The Year of Great Reading

Saturday, May 19, 2012

(Gratuitous pic of Oliver sleeping)

It's my birthday today! I'm officially 28 and to celebrate I'd like to talk about my greatest year of reading.

Have any of you had a year of truly great reading? When I graduated from college and had settled into my first "real" job I had a remarkable year of reading. It was 2007 and I had always read classics voluntarily, but I didn't have a good idea of other genres I loved.

Before that I would occasionally stumble upon great books like, Franny and Zooey, The Hours and Catch-22, but I also read a lot of John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson. I just didn't know what was out there and so I read whatever I could find. I didn’t enjoy half the books I was reading, but I didn’t have a good idea of what I would like yet.

Somehow it all came together in 2007. I ended up reading so many amazing books that year that it defied all my previous years of reading. It was also the first year I read books by David Sedaris, Mary Roach and Neil Gaiman (I read 3 of his that year). It really helped me discover what kind of books I loved and helped me find a dozen new authors whose work I still explore.

Here are my favorites from that year:
The Book Thief, Howards End, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Jane Eyre, The Shadow of the Wind, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Water for Elephants, The Thirteenth Tale, Fahrenheit 451, Me Talk Pretty One Day, A Man Without a Country, Rebecca, Interpreter of Maladies, Bel Canto, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Middlesex and The Awakening
Do you guys have any years like that, one that turned your whole perspective on reading around?

Photo by moi.


Jeanne said...

Happy Birthday! I had a year that turned my perspective on reading around in a different way--in 1993, I learned to read in much shorter segments, because that's when my first child was born.

Amanda said...

Happy birthday Melissa! 2001 was definitely that turning point year for me.

annieb said...

Have a wonderful day, Melissa! While I have always read a lot, this year seems to be my great book of reading. Since I am semi-retired (I work every other year at my state legislature) I decided to go on a disciplined reading schedule and bring down that tower of books I have acquired over the years. It has been fabulous so far. To date I have read 95 books and it is only half way through May. I also keep a little diary. I can honestly say that I have read so many books that I would not have even considered before I started reading your blog and a few others (Cloud Atlas for one). However, the down side is that my TBR pile is bigger than ever and my bookcases are still overflowing in spite of getting rid of so many books. Next year I go back to work for 8 months and my reading will slow down considerably, but not stop, and I will still read book blogs and probably acquire the books that are recommended. Real readers just can't stop I guess.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Happy Birthday! Great list!
1993 when I moved to DC and joined my first book club. Changed my life.

Suey said...

Happy Birthday! I think my year of discovery is also 2007 when I started blogging. :)

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I've been bad when it comes to commenting lately, so a very happy late birthday Melissa. Hope it was a great day!

Yes, I used to read everything I came across and mostly from my parents library or from gifts, so it was a hit-and-miss. Then in 2002 I joined and started meeting more book-lovers and reading more in English and from then on the average quality of my books increased a lot. It has a lot to do with starting to understand and accept what's your cup of tea.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - I don't have kids yet and I'm always nervous about how that will change my reading habits. I love hearing about how other readers adjust to that.

Amanda - It's amazing that we can name the year that was our turning point immediately.

annieb - I love that this is your amazing reading year! You have read so many books already! It is funny that the more we read, the more books we find that we want to read. It's a never-ending cycle.

Melissa - I'm in a great book club now and I've found so many books I love because of it.

Suey - We have the same year!

Alex - Thanks! I completely agree, I think it takes awhile to figure out what your tastes are and find people whose recommendations you trust.

Jenners said...

Well, first of all, happy birthday!!

And while I can't point to any particular year that turned it all around for me, I know that I was reading a lot of crap/schlock (Erica Spindler!!!) before I started book blogging and the quality of the books I'm reading have improved a thousandfold becuase I'm being exposed to more books and becoming a more adventurous reader. You had some good ones on your list … I read a lot of those in the same year too and it would turn me around too.

Bybee said...

Happy Birthday! My year must have been the late 90s because that was when I stopped having so much LitAmnesia -- not being able to remember anything about books I'd read. I don't know if I changed books, or I just began to focus more and not read mindlessly. I guess I'll say 1999 and give Middlemarch and The Perfect Storm the credit. Middlemarch showed me how rich a classic can be and TPS made me fall in love with nonfiction.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - Blogging has made a huge difference for me too. I've found so many great books through other bloggers!

Bybee - Those are both great books! TPS is such a wonderful nonfiction book.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Oh Melissa. I literally yelped out loud when I saw this post. I'm currently marking ALL read after a several week #trishfail. I'm so so sorry I missed your birthday but I do hope that your 28th was a wonderful one.

My year was probably the year I started blogging. I began reading with a bit more purpose than just entertainment. Like you say--before that I read what was assigned for school and basically whatever else I could find. Had no idea!!

Hugs to you.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Trish - Thanks for the bday wishes! I agree, blogging has had a huge influence on my reading choices.

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

I had a great reading year in 2011 - a long commute rekindled my love for books and gave me plenty of time to read. I don't remember ever reading so many great books all in one year! I love Gaiman's short stories, and looking at your favorites list I see we have similar tastes. I've read Jane Eyre, Howards End, The Thirteenth Tale, The Shadow of the Wind, all Harry Potter books, Middlesex and The Awakening. Not all of them from last year, though.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Delia - We both love so many of the same books! I've always wished I had a half an hour train ride to work during which I could read, but i'm sure that has its drawbacks too.