Nobody can argue that many aspects of 2017 were piles of flaming garbage. That doesn’t mean literature failed us though. I read 24 books* this year. While there’s never enough time for all the wonderful writing in the world and while I wish I had read more, I am more than satisfied with the books I chose this year. Therefore, to the Big Little Literature library: You got ranked.
*This number does not count Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and Aravind Adiga’s Selection Day, which I just could not finish.
The Oscars has one particular thing in common with the movies it rewards: takes way too long to reach the climax. I never really thought about it until this past February when, while watching the Academy Awards together, my friend Dana told me that one reason she thoroughly enjoyed Best Picture nominee Hell or High Water was because of the film editing. It didn’t consume three hours of her time for the sake of being an award-winning movie. This brings me to The Oscars Effect: when a movie knows it has the Oscar caliber so it must be ridiculously long and/or take an inordinate amount of time to climax.
As much as I love Liane Moriarty (the woman inspired the name of this blog after all), her 2016 novel, Truly Madly Guilty, falls victim to the Oscars Effect. The novel focuses on supposedly best friends, Clementine and Erica, whose friendship could be a story in and of itself. In addition to their troubled relationship, both women face complications in their marriages and careers and with their parents, children, and neighbors. These complications drive the back stories behind the main plot. In Truly Madly Guilty, a friendly barbecue among neighbors and friends turns life-changing after one accident. Sounds interesting enough except I don’t learn what this earth-shattering, tragic or nontragic, adulterous or PG-rated calamity is until two-thirds of the way through.
I can’t exactly describe when it happened, but at some point in the past 12 months, books sort of became my life blood. I’ve loved reading as long as I can remember. There was the first story, Dick and Jane, that I read in preschool, and I firmly remember my mom telling my kindergarten teacher that I’d already finished multiple books halfway through the school year. My teacher was ecstatic upon hearing this news, and even though I was proud of the triumph they exuded, I didn’t think it was all that exciting. Reading was a part of my life. It was that simple.
Dick and Jane–my first book!
Next came Little Golden Books, which I devoured, and then I had my “Ah ha!” moment with Harry Potter. (I don’t think I need to explain this. I mean, I was the kid who played Harry Potter at recess and fought with her brother about who got to read the newest book first and what the reading increments were.)
From there I discovered the 50 state books that my elementary school library owned. Around this same time I also read nearly every Bailey School Kids book (any and all fans HAVE to check out this list), and all of this resulted in me completing more book reports than any other child in Mrs. Wrigley’s third grade class. Children’s fiction shortly gave way to my Nicholas Sparks phase. This preceded an intense fascination with chick lit, which still exists by the way, and Emily Giffin, my favorite author. And during my college days, I discovered my love for historical fiction, still my favorite genre.