Friday, October 16, 2015

The Final Countdown

If you read one book a week, starting at the age of 5, and live to be 80, you will have read a grand total of 3,900 books, a little over one-tenth of 1 percent of the books currently in print.
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History – Lewis Buzbee

I was asked to do a final summary of the list and while I wasn’t really planning on it, I now think that a retrospective is a good idea. I started the list in December and ten months later, I have read almost all of the 60 books. I did devote some time to trying to read the remaining three, plus I still did read a few others here and there. Not a bad total overall. I’ve got a ways to go to hit that (almost) 4000 book mark and I pretty sure I am going to need another job to afford the addition I’ll need to my home library to store all of those books, but it will be worth it.

I did this the most honest way I could – I simply looked at the list to see which stayed with me and which books I wanted to throw at people.

I will say that a particular gentleman really hit it out of the park with book choices. Sure, he gave me seven, so the law of averages says that he would do better than someone who only gave me one, but still, I am quite eager to read the ones that didn’t make the list. I also look forward to our next breakfast to discuss them all.

So, in no particular order, I present my top five. (Also, I didn’t include books I had previously read because that seemed like cheating. However, in the interest of fairness, I will say that The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver remains one of my top ten books of all time.)

House of Sand and Fog – Andre Dubos III
I keep hoping to run into someone who has read this so I can really go to town on the characters, all of whom have stayed with me. Who was right? Who was wrong? When did they go off the path? Would they have ever seen the other person’s point of view? Was there ever going to be acceptance? (Should I watch the movie?) Unfortunately, after reading excerpts from his other books, I don’t think they are quite my jam, but this one more than makes up for it.

I am Ozzy – Ozzy Osbourne
Dear Lord, this is just a palate cleanser of a book. Instead of just navel gazing and staring adoringly back at his own life, Ozzy really just lets it all rip in a glorious display of destruction and damnation. It was an utter delight and I still crack up every time I think of the line “and then we hung the midget.”

Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
There was a great section in this book when Clare and Henry get married and because he is a time traveler, hijinx ensue. She realizes, at one point, that while she has gotten married, the Henry who stood with her at the altar is not the present-day Henry to whom she expected to be wed. “And the realization: we’re married. Well, I’m married, anyway.” It is such a great character moment because it shows the humor, the pathos, the strangeness of their life, and her ability to just roll with it. I have found myself over the past few months, coming back to that line over and over again. “Well, I’m married, anyway.” She loves him, he loves her, and while their life is definitely complicated, they make it easier by just handling it and moving forward. This truly is one of the most epic love stories I have ever read and one I never wanted to stop reading. (So, should I watch the movie?)

Into Thin Air – Jon Krakaour
I still don’t understand why people push themselves to the extreme, why they walk so close to death that they can hear the sound of her wings, and why we are so shocked when things go dangerously awry in such dangerous circumstances. Yet, so many of the people in the book wanted something so simple – they just wanted to touch the top of the sky. But as Icarus learned the hard way, trying to get so close to the sun has consequences. I do think hubris played a major part in the deaths of those climbers and I think this books shows very clearly how little mistakes can add up to big ones and that there really is a moment in one’s life where you have to make a choice. But this was really well written and didn’t make any of the answers clear cut. People died, yes, and it was a tragedy, absolutely, but damn, it was a hell of a story. (The author has shit canned the movie pretty thoroughly. Should I go see it?)

What is the What – Dave Eggers
Every time I read about the refugee crisis I think about toasters. As the story unfolds, Achak is being robbed of all of his worldly position in an apartment in Atlanta. Throughout the robbery and the subsequent trip to the hospital, he tells us the story about his horrific walk through Sudan to the refugee camps where he lived. He has already been robbed of his homeland, his family, everything that you could possibly lose – he has lost – and yet, here he is, watching people steal his toaster. It is ridiculous. He ate a meal a day in the camps. He was happy to have bread, let alone worry about whether it was properly toasted. The juxtaposition of the stories really showed how ridiculous our modern lives are and how cluttered with technological nonsense. These refugees have nothing. Nothing. And yet we all have toasters. It’s a weird thing to wrap my head around.

Also in no particular order are the books I wish I could use as weapons to bludgeon the authors to death. Luckily that list is much shorter because you guys don’t actively hate me.

Me Before You – JoJo Moyes
A good friend wrote a three-page rant about this book that to this day, has remained one of funniest critiques I have ever read about the hot, rich, older guy with the young, pretty, ingĂ©nue and how the entire premise is not only a load of shit, but legitimately toxic for both people. (Because I am evil, I’m pretty sure I am buying this very same friend the sequel for Christmas.)

Leaving Time – Jodi Picoult
This book was insulting. It offended me. It was so flat out stupid, so embarrassing, such a fuck-you to readers that I think even M. Night Shayamalan would think the so-called twist was ridiculous. This book is Exhibit A to my thesis statement: why ALL authors, regardless of number of books sold, still need to be edited as if they were first-time authors. (Exhibit B is Stephen King, but he needs a museum to house all of those works.)

That’s it my friends. The end of an era. But fear not, I still have Grey and Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined to cover. I also owe a few blogs to my SIL, who has given me more than enough material for them, and as always, when the mood strikes, I will write. But til then, I’ve got another 60 books on my to-be-read shelf, free reign at the local library, and a fair amount of BN gifts cards yet to be spent. I’ve got lots and lots of reading to do!

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