A Decade of Reading


I began keeping a list of every book I read since 1999, so I’m taking advantage of yet another snowy afternoon to look back on what I’ve read over the past decade.  This is the first time I’ve read through the lists since I began keeping them, and what is most striking is that they reflect the events of the year.  For example, during the years I was in graduate school, I read nearly 100 books per year, but almost all of them were assigned reading.  Many, read in the wee hours of the morning, I barely remember.  After graduation, I’ve settled back into a pattern of about half of that; between 40 and 50 books per year seems to be the average.  Even on those lists, there are books I would be hard pressed to tell someone about.  I remember really enjoying Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (December 2002), but I don’t recall any details.  After 2005, things become a little clearer.

Based on the past five years, these are the books (adult and young adult’s) that still make my heart jump in recollection of how much I love—and remember—them:


The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak  (I know this is considered a young adult book as well.  I put it here because it’s cross-marketed, and because it is the first book on my list regardless of where it’s shelved.)

The Rain Before It Falls by Jonathan Coe

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Atonement (and Saturday) by Ian McEwan

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill

Young Adults:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Hunger Games and Firecatcher by Suzanne Collins

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin



Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My computer took an unapproved four-day vacation.  It was not appreciated, but thanks to the intervention of a friend who can coax them back, I’m able to re-connect.

The forced break did give me the chance to read Catching Fire, the second book of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  As my husband likes to say, “everything has been said, but not everyone has said it,” and that’s how I feel about both of these heart-stopping and thought provoking books.

We are thinking about teaching The Hunger Games to Inly Middle School students this year.  Many schools have added it to their reading lists and curricula.  The book brings up so many questions that are spot-on for this age, primarily this one:  How much can we raise the stakes in the quest to be entertained?  In our relentless 24-hour news and entertainment cycle, behaviors or images that may have shocked us two years ago barely register.  We want more.  If you’ve read the books, you know what I mean.

It would be interesting to pair The Hunger Games with Lois Lowry’s The Giver.  The two books would certainly lead to some interesting and sobering conversations.