It is that time of the year that I look back and feel as though 2017 flew by. And I can honestly say that this year did not fly by. This year dragged. It dragged, not in a slow and cumbersome way, but more in the way of falling off the back of a billycart as it hurtles down a hill and your arm is stuck and your body just bump bump bumps all the long way to the bottom of a ledge. This is not to say that it was an all bad year. There were times that the billycart slowed enough for me to smell the daisies and watch the wonder that is our world come together and be great.
Firstly, some personal notes: I started this year with a semester’s break from my PhD. I had some personal issues that I needed to work through and the break was very good for me. I took on teaching Digital Literacies at a pathways college and I reallllllly struggled. I usually engage well with students (I have a teacher satisfaction *ahem is this really a true measure ahem* score of over 4) but I stumbled through the 2 semesters I taught. My score remained high, I loved my subject, my students mostly got through, and my colleagues and workplace were fabbo. But I didn’t find my footing so I have turned down subsequent offers.
I also had a whole lot of out of the ordinary experiences. My fave aunt visited from Greece, as did my Swiss cousins. I saw Sandra Antonelli TWICE!!!, I went to Tasmania for the first time, I travelled with friends, I bought a brand new little car, I got my first ever mani-pedi, I took sedatives to fly (making flights sooooo much more bearable), I went to the US and to Canada where I met Miss Bates and Jessica Tripler and MaryLynne and SuperWendy and Ana and many fabulous American and Canadian reader friends and this just made me incredibly happy (I have had a post about my trip languishing in my drafts for months but I promise I will post it tomorrow!!!).
I returned to my PhD in second semester with a whole lot of writing, peer reviewing, two conferences and two journal papers (one which is still pending). On top of this, my husband ended up in hospital for a week at a time on three different occasions over the space of three months. It was a rather difficult time, and I apologise now, but this has been the reason for my lack of blogging since July. Life sometimes is that hurtle on the billycart moment.
My husband’s health has slowly become better (just as my asthma decided to amp it up, but hey! that’s just another story) and we are back to our summer swimming and sun lovin’ ways. Despite the horrifying politics of the plutocrats and neoliberalists in the world, I actually feel much happier and settled on the eve of 2018 than I did this time last year. I hold on to hope for a kinder world, and I am pretty much pleased with my own lot in life.
In this past year, I have had so many wonderful people show me their kindness, their generosity, their largesse, their wonderful sharing ways.
This past year, I looked up a lot and I loved the sky and I loved my city and I loved my family and, just in general, I loved my life. And you can’t really ask for much more than that.
My Year in Reading
This is my first year in a long time that I have mainly read long essays and avoided books. I have reached a critical stage of my PhD that keeps me from engaging too deeply in fictional worlds. This will continue until I finish my thesis. At first, this had me panicking as I feel it is a professional requirement of librarians to read constantly so that they can best serve their borrowers. But I have come to terms with the fact that I will just need to do all my catching up once I have spare time again (haha!). Surprisingly, of the scant 68 books I did read, my top 4 (pfffft! 5 is so last year) were all audio books which is probably an indication of where my headspace is. And another surprise is my lack of romance fiction in my fave books. Sadly, this year, not a single one managed to meet my expectations of a top read. But I also had a surprise favourite read. But more about that at the end of my post.
Of the books that I did read, (for a complete list here is a link to my Goodreads 2017 books) my favourites were:
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas; narrated by Bahni Turpin
Recommended to me by Jessica Tripler, and borrowed through my (now expired) New York Public Library card, I listened to this audio book in two straight days. I was engaged, and crying and saddened and heartened. It took my breath away. I’m not going to even bother with a long review except to say YA meets Black Lives Matter in one of the best, most impactful stories I have read in a long time.
Modern Romance written and narrated by Aziz Ansari
Our whole family is a big fan of Aziz Ansari. We first saw him as Tom Haverford in Parks and Rec and since have watched him doing stand-up comedy and in his own show Master of None. Since I was looking for an audio book that would appeal to both my husband and me for our long drive through Maine to Quebec, I went with this one. I thought it was going to be a celebrity attempt at fiction, but instead I found an incisive sociological study into the modern dating habits of people in the 21st century. It was funny and informative and I highly recommend it.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride written and narrated by Cary Elwes (and a host of other actors from the movie)
Back in 1987, my friend Kathy and I went and saw The Princess Bride at the movies on the strength of Robin Wright who was a favourite of ours on Santa Barbara, an under-appreciated snarky soap opera. We loved the movie. I have been proselytising about it ever since. It ended up being my litmus test for the guys I was interested in dating. And thankfully, even though he was doubtful and cynical about the weirdo girlfriend who attended Barry Manilow concerts and watched Princess movies, once he watched it, Husband absolutely loves it too. As do our sons and our whole household is built on the quotes from this movie. So it was without hesitation that when I saw the book at my library, I borrowed it. I read the first chapter and enjoyed it, but then life got busy and I returned it unread. While I was on holidays, I downloaded it and discovered that it was infinitely better. Narrated by Cary Elwes who played Wesley/The Dread Pirate Roberts, in the movie, he also had all the other actors narrate their contributions, as well as Rob Reiner. The making of the movie sounds wonderful, it feels as though everyone just loved being there. Behind the scenes seems to be as good as the actual movie. It was such a delightful, fun listen that I think all fans of the movie must get this audiobook.
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright; narrated by Pamela Dillman
My all-time favourite kids author is Elizabeth Enright. The first book I ever read by her was The Saturdays, the first of The Melendy Quartet – a family of four siblings, Mona, Rush, Miranda and Oliver living in New York City in the early 1940s (the book was a contemporary publication at the time) with their father and their housekeeper/nanny Cuffy. The kids decide to pool their allowances and each Saturday one of them gets to have a New York City adventure. I ADORED this book as a kid and have reread it many many times. So when I saw that I could borrow an eaudio copy, I did not hesitate. I downloaded that baby in a zzzzzzip! My delight in this family and their Saturday adventures continues. Time has not withered this story. Pamela Dillman’s narration is lovely and lilting, though I always thought that the family’s surname was MElendy not MeLEndy (Dillman’s pronounciation). Another excellent listen!
I need to acknowledge all the wonderful responses from friends and family who have taken part in Sharing the Shallows. When I first thought of it, I decided I wanted to do a year’s worth of posts. I drew up my list of 52 people and I am still slowly working through it. As it stands, I have posted 38 responses. The weeks that I didn’t post were usually due to ill health or travel restrictions. I have decided to continue posting until I get 52 responses. So far, very few people have said no, and most people have been so incredibly gracious with their thoughtful, funny, irreverent look at their reading. I am thanking all the people who have shared my shallows this year. I looked forward to receiving all your emails; I loved reading them; they all made me laugh.
With complete and utter sincerity, you have given me my absolutely favourite reading for this year. You have all been way more interesting than the books I read and enjoyed. You are all tops. Those of you who have contributed and those of you who have read along. You all have blood worth bottling and you are all my hatchback heroes and heroines.