a year in the life of books…

When 2012 began, I was still in Australia but still in full-fledged reading mode. If you recall, my numbers were down while I was settling into life in Emerald. Regular visits to the library, downloads to my Kindle, and the occasional purchase at the local book store kept me reading away.Hobbit9

Strange to think it’s been almost 12 months since I re-read The Hobbit on my Kindle, while I was getting my Aussie girls interested in reading it. And now, I’m going to see the first of The Hobbit movies on Friday! My girls and I never finished reading it together, but I know I left them very interested in it, because I also gave them the graphic novel and The Lord of the Rings movies for Christmas. They already had those books, and I expect they’ll be dragging their parents to the theater this week, too.

But January began with re-reading a different fantasy, the first (Here There Be Dragons) of James A. Owen’s Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series. During this year, I read all the way up to book 7, which came out a month or two ago. I am still captured by how he intertwines the real stories of real authors with the fantasy worlds that some of them write about. Another January pleasure was to re-read Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (my favorite Austen tale) and to read a biography of G. K. Chesterton. If you want to know whose writings influenced C. S. Lewis (Christian apologist that wrote the Narnia series) to become a Christdefiant-joyian, then you need look no further than Chesterton. Besides, he’s so darn quotable! Chesterton knew everything… however, I still haven’t forgiven James A. Owen for his treatment of Chesterton, in his fantasy series. 😦

February was the start of a Patricia C. Wrede and Jane Lindskold marathon, as I read Wrede’s Frontier Magic series, for the first time, and re-read Lindskold’s Firekeeper Saga. But in case you think I read nothing but fantasy, I read Tom Sawyer for the first time in 20 years. I think I read it last when I was in 7th grade. Still as wonderful as it was then, that boy is so wonderfully mischievous. But I’m betting I understand a few things better than I ever did as a teenager. Also on the classics list, I read The Great Gatsby for the first time. As I recall, I had to special order it from the library, because it isn’t required reading in Australia. Yeah, they’ve never heard of F. Scott Fitzgerald. No great loss, because I didn’t like Gatsby particularly, even though I could tell how well-written it was. Funny, a book can be beautifully written, and yet, just plain awful.

Also on that month’s list, I put away The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism (Robert P. Murphy) and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama (Stephen F. Hayward). I love this series, which I think I’ve read all twenty of them. Or some number like that. From their books on hunting, feminism, English Literature, science, and global warming, they keep me laughing and informed, as well as interested in reading every book listed in the bibliographies.150px-Hollywood_Interrupted

March came in with two or three Fate of the Jedi books from the Star Wars series, the next book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, reading Andrew Breitbart’s Hollywood Interrupted, and reading Anne of Windy Willows. If you’re waiting to see The Hobbit movies, then please know that Peter Jackson intends to turn Temeraire into films, after he’s done with Tolkien. Anne of Windy Willows is the original name of L. M. Montgomery’s book Anne of Windy Poplars, so I had to see what they had edited out for us Americans.

And no, I’m not just flippantly mentioning Andrew’s book in passing. That was a hard month. I finished his book, and then woke up one morning to find that he had died. My heart broke at his passing, the terrible loss to his family and his friends and fellow warriors at Breitbart.com. And it finally dawned on me that I would never read another book by him, see another interview with him, and read another of his online articles. We still miss you, Andrew.

In April, I veered off to read some of my favorites by Louisa May Alcott. Most people are familiar with Little Women, but I love her books Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. If you ever get the chance, another favorite is An Old-Fashioned Girl and it’s one of her these-old-shadesbest books. Along with some children’s fantasy and Christian fiction, I began to re-read my favorite author, Georgette Heyer. She pretty much invented the modern format for the Regency romance, though no other modern day romance writer has ever matched her. If you check my book list, I don’t read any of the other garbage romances. Heyer was the queen of the Regency and her books are enough. You will laugh and cry, even after reading the same novel about 20 times. Avoid the rest of the Regency section. They’re crap.

By the way, if you’re wondering if I ever cheated, by reading a piece of trash, and then not writing it down, no, I didn’t. I have two or three books on the list that I didn’t like, but I still put them on there. I think there’s also one romance on my entire year’s list that couldn’t be written down as classic literature, but it was clean (no sex) and there wasn’t any harm in it. And while I was speaking of Heyer, I also re-read all of n22702her mysteries, which are almost as much fun as her romances and historical fiction books.

During that month, I also read Elizabeth Kantor’s Jane Austen’s Guide to Happily Ever After, which is a wonderful new look at why we love Austen’s books so much, and why we all want to be her heroines. Maybe because we want some of that old-fashioned romance and good principles to be part of our own love lives? This was a great book. And I finished out the month with a book about the making of the Titanic, including long lists of how many bolts and carpets went into it. Ever thought about how they got the gigantic anchors to the ocean, when they were made some distance inland, and they were almost as heavy as some of the trains? A fascinating look at the unsinkable ship.

Since I read five books by Georgette Heyer, four of which were her mysteries, in the month of May, I guess it’s suitable that I also read a biography about her. Sad that such a brilliant woman became a bit of a recluse, after becoming famous. But I had never guessed how much research went into her novels, because she really broke all the ground for the Regency genre. The lingo, the descriptions of the clothes, the manners, and the morals, she researchedRilla of it all, and I only wish I could see the library she amassed in the process.

