mid-eighties and I’m starting to wonder if they will ever be read. (That may become an official challenge for next year, now that I think about it.)

Don’t let all of this whining make you think that I’m not excited about the rapid approach of 2020 and all that a brand new year offers, because I am, and I can’t wait to see what our book world has in store for all of us next year.  As I’ve said here many times before, readers are special people and book-blogging is the best way to bring some of them together where I can enjoy their company and be a more active part of the reading community. Thank you for being part of that community.

So, ready or not, I can’t wait for 2020.

8 comments:

  1. Your post made me smile because I could have written it. Well, apart from the Crawdads book, which I've been aware of for quite some time but not really got around to investigating yet. The book I must read before the end of the year is In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson. It's the last book for the World at War challenge I've been doing and I know it will good, I just didn't plan to read it in December. I meant to get it read earlier in the autumn but real life has been a bit of a bugger this past three months and that book just didn't happen. Honestly, the trials and tribulations of being a book blogger. LOL

    To be honest, I'll be glad to see the back of 2019 for all sorts of reasons and can't wait to start on my 2020 book pile. I too think readers are very special people and I treasure the friendships I've made via book blogging, including yourself, Sam. So thank *you* too.

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    1. Our book-blogging problems are kind of nice ones to have when compared to those of the real world, Cath, that's for sure. I read that Erik Larson book a while back and enjoyed it. I'm a fan of the guy's writing, and his books have so far never failed to both entertain and inform me. I've learned a lot of rather obscure history from the guy.

      I just finished Crawdads this morning...and the ending made me realize just how easily I followed the author exactly where she wanted me to go for over 350 pages. I won't say more than that in order not to spoil it for others, but I had to chuckle a bit at the way she made it all work so well right up to the last page.

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  2. Celebrity book clubs don't bother me. I'll take reading suggestions from just about anyone! I'm just glad that they promote reading, which makes it hip, which means more people want to do it. That's okay in my book. It doesn't mean I rush out to get the books Oprah or Reese Witherspoon are backing, but I take their suggestions into account just like I would anyone else's.

    I'm a major book magpie, too! I don't want to know how much money I've spent on new books this year. It would be embarrassing. One of my reading goals for 2020 is to try to read more of the books I already own as well as library books instead of buying so many. I love to support authors, but my family's not going to be happy if I bankrupt us with my *little* book obsession :)

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    1. The main reason I balk at celebrity book clubs is that they strike me as being a bit like a New York Times bestseller list...predictable and underwhelming when you drill down into them. They are largely list of lowest-common-denominator books by people like Patterson, Steele, Grisham on the fiction side, and political books written by ghost writers for our current group of extremely irritating politicians (on both sides).

      Speaking of magpies, I did it again this morning. Went into the local Half Price bookstore and walked out with three titles - and that was only after I returned three others to the shelves that I had a hunch would just sit around on my shelves for months, if not years. Did get a very fine Library of America volume of novels by Stowe, a British edition of a new Peter Robinson mystery, and an anthology on bookish trivia for about $15, though, so it was a pretty good morning. I think we are both lucky to have spouses who understand us well enough to know that we really can't help ourselves. LOL

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  3. I avoided Crawdads for a long time until this summer a friend threatened to cancel our friendship (ominous after more than 50 years) if I didn't read it. She was right, although we frequently disagree about books--I loved the writing and descriptions.

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    1. Finished it this morning, Jenclair. And I was impressed all the way through. Even with the ending that I kick myself for not having already seen coming by the time I got there.

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  4. December is going by much too fast for me, too. And I still haven't read Where the Crawdads Sing, so I'm even more behind than you. ;D

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    1. I just finished it this morning - and posted a review just a minute ago. It's pretty near as good as all the hype it gets. Not quite, but pretty close.

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