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Book Report: Take Two

159433001_0702c63c6cI guess the old saying is true, Time flies when you’re having fun.” An entire year plus 10 days have flown by indeed. During those 375 days, I attempted (for the 3rd time) to read 100 books in 150 days. Whoa, whoa, that’s far too much math for me, in three little sentences. I am already second guessing my addition up there. Here’s the short version: I did not read 100 books in 150 days, despite my best efforts. Mission Incomplete. I’ve failed again. Insert sad face here. Except, not really. I’m not sad at all, I’ve had fun failing.

For the background story on why I’ve been reading so much, click here if you dare. For the update on the last year and change, read on: during this go around, I read 125 books in 375 days. I think that translates to 2 or so books a week (but remember math is not a strength over here). This time I ventured into even more unchartered waters. I discovered tiny books of all kinds. I researched and read several miniature novellas.

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I mean T-I-N-Y.

I learned that many graduation speeches have been printed into beautiful, compact books. These became some of my favorite things to read. First off because they are unbelievably inspiring. It was fun to think of all the eager graduates filing into their seats and getting ready to hear J.K. Rowling speak to them (the author of the Harry Potter series and the graduation speech later titled, Very Good Lives).  J.K. Rowling used to work for Amnesty International. I had no idea. Several statements in her book have stayed with me, impacted me over a long period of time. I read a series of books based on interviews (James Baldwin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations) and continued to read a number of spiritual books (No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh, Help. Thanks.Wow. by Anne LaMott and Teachings of the Buddha by Jack Kornfield). I even read books in the Sherlock Holmes Series and Mrs. Fisher’s Mysteries, which is also an Australian TV show. Again, I had no idea.

There were funny books (I Want to Kill the Dog by Richard M. Cohen), books of long term love (Wondering Who We Are by Sonya Lea) heartbreak (The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama) and death (Being Mortal by Atul Gawande). I shed a lot of tears. I was amazed every time words on a page evoked such strong emotions. The simple act of reading continued to impact me. I researched an author. I went to a poetry reading downtown that he organized. I went to a live reading of short stories just last week. Throughout, I kept picking up books: poetry books, factual books (about the internet, the publishing industry, being jailed in Iran) and books I didn’t understand, yet somehow adored (Red:Doc by Anne Carson).

Honestly, the best part about all of this was the people (as often is the case, right?). Not only the characters in the books or the authors I read more about, but the men + women that work at the front desk at the library, who became part of my weekly interactions. The woman who checks my bag every time I leave the place said to me a few weeks back, “Oh we haven’t seen you in a while, we were wondering what happened to you.” I replied, “I’m just reading slower.”  The families that I work with, my own family, cousins, friends and co-workers have all suggested or given me books to read. It’s been fun peeking into their worlds and taking in their suggestions. It’s even better having a discussion about why they suggested a certain book or learning their opinions. I’ve loved every single minute of every book I’ve read the last year or so and everything that followed my reading.

Just recently, a friend was up in my apartment for the first time. The second sentence out of their mouth was, “You weren’t kidding about liking to read” as they took in the piles of books. Even though I never quite accomplished my original goal of 100 books in 100 days (that’s where I started), I have managed to create space for reading, learning and building a routine for something that I truly love. I’m going to keep reading at whatever pace I like now. In fact, I’m about to finish a biography of Alfred Hitchcock tonight.

Here are 3 of my favorite books from the last 2 years of reading incessantly:

Congratulations by the Way by George Saunders (one of those graduation speeches)

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Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (one of the first plays I read in 2014)

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (just so you can enjoy the cover alone)

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Thanks as always for reading my posts. I truly appreciate it. By the way, I’m still taking book suggestions if you have any lingering ideas. Thanks again. Till the next post.

Photo Source:

bookshelf

tiny book

Congratulations by the Way

Waiting for Godot

Furiously Happy

12 thoughts on “Book Report: Take Two

  1. Clark

    It’s 4am and we are awake. Of course. Anyway, while Mira eats I just read your blog post- really enjoyed it and it has inspired me to try to read more. Small books are a great idea- I’ve been reading a really long fiction book for about 2 months and it’s killing me. A short book would probably make me feel like I’m getting something done. I’m also reading about how to make babies sleep better- so far that one is not working, but we’ll keep you updated. I’d love to hear more of your top books from the year…maybe you should rank all 175??? That would be a serious undertaking.

    1. Vanessa Post author

      I do think short books make you feel like you accomplished something. Plus it is amazing what can be said with so few words.
      Do keep me posted on that baby. Sounds like she is REALLY into the 4 am rave going on in your home.
      ps- if you want some short book recommendations, tell me what you like to read about, maybe I have just the book that won’t be ‘killing you’ xo

  2. Sharon

    Yay you are back to writing too! 🙂 Great post! I’m a slow reader by nature so even if I read every day it takes me forever to finish a book. Recently frustrated with a fiction book that I’m not feeling, even half way through, I took a break with the current issue of the Paris Review and can’t put it down! It’s such great mix of fiction, interviews and poetry. Clark you might like this too since they aren’t long stories! A good variety!

  3. Denise

    Thank you Vanessa for bringing me my mind into your world of reading. It’s beautiful! And as always you inspire me and make me believe in new possibilities. After years of failing my personal reading goal (to read anything that is NOT a research paper) I have succeeded. After 2 years I finished reading a book that I bought at airport in Iceland with 5 minutes to make a choice or miss my flight. The book’s cover was of an old man running with a suitcase and no shoes. The title was Hundraåringen som klev it genom fönstret och försvann but since I don’t read or speak Swedish I noticed a copy in English which made me think I should buy both and learn to speak Swedish on the plane. See my problem? But I did manage to focus and bought the one in English: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson and then I saw its a movie that played in independent theaters in NYC. It’s very funny and fun and it’s about exactly what the titles describes. You could probably read it in 2 days instead of 2 years! I also recommend a book I read this year, that was a wonderful Christmas present and you can read it in 10 minutes, or linger for 20 minutes: What do you do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada & Mae Besom. It’s a children’s book, but it’s great food for an adults mind.
    Thanks again for your blog. I look forward to my next dose of Vanessa’s blog!
    -Denise

    1. Vanessa Post author

      Denise!!!! Your life adventures always make me laugh. Now I kind of want to learn Swedish. Thanks for the suggestions – I will look into them both. Children’s books are often so insightful. I mean, what do you do with an idea? Well you run in 50 directions. And that’s why your adventures are so endearing. Talk to you real soon. Thanks again for reading here. xxoo

  4. Chris

    Thanks, as always, for the inspiration, Vanessa. Oddly enough I was recently thinking about you after co-reading (taking turns reading aloud with Lila) a really great children’s book that you’d surely love. It’s called The One & Only Ivan and it’s about a gorilla who loves to paint. It’s based on a true story AND a quick and easy read. Hope you like it. Keep reading…and writing!

    1. Vanessa Post author

      I read the One and Only Ivan – I saw it in a bookstore when I very first started all this reading. It is a GREAT book and I did love it. Thanks for reading this and for the suggestion. Oh, I also read ATTEMPTING NORMAL by Marc Maron because of you. Any others?

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