Reading resolutions

So, as I reported last week, I finished 157 books in 2017. It’s less about the number and more about the experience, though, and this year was enhanced by my participation in the “Shakespeare in a Year” project, Robin‘s War and Peace read-along, and a slew of terrific non-fiction. In short, 2017 will be a tough act to follow.

While mulling over my reading goals for this year, I stumbled upon a post in which a virtual friend mentioned that turning sixty has made her keenly aware of how finite her reading life is; she chooses books even more carefully now. Her wise insight now informs my own reading choices. I also came up with a short list of reading resolutions for 2018:

1. Read from the shelves.

2. Complete a close reading of Moby Dick.
Yes, I have already read it. More than once. It’s worth it.

3. Reread at least one Vonnegut novel.
I appreciated rereads these past two years but wonder how much of his oeuvre “holds up.”

4. Finish reading several books abandoned in 2017 (or *gulp* earlier).
Six Four (Hideo Yokoyama), Will in the World (Stephen Greenblatt), and Providence of a Sparrow (Chris Chester) come immediately to mind. Yeah, I may have been a shamelessly promiscuous reader in the past, but these are good books that don’t deserve such treatment.

5. Read at least thirty non-fiction titles.
Twenty-six has been my goal in the past. I beat it in 2017, so now I’ve raised the bar.

My first book of the year was Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro), a family book club selection and a reread for me. Tonight I will finish An Enemy of the People (Henrik Ibsen) — a selection made in anticipation of seeing Traitor (based on this play) later this winter break and An Enemy of the People over spring break. Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End is up next (another family book club selection).

The year of the…

In her paean to birding, Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds, Lyanda Lynn Haupt writes:

There is a game birders play on New Year’s Day called “Bird of the Year.” The very first bird you see on the first day of the new year is your theme bird for the next 365 days. It might seem a curious custom, but people who watch birds regularly are always contriving ways to keep themselves interested. This is one of those ways. You are given the possibility of creating something extraordinary — a Year of the Osprey, Year of the Pileated Woodpecker, Year of the Trumpeter Swan. This game is an inspiration to place yourself in natural circumstances that will yield a heavenly bird, blessing your year, your perspective, your imagination, your spirit. New year, new bird.

After her breathless anticipation, Haupt is confronted with… an Eastern Starling, or “sky-rat.”

The Year of the Eastern Starling. Inauspicious, yes, but not without its charms, according to Haupt.

As I have on the past fourteen or so New Year’s Eves, I ensured that all of the feeders were topped off and that corn and nuts were scattered for the squirrels last night. (There are, of course, no squirrel-proof feeders, but I have learned that feed scattered away from the feeders will (mostly) keep those furry nuisances away from the birds and the more expensive seed.) Last year, I espied a black-capped chickadee in the oak out back. This year, I lifted the window-hanging while still curled in bed and saw a female Northern Cardinal at one of the feeders.