I also discovered an excellent writer of Jane Austen continuation tales, Jennifer Becton, who wrote a story about Charlotte Collins. Who else has always wondered what Charlotte’s life was like, after she married Mr. Collins? A tedious, miserable life, it seemed like it would be. I love the idea of her finally getting a happy ending. I also liked the idea that Mr. Collins died in an accident involving one of his much-loved phaetons. But maybe I’m just morbid.

June was a strange mixture of Christian fiction by Lauraine Snelling, following her characters that live in the great Northwest. I liked the fact that some of her heroines didn’t get their happy at the end of every book, but the story itself was more important than a wedding at the end of each book. Mixing it up with these, I re-read some of Anne McCaffrey’s Pegasus series, which precedes her Rowan series. I’ve always loved how these books explore the emergence of Talents who are able to use telekinesis and telepathy,978-0-8423-7540-5 which eventually leads to the populating of distant galaxies. But between this series and the Pern books, I’ve never gotten tired of a McCaffrey book.

Oh. I just realized that as my book list enters July, I had been home in the United States for two months. How strange to think it. Able to get books from any local book store that I wanted, as well as reading on my new Kindle Fire, my book reading total for the month went up to 15. Two non-fiction books by Jonah Goldberg and Jason Mattera split up all the fiction I read my way through. I remember reading that horrible novelization of Snow White and the Huntsman, which was even worse than the movie. Don’t ever read it. I had to re-read Twilight to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Oh, don’t hate. I like Twilight, even if the movies aren’t as good as the books.

If you’re worried about my bad taste, I read four books by L. M. Montgomery and two books by Bodie and Brock Thoene. If you’ve never read anything except the Anne books, by L. M. Montgomery, then you need to make sure you read Rilla of Ingleside. It’s her best one, with a serious intro to life during World War I. And if you want some awesome historical Christian fiction, set during the time of Christ, you can’t do better than the Thoenes’ A. D. Chronicles. I still haven’t finished the whole series, though my mom did.

August found me reading more Montgomery, almost finishing the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen) series, taking in some more Thoene books, gobbling up a couple Redwall books (Brian Jacques), animagesd re-reading Ann Coulter’s Slander. Take away from that month what you will. I like to mix it up.

September was the month that I began my slide towards a non-fiction binge that I’ve been on ever since. I read five non-fiction books, including my favorite Ann Coulter book (Treason), The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (a fabulous book by Tom Bethell), The Flipside of Feminism (by Phyllis Schlafly & her niece Suzanne Venker), Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right (Bernard Goldberg), and The Myth of the Robber Barons, by Burt Folsom. To someone that got shoveled all that garbage about the “robber barons” when I was in school, I loved this new view of the capitalist geniuses. Well, maybe not a new view, I’ve been reading so much that agrees with this view, over the last few years.

With the election approaching, October had me avidly reading Ann Coulter’s new book, Mugged, and shrieking with laughter over Kurt Schlichter’s e-books, I Am a Conservative and I Am aOperationSnow_cover-202x306 Liberal. The latter book had a hysterical politically incorrect history of the United States, fit into one chapter. I read it aloud several times, to members of my family, who had to struggle to keep from laughing. Also, Operation Snow is an excellent history of the lead-ups to the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and people should rethink how much our government knew about it. It’s no conspiracy theory that there were Soviet spies in the State Department that did their best to bring it about, and FDR was warned, numerous times.

With election month arriving, my reading took a hit, because I was spending too much time reading online articles. Also, some of the non-fiction that I’m still reading, I was reading then. Of course, reading several 900 page books at once is not really how to finish any one book. I’m sorting it out, trying to finish a book every week, instead of finishing none of the above. Hopefully I’ll manage a few more over Christian vacation. The Mark of Athena and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes were books I’d been counting down until they came out, so I read them as quickly as possible.

And here I am, in December, with one book to my name. Yes, the non-fiction binge continues. But I saw the trailer for The Host, and decided that I finally had to read it. It’s a really great book! And for those of you that hate Twilight, I’ve read good reviews of it by Twilight haters, so it really isn’t quite the same flavor of book. I find it fascinating, the idea of two different characters living large_682663cb-cf4c-4d14-8dbd-826e87c5254ainside the same person. Besides, if you have any intention of seeing the movie (starring Saoirse Ronan, of The Lovely Bones fame), you should read it first.

There you have it, my year of over 100 books. I will probably read a few more, so feel free to check back and see what else I put away. For 2013, I intend to read as many, but I’m putting a new spin on my goals. With the intention of saving myself some money, I intend to only read books that I already own or books I can get at the library, unless I receive them as birthday gifts. So, for this avid bookworm, NO book purchases with my own money, in the year 2013. Think I can do it?

If you’re wondering if I have that many books that I haven’t read, the answer is yes. The question will be getting some of them out of my storage unit in Pennsylvania. Until I do so, I will have to borrow them from the library, or from family members. Please join me for next year’s reading adventures!

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