So this is my first post on 52-18, and it's right that I should start out being completely honest: I am not quite sure I can read 52 books this year. I don't think I even read twenty in 2016.
Moreover, I won't lie to you and tell you that I'm psyched about reading some classics. Faulkner, for instance, doesn't seem like a really fun guy, so I can't imagine his books are real pick-me-ups. And Charles Dickens? As much as I hear how truly great Great Expectations is, Dickens was still, uh, verbose--and I'm not sure I'll have the patience to stick with him. So. This blog, this challenge, intimidates me. And what do I want to get out of it? I want to learn something, I want to make reading a habit, and I want to enjoy myself. I want to read for fun again, because it seems I've simply forgotten how. (As a writer, I usually feel obliged to read the thick stuff, when honestly what I want to read is some good, juicy love stories I can't stand to put down. I'm a sucker for romance. It's true.)
So here's a preliminary scan of some books I've selected for the journey. I've got memoirs, biographies, short story collections and even some YA. Take a look.
Walk the Blue Fields, by Claire Keegan; Grace Notes, by Bernard MacLaverty; Mystery and Manners, Flannery O'Connor; Savage Harvest, Carl Hoffman; Cider With Rosie, Laurie Lee; Joan of Arc, (can't remember author!); Second Nature, Michael Pollan; Wild, Cheryl Strayed; Paris Was The Place, Susan Conley; What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami; The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; Winterdance, Gary Paulsen; The Last American Man, Elizabeth Gilbert; and Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself, Eileen Rockefeller; and Far From The Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy.
I'm most excited for Joan of Arc, a beautiful, olive green book I bought last January in a dusty little bookshop in Dun Loaghaire, Ireland. I'd been staying with a friend, Bill Stauffer, in Dublin for a few days, and it's nothing against him but I was getting a little stir-crazy and sick of being in a city (I know I'm not the only one who doesn't like Dublin...), so, I left. I took the train to Dun Laoghaire and found an empty inn to stay at (and watch BBC TV at night), and in the morning I went jogging down to the piers, by the harbor. There was that steely ocean, the dark pavement, and damp air. The world was alive. The world felt wide-open. Inside me already was the quietness of morning and the soft sounds of the sea right next to me. I looked up the coast and followed the line of buildings until I couldn't see any further. It was about halfway down the strand that I would later find the bookshop with Joan of Arc snuck tidily on an eye-level shelf. Ireland, I quickly found, is a very, very literary place. It's a country full of books, poetry, romantics, realists, and wonder. Maybe I'll feel that same wonder again, this upcoming year. I'm hoping so! I've kept this book close to me ever since buying it.
Hurry up, 2017. I want to start reading.