I have always been a reader…at least for as long as I can remember. Libraries have long been sacred places for me and books among my favorite friends. Sadly though, I am not an inspiring reader; left on my own I tend to choose crime novels and snarky British chick lit’. In fact, one of my most embarrassing moments happened when my husband’s boss’s wife (did you follow that?) who was also the Dean of the School of Education of which I was a student asked me what I was reading and I had to say, The 27-Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murder by Nancy Pickard. (It had a recipe and everything!) At which point I decided that I should always have a socially admirable book going at the same time, just in case.
While my reading appetite has expanded, I still have a shameful tolerance for murder mysteries (must be all those Nancy Drew books as a kid) and crime novels. Which makes book club the perfect thing for me. I’ve always wanted to be in one but somehow never joined until last October. In fact, I agreed to go to my first meeting and then made plans to move to Boring within a week. But I decided when we moved that I was going to go back when I could. It’s a relatively easy drive (especially this time of year) and I am happy for an excuse to visit our old stomping grounds. I love the girls in our book club and am really happy with this year’s books. We choose books using these categories: autobiography or memoir, foreign language translation, banned books, classics, historical fiction, non fiction and, of course, fiction. I couldn’t go to the meeting where they selected the books but I am thrilled with their choices.
September – To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
October – Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
November – In the Land of Invisible Women, Qanta Ahmed
December – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens plus our annual book exchange
January – The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde
February – The Tiger’s Wife, Tea Obreht
March – The Lost Wife, Alyson Richman
April – At Home: a Short History of Private Life, Bill Bryson
May – The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
June – Out of My Mind, Sharon Draper
July – The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
I’ve always felt that I somehow missed a lot of the classics as an adolescent instead I’m trying to make up the list now. So this was my first reading of To Kill a Mockingbird. And I LOVED it. In fact, it goes on my all-time favorites list. I’m sure it’s a sign of some kind of lack-of-depth in my character but I hate books that don’t have some kind of hope or redemption at the end–not that they have to be all sunshine and rainbows, but I absolutely hate books that are sad and then end even more sadly. (Remember how all the books in the Oprah Book Club were like that?!? Hated them!) So Mockingbird was perfect for me–still realistic but somehow Atticus and Scout and Jem bring hope in the face of such blind ignorance and inevitable defeat. Loved. It.
And of course I always feel like food is vital (in fact, one of my favorite sayings with regard to meetings I host is, “There should always be food.”) So I have to give a huge shout out to Amy who fixed delicious food. It is Indian Summer in Bend and the temperature has still been in the high-80’s making Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pasta perfect! She had some diced chicken on the side for those of us that wanted it since our club includes a vegetarian (Hi Shelley!) and black olives on the side because she is insane and doesn’t like them. I thought it was so good that I am making it for dinner again tonight (although I’m serving it hot because sadly Indian Summer is over in Boring.) Here’s the recipe. I also made this amazing bread from my pinterest board. You will seriously NOT believe this is homemade. I made plain and rosemary with lemon. Yumalicious. (And in the oven again now. This could be dangerous.)
But we’re supposed to be talking about books so here are my five favorite books from my last twelve months of reading (or possibly ever,) in random order:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
The Song Is You by Arthur Phillips
(I had to read the part about “the incident” aloud to Glenn. We still laugh about it.)
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
What about you? Do you have favorite books I should add to my to-read list?!?
(Which, incidentally, has 223 books on it already. You can find it on my GoodReads page.)