Sunday, December 26, 2021

My Reading Year 2021

Year in Books 2021



Did a lot of reading this year. Expected a higher number in my “Read” books in Goodreads, the Facebook for readers. Turns out I only finished eight books for 2021. Must be because of my reading pattern: a little bit of this and that. On a given day, have various books in rotation, mostly short story collections.
Tita Mavis Gallant’s words are comforting and instructive:
Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.
Maybe a “currently reading” list will be more appropriate. Hope to finish two or three of these next year. Ticking them off in Goodreads helps me keep track.
  • Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans by Robert Elmer. Perfect for days when I don’t feel like praying. For isn’t it true that, overwhelmed with the cares of this world, we must look on to Jesus. A beautiful line from a song keeps playing in my head, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim / In the light of His glory and grace.” The Puritans had a lofty view of God’s glory and majesty. Robert Elmer rewrites the prayers in modern English. Tim Challies recommended this
  • What Am I Doing Here? by Bruce Chatwin. Non-fiction and travel. Exquisite writing. Book lying in the shelves for a long time. 
  • The Collected Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The series, Shtisel, encouraged me to read this. 
  • Forty Stories by Anton Chekhov. A reading year isn’t quite complete without the Russians. Chekhov is supposedly a master of the short story form, and now I’m beginning to understand why. 
  • The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen. Masterful storytelling. Love Tita Lizzie’s precision and tone. No wonder Tita Mavis raved about her. 
  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami. Heard about “Drive My Car,” the film, based on Tito Haruki’s story in this collection. Naturally, got myself a copy of the book. Tito Haruki writes like no other. Sentences are simple, but a page of his writing sucks me into a blackhole: I am trapped, happily. 
  • Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road by Matthew Crawford. Been driving for about a year now. Reading helps me make sense of the world. This book contains philosophy, science, and pure joy. 
  • The Heart is Strange by John Berryman. Rediscovering the pleasures of poems this year. 
  • The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time No. 1) by Robert Jordan. Learned of this book because Keth and Kuya Jordan read this in Yakal Dorm many years ago. Thought then of fantasy with disdain: one of my immature mistakes. Now, in my mid-thirties, I have a newfound love and fascination for otherworldly things—sci-fi and fantasy. They are great books. For WoT, I first saw the Amazon series (meh, but Rosamund Pike is who I’d imagine to play Moiraine Sedai). Couldn’t resist the urge to learn more about the Two Rivers, and Rand, Mat, Egwene, Perrin, Nynaeve, Moiraine and Lan. Now in the chapter where they head to Caemlyn. Thrilling! 
  • The Language of God by Francis S. Collins. A book I turn to once in a while. Dr. Collins retires as head of the US National Institutes of Health. I’m inspired how he weaves his Christian faith into his biomedical work. Year in Books 2021

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