The first half of 2015 is rather hazy, as I was still dealing with an infant and seemed to be in constant survival mode. My reading life was somewhat on hold, a true challenge to someone who previously never went to sleep without cracking open a book. I remember lying in bed longing to read but also hearing the ticking timer in my head, knowing that in a few hours baby girl would be crying out for me. Once E started sleeping through the night (August! at 13 months old!), I was back in business. Nothing felt so utterly luxurious as really delving into a novel, spending two juicy hours before bed time savoring the written word. I became reacquainted with old friends and met so many new ones, was transported to far away places and explored familiar ones. There is nothing I love so much as a good book.
Ordinarily I read some pretty heavy literature in my free time. That no longer fits this season of my life. My life goal to read the collected works of Charles Dickens has been put on hold for a while. Though I have to say, despite setting aside the weighty texts, 2015 provided good reads. I read many good books, but here are the ones I felt were truly exceptional and that I would return to again.
All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
This was an amazing read. This falls under one of my favorite books of all time. The symbolism was sharp and poignant, the narrative points of view fresh and well crafted, and the setting almost a fairy tale. This book resonated with me for months. I am still thinking about it, pondering its themes, finding new questions. This is a MUST READ.
Bourbon Street: A History (Richard Campanella)
I was ambivalent at first. Bourbon Street is the worst representation of my hometown, and I hate for tourists to get the wrong idea. But Campanella is a superb researcher and weaves a captivating tale of the evolution of a street from a series of small wooden structures in a struggling colonial outpost to a center of commerce and entertainment in a thriving port city to the seedy consumer hub of a tourist driven economy. Every subject is touched upon—geography, social history, culture, language, religion, race, entertainment, wars, advertising, marketing, and architecture. This book had me longing to return to a time long ago and walk the street taking in the unique characters and architecture that made it so special.
The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God (Fulton Sheen)
I loved this book and intend to read it again in the future. I learned so many amazing things about the Blessed Mother, all of which pointed me toward her Son (that’s case with Our Lady, isn’t it?) Bishop Sheen’s explanation and discussion of the rosary was the best I’ve ever read. My copy of this book is filled with brackets, stars, underlining, and exclamation marks. I wanted to quote every page.
I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)
(You can read my thoughts here.)
I’m interested to see how many books I actually read from my 2016 list, and how many new finds are added as the year progresses.
2016 Reading Goals:
Daring Greatly (Brown)
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids (Payne)
Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans (Campanella)
Big Magic (Gilbert)
Building the Land of Dreams: New Orleans and the Transformation of Early America (Faber)
The Nightingale (Hannah)
How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way (Seldin)
Montessori from the Start (Lillard)
Bread and Wine (Niequist)
Nathan Coulter (Berry)
Jayber Crow (Berry)
The Writing Life (Annie Dillard)
Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese (King)
Band of Brothers (Ambrose)