Looking back before looking ahead: 2018 reading wrap-up

Toward the end of last year (November 17, 2017, to be exact), I posted my Top Ten list of books I had been looking forward to earlier in the year, and books I was looking forward to in 2018. Now we’re nearing the end of 2018, and it’s time to see how things went. Those who are familiar with Nick Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” column – or really anyone who always has a to-read list going – know that some books never quite rise to the top of the list, even if you really meant to read them, while others jump the queue. Here are the ones I was planning to read:

  • I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman (YA/new adult)
  • I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell (memoir)
  • Starlings by Jo Walton (short fiction and poetry)
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (graphic novel/memoir)
  • Far from the Tree by Robin Benway (YA)
  • Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn (fiction)
  • The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (sci-fi/fantasy)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA)
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (gothic romance)
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (nonfiction)
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay (memoir)
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (fantasy)
  • Walking Home by Simon Armitage (nonfiction/memoir/poetry)
  • Transcription by Kate Atkinson

I’ve done pretty well with this list, even with queue-jumpers; the only ones I haven’t read (yet!) are Mrs. Queen, Daniel Kahneman, Roxane Gay, and Walking Home. Of the rest, I really enjoyed them all, but Jemisin’s trilogy was particularly outstanding for its world-building, character development, and storytelling structure/perspective, and Transcription was incredible as well; when Kate Atkinson observes that “The mark of a good agent is when you have no idea which side they’re on,” file that away for later. And Maggie O’Farrell continues to amaze me; I’ll read anything she writes.

Cover image of The Princess Bride 25th anniversary editionRe-reading: I used to love re-reading, but when I started working in publishing and then in libraries, there were always so many enticing new books I didn’t re-read the ones I liked nearly as often as I used to. This fall I’ve made more time for re-reading, including the Harry Potter series (I’ve re-read the first six since the end of August). I plan to re-read the seventh, and maybe The Cursed Child as well. I’m also planning to re-read The Princess Bride (that was on my mental list for November/December even before the sad news that Bill Goldman passed away). And December wouldn’t be quite complete without re-reading Greenglass House by Kate Milford, though maybe this year I’ll re-read Ghosts of Greenglass House or Bluecrowne by her instead.

Community Reads: In addition to continuing to serve on the Arlington Reads Together committee, I’ve been drafted to be on the Winchester Reads committee, which means I have a nice new stack of books to read before our next meeting in February; I’m not sure if our shortlist is public knowledge yet so I won’t say what those titles are, but there are some strong candidates and I’m looking forward to starting them…after I finish S. Morgenstern’s classic tale of true love and high adventure.

2019: It looks like Nick Laird’s new poetry collection will be out next summer. I’m also hoping for the next Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, and Audrey Niffenegger’s sequel to The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’m sure there are plenty of other books to look forward to – what’s on your radar for next year?

I’m planning to post the actual 2018 wrap-up in early January. Here’s the 2017 wrap-up, and here’s the 2018 mid-year reading wrap-up.

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Step Into Storytime, November 5

It was a rather dreary 50-degree morning and storytime was packed! There were at least 15 kids in the 2-3-year range, plus several younger siblings, including babies. We skipped the name song, but along with announcements, I pointed out the five early literacy practices that I always put up on the board – Read, Talk, Sing, Play, Write – and reminded caregivers and parents that doing those five things every day build the skills that will help kids learn to read.

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Song cube atop today’s stack of books
  • Hello song with ASL
  • Sam and Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen: This went over okay, but I think it’s a better one-on-one book, or maybe a better read-aloud for the preschool group. The illustrations are a bit subtle from a distance.
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle” – We had a lot of littler ones this time, and grown-ups were great about chiming in and singing.IMG_20181105_102722
  • Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough: This was a bit better, and I had a prop, thanks to a toddler who dragged in one of our larger stuffed bears.
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” – Very good! Every kid knew the song and did the motions as best they could.
  • Handed out scarves for Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow, which has a hide-and-seek element. Again, this one might have been better for a slightly older group; it’s very good one-on-one, as the elephant is usually pretty obvious and the kids have fun pointing it out in each picture. Collected scarves.
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon” – at least one kid was super excited about this song. I do it twice, in case it’s unfamiliar to anyone and they miss the countdown/blastoff bit at the end the first time through.
  • Thank You Bear by Greg Foley: Simple, sweet, and just right for this group today. Bear finds a box that he wants to give to his friend Mouse, which makes it a great segue into…
  • Not A Box by Antoinette Portis: Also just right for this group! Someone checked it out after storytime. (I always put all the books I read to the side so people can check them out afterward.)
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • One Pup’s Up by Marsha Wilson Chall and Henry Cole
  • Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood: This one is short and lends itself to being read with plenty of expression; it was pretty well received and a good one to end on.
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, put on music, dance in bubbles!
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Sam and Dave, Where’s My Teddy?, Have You Seen Elephant?, Thank You Bear, Not A Box, One Pup’s Up, Wow! Said the Owl

Next week we’re closed on Monday for Veterans’ Day, and I’m hoping that by the week after that I’ll have my yoga cube ready to go so we can do some yoga poses in storytime. I also want to make sure I have a more diverse batch of books next time; I try to keep a 50/50 gender balance but today’s books were more by male authors.