This has been a rough reading year. One of my resolutions was to revisit the classics (or hell, just visit the classics, since I never had a membership to that old library in the first place) and to read things out of my comfort zone. But I can’t blame my bad year on classics or odd literature. The books I read just didn’t seduce me. And I’ve read a lot this year considering a big chunk of my life was taken up by the homebuying process where the only thing I was reading were inspection reports and bank statements.
Just as I was giving up hope on a happy ending, the last book of the year did what all books should do: grabbed me by the first paragraph and kept on grabbing me (no, not like that), so 2010 went out on a high note. I had just finished The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass (eh) when I spotted The Widower by Liesel Litzenburger on the used book store shelf, so you can imagine that I was not like, Awesome! Another book about a grieving guy. But then I read this opener:
Grace Blackwater is downstairs, saving his life one small gesture at a time. He can hear her straight through the worn wood floors beneath his bed, going about her business as if she owns the place. She doesn’t own the place. He hadn’t called her, but she has come—up the long dirt driveway on her motorcycle at dawn and in through an open kitchen window, using her jackknife to slit the screen that has been repaired again and again with duct tape. Upstairs, in his bed, he has heard even this, the silver blade parting the length of fine mesh with the whir of a hummingbird. Every house in the door is unlocked. Grace likes to do things the hard way. He was glad she hadn’t shot off the locks. She has some talents. He does, too. What are they? He doesn’t know anymore. He sure can’t dance, would make a lousy poker player, doesn’t know any magic tricks, isn’t much for meaningful conversation. He is a champion of deep sleep. He excels at the long rest.
See? You want to keep reading. When I finished the book—this author’s debut—I wondered if she’d written anything since, and in one of those tiny moments of joy, I discovered there was already a new one waiting for me called Now You Love Me. Can’t wait.
Other bright spots on the shelf this year were Mink River by Brian Doyle that contains the most beautiful passage I’ve read all year—and it was uttered by a talking crow; Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, This Must be the Place by Kate Racculia (a friend and great writer), and the memoir Orange is the New Black.
Worst book last year? Tinkers by Paul Harding. Yeah, the one that nabbed the Pulitzer, but I stand my ground. Dullsville.