Wordamour made it to 30 books this year, better than some years (pitiful 21 in 2009) and worse than others (in 2007 Wordamour somehow read 44). In 2007 Wordamour was still reading aloud to younger son, which might explain it. Now the nightly ritual is to read side by side until younger son falls asleep.
Top 5 (in no particular order)
The Magician’s Elephant by Kate Di Camilo
Di Camilo’s luminous style never fails to captivate me.
You Don’t Look Like Anyone I know by Heather Sellers
I couldn’t put down this memoir weaving Seller’s family struggles with her late in life diagnosis of prospagnosia, or face blindness. She’s also one of my favorite writers.
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg
A food memoir by the author of the Orangette blog this one was pure word candy, by turns moving, by turns delightful. I bought several copies for friends this year.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead*
Wonderfully wrought middle grade novel that perfectly captures NYC in the 70’s and pays homage to A Wrinkle in Time.
Just Kids by Patti Smith**
Smith’s writing draws you in from the first sentence in her depiction of her otherworldly relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and of New York City in the late 60’s and early 70’s. There’s an almost childlike wonder in her perspective, even at its most sorrowful moments. This is a book like no other.
(*,** the last two won the Newberry and the National Book Award respectively, prizes that were richly, richly deserved)
And the rest, warts and all (in the name of transparency, right?) and in reading order
1. The Magician’s Elephant by Kate Di Camilo
2. Tiger Rising by Kate Di Camilo
3. Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
4. The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing by Mark McGurl
5. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson
6. Morning is a Long Time Coming by Bette Green
7. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
8. Talking Out of School by Kass Fleisher
9. Does the Writing Workshop Still Work? Ed. by Dianne Donnelly
10. Writing A Book that Matters by Philip Gerard
11. Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt
12. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
13. Flea Market America by Cree McCree
14. Unaccompanied Women by Jane Juska
15. The Art of the Turnaround by Michael Kaiser
16. The Comet and the Tornado:Reflections on the Legacy of Randy Pausch and the Creation of our Carnegie Mellon Dream Fulfillment Factory by Don Marinelli My techie 14 year old and I read this together
17. Dewey: the Small Town Library Cat that Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter (yes, the irony that this book is on the same list as Just Kids is not lost on me; I have nothing to say for myself.)
18. Brazil by Jesse Lee Kercheval
19. The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski An interesting history of the book
20. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel Pink
21. Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok
22. You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers
23. The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
24. Just Kids by Patti Smith
25. The Forest for the Trees 2nd Ed. by Betsey Lerner
26. I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson
27. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
28. Essential Tremor: The Facts by Mark Plumb and Peter Bain
29. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
30. Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas
I also enjoyed two novel drafts, my husband’s and a friend’s. All in all a good reading year.
On Deck: The Architect of Flowers by William Lychack (out in March but Wordamour is fortunate to have an advance copy), Erika Dreifus’ The Quiet Americans (coming out January 19), Nicole Krauss’ Great House, Mary Karr’s Lit, Robin Becker’s Brains, The Help and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (latter two are book club picks). Lots to look forward to.