There is so much to say about 2016, and so much work to be done now, in our minds, hearts, surroundings. I am beginning, however, with books.
When my parents were here over Christmas, my father drove down our mountain to get his beloved Sunday New York Times. Of course, I devoured as much as I had time for, in between gift-wrapping and cookie-baking and puzzle-making and laundry. My favorite section was the NYT Book Review’s “The Year in Reading” section, in which they publish pages and pages of summaries and comments by smart, worldly people on the books they read in 2016. In their honor, I’ve decided to offer something possibly more forthcoming. Because I wonder… what about all the things those smart, worldly people picked up and, for whatever reason, put down?
So, as my very first blog post of 2017, here is my list of books that I started in 2016 with very good intentions, and absolutely, for whatever reason, put down, undone. They’re in no particular order except the order in which I fished them out of my bedside book pile. And since I know I returned several books to the library (almost certainly with a heavy sigh each time), I am sure this list is not complete:
Peter Hershock, Chan Buddhism
Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
Jane Hirshfield, Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women
Jane Hirshfield, The Beauty
Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable
Bari Tessler, The Art of Money
Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century
Amy Leach, Things That Are
Pam Munoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising
Florence Caplow and Susan Moon, eds., The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women
Tarfia Faizullah, Seam
Elizabeth Bishop, Collected Poems
J.C. Cleary, trans., Zen Under the Gun: Four Zen Masters from Turbulent Times
Leila Aboulela, The Kindness of Enemies
Mario Vargas Llosa, The Dream of the Celt
Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Song
Zenkei Shibayama, A Flower Does Not Talk
The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde
Martha Nussbaum, Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice
And here are the books I am sure I finished:
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Wizard of Earthsea
Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday
George Eliot, Middlemarch
Those people they ask about the best books they read in 2016? They don’t mess around! They’ve given me a long list of things I am absolutely sure I will read, and possibly finish, in 2017. After I finish Hershock, Hyde, Ghosh, and Fuller. Really.
And those books I did read? Novels, all three. “Write what you love to read,” one of my writing teachers used to say. So stay tuned, everyone, because there is in fact a story that has been waiting patiently, all these years of parenthood, just for me.