I didn’t read enough books this year, and I want to change that next year (I am putting book-reading as the second item on my schedule every day) – but! however! – out of the books I did read, there were some real doozies. And the awards go to…
Blow-Up and Other Stories
by Julio Cortázar
I enjoyed this book of short stories so much. I bought it in Mexico, in a bookshop-café where every book was shrink-wrapped and quite expensive. Half of the shop was English, half was Spanish, half was cactus.
James and I had a swell time here. We had cocktails one evening, then went back another day for breakfast. For some crazy reason, after weeks of eating beautifully made breakfast foods on holiday, I just really wanted toast with butter and jam. However, with each Mexican breakfast meal (eggs, molé, delicious…) they would also give you bread and jam (I think this is a French thing? or maybe a wider European thing). Anyway, the translator app seemed to help, and I finally had plain old toast (and some exotic and delightful jams).
I wanted to buy something from the bookshop, to celebrate the time and place. I started looking through the shelves and came across so many books I wanted to buy… authors and stories I’ve been meaning to read for years… but I wanted to only choose one. “Blow-Up” is one of my favourite movies, so I chose this book. (It turns out that the story has a very different angle from the movie.)
Someone told me recently that short stories make the best films, because with a full novel, there’s too much story, too much complexity; you can’t put it all into a 1.5 hour movie. I think they were right. These short stories fire up the imagination, but leave so much scope for interpretation. Beautiful book.
These books changed my whole year.
The Happiness Project
by Gretchen Rubin
At Christmas last year, I gave this book to my brother, but he’d already read it. I started reading it and loved the author’s experiment – test out every “how to be happy” theory, and see what happens. She learned a great deal along the way, and the experiments and insights are quite interesting. The book gave me many ideas for changes that I wanted to make, and while my 2013 personal theme was originally Creativity, I found that actually, I was pretty unhappy, and I needed to address that too.
The Artist’s Way
by Julia Cameron
In March, when I was talking to Priya about my Creativity theme, she asked if I’d done The Artist’s Way, which is all about “creative recovery.” I hadn’t read it, so I bought it, and set aside the next few months to do the 12-week course. It helped, big time. I still use some exercises from the book every day.
I’ve learned that if I read page turners in between difficult books (high-brow? medium-brow?), I enjoy all reading even more.
Don’t learn anything about these books before reading them! Just go along for the ride. One has dark comedy and a touch of mystery, one has dark mystery, and one has comedy and romance.
The Deep Whatsis
by Peter Mattei
by Gillian Flynn
The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
Strange and Fun
I’ve known Kevin on the internets for many, many, many years, and I enjoyed his non-fiction book Let’s All Find Awesome Jobs, so I bought some of his fiction too.
Jennifer Love Hewitt Times Infinity
by Kevin Fanning
Magical Neon Sexuality
by Kevin Fanning
I really enjoyed his small, strange stories about celebrities.
Thank you and good night!