I have been hibernating the last few days, and just finished the Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. Wow. The NY Times review says the book "opens beneath you like a sink hole". I don't think I stopped reading the 228 pages once I started. My sister warned me when she gave the book to me, and it was so true. This is a raw account of personal loss from the December 26th 2004 tsunami that hit Sri Lanka. I read it from front to back, breathlessly waiting to find out how Sonali would live/heal from the unimaginably real trauma of losing her sons, her husband and her parents all in one freakish afternoon. Like my sister said, I also believe to be true, these words were not written to be published, but as a way to heal.
Looking back over my list of books read this year, more than a few were about death: The last Time I Saw You by E. Berg, Please look after Mom by Kyung-souk Shin, The End of Life Handbook by D. Feldman & A Lasher, Jr., and Paula (amazing)by Isabel Allende.
I also read poetry books: most recently Forth a Raven by Christina Davis (thank you Gwen), Aimless Love by Billy Collins, Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson, and Poems for the Heart by Ania Fernandez.
I read whole books by and about artists: Brice Marden by Eileen Costello, Concerning the Spiritual in Art (argh! Did I really read this in college?) by W. Kandinsky, Alice Neel (difficult and convoluted writing) by Phoebe Hoban, and Calder's (sweet!) autobiography edited by a distant step uncle of mine.
I read social histories: Guest of the Sheik/Life in an Iraqi village by Elizabeth W. Fernia, Memoirs of a Farm Boy by Marvin Van Benschoten and edited by my dad, Far from the Tree (mind expanding) by Andrew Soloman, Mountains Beyond Mountains (a reread) by Tracy Kidder, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, At Home by Bill Bryson, Salt by Mark Kurlansky, Big History by Cynthia S. Brown, and Vermeer's Hat by Timothy Brook.
Always drawn to self-help and self awareness books I counted a number of them this year: Mindfulness by M. Williams & D. Penman, Palms of South Florida by Stevenson, Einstein's God by Krista Tippett, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and Why We Write by Merideth Maran.
And a couple extra fiction books: Tom Wolfe's Back to Blood (could be listed under a social history of Miami), and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, Tapestry of Fortunes and Beginners Goodbye by Elizabeth Berg, Daniel Martin by John Fowles, Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard, and Gone (probably my least favorite after Mindfullness) by Cynthia Hanauer.
I am looking forward to what the new year will bring to my library!