The time has come when everyone’s busy wrapping up the last year with different lists and top nines, and I feel that I cannot be an exception. Even though, on the blog I still have some pending posts on adventures of the old year, I decided to time jump a little bit and give this one a go. Needles to say, it’s been an amazing year: our smallest wanderer has brought us so much joy that it’s almost unutterable. But he’s also turned our life upside down, and not always in the way we’d expected it. I’d had true illusions about the life of a stay at home mum and therefore, not surprisingly, I ended up being disappointed a few times – mostly about myself.
But in the last nine months, I’ve also learnt to reinvent myself and to find joy not only in the extraordinary but also in the ordinary. Like making puree food for my LittleMK three times a day, or walking the same rounds in the neighbourhood daily. If you know me a little, you can imagine how hard it’s been sometimes on me: on a person who is constantly craving novelty. And true that we’ve kept on going out and travelling, still in the first year we haven’t been able to do it to the extent as before. Also the intervals in-between two adventures have just seemed incredibly long.
One of the things I was the most optimistic about was my reading list. Somewhat ironically, I got from my colleagues as a farewell gift a beautiful edition of War and Peace, and I thought this would be the very first book I’d read while my LittleMK would be sleeping through day and night peacefully alone in his first couple of months. (If you’re an experienced mother, please, do not laugh!) The only good use the book has actually had, that we could lift one side of his bed with it when he was struggling with serious reflux in the first weeks. (Ok-ok, I’m just kidding here, you’re allowed to laugh!). But unfortunately it’s still kind of true: not only I couldn’t take it into my hands, but I couldn’t even read much fine literature in general. Or at least not much in my standards. On top of all that, I also managed to pick forgettable works of fiction, so my top list, which I’m going to present you here and now, is going to be unusually short. I’m afraid I can’t even make a #bestnine here.
1. Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale (Canada)
In the beginning of the year I had a horrible one night fling with Atwood. The Heart Goes Last felt almost like a ‘mind rape’, and it’s not something I can forget or forgive Ms Atwood for that matter. But picking up The Handmaid’s Tale has given my faith back in her writing. Actually, it’s such a brilliant book that it’s the only read that goes on my favourite books list. The HBO series, which was out this year, and which gave me company during my endless breastfeeding sessions in the beginning, was similarly brilliant. The style of the book and the motion picture is very different, but trust me, both are quality fun. Highly recommended.
2. Ann Patchett: Commonwealth (US)
Ann Patchett is a terrific writer. While her Bel Canto was one of the highlights of last year’s readings, Commonwealth was a strong candidate this year for best read. Patchett is excellent at painting interesting characters and the stories beautifully evolve around the dynamics of the human spirit. She will definitely be on my reading list in 2018 as well. (A longer review to come eventually.)
3. Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things (India)
The God of Small Things is possibly the best written book I’ve ever read in my life. And I’m not exaggerating here: Arundhati Roy is a true virtuoso! I’ve not been satisfied with the story itself, so the book left me angry at the end. But all in all, the quality of writing is just so satisfying, that I need to shelf it as a noteworthy read of the year. Check my longer review here.
4. Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing (Ghana)
A very ambitious book from a young writer, but one that, in my eyes, was proved to be worthy of all the praise it has received internationally. Check my longer review here.
5. Tove Jansson: Fair Play (Finland)
Only few know that the mother of my favourite Moomins has written beautiful adult fiction, too. (Not that the Moomins are not for adults, mind you!) Her little stories are like Japanese haikus: there’s no other author who can tell so much with so little, who can capture the fleeting moments so well and perceive the hidden beauties and wisdom of life with such a grace. Her books are like clean air in a way: invisible, light and absolutely essential to life. Some people say they’re nothing, to me they are absolutely everything. It’s true that Fair Play cannot be compared to her Summer Book, nevertheless it’s a worthy read for a winter afternoon when you’d like to cosy up under a warm blanket with a cuppa.
6. Sandra Cisneros: The House on Mango Street (Mexican-American)
Another wizard of mood sketching is Sandra Cisneros. The book is a collection of charming snippets of a Hispanic girl’s coming of age story. It’s a pleasant afternoon read but with a lasting effect.
I also enjoyed The Privileges and My Brilliant Friend – they were not five-star reads, but buddy reading them with Anna (#twomumsbuddyread) definitely made them into remarkable experiences, as well. Two of my book clubs being on hold (or well, probably over, but it still feels good to put it this way), it’s been very refreshing to share books with her. Getting to know her through our reads has been a definite highlight.
As for bad habits, that I’m (not) planning to get rid of, this year, I’ve got hooked on parenting books. I have read quite few of them, of which I loved The Attachment Parenting the most. Maybe it wasn’t rocket science, but it found me when I was the most down regarding my parenting skills, so it really got close to my heart. You can find my ultimate list of parenting books here. I’ve also been introducing a lot of books to the Little One, but on that I’m planning a separate post later.
So this has been the highlights of my year in books. (If you would like to see my entire reading list, you know you always find me on Goodreads.) In 2018, I truly hope I will have more to tell you about! Meanwhile why don’t you share with me your list for some inspiration?
A very HAPPY NEW YEAR and VERY HAPPY READING to all of you! ❤