I’ve been keeping a reading list since the summer of 1991. Yikes! That’s more than 20 years! In 2011, I modernized and moved online with my list, reviewing each book that I read in the past year, a total of 52 titles. I started Willow Books largely for my own satisfaction, but also to share my reading experience with other readers.
WordPress offers a year-end roundup of numbers and submitted this colourful description of the views received by Willow Books:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.
I hope all those cable car riders are reading. My go-to genre for relaxing reading is mystery books. In 2011, I got through 17 mysteries and thrillers. I like my murders bloodless and don’t seek out violence or thrills. I enjoy mysteries that feature interesting characters and have a well-developed location, with a little puzzle to keep you guessing. My favorite mystery of 2011 was Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog, Jackson Brodie’s fourth outing, reviewed here. If only Atkinson would write faster! This year, I caught the BBC dramatization of Atkinson’s stories on Masterpiece Theatre and enjoyed the programs very much, although, as is often the case, the TV Brodie wasn’t a perfect fit for my mental image of the man. Still. Good stuff.
I read an assortment of non-fiction, a dozen titles in all, from a horse story about Snowman, The Eighty-Dollar Champion, to a great book on Ontario’s domestic architecture, Ontario House Styles. The most-viewed review this year was that of The Trouble with Billionaires. You can read the review here. I really enjoyed pretty much all of the non-fiction titles I read this year.
It puzzles me that many readers eschew non-fiction. We are inundated with information every day, it would seem, but so much of it is of very poor quality. Much of the popular media is controlled by right-wing corporate ownership with a self-interested agenda. The nightly evening news is little more than infotainment, with a few minutes of coverage about local house fires and vehicle collisions before moving on to sports, weather and the latest on what “the stars” are up to. You’d think nothing important ever happened in the wider world. Non-fiction offers some small antidote to the sea of mis-information and shallow information we are surrounded by.
Light reading is like a visit to MacDonald’s. There’s nothing wrong with eating at MacDonald’s, nothing at all. But you wouldn’t want to feed your body nothing but hamburgers. Why would you similarly deprive you mind of any real substance?
The balance of my reading year included a mix of light fiction such as the popular The Help and a number of titles from the 2010 and 2011 literary award lists. There was plenty of interesting reading, but if I had to choose two favorites, I would go with Cool Water, winner of the 2010 Governor General’s Award, and The Sister Brothers, this year’s winner. Both feature characters that will stick in your mind long after you put the book down and are highly recommended.