This post began three years ago, as ‘My Reading Choices for 2018’! Now into 2021, it is just a little bit overdue. Not the books, thankfully. I didn’t borrow them from a library.
2018 was, I’m delighted to say, a good reading year in my MEsphere. Compared to other folks reading capacity, it is most likely a drop in the ocean. But who needs comparisons? I certainly don’t.
I couldn’t read any books for about 7 years due to MEcfs. So to be discussing them now is awesome. Thanks to a genius Professor recommending I have B12 injections, my ability to read miraculously returned in around 2011. I am forever grateful.
Keeping a Journal
I have book years and non-book years. 2017 was a bit of a write off reading wise. I managed one book. But it was a goodie. How do I know? Well, as mentioned in My Reading List – Christian Faith Books, since 2012 I keep a log, or journal, of every book I now read. It’s a lovely reminder and gives me a real sense of satisfaction. I also note down a brief review to remind myself if I enjoyed the book or not. I absolutely love reading, but my brain and eyes frequently don’t comply.
It also helps me keep in mind which books I would like to read again, given the cognitive luxury. Or those I didn’t enjoy so much or other random details. You get the picture. I do have an all-time favourite, the title of which my young folk could quite easily quote. I’ll come to that later.
Love Your Journal
The fact that the log/journal also contains a diagram, written in fountain pen by my late EP (please see Opera, an Eccentric Parent & London Tap Water…), of how to navigate road junctions whilst driving in Spain, adds to the warmth of this notebook.
I’m surprised there isn’t also a postscript on how to check tyre pressures in Spain. Always handy to know the appropriate PSI. Or antifreeze! Yet again, I digress. You love it really?
Pacing How I Read
I am astonished that I managed to read six books in total in 2018, plus listen to one spoken word. The last book read of 2018 I didn’t pace very well at all. I have to pace everything, even thinking. Along with it being very emotionally detailed. Combine that with a complex blog post I wrote (on another subject). Consequently I had to shelve any reading, and writing, for several months.
It can be bit of a Catch 22. Don’t get me started on the book of the same name by Joseph Heller. What a read back in the 1980s!
Something Happened by the same author, however, is a challenge I didn’t complete. Did anything actually happen? I will never know!
So I have learned to be picky or you could say I use more discernment along with aiming for larger print helps too.
You may be asking yourself, and me, why I don’t access spoken word more. I have listened to one Spoken Word book which I thoroughly enjoyed, when laid up yet again. But I find listening as difficult as reading, and it’s not so easy to refer back for a reminder of details my ‘sieve’ brain has decided to leave in the margin!
My ears also do not like prolonged use of head phones, which is a bit annoying. As I also LOVE music. I do listen to scripture on audio. Which I also love. But again has to be limited.
Put simply, you just do the best you can with what you have. I’ll keep you posted on the subject of audio books.
THE 2018 READING LIST
Often at Christmas or a Birthday, since being able to read again, my young folk often like to buy me books. I’ll be honest that I hadn’t realised how much they enjoy doing that, until told recently. But I do know with how much huge delight I receive them.
The year started with
- The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka – Based around the main character who lives in a block of flats in London. The proposed destruction of an area of trees at the front of the building, brings some residents together, whilst giving us the reader a window into their lives. This book doesn’t disappoint
- Howards End by E.M. Forster – I just love this book. Written in 1910. The turn of the century magnifying glass on class division and what happens when there is a crossover. It is nectar to read. Tragic, human and detailed.
- Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Recommended by one of our young folk, I decided to give it a go. It’s a bit of a globe trot, which is very enjoyable for someone who used to travel a fair amount. I loved the chapters in Italy and Bali. The ashram experience entertaining. But some of the story did go on a bit when it came to the authors relationship encounters. But in fairness it is very much about that anyway, so what exactly did I expect. Says she the grand waffler! But all in all, a book for the beach. Not that I read it on a beach. But the copy I read had sand dropping from it’s spine, having itself been globetrotted, thus adding to the atmosphere. I have watched the film, and that did miss some the nuances from the book.
- Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson – After hearing the author speak with passion and clarity on a fairly recent Dimbleby Lecture. I felt inclined to read one of her books. Through a fictional character this particular book explores her early realisation of her sexual orientation, growing up in a faith setting. Some of it is really funny. But some quite awkward. But it certainly highlights the challenges young people experience in having to hide who they are, and the cruel opinions and behaviour they can encounter from some of those around them. I didn’t love the book, but am glad I read it
- Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah – A non-fiction book that I think I can safely describe as a cognitive crusher. Such an excellent book, a true story of her childhood in China during the civil war and further on in life in Hong Kong. It is very emotional. And quite honestly, I found it traumatic. As the writer’s life clearly was for many years, controlled by emotional abuse. Which is conveyed so well and must have felt like a lifetime whilst being subjected to it. It is so worth reading, but be prepared for the unexpected along with detail you may find disturbing or triggering. You basically desperately want to read a happy ending. And that is why it was a cognitive crusher.
- Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford – Spoken word, narrated by Prunella Scales. Gifted to me by one of my siblings. Probably best described as a bedroom farce. This funny piece of it’s period, is lighthearted and so enjoyable. Perfect for when you’re laid up in bed.
Books I HAVE READ AND ENJOYED
- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. The complex narrative of an ageing parent, their difficult history, amid challenges of midlife. Mixed with humour, compassion and wit. Brilliant.
- The Help by Kathrynn Stockett. Simply excellent. And does remind me of some attitudes towards helpers while we lived in Asia. A prejudice I really struggled with, and when speaking up against it did not gain me friends amongst some expatriates.
- The Shipping News by Annie Proulx Oh my goodness, this book. You can literally smell the local shellfish café. It is intense, and intriguing. A book I bought from the local secondhand book shop on the island where we lived in Hong Kong. (If you have only ever seen the film. I’d recommend the book. It’s brilliant).
- Howards End by E.M.Forster – As mentioned above. Such a great read.
- A Murder of Quality by John Le Carré. If you long for an engaging book, minus technology then read this. It is brilliant and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
A copy of The Night Manager by John le Carré gifted to me by one of our young folk, awaits reading.
I would also like to read A Small Island by Andrea Levy and possibly The Remains of the Day by kazuo ishiguro. Although it sounds quite deep. A review of kazuo ishiguro on BBC imagine recently, was so interesting.
A Favourite Author
I absolutely love Marina Lewycka’s writing. Her award winning A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (which I first read in 2012) has to be her best. And probably my most favourite novel. I drank that book in. It was a delight. Hilarious, poignant, sad and a bit crazy. And why I have read it twice and why I would like to read it again.
Her recent The Lubetkin Legacy comes a close second. Two Caravans is also brilliant, but very dark and gritty with some detail reader’s may find disturbing. I certainly did. Definitely not for a light escapist type read. But saying that, I love all her novels. With the quirky characters and attention to detail. She manages to mix comedy with lifes troubles and complexities. As she does in her other novels We Are All Made of Glue and Various Pets Alive and Dead.
I have read all her books, apart from her guidance books about care for the elderly. I became aware of her when my husband bought Two Caravans as part of a three for two book offer in Tesco quite a few years ago. I couldn’t read books at the time and had laughed (inwardly) when my visiting GP complemented me on my reading choice.
I have just acquired this, Marina Lewycka’s latest novel. I am unsure if I will be able to read the whole book this year, but have tried a couple of pages and it has a welcoming feel to it. So here’s hoping.
I so glad to get this post out. It has taken me an age. But it’s always worth knowing about a good book. Even though I can’t keep up with the many published each year. I hope there is something in my list you might enjoy.
Thanks for popping by
Have a blessed day⚘