A year ago, George wished me a “wordful, birdful 2009” so I figured I’d wrap up my year of words and birds on the blog starting with the books I read.
I read 58 books this year. As I look at the list, I see a few groupings and so I’ll mention some favorites in each category.
The newest thing in my reading was chapbooks. I bought Ten Poems about Highways and Birds by Sarah Bennett after reading a review at Via Negativa. I guess that turned me on to chapbooks and I really fell in love with the form and even tried my hand at it (more on that later in the week).
Of the chapbooks I read, my favorite was Bennett’s, but they were all enjoyable and I discovered a number of poets whose work I hadn’t read before. I’ve now got a small collection of chapbooks going, and I expect I will continue to buy them. Two others that stood out were Heartland by Howard Good and Raven Feathers by Nicole Nicholson, and I’ll be posting my review of Pamela Johnson Parker’s A Walk Through the Memory Palace on January 28 as part of Read Write Poem’s Virtual Book Tour.
I read a bunch of young adult stuff. Every few years, I bring a stack of YA books home from the school library so I can read what my kids are reading and talk about their books a little bit. I read all of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Shadow Children series and even had my summer school students read the first book, Among the Hidden. A few continued through the rest of her books and decided that maybe reading isn’t so bad after all.
My favorite of the YA books, though, was The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci, a dark tale of outsiders and insiders at a small town high school. The writing was sharp and the book held my attention better than most YA books.
I also read my usual assortment of novels and nonfiction books about random things that interest me. I continued my obsession of reading every book shown or referenced on ABC’s Lost, the most substantial of which was James Joyce’s Ulysses. Click here for a list of all the Lost books along with links to my reviews.
For novels, I happened to read two of the books that are showing up regularly on all those best-of-the-decade lists: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The Road by Cormac McCarthy, both of which have post-apocalyptic settings. While I agree with many reviewers that The Road is a brilliantly crafted novel, and one of the best to come along in a great while, I liked Cloud Atlas more. Those two books, along with Rafi Zabor’s The Bear Comes Home were my favorite novels for the year and they’re the three I’m recommending most frequently.
Other highlights include finally reading Joyce’s Dubliners (“The Dead” may be one of the best short stories I’ve ever read) and David Allen Sibley’s Sibley Guide to Trees, which though I haven’t read it yet, looks beautiful and will be a fine companion to his excellent Sibley Guide to Birds.
Here’s the full list:
- The Tales of Beetle the Bard – JK Rowling
- Alabama Wildman – Thurston Moore
- Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches – Matsuo Bashō
- JRNLS80s: Poems, Lyrics, Letters, Observations, Wordplay and Postcards from the Early Days of Sonic Youth– Lee Ranaldo
- Tao Te Ching – Lao Tsu (tr: Gia-fu Feng & Jane English – reread)
- At-Risk Students: Feeling Their Pain, Understanding Their Plight and Accepting Their Defensive Ploys – Bill Page
- Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
- The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
- Zen and the Birds of Appetite – Father Thomas Merton
- The Survivors of the Chancellor – Jules Verne
- Through – Rachel Barenblatt
- Ulysses – James Joyce
- The Crucible – Arthur Miller (reread)
- A Separate Reality – Carlos Casteneda
- Preventing Death by Lecture – Sharon Bowman
- Lucy – Jean Valentine
- The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English – Henry Hitchings
- Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryōkan – Ryōkan
- Among the Hidden – Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Restless Astronomy – Michael Gilmore
- The Devil’s Arithmetic – Jane Yolen
- Ten Poems about Highways and Birds – Sarah Bennett
- No Country for Old Men – Cormac McCarthy
- Monster – Walter Dean Myers
- Heartland – Howard Good
- Stuck in Neutral – Terry Trueman
- Among the Imposters – Margaret Peterson Haddix
- The Road – Cormac McCarthy
- Among the Betrayed – Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Among the Barons – Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Raven Feathers – Nicole Nicholson
- Among the Brave – Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Among the Enemy – Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Among the Free – Margaret Peterson Haddix
- The Intellectual Devotional: American History – David S Kidder & Noah D Oppenheim
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K Dick
- The Bible of Lost Pets – Jamey Dunham
- Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
- Book Made of Forest – Jared Stanley
- The Imperfection of the Eye – Steven Schroeder
- Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
- The Body of Christopher Creed – Carol Plum-Ucci
- Red Bird – Mary Oliver
- Inside Bone there’s Always Marrow – Rachel Mallino
- Hemispheres – Jeanpaul Ferro
- The Bear Comes Home – Rafi Zabor
- Leaf Weather – Shira Dentz
- A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier – Ishmael Beah
- Lord of the Flies – William Golding (reread)
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life – Anne Lamott
- Mars: The Lure of the Red Planet – William Sheehan & Stephen James O’Meara
- Bicycle Diaries – David Byrne
- The Day-Glo Brothers – Chris Barton
- A Walk Through the Memory Palace – Pamela Johnson Parker
- Nuclear Meditations – Cathy McFann
- Dubliners – James Joyce