Ye Olde Year in Review

I started Rosemary and Reading Glasses on January 1 this year. I’d blogged for a couple years about food and domestic bliss (along with my husband), but a long-term illness has meant that the food I eat is consistently boring and not write-up worthy.

At the time, my plan was to get myself writing again, and to fulfill my New Year’s resolution, which was to memorize one poem every week. I failed pretty spectacularly at that goal (more on this later), but along the way

a bunch of pretty great stuff has happened.

Friends! I’ve been so lucky to “meet” delightful, thoughtful people this year, people who love books. The only downside is that often you delightful people live states/countries/continents away, so chances of us meeting in real life aren’t too good. But if you’re ever Boston-bound (and you know who you are), let’s get a beer (or a cup of tea) and then go bookstore-hopping, shall we?

Engagement! I don’t know about you, but I always hated whole-class read-alouds in grade school and high school. But the whole reading-separately-together thing has been so much fun! I love seeing everyone’s Classics Club lists, and I liked my first read-along so much — even though the book was atrocious —  that I’m hosting my own in 2014. (There’s still time to get in on it! Non-atrocious book, promise.)

Failure! Now, I know this one sounds weird, but here goes. The first ten weeks of my memorize-a-poem-a-week project went according to plan. The next ten weeks weren’t so smooth; I was cramming on Sunday nights to make my Monday memorization deadline. And then I got really sick and ended up in the hospital for ten days, and the whole project was kind of shot to hell. But you know what? It didn’t matter. I still picked a poem to think about and savor every week, even if I couldn’t memorize it. People still read the blog. It was ok. And then I signed myself up — publicly — for NaNoWriMo, and I didn’t finish that either! Guess what? Yep. The sky didn’t fall. Nobpdy reported me to the writing police, and I’m here to tell the tale.

Success! I used to consider not finishing a book a crushing personal failure. Well, maybe not crushing. Anyway. One of the side-effects of my failure episode this year was giving myself permission to put a book aside if I wasn’t enjoying it after thirty or forty pages. Not exactly revolutionary, but it’s a big step forward for me. Poetry brought me back to reading novels again, and I decided to read thirty this year, or a 300% increase from the year before (I’m the at-home parent of a 2 1/2-year-old. Enough said, I hope.). And I read thirty books. Then I read thirty-five more. That’s right, folks. I made it through 65 books this year! It’s not that the number matters (but I do feel pretty awesome), really, but that I thought about those books, wrote about most of them, and talked about them with friends in the blog-world and real-world.

Books! Yeah, I know. Of course. I’ve had my head buried in the seventeenth-century sand for so long that I lost track of contemporary fiction. And it’s wonderful! Even the books published just this year gave me a sense of the richness and breadth i’ve been missing out on. I’m not going to do a best-of-the-year list, because I don’t want to, really, but herewith I present a list of five books that have been flying under the radar this year and deserve more attention.

Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees

Chloe Aridjis, Asunder

Paul Yoon, Snow Hunters

Carlene Bauer, Frances and Bernard

Jenny Uglow, The Pinecone

So, what’s next?

More Poetry! I’ve read 50+ individual poems this year, but only four full collections. That’s kind of lame for someone who considers herself a poetry person. I’m going for seven in 2014. Also, start looking forward to February, because I will be featuring super-sexy poems on Tuesdays. Mostly sexy poems by dead people, because I don’t like Valentine’s Day very much.

More Lists! People love lists, turns out. I only did one this year, and I’m not going to go all Buzzfeed on you next year, but expect a couple more lists in 2014.

More Parks & Rec posts! By far my most popular post this year was a Ron Swanson / Bobby Burns lovefest. So maybe I should write more of those.

A Readalong! Yes, I’ve plugged this one already, but here goes again! Read Paradise Lost this winter! It’s shorter than most novels and will give you some sweet vocab to impress your friends and colleagues before spring arrives.

More of the same! In 2014 you’ll still find poetry posts on Tuesdays and book reviews on Thursdays. I’m a creature of habit.

Thanks for reading this year, friends. It’s been a pleasure. Stay tuned tomorrow for the last poetry post of 2013.

Confidential to my brother: Happy birthday, Tom! You’re one of my favorite readers.