Last year I read thirty-two books, which was eight more over the year before. Given that my year was tumultuous, I’m not surprised that I escaped into books even more than usual. In fact, I clearly remember books being one of the only ways I was able to stay grounded.
Over the summertime I reread C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, which I had not read since I was a child. It was delightful to go back to those old books. The stories were rich with allegory and imagery that took me far away from the grim realities of my life and I was happy to lose myself in them.
In 2013 I also picked up Elizabeth Gilbert for the first time. In March I finally watched the film adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts. It was awesome. As I was going through a spiritual shake-up at the time it was a welcome inspiration to me. I picked up her second memoir, Committed, first though. After I read through that (it gave me some much-needed perspective on the institution of marriage), I finally read Eat, Pray, Love and found it was even more insightful than the movie (naturally.) Gilbert was the last author I read in 2013, finishing the year off with her new novel The Signature of All Things. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes good historical fiction.
While I started reading Stephen King in 2012, I didn’t continue with any of his novels this past year. Each time I see his books in the library I want to take one out but the size of them deters me. I started reading a paperback copy of Insomnia during the spring while my father was ill but it began to plague me with fears of sleeplessness of my own so I put it down and I haven’t picked it up again since. I may finish it finally this year when I go back to my parents’ place to retrieve the book.
This year also was a first in terms of spiritual self-help for me. I picked up The Heart of the Buddha’s Path by the Dalai Lama, Unfinished Business by James Van Praagh, and Care of the Soul by Thomas Freedman. All three of these books have helped me in some way through my grief.
By far the most talked-about about book that I’ve read in 2013 was Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace. Neil penned his own autobiography and it’s weird, rambling and discombobulated. Kind of like Neil Young himself.
A Visit from the Goon Squad has already begun to fade from my memory but it was an interesting look into the lives of several weird navel-gazing characters in LA. Considering that I didn’t even finish Jennifer Egan’s last novel The Keep (because its weird navel-gazing characters were too much for me) I consider this a pretty big win.
I’ve had Don Delillo’s White Noise in my collection for some time but I only picked it up to read this summer, when I was going through some heavy depression stuff. It wasn’t the best read for that frame of mind, but it was definitely an intriguing read.
I found Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret for 25 cents at a used bookstore and had to relive the awkward prepubescent years. It made me think of my niece who turned fourteen in 2013. I was barely fourteen when she was born. Seeing her as a teenager brings back some interesting memories, but that’s a blog post for another day.