My father-in-law, who is very dear to me, is entering into hospice care. He was diagnosed with brain cancer last fall. A valiant year of treatment did not beget the hoped-for healing. Now it’s clear where Dan’s trail is to end.
After his diagnosis, with the bells of mortality ringing in the distance, Dan pushed himself to curate his many written works into a single memoir. The finished book, published recently by Cirque Press, is called “Someday I’ll Miss This Place Too.” It covers the thirteen-year period he lived in Western Alaska along the Kuskokwim River, providing legal aid and social services. It’s a wonderful read and we feel so lucky to have this tangible piece of him to hold forever.
If you’ve got someone on your Christmas list who has an interest in rural Alaska, I encourage you to buy a copy (I’ll link again below). It’s got all that good Alaskana stuff like dog-sledding adventures over frozen tundra and perilous flights aboard achy, shaky bush planes. It’s also a tender and funny recollection of the people and places that left indelible marks on Dan’s life. My favorite thematic takeaway is that patience, empathy, and understanding are the most valuable equipment one can carry as a stranger in a strange land.
It’s sorta’ funny – I was looking for a photo to use on this post, preferably one where he and I are posing arm over arm, beaming smiles, eyes reflecting the snow or water or dew-soaked trees. But most of the photos I have of Dan are like the one above, slightly ahead and leading the way, teaching by example how to navigate an icy trail or a flooded walk. Or scanning the horizon for a sight of eagles or geese, camera in hand, soaking in all the splendors that this amazing thing called life provides.
Dan graciously welcomed me into his family and has always made me feel like I belong on the trail with him. I think the photo is fitting. Kindly, silently, thoughtfully leading the way.
Anyway, I know it’s important for both Dan and for Anna that people read his book, so here’s the link if it’s something you’d like.
This is my fourth annual iteration of this post (you can find 2017’s here, 2016’s here, and 2015’s here). Like a lot of people, I track all of my reading at Goodreads, a site that almost certainly exists for the sole purpose of recommending Michael Chabon novels.
I read 35 titles in 2018. That’s 25 fewer than last year’s tally and 11 fewer than the previous year.
Thoughts on this data:
-I completed one book the entire time Anna and I were living abroad (mid-September through mid-December). The only defense I can muster is that the primary purpose of reading is to broaden one’s knowledge/empathy via literary connections, and while on our trip we were accomplishing that goal through different channels.
-In the middle third of 2018, I pushed myself to read a lot of books that had been taking up room on my shelf, many having settled there after being plucked from a lending library or purchased at a used bookstore. The cross-country move necessitated a purging of titles that weren’t making the trip.
-It wasn’t a banner year as concerns the quality of the books. I began 2018 reading books I was really excited to get into. I spent the rest of the year reading things about which I was less fervent. I anticipate reading a lot more in 2019 and working harder to pick out titles I think I’ll enjoy more. Life’s too short to voluntarily do things that don’t make you happy.
This is my third annual iteration of this post (you can find 2016’s here and 2015’s here). Like a lot of people, I track all of my reading at Goodreads, a site that I’m still not convinced isn’t an insidious arm of the international literary illuminati, or something.
I read 60 titles in 2017. That’s 14 more than last year and 15 more than the previous year. I should include a disclaimer that a steady stream of graphic novels deceptively inflates the impressiveness of that big ol’ 60.
This is my second iteration of this annual post (you can find 2015’s here). Like a lot of people, I track all of my reading at Goodreads, a site that I’m still not convinced isn’t in the business of selling my secrets to mischevious bedouins, or something like that.
I read 46 titles in 2016. That’s one more than I read the year prior, though my consumption habits had shifted quite a bit. That’s because, in 2016, I discovered that the DC Public Library system has a treasure trove of graphic novels available for borrowing. I was thrilled. I had wanted to further explore this format, especially after having read some of the more seminal works (Maus, Watchmen, Batman: Year One) several years back. I took advantage.
That means quite a few titles out of the 46 on this list are graphic novels. Some may consider that cheating, given that you can power through most graphic novels in a few hours. I have no rebuttal, other than to admit that I rather enjoyed my reading in 2016. I don’t think I read anything I consider an all-time favorite, but it was an all-around solid year regardless. Lot of good books rather than a few great books, and what not.
To summarize my year of reading, here’s a list of all the titles I consumed, plus blurbage. I’ve ranked them in order of enjoyability. I’ve also marked whether I read the hard copy or listed to the audiobook.
This was also the first year in which most of what I read was non-fiction, which is what the kids call “adulting” these days. Continue reading →
Goodreads is a flawed website and I don’t entirely trust it not to sell my deepest, darkest literary secrets to the Russian mob, or whomever, but it’s still pretty useful in arranging and encouraging my reading habits.
According to my Goodreads stockpile, I’ve read an average of 45 books per year over the past five, with a busy 2014 being a down year (19) and an incomprehensible 2011 setting the curve (66). Thus 2015, with its 45 completed books, was, in a way, decidedly average.
To summarize my decidedly average year of reading, here’s a list of all the titles I consumed, plus blurbage. I’ve ranked them in order of enjoyability for your consuming pleasure. Early warning: There’s a lot of Game of Thrones and Freakonomics ahead. Strange bedfellows and all. This was also the first year in which most of what I read was non-fiction, which is what the kids call “adulting” these days. Continue reading →