Sunday, December 27, 2015

My books of the year

The family-member-who-declines-to-be-named and his lovely girlfriend invited me to spend the best part of Christmas Day with them. I shan’t give details: if he doesn’t like to be named, I guess he doesn’t want his activities publicised either. I will simply say – for me it was a perfect Christmas.

Meanwhile, Dave had a nice time shedding. He is in the throes of making a number of wooden puzzles – based on a design by Thomas Eddison’s son (how recherché is that?) They are pretty fab.

I like this quiet time after Christmas when there is a lot of time to think about the year we’re leaving behind. I read some stonking books in 2015.

These are my favourites:
FictionA Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler; and Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Both beautifully written, both centring on families and relationships. I am a big fan of Anne Tyler, and this is probably my favourite of all her books. I gulped it down on a flight to Colorado, and now I need to read it again slowly and savour it.

I’ll re-read the Haruf book too. I love his spare writing. I get more and more impatient with writers who use two sentences when one would do. I just wish Haruf’s publisher would print the text in a decent size. I bought Our Souls at Night as an ebook (for cheapness.) But even though I had a perfectly good secondhand paperback edition of his Plainsong, I resorted to buying the ebook too so i could increase the size of the text. Picador – I am naming and shaming you. Get your act together!

Non-fiction – Kate Gross’s Late Fragments, which I already told you about on the blog in January....

“I read it in one sitting, something that is rare for me, especially when the book is non-fiction. It’s the beautifully written memoir of a 36 year old woman who died of cancer…. It is sad but not gloomy. It is moving, inspiring, and above all, life-affirming. It is honest, not cheesy. It is more about living, and how to live, than it is about dying.
“The sub-title of the book is Everything I want to tell you (about this magnificent life) – which should give you a clue about the general tenor. If you read just one book this year make it this one. It’s about love and friendship and the importance of paying attention to the wonder all around you; and the last paragraph of the book is the Raymond Carver poem Late Fragment.

PoetryLifesaving Poems, edited by Anthony Wilson. The collection began in a notebook of Anthony’s, and then he blogged them. I found his blog when Mary was dying. I can’t review poetry, all I can say of this collection is that they speak to my condition (as Quakers say). It sits on my bedside table, along with my lifetime companion, Garrison Keillor’s Leaving Home. Thank you, Anthony.

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