The OF Blog: An anti-best of year list

Sunday, December 31, 2017

An anti-best of year list

Ever since I began this blog in August 2004, I would conclude the year by listing some sort of "best of 20--" list of books, etc. released in the US that year.  This year, however, I only completed 15 books, none of them 2017 releases (I abandoned R. Scott Bakker's The Unholy Consult about 80% in back in July due to lack of energy then and I never resumed reading it; I was saving Jeff VanderMeer's Borne for an uninterrupted weekend after my May vacation and somehow I never got back to it, despite loving the first pages that I've read and generally enjoying greatly VanderMeer's other works). 

What little I read was foreign language books from the previous century or two or individual poems lately that I would use to teach both English and expressive writing in my classroom (believe it or not, I've had several students express hope that we would use another poem or two for these daily morning writing exercises, as they enjoy discussing them without having to worry so much about identifying - yet - meter and verse patterns).  But having students take Yeats's "The Second Coming" and turn some of its hallowed lines inside out as they turned "the centre cannot hold/things fall apart" into a meditation on their struggles to make sense of their world (these are 12-15 year-olds I teach, mind you), that has reawakened my long-held love for poetry as being the most intimate of human arts.

Maybe 2018 will bring a renewed energy to read newer works, or just to complete any book-length works.  Maybe it won't; 2017 has taught me that I don't have to finish books in order to learn a lot from those few words that I do happen to read these days.  Maybe that's truly what was best about 2017 for me.


Anonymous said...

Good to see you back, Larry! Look forward to more books and insight from you in 2018.


Adrian said...

Welcome back! Did you ever get around to checking out Erikson's Fall of Light?

Lsrry said...


No, haven't completed any book since July and nothing new in over a year. Just lost my reading mojo.

Roland said...

Good to see you are posting again and feeling better in general.
Too bad you didn't finish The Unholy Consult. I would have loved to read your take on the ending.

Anonymous said...

You have a dim view of 12-15 olds. It is my theory that one is potentially the brightest at 15 (not necessarily able to use it all), although there is a sudden drop-off at 16. Generally from 19 onwards one is bright again, but many turn as dumb as ever again at 21 or so. Others after 30 turn into the regular dumb people everywhere...

(I'd say "juvenility" in its most toxic forms is between 16-18, also the time people turn ideological