One year ends, a new year begins. 2012 proved to be an interesting year where some major changes and shifts occurred where books, blogs, reading, and writing are concerned. And, of course, this blog reflected that change.
The year in summary
A rediscovery of deep reading
The big revelation for me was acknowledging that that I had drifted away from one of my favorite activities: deep reading. I don’t know how it happened or even why; it was enough to know it happened. The realization came at a time when I had discovered the vast book blogging community. Their passion for reading rekindled my own.
This resulted in major adjustments. Books and reading took their rightful place parallel to writing. Deep reading became like breathing once again.
A rekindled romance with the classics
Ever the eclectic reader, I’m steeped in fiction, swimming in travel narratives, and diving into wells of creative nonfiction. With so many classic books calling to me, I embraced The Classics Club 5-year reading project and spent a good 3 days working up the preliminary list. I combed the bookcases, remembered early reads, and shuffled through memories and desires from years gone past. To date I have 97 books listed.
An awareness of the book blogging community
The book blogging community drew me in with their passion and love of books so flagrantly displayed. I loved clicked my way through the village gorging on their energy and love for books. I found The Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday meme and began my own Tuesday blogging efforts. It was fascinating and fun. Amazed at their sheer numbers, as a reader I was delighted but as a writer I was touched. Yes, gentle readers, there really are real readers still reading books.
A re-awakening to my love for short stories
As much as I love novels, I love short stories, too. Today, the novel gets the attention and the poor short story flops around, barely breathing, on the shore of the publishing ocean. You would think in this fast-paced world of readers who have one foot on the gas ready to bolt at the slightest literary misstep, that the short story would finally have its audience. Not so. When I stumbled across Put Your Soul on Paper’s Short Stories Challenge, I knew I had to participate. I culled through books and memories to create my list. It would not be a one-year affair.
A willing participant in online book blogging events
Somewhere in the midst of all this catalytic discovery, Book Expo America 2012 appeared on my radar. Who knew? During my time at Borders Books I managed to make it to the Washington D.C. Book Expo, but I had no idea it had gone virtual as Armchair BEA. Once again the book community provided the jolt that stoked the engine that led to more reading and more involvement. Book Blogger Appreciation Week demonstrated how vast the book blogger community has become, and, of course, all became fodder for the blog.
Traveling down the bookish path
The Moby Dick Big Read Extravaganza
I learned of the Moby Dick Big Read. Finally, I was to hunt the white whale. I committed to listening to Melville’s Moby Dick, one chapter a day, over a 5-month span. Like many potential readers, I assumed a lot about Moby Dick that isn’t true. I pictured a dark, dense book that would result in a tortuous read but instead I’ve found Melville to be a funny guy and the story entertaining and even riveting.
This led to a strong desire to talk to someone about the daily readings. Goodreads had a group reading the entire book in a month but I joined anyway. There I found a reading partner who was also doing the Big Read. We created our own Goodreads group called The Moby Dick Big Read Chat.
Combining twin passions: writing and books
My Top Ten Tuesday efforts began toward the end of May. It’s been a fun process and led to a lot of thinking about books and about writing. Since my audience is primarily writers, I refocus each week’s topic. Here’s a quick list of the posts.
- Ten authors I wish I could meet
- Top ten authors that make you think
- Top ten books for writers who love to read
- Top ten confessions of a bibliophile and writer
- Top ten books on writing by famous authors
- Top ten favorite books for writers now and to come
- Snapshots of the blogger behind the blog
- Top Ten – Memorable characters found in books
- Top ten books with a strong sense of place
- Top ten books on my summer TBR list
- Top ten books for writers to read this summer
- To ten recent books that I hope writers are still reading in 30 years
- Top ten from The Classics Club to read this year
- Top Ten Tuesday: Blogs that aren’t about books
The books of 2012
My reading efforts never follow a straight path. I weave, circle, and even stumble as I make a labyrinthine walk through books. Moby Dick remains the “biggest surprise.” this year and the one I truly “can’t believe I waited until 2012 to read.” The big read remains Moby Dick and that will continue through January 2013. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair had “the greatest impact” on me and is my “best book of the year” and “the book I most recommended.” I enjoyed Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage as I’d never read any books about the Titanic or even watched the movies. The following books have been part of my 2012 reading plan and are not in any particular order.
- Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic’s First-Class Passengers and Their World
- Full Dark, No Stars
- Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Read review here.
- Memories of a Catholic Girlhood
- Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak for Themselves
- Drood: A Novel
- Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI
- The Catholic lifetime reading plan
- Moby Dick – Finish in 2013.
- Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres – Finish in 2013.
- Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds – Finish in 2013.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church – Finish in 2013.
- Magnificat Year of Faith Companion – Finish in 2013.
My hopes and dreams for 2013
Now that my love affair with deep reading has been rekindled I plan to continue in 2013. Any reading enhances the work of a writer but deep reading encourages a writer to dive into the deeper depths past the superficial layer of conflicting thoughts, hopes, plans, and dreams, all orchestrated by that inner critic. It’s good to remain submerged amassing thought before arising from the depths to tackle the keyboard and articulate the resultant storm of stories, thoughts, and memories forged in that unstirred slumber.
I remain committed to The Classics Club and will continue my Short Stories Challenge with renewed vigor. Do I have a detailed plan? No. I prefer to allow myself the freedom of changing my mind and focus as life unwinds. You can expect more book reviews and continued book-related posts in 2013, all with a slant toward writers. I remain open to book and writing challenges but always with an opt-out option.
What teases me most in my projected reading for 2013? Reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy with a follow up of movie-watching to compare. There is a bountiful Tolkein feast in my future.
Go here to read my 2013 Writing Blueprint.
_____Thanks to Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner for this year’s survey idea. I tweaked it a bit and culled a few ideas from Maple & A Quill, too. More on The Classics Club and my Short Stories Challenge projects. (Credits: Book titles and cover images are sourced via Amazon affiliate program; “My Classics” books photo 2012 copyright Vikk Simmons; Lord of the Rings illustration photo 2013 copyright Vikk Simmons)