Friday, December 04, 2009

Year in Review: Best Book

I still insist on thinking of myself as a reader, though it's been years since that was a truly appropriate, or even remotely accurate, description of myself.

I mean, I can read. I can look at letters strung together across a page, sound them out, and comprehend their meanings. So calling myself a reader in that sense is entirely accurate. But we both know that's not what I'm talking about.

Stop distracting me with your hyper-literal interpretation of my every word.

But how long has it been since I was in the habit of polishing off at least one book every month? When was the last time I spent an entire lunch hour flipping through the latest copy of The Stranger? When did I last spend two days lost in the pages of a Harper's Magazine?

As if to prove to you just how un-bookwormish I've become in these adult years of mine, Gwen Bell asked me what book I read in 2009 that touched me. (Okay, she didn't ask me specifically, she asked the Internets at large. Again with your hyper-literalism.)

A quick brain scan of the books I've read this year led to a long list of children's books. Good ones, though. If mommy can't read her own books, she makes damn sure the ones she reads to her kid are good ones. This year we've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Little Prince, and The Hobbit, among others.

And then I thought of some more children's books.

And then I thought of the book I'm currently reading (Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami), but I can't list that one because I don't know if it's touching me yet. In 6 months, I've managed to read about 6 chapters.

Finally, I started to recall some of the adult books that I've read - all the way to the end - this year. The Alchemist. Geek Love. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

And this one: A Long Way Gone - Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.

I hesitate to recommend this one. Not because it's not an excellent book - it is. But because it's hard. It's hard on your brain to conceive of the horrors those boys endured. It's hard on your faith in man's ability to ever live in peace. It's hard on your heart. As a human being, it is hard on your very soul.

But there is also perseverance in this tale. An amazing ability to heal. To move on. To overcome. And god damn if we can't all benefit from being exposed to a child's invincible spirit.

Write your own year in review using the prompts from Gwen Bell.

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