December Reading

So, 2010 is over, and instead of writing an end of the year blog I am going to complete a year of reading with my thoughts on December’s books. All said and done, I read 57 books in the year of 2010. With the help of two book clubs I was able to chat about books way more than I have before, and admittedly I am way in love with that.

My favorites of this year:
The Book Thief
The Road
Jitterbug Perfume
Cutting for Stone
The Elegance of a Hedgehog

I don’t know if any of these move to my all time top five favorites, but with a little time, re-reading and re-thinking, The Road and The Elegance of a Hedgehog might be contenders for a spot in the top 10.

My least favorite:
Anna Karenina
Hands down. I hated this book. I can’t even list any other books because this one took that much hate from me. The others that might have fell in this category just don’t seem that bad in comparison.

Lessons learned about blogging books I read:
I have a way easier time remembering what books I have read when I write them down.
I should definitely write up my initial notes/thoughts right after reading. I can always add to them, but sometimes the good, fresh ideas get lost.
My list of books read, is far shorter than the (ever growing) list of books I still want to read.

And with that, here are December’s books:
The Elegance of a Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery (Book Club 1)
After I finished this book, I was taking Garth Brooks for a walk.. and I talked to myself the whole time about this book. I (would like to think) had really great things to say about this book, all very thought provoking comments. But then, I lost my train of thought at book club, and felt like I really couldn’t say what how much I appreciated this book. That’s when I decided that I need to write notes about each book as soon as I finish it. (If there is one thing I learned from this year of documenting my book reading habits..) So, (unintentionally) without giving this book enough credit, it was simply beautiful. It is an extremely eloquent story that left me with the “be still my heart” feeling at the end. More thoughts will come again soon, as I plan on reading this one again. I didn’t know what to expect the first time through, but now I have a few notes and things I want to think about while reading it again.

The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
Ugh. I loved Freedom so much, and I heard even better things about The Corrections, so I was super stoked to read it. Sadly, I was very let down. The characters are so negative, and hate their mother so much, it was really hard to read. I really missed what everyone else loved about this book. Blah.

Buzz, Katherine Ellison
I was super excited to read this book, as it is written by a mother whose son has been diagnosed with ADD and ODD. While I generally think that the diagnosis of ADD can seem pretty mild in comparison to other disabilities, I was curious to read about a parent perspective. Admittedly, I most often overlook ADD when thinking about, researching or studying disabilities, mostly because I feel like it can be one of the least severe. I was ready for a new perspective to teach me something differently. Sadly, this book was not the source to do that. The author spent most of the book talking about her own problems (anxiety, ADD, overworked, stressed, etc.) rather than talking about how her family worked together to lessen the effects of her son’s ADD. The idea of the book was supposed to be her taking a year off her work/commitments to really work on understanding ADD and strengthening her relationship with her son. Meanwhile, I read about her book writings, meetings at Google, writing speeches for wealthy Silicon Valley men, etc. The basis of the book was a little misleading. While I appreciate her honesty about the hardships of raising a child with a disability, it was not hard for me to think, “Do you think your son’s ADD can be worsened that you (admittedly) often scream back at him, stomp out of the room, have inconsistent consequences/rewards, etc.?” Yeah, I judged her.
Also, truth be told, I was very turned off by all the bashing she did on her son’s school. She refused special education services (because of the stigma it would provide her son) and in turn, was upset when the general education teachers would call/complain about aggressive, disrespectful, disruptive behavior. Without going off on a huge tangent… (now that I have started, it’s hard to turn back) a general education teacher has a large amount of students that s/he is responsible for, and if there is one student who is aggressive, disrespectful, disruptive, etc. it can make the environment of the classroom difficult. And, quite frankly, those behaviors can seem so discrepant (in comparison to the other students in that setting) that often a worse (than special education services) stigma is created. Also, Ellison admitted to being at her end many times with her son, yelling, stomping, etc. Teachers are human as well. If your child makes you feel that way, chances are s/he has that effect on others as well. Mostly, it was frustrating to read all the bashing on schools because I really think that it isn’t (or at least, shouldn’t be) schools versus parents. It really should be a partnership.
… So much, for ignoring that tangent…

Memory Wall, Anthony Doerr
I put this book on my wish list quite a while back, and forgot all about it. I got it for Christmas, and when I started reading it, I was surprised that I wanted a book of short stories. Generally, short stories really don’t interest me that much. I can’t say this book changed my mind, but I can’t say that I am sad that I read it either. Doerr, somehow, tells stories that would be considered science fiction, historical fiction and realistic fiction and weaves the central theme of memory throughout the entire book. Pretty clever. The stories are written so well and are so thought provoking, that it was very hard for me to put down.

Peace out, 2010.

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