Friday, December 31, 2010

the best gift ever

My husband and I have this ongoing dialog about gifting. You see, he's an excellent gift giver. He has this knack for coming up with the best, most obscure & practical gifts for people that are otherwise hard to buy for. How he can come up with "noise reduction headphones" or "a book of witticisms" off the top of his head, I have no idea. I just run with it and praise god for his prowess and for Amazon Prime.  Being married to an excellent gifter is, well, just as you suspect. Awesome. Evidence: just a few weeks ago, he gave me this...

But that is not the point. The point is that we have this ongoing dialog about the "best" gifts. And every time it comes up I tell him that the best gift -- the best physical gift -- he's ever given me is a book journal. He gave it to me for my birthday in 2004. 
The journal itself isn't particularly fancy, and the format and design aren't revelatory. But this simple journal helped me turn a corner in my reading life. I'd been in a post college reading rut for a half-dozen years at the time and was floundering. I wanted to read. I didn't want to read. I didn't know what I liked. 

Anyway, from the minute I received this journal in 2004, I have tracked every book I've read. Every one. Two journals later I've migrated to a simpler, more accessible (for me) format. Still, the journal was the best gift ever. Ever, for me. So far. 

I read. I set reading goals. And I love it. 

Nerd Alert:  This year I read 64 books. 
My Year in Books 2010 (1)
My Year in Books 2010 (2)
My Year in Books 2010 (3)

Last year I read 63 books, so 64 doesn't feel like a huge step up. Which is fine because that wasn't the goal.

I finished book number 64 yesterday. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It feels weird to say it's the last book I'll read this decade. I so wish I'd started tracking this in 2001, because I'm pretty sure 2000 or 2001 is when I picked up Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone, but I'm not certain when it was, exactly. I wish I knew, because I think HP really influenced the book choices I made then and continue to make now.

I mentioned a moment ago that I set reading goals. In 2009 my goal was to read more non-fiction. I did that, but I also spent a lot of time rereading books in 2009. Don't ask me why -- i have no idea why. But the reason I know is that it's documented in my book journal.  So for 2010 my goal was simply to read more new stuff, and reread less. I also made a conscious effort this year to simply read whatever I wanted to read - without hesitation. That said, the two themes I see are YA and Vampires which I find hilarious (though not surprising) in retrospect. Whatever - this year was way fun on the reading front. Here's what I read in the order I read them: 

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling /r
  2. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer /n
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J.K. Rowling /r
  4. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling /r
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling /r
  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows /n
  7. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris /r
  8. On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony /n
  9. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris /r
  10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins /r
  11. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collings /r
  12. What This River Keeps by Greg Schwipps /n
  13. Finger-Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich /n
  14. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris /r
  15. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris /r
  16. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater /n
  17. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris /r
  18. Valiant by Holly Black /n
  19. Ironside by Holly Black /n
  20. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer /r
  21. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris /r
  22. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris /r
  23. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead /n
  24. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris /r
  25. Frostbite by Richelle Mead /n
  26. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguru /n
  27. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris /r
  28. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead /n
  29. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer /n
  30. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead /n
  31. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte /n
  32. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead /n
  33. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon /n
  34. When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris /r
  35. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris /n
  36. A Great and Terible Beauty by Libba Bray /n
  37. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray /n
  38. The Help by Kathryn Stockett /n
  39. Maximum Ride - The Angel Experiment by James Patterson /n
  40. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins /n
  41. Love is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison /n
  42. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray /n
  43. Wicked Lovely by Melissa marr /n
  44. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr /n
  45. Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr /n
  46. Stop In The Name of Pants by Louise Rennison /n
  47. The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson /n
  48. Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr /n
  49. Maximum Ride - School's out Forever by James Patterson /n
  50. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Audio) /r
  51. Maximum Ride - Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson /n
  52. Maximum Ride - The Final Warning by James Patterson /n
  53. Plainsong by Kent Haruf /n
  54. The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima /n
  55. The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima /n
  56. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford /n
  57. The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima /n
  58. Max by James Patterson /n
  59. Linger by Maggie Stiefvate /n
  60. Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz /n
  61. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me by Louise Rennison /n
  62. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare /n
  63. Fang by James Patterson /n
  64. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak /n
What's funny about this list of books -- about every annual list of books for me -- is that I have such a strong association with what was happening in my life while I was reading whatever book. I listen to a lot of books while I sew - particularly when I quilt.

For example, I was listening to Under The Banner of Heaven while I machine quilted my first 2010 finish.
Fresh Cut Quilt_01

And I pieced this rainbow zig zag as Jim Dale told the story of HP and the Order of the Pheonix. Sirius Black died again while I was quilting it. I burned the candle at both ends to get this one done a couple of hours before my husband boarded a plan to CA to gift it to a dear friend there who'd just had a baby. (further evidence of awesome gifting.)
Charlie's Zig-Zag

And I was (unfortunately) listening to Finger Lickin' Fifteen while I machine quilted this Wonderland coin quilt.
Wonderland Coin Quilt

The Shadow of the Wind. This was July 4th and we were at the lake. I made these for my nieces who both turned 4 over the summer.
twin doll quilts (they're fraternal)

Wicked Lovely, labor day weekend. 
Game Day Quilt

and on and on. 

So as I sit here on new year's eve and reflect on The Book Thief, the last book I'll finish this decade, I'm haunted by humanity and reality. 2010 was a year of joys and a year of sorrows. Accomplishments and failures. Courage and regret.  Births and deaths. It was no different than any other year. And 2011 will be the same. Because that's the way we work - the way human life works. Things happen, both awesome and awful, and we carry on. Somehow, we move forward and carry on. We look for bright spots and cling to them.  

Happy new year. Wishing you peace and many bright things to lead you through 2011.