I’ve always loved reading. I constantly read under the covers past my bedtime or under my desk during the boring lessons at school. Every time I was sent to my room as a punishment I’d open a book. Every night before bed, on rainy days, or days without plans you could find me reading.
As a girl I escaped for hours into the worlds of my books. I read to be the heroine of each new adventure. I read to feel something new.
And I still do.
When I read I learn. I feel. I see other possibilities. Really, there’s no easier way to do so. I travel to understand the world. I read to understand the world as well.
Though I no longer have to sneak under covers to read, I might as well with the effort it seems to takes to the find time. As an adult it’s much more difficult to get lost in a book for hours. Besides work, there’s a house to take care of, dinner to prepare and a husband that I usually like to spend time with.
Which is why I declare 2016 The Year of The Book.
Goodreads tells me that last year I read 24 books. This year, my goal is to read at least 30:
Gloria Steinem: My Life on The Road
Feminism and travel, in one book.
The Story of Rome by Indro Montanelli
Indro Montanelli was an Italian journalist and historian. Here in Milan there’s an entire park named after him and plenty of references to his vast work. I wanted to buy S.P.Q.R by Mary Beard about ancient Roman history and Marco told me I absolutely had to read Montanelli first. So I am. Though it was written in the 1950s, the writing feels current. It’s easy to see why Montanelli is considered one of the great journalists of the 20th century. He writes in a fun, updated, sarcastic and above all, easy to understand way that brings even the most remote history to life.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
I’ve seen this book on bestseller lists in 2014 and all throughout 2015 and 2016 doesn’t seem much different so far. After my dad died this past October I was finally convinced to pick it up – It deals with the author’s grieving process after her own father passes. I don’t know what to expect from the story, both plot-wise and emotionally speaking, but I’m interested to find out.
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
I feel a bit like I’m cheating by skipping Karr’s memoirs and starting my relationship with her with this book, but I figure it’s just another push to then explore her dynamic memoirs.
The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
Every Year of Book needs a quick and saucy read and this can be mine. I want to see what all the hype is about!
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Because I can’t remember if I’ve read it which probably means I haven’t.
Bell Canto by Ann Patchett
I’m curious to discover how Patchett writes about the intricacies of opera together with the backdrop of Peru.
Something written by Haruki Murakami
I’m super intrigued by Murakami’s thick library of work, but I’m completely overwhelmed about where to begin! The little bit I’ve scanned of his writing gives me the impression of a dense and sort of mythical language and I imagine that it’s perfect for winter. Any suggestions?
Snow by Orhan Pamuk– Istanbul
After reading about Indonesia specifically for our trip to the archipelago, I wanted to do the same with a place I’ve dreamt about visiting for quite some time now. I bought this book by popular Turkish writer Pamuk and am thrilled to say I officially have a timeline to read it: Marco and I are going with friends for a long weekend in Istanbul at the end of March! I can’t wait to compare the descriptions I read in the book with the living, breathing city.
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner.
Maybe I can learn a thing or two.
A Passage to India by E.M. Forrester
I just finished A Room With a View by Forrester. I hate to say it, but I didn’t love it. Actually, I really didn’t love it. The wane English protagonist wasn’t even annoying, just straight up boring. The pompous fiancé and the “odd” boy rivaling for the protagonists love were too storybook, not enough spark. That said, I would like to read a book set in India and the author is famous enough to give him a second chance.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
I have read Woolf before, but not for many years. After watching The Hours, a so-so movie based on this book staring Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep, I decided to add the short novel to my list and see what it was all about.
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
I read Invisible Cities two years ago in Italian and fell sort of in love. I figure a book with “traveler” in the title will do.
The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
The Neapolitan Novels is a 4-part series by the Italian novelist Elena Ferrante. I read the first of the four novels, My Brilliant Friend, in Italian and the unique style of storytelling completely captivated me. The story is raw and a bit mysterious. Enough so that I’m determined to read the other three Neopolitan Novels by the secret author: The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and The Story of the Lost Child.
Paula by Isabel Allende
Honestly, I have no preference about which book starts my relationship with Allende, but Paula is the one I have already in my bookshelf. Last year I wanted to read Allende in Italian (I thought her long latin sentences would translate well) but I was too overwhelmed by those long latin sentences in my second language. My new plan of attack is to read Paula, fall in love with Allende, then read all of them, especially her latest, My Japanese Lover.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Similar to Allende, I feel like I know and love Smith, yet I’ve actually never read a novel of hers. I have white teeth, so I’ll start there.
What is the What by Dave Eggers
I have no idea why I still haven’t read this book.
I went a little crazy last summer on food books. I love writing, I love reading and I love food, and I was curious to read and study how others bring those together. It started with The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen and will likely continue with this book on the culture and art of eating in France.
Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford
Continuing the food trend, Heat is about an American chef Bill Buford’s year studying under celebrity chef Mario Batali in Italy. Sounds fun.
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
I’m saving this one for the summer!
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Because aspiring writers can’t get enough of books dedicated to helping aspiring writers…
The Odyssey by Homer
This one’s a stretch. I recently bought a non-abridged version (unfortunately) of The Odyssey from Half Priced Books. I can’t say why, except that maybe the cover, thickness, price and famousness of the book attracted me. Now the heavy volume is sitting plump in my bookcase, challenging me to just try to understand the ancient language. Maybe I will.
Truthfully, it’s not so much about the number of books I read, but the time I give myself to read them. I want to travel the world through my reading, to expand the international authors on my reading list, to read Italian authors in Italian and American authors in American. I want to study the language, to study the scenes, to study the characters not only literally but also what each book has to tell me about that place in the world or in time.
The Year of the Book has officially started and I couldn’t be happier. Reading takes you places, and I’m ready to go!