This will be my last review. I am closing out the year the way I began, with a Louise Erdrich novel. This novel is like several of her novels, the story of a town, the story of a family, and representing and recreating a panoply of voices. Taking place in the South Dakota town of Pluto, this novel begins in the town where a horrendous murder leads to a horrendous lynching. The guilty party was never really found, but the white rage that was felt was revisited on any Indian body that could be found, guilt be damned. Flashforward some 70 years and the town has never recovered. While this isn’t a town that is plagued by over-bearing cyclical violence, this is a town where the remembrance of violence casts a forever shadow over the inhabitants. The novel then explores the various connections between families, among neighbors, and within individual relationships. Told from several multiple perspectives, focusing on damned and damaged relationships, family secrets, and plenty of other stark and beautifully written sections. This is an utterly beautiful and haunting novel.
A Year in Reading Conclusion.
I say “read” because, well, I listened to a lot of them and a begrudgingly skimmed, forced down, or consumed for completion a handful. My review will follow and will close out my year. I will take a little break depending on when this is actually coming out.
So I have a twinge of anxiety and the absolute best way for me to deal with this, along with world-related and job-related stress has been to walk/hike/run, to read, and to make lists. All of these give me relief from stress, but each functions in a different way. The lists, such as this one, help me establish a sense of control over things that feel uncontrollable such as stress, having time on my hands, or having anticipatory stress. I sometimes get super stressed on Sunday afternoons and evenings because of the upcoming school day on Monday (even more than the school week as a whole). Each year I tend to have one day that is demonstrably worse than the other (we’re on an Odd/Even schedule) and the last two school years, it’s been Odd days. Literally the worst class I have ever taught was on Odd-4th block (end of the day) and the whole day would be a total exercise in stress. This year my overall year is immensely and immeasurably better, but Odd-2nd block is my most stressful class.
Here’s what I listen to when my “Sunday Feelings” are way too strong. Often Sunday afternoons involve a long walk and a strong beer to settle me:
2017 is one of the craziest years of my life. While my personal was actually pretty ok, my work life was nuts at times and more so the political world around me was so stressful. So I turned hard to reading. So, this year and last have represented my most prolific reading year ever, as well as my heftiest. I decided as my last review to break down the numbers, as I see them, maybe taking the load off of Ingres77 a little. For me, prolific means the most individual books, heftiest means the page counts. I am using the copy I have or the Goodread total for those. So you know, I also break down the numbers of shorter books (plays and novellas) and comics/kids books too. This list represents my best estimates and absolutely bought me some sanity during a stressful work week.
January: This started things off. I had several snow days and started a new grad class, and so it was nice to jump right into the year.
Page Count: 6505
Average Page Count: 271
February: This is a super slow month for me. School is among the worst during this time.
Page Count: 8582
Average Page Count: 214
March: Stress factors at school are picking up. I have applied for a bunch of new jobs and am on edge a lot.
Page Count: 12267
Average Page Count: 198
April: Obsessively checking job application statuses, applying, Spring Break!
Page Count: 13615
Average Page Count: 239
May: State-wide testing season commences. New job!
Page Count: 11691
Average Page Count: 300
June: End of school stress, barreling to the close.
Page Count: 7797
Average Page Count: 229
July: Schools out. Biggest month of the year for reading for me.
Page Count: 15707
Average Page Count: 234
August: Vacation and driving to start, school starting up.
Page Count: 8838
Average Page Count: 245
September: Stress right at the beginning, easing into school. Turns out my new school wants 20 minutes of reading at the start of each English period. Sounds good to me.
Page Count: 12293
Average Page Count: 323
October: Got into a groove I guess.
Page Count: 12859
Average Page Count: 299
November: Fewer books, longer books, slowing down.
Page Count: 11374
Average Page Count: 367
December: Eye on the prize
Page Count: 13,375
Average Page Count: 257
Pages Count: 1354,903
Average Page Count: 259
Here’s a break down of the types of books-ish I read (including overlaps):
Plays and Novellas: 54
YA, Comics, Kids Books: 72
Books under 100 pages: 41
Books under 200 pages: 192
Books over 500 pages: 30
Books over 700 pages: 11
Books over 1000 pages: 2
I read 307 books by women, 206 books by men, and 7 books by multiple authors (men and women at the very least).
Here’s the authors I read more than one book by:
Ursula K Leguin: 17
Daniel Handler/Lemony Snickett: 12
Lois McMaster Bujold: 9
Brandon Sanderson: 8
Stephen King: 7
G. Willow Wilson: 6
Jean Rhys, Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, Vladimir Nabokov, Jason Reynolds: 5
William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, August Wilson, Louise Erdrich, Joyce Carol Oates, Patricia Highsmith, Roddy Doyle, Margaret Atwood, Olive Moore: 4
Chimamanda Adichie, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Jo Nesbo, Ruth Ware, Yoko Ogawa, Anne Rice, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sigrid Undset, Joan Didion, Patrick Hamilton, Connie Willis, Truman Capote, Penelope Fitzgerald, Eudora Welty, Louis Sachar, Matthew Vaughan, Gustave Flaubert, John Lewis, Kate Atkinson: 3
Yoko Otsuka, Renee French, Jody Houser, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Naguib Mahfouz, Paul Bowles, David Grann, Fredrik Backman, Mary Lee Settle, Amy Tan, Nikolai Leskov, Candace Millard, Dan Brown, Jeanette Winterson, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Cesar Aira, JR Ackerley, Attica Locke, Denis Johnson, Helen Hanff, Edwige Danticat, Gloria Naylor, Carrie Fisher, Graham Greene, Sarah Vowell, Sybille Bedford, Noelle Stevenson, Octavia Butler, Nancy Farmer, Richard Ford, Junichiro Tanizaki, Scott Turow: 2