New Year's Resolution: 2019

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Like I said last year, I don’t usually make resolutions on the actual day. So, at the end of January, I’m finally writing this post.

If you’re curious how last year’s resolution concluded, I’ve written my thoughts on the remaining books at the end of this post. I managed to make it through most of my absurd challenge — reading all but two, one that I finished early this month and one I don’t plan to complete — and was resolved I would never repeat it again. (At least, not while I have young children.)

This year, I’m shifting my focus.

Where 2018 was the year of reading, 2019 will be defined by two resolutions: One: Writing a daily journal and Two: Getting outside everyday. (I do have a reading list as well — because I want to maintain the habit of reading — but the list is significantly shortened to 12 books.)

The first is because I’d like to organize my thoughts, record little things my girls do, and have a reference for reflections on books and movies. Too often I think I’ll remember something, and then don’t. The second is because I find it easy to avoid going outside and to stay within the controlled comfort of indoors. Just because it is cold or wet or snowing (or hot & humid) doesn’t mean I can’t dress appropriately and head on out for at least a little bit. So far, the girls are loving it (toddling Maria simply lights up!), and I’ve found it’s giving me more energy.


Wrapping up Last Year

1. The Diary of a Country Priest

I’d like to reread this. I have a tendency of becoming completely engrossed in a book, hardly being able to put it down, devouring it with the drive to know what happens and how it ends. Which is great for whipping through books, but not for necessarily relishing it. This book is fascinating, weighty, at times obscure, and full of depth. It is slow to start, but I found that true to how an actual diary would — unsure, staggering, groping for a rhythm.

2. East of Eden

Though lengthy, this book is hard to put down and draws you in quickly. The characters are wonderful. The story is good. Perhaps you expect more from the potential it starts off with, but it is nevertheless a very enjoyable read.

3. Four Quartets

Another I’ll revisit. I read it aloud. Poetry often eludes me initially, and this is no exception. But the flow and rhythm of the language was thrilling. Honestly, find this and read it aloud. It’s mesmerizing.

4. The Good Earth, Sons, and A House Divided

The first book is the strongest of the trilogy. Though, I may be a little biased as the focus is on a farmer, his land, and his family (which is basically my life). The industriousness and thrift of the family is amazing. Even in dire times, they have so many reserves of knowledge and abilities to fall back upon. I savored how the author stayed true to the character and his desires but also made clear how his very actions worked against those wishes. The entire unfolding takes place over the following two books which widen in scope but ultimately feel more narrow and self-absorbed.

5. Murder on the Orient Express

A quick, fun read. I usually can’t figure out the conclusions to Agatha Christie mysteries. Or at least, not enough to be convicted of it.

6. The Painted Veil

Another short, enjoyable read. The plot sounds depressing (an adulterous woman is taken by her cold, vindictive husband to the heart of a typhoid epidemic to punish her and himself), but the book is perceptive. Not necessarily happy, but bold, surprising.

7. The Remains of the Day

I watched the movie years before reading this. (It remains one of my favorites.) The story is the same, but the difference in perspective is intriguing. In the movie, the character of the butler is nearly impenetrable. The book, on the other hand, is written in first person. You have more access into his person, but his arch is much the same. Isolation, missed opportunities, and self-knowledge too late.

8. Vile Bodies

I am “eh” about this book.

9. Wise Blood

O’Connor draws me inexplicably. I cannot tell you what the point of her stories are. I don’t have theories. But I enjoy them plain and simple. This story is somewhat mad (like most of her writings) yet rings so very true. Mysterious, really.

10. Yosemite

Wow! Ansel Adam photos are amazing. His little written snippets were an instructive read and prompted more interest in National parks. (If you’re interested, Amazon Prime currently has Ken Burns documentary series on the National Parks.)

11. Zen in the Art of Writing

This was so, so fun. Ray Bradbury is amazingly accessible. His drive and enthusiasm is contagious. Even though I’ve never dreamed of writing, this made me want to write. (Maybe that’s what inspired this year’s resolution, subconsciously?) I’d recommend this to anyone, aspiring writer or not. It’s an enjoyable read with much that would appeal to any reflective person.

12. Infinite Jest

Oh boy. I cannot recommend this book to anyone. That is tough to say, but where I stand. There is so much that is intriguing, brilliant, and incredibly perceptive but which ultimately gets bogged down. Majorly, problematically bogged down. For every brilliant passage I can pick out an equally horrific, perverse, absolutely degrading passage. At the end of the day, it’s too dark for me even though it is meant to be humorous. Plus, I just had it with the pretentious narrative by the end.

13. Ulysses

About halfway through, I stopped and never bothered to pick it back up. I did not enjoy it, had no idea what was going on, and didn’t care enough to muscle through.

For thoughts on the other books I read, jump over to my halfway post.