My 30th Year: Read Ten Books

I’ve been thinking about my thirtieth year list and looking at the growing stack of books I’d like to read in 2012. Rather than get discouraged, I’ve decided to identify ten books I plan to read in 2012. When I finish one, I think I’ll try my hand at reviewing it on here.

In some ways, ten books feels like a modest goal. I love to read, after all, and ten books in 365 days sounds like a breeze to me… until I think about my kids and job and husband and making dinner and sleep and exercise.  Then I chuckle and reshelve the books.

SO, to keep focused, here are the ten books I aspire to read this year, in no particular order:

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster.  This is one we’re reading for small group– working through a series of spiritual disciplines, one by one each week.  I like it for its practicality and application.  We’re about four chapters into the book.  It might not be fair to count this as one of the ten, but eh, who’s making the rules here anyway?

The Best Spiritual Writing 2012, edited by Philip Zaleski.  This is a carry-over from 2011 (also shouldn’t be counted…) that I’m about half-way through.  There are many great poems and essays in this collection, all offering something to contemplate as I go about my day.

Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else by Carmen Gimenez Smith.  Carmen is on the faculty at Ashland, and I have been wanting to read this little memoir for a year now.

A Double Life by Lisa Catherine Harper.  This book won the 2010 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize, and again, I’ve been wanting to read it since it was selected.  It was also a 2012 National Book Critics Circle Best of the Small Presses Selection.

Townie by Andre Dubus III.  Andre Dubus is coming to Ashland this summer for our residency, and this is his most recent book.

Half the House by Richard Hoffman.  Hoffman was published in River Teeth recently, and he’s also coming to Ashland, this spring. 

Mountains of Light: Seasons of Reflection in Yosemite by R. Mark Liebenow.  Liebenow was the 2011 River Teeth Book Prize winner, so there you go.

Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry  by David Orr.  This one was given to me by Joe Mackall and I just love the title.

Young of the Year by Sydney Lea.  This is a collection of poems by a poet I admire.

Space, In Chains by Laura Kasischke.  Another collection of poems.  She is coming this summer to Ashland too.

Coral Road Poems by Garrett Hongo.  Also coming to AU (coming to a theatre near you?) this summer.

Since the last three are collections of poems, and I’m cheating by including two books I had already started in 2011, here are two page-through-as-I-can books, and one book I’d like to re-read:

All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification by Timothy Steele.  This guy really excites me, even though I’m sure 99.99% of you are saying, “seriously? versification?” But I loved Tim’s poetry at Key West and at West Chester, and while this is textbook-y, I am certain it will be the sort of thing that I can use in my writer’s toolbox.  So there you have it.

The Best American Essays 2011, edited by Robert Atwan (series editor).  I mostly want to read this so I know what essays are being considered the “best” so I can aspire to that level of writing.  Also, Bob Atwan is going to be at AU in May for the River Teeth Nonfiction Conference.

Ah, and I just thought of another book I’d like to read this year (do you see how this is a problem for me???) – Bonnie Rough’s Carrier.  I might slip it in place of Liebenow’s book in the top ten and get to Liebenow if I finish the top ten.

Finally, the re-read.  I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis back in high school and would love to revisit it.

Alrighty.  You’ll know if I’m making progress on this list if I actually report back on the books.  I’m excited to have a goal, even if it seems like a weak one.  Maybe I’ll surprise myself and finish ten books by July.  I just laughed out loud, so don’t hold your breath.

P.S. An obvious trend I’m sure you noticed: most of these books are work-related texts.  Fortunately for me, my job is literature centered, so reading for work doesn’t involve instruction manuals or operating manuals.

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