Thanksgiving 2014 is receding quickly into memory, my calendar is full of holiday parties and my thoughts are turning towards when to buy a Christmas tree. Despite the press of holiday preparations I am not spending my time baking or shopping for presents, but instead reading a slew of Best Books of the Year lists. If you are intrigued by such things, and sadly I am, David Gutowski of Largehearted Boy compiles a list of lists which will quickly take you on a journey through the internet that ranges so far and wide it may discover that an entire afternoon has evaporated by the time you wend your way back to everyday existence.
I love these lists even though they make me feel completely inadequate. No matter how much you read, it is very likely that any given “Best Of” list will mostly consist of books you haven’t read as opposed to those you have. Even more traumatic for me is that so many of the selected titles are ones I have every intention of reading and quite often have had sitting around my house for months. I can’t quite escape the childish competitive desire to be that girl, à la Hermione Granger, who has done all the reading before class convenes. I never managed it during my school days, so I don’t know why I expect to do it now.
Reading shouldn’t be a competition, but sometimes when these lists start to proliferate each year, I look back on what I’ve read with a sense of failure — don’t worry it’s a transient pang and not a serious self-condemnation.
I didn’t even read all of the books on the lists I posted each quarter as titles I was looking forward to: I’ve managed five from my Spring list, seven from my Summer list, and a mere three from my Fall list (so far). My Booker reading was also a bust — I’ve tackled just 1 1/2 of the six finalists. Looking back on these lists I’m still excited by most of the books on them, it’s just not happening right at this moment.
Despite my best intentions of reading ALL the books on my lists, and ALL the books on some weird compendium of the Best of 2014 lists, real life has a way of interfering. In my case, while I read a bunch over the last few months, I allowed myself to be hindered by adjusting to the routine imposed by a new part-time job (in a great indie book store — it’s wonderful, but it does cut into my reading and lallygagging on the internet), as well as indulging in a persistent rebelliousness against the ‘should dos’ of life despite being long past an age where that is an expected and tolerated behavior. On top of everything else I spent the summer and fall dealing with a digestive ickiness that led to surgery. I’m fine — it was all pretty routine stuff and I’m just glad to have it behind me. Blogging suffered a lot — I can’t write when I don’t feel well, not even something as simple as this blog. Now that I’m recovered I’m beginning to discover exactly how low I was feeling and cutting myself a lot of slack for taking time off.
Of course, given that the publishing is relentless, I’m already behind on 2015 advance reading. Never mind, it’s good to have goals!