When life evens out – when we are no longer in school or working three jobs, when we are not raising small children or moving across the country – what do we read? When we opt out of obligatory good-wife bookclubs and just say ‘no’ to bestsellers, where do we go? Your heart my cry out: finally time for my well- and long- loved [insert favorite genre or sub-genre here]! But a few weeks of unvaried reading in a favored genre is the surest path to a lackluster and increasingly infrequent reading habit. So let me take a moment to prescribe a reading regimen.
If you’ve paid attention to the side-bars in the Booklion this year, you might have noticed that I challenged myself to read deeply in an unfamiliar, demanding genre: 20th century classics. I read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time and labored over Infinite Jest for almost two months. I fought through the atrophy that prolonged genre-reading produces until I got back my ability to focus on a perfect sentence, to wholly love conflicted, contradictory characters. I already look back at that time wistfully and think of it as the most satisfying reading I’ve done since 2008, when I read Moby-Dick over and over for a thesis. Comparatively, my reading now seems haphazard and inadequate.
So, this year I want to recommend being purposeful about your reading – instead of simply scraping off the top of your surely well-maintained TBR list, square your shoulders and defiantly pick a long-neglected category of reading to focus on. Do you feel like poetry is a weak point? Romance? 1920’s noir? Have you always been curious about the victorian-era classics, or the man-booker-prize winners? Make a list of 10-15 well-chosen books, secure them at your library/bookstore/ebook-provider of choice, and select a deadline. You may find that this new, previously overlooked, category quickly supplants your previous favorite.
So, without further ado, here are the mostly meaningless, yet still fun, year-4 booklion awards:
Best of the 20th-century list:
Best modern books:
Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi/’Weird fiction’
Personal Favorite Post: