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Pickle Me This

December 31, 2014

A Happy New Year

IMG_20141221_140754It was the year in which planes started disappearing from the skies. A bad year, on a global scale, and while a good year in many ways on the homefront, it’s been an exhausting autumn and I have found the wider world to be distressing and depressing. There were some days when I couldn’t bear to look out the window, let alone at newspaper headlines. And so the holiday was so very welcome when it finally arrived last week—Stuart has had two weeks off work, and we turned off our internet for the first one. I didn’t go online for a week and it was amazing. We had a very nice Christmas, and things have been very social and chocolate-covered ever since. I’ve read so many books, and they’ve all been amazing. And my online habits have still not recovered from the break so I’ve had more time to read than ever—I’d like that to continue. I like the extra time that arrives when the internet’s off.

2014 was also the year in which I stopped keeping track of how many books I’ve read. I mean, I keep a qualitative count here, which seems good enough to me. Which is to say that I don’t know how many books I read this year, but oh well. I’ve also learned (from the last few weeks in particular) that I am really better off reading closer to home, following my fancies and pursuing my own curious avenues. I’m almost tempted to do a reading project like Susan Hill’s Howard’s End is On the Landing, in which she spent a year reading books from her own shelves—except that it turns out that there are many 2015 books I really am looking forward to. I just have to remember that new books are not the whole story. That perhaps it’s smart to wait on the hype. That rereading is one of the great pleasures of the reading live. That as readers, we can plot our own bookish paths. There is liberation in that. And I do have this feeling that the wayward journeys make for better blogging anyway.

As a writer, 2014 was a year of much work and good fortune—a book in the world. I faced it down 365 days ago with a great dear of terror, just as I’d eyed the year before in which we were expecting a new baby. Both baby and book turned out  pretty well. This year I’m not expecting anything at all, but that’s kind of a relief. I’ve always found that those years deliver the best things anyway, and I’m intrigued by the prospect of pursuing curious avenues in my writing life as well. I have a few projects in the works—no idea if they’ll ever grow into something solid. I’m pretty convinced of the importance of fallow periods—this might be the one. And I’m excited to find out what seeds will be sown.

Stay tuned for a post about the great books I’ve read over the holidays—my final read of 2014 will be the wonderful A Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe, which is so much fun. Up next—my first book of 2015— will be a book I bought at Book City the other day that I’d never heard of, that I plucked off the shelf because I liked the cover (and these kind of reading experiences—with room for serendipity—are what I’ve been craving). It’s a translation. Because my reading resolution for 2015 will be same as for 2014—to read more widely (which might sound incongruous with reading close to home, but it actually isn’t).

I have found these last few weeks so restful, fun and restorative—as a reader and as a human. I hope to carry that same spirit with me into the new year, and I’ll be so pleased and grateful if you come along as well. Many thanks for your friendship, support and bookish love over the past year. Wishing you all the happiest of new ones.

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Mitzi Bytes

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