Reading for the New Year

Some years ago when my daughter was back in Japan for the holidays, we decided to share with each other about the best book we’d read in the past year and to set a goal for how many books we’d each read in the new year. Although we are apart, it is a custom I have kept. It is not the number that matters, but a feeling in my heart that I must always be moving ahead and challenging new things, learning more …so as not to disappoint her. It is a kind of accountability thing now. If I waste too much time watching dumb TV, I think I am not being the person she’d expect.

It carries over into other areas of my life. It inspires me to sew, blog, take photos and hold new events. I suspect that it isn’t just my daughter that I am doing it for but that I want to be a person that I myself would find interesting. I can’t say how far I have accomplished that but only that it spurs me on in some small way.

Anyway, as usual I asked for books for Christmas. Here is what I got.

Books for 2013

Books for 2013

I live in Japan where English books are harder to obtain. How I dream of walking up and down the aisles of Barnes and Nobles and taking each book in my own hand, touching, flipping through it and reading here and there. I may have this opportunity once every two years? I hope heaven is like that!

So, instead, I spend hours looking at book reviews on Amazon. Today I found a fellow blogger who shares her book list and really enjoyed her well-written reviews. Recently I discovered that the Tenmaya Department Store downtown had gone out of business and electronics shop had taken over the building. How excited I was to find that the whole sixth and seventh floors had been turned into a Maruzen bookstore. That said, there are all of 2 shelves of books in English, a somewhat limited selection.

The twelve books here include four works of fiction and the others are biographies, memoirs or history. I read I Have Lived a Thousand Lives ( Livia Bitton-Johnson), about a thirteen-year-old girl who survived Auschwitz, almost in one evening! The memoir by Carole Radziwell, What Remains, is both a romance and a tragedy, a highly readable account of her marriage to John Kennedy, Jr’s cousin, Anthony Radziwell,  and the losses she suffered.

I am now reading David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood, a true story that took place in Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. After reading his John Adams and The Great Bridge, I am a big fan of McCullough and am enjoying his blow-by-blow account of this disaster which destroyed a whole town in a matter of minutes. He has included many photos of the town before and after the disaster and of the primary figures involved in the story.

Choosing a book on my birthday 2012 (Maruzen)

Choosing a book on my birthday 2012 (Maruzen)

I look forward to curling up with a good book this weekend when I’m home alone. What better way to spend a quiet winter afternoon!

Here is what I’ll be reading:

1. American Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (biography)

2. The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations , Zhu Xiao-Mei (memoir)

3. Shanghai Girls,  Lisa See (novel)

4.  A Lesson Before Dying,     Ernest J. Gaines (novel)

5. The Dry Grass of August,  Anna Jean Mayhew (novel)

6.  Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s,  Jennifer Worth  (memoir)

7. The Devil in the White City,  Erik Larson (non-fiction/history)

8.  A Stolen Life,  Jaycee Dugard  (memoir)

9.  Mrs. Mike, Benedict and Nancy Freedman (autobiography)

10. Theodore Rex,  Edmund Morris (second in biographical series on Theodore Roosevelt)

11.  A Piece of Cake,  Cupcake Brown (memoir)

12.  Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement,   Patricia   Sullivan     (history)

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Book Wheel
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 05:08:09

    Great list! I have A Stolen Life on my list for this year but wasn’t impressed with Devil in the White City (I reviewed it on my site). I look forward to your thoughts on Shanghai Girls!


    • leahmama1
      Jan 12, 2013 @ 07:32:32

      Thanks for your comment! I read the sequel to Shanghai Girls first, “Dreams of Joy.” It was a good story that I enjoyed relaxing with.


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