Snow is a pain. All of us have been dancing the “Twisp Shuffle.”
On Christmas morning, I went outside in my robe and slippers to capture the image of the Christmas Eve moon setting to the west. Wasn’t it beautiful?
For the past several years, I’ve called on valley readers to submit their picks for best book of the year. I didn’t get around to this in 2015, which hasn’t been a big reading year for me.
I did manage to read three of the History Book Club selections, though they were not published in 2015. (History Book Club waits until the titles are available in paperback before selecting them and coordinating the necessary order with North Central Regional Library). All were great reads. Peter Stark’s Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire tells the exciting story of the expeditions to the west by land and sea to carry out a plan to establish a Jamestown on the Pacific coast. What could go wrong? This book read like a page-turner for me.
Eric Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts describes the life of the American ambassador and his family in pre-war Berlin, 1933. Why didn’t Europe recognize the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazis?
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything is a difficult read — not because of the Klein’s writing but because of her documentation of the distressing dysfunction between free-market capitalism, the fossil fuel industry and global warming. Have her book and the Paris Climate Change Conference Agreement made a difference? Will the U.S. Congress get serious about climate change?
I’ve taken the lazy way out and scanned the online lists of best books of 2015 that I intended to read.
All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (published in 2014) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction as well as the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. I was gifted a copy last Christmas, but I haven’t been able to get into it. Both Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson appear on multiple lists. I mail-ordered both books as soon as they were published, but I have not finished reading either one. I grudgingly read Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. The novel deserves mention as it appears on several lists, but I read this one to prove to myself that a second Harper Lee novel wasn’t necessary or needed. I was right.
Until I read the “best of” lists I didn’t know Kent Haruf’s 2015 book Our Souls at Night and (Baltimore writer!) Ann Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread had been published. As both authors are favorites of mine, I’ve ordered both books online from the library. As Ta-Nehesi Coates’ memoir Between the World and Me tops so many lists, I have ordered that as well. A married couple we all know has been using The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo as their guide to decluttering a house they’ve lived in for 30 years. They recommend the book. The title appears on several lists of “bests.”
The past year has been one of joys and sorrows. For me, for the first time in my life, I lost a close friend. I also welcomed my second grandchild to the world.
Life continues to be a learning experience. I am seeing some tiny but real development of a spiritual life. My emotions have been a bit less erratic. As for my intellectual life? I seem to have put it on hold. Maybe that will change with the New Year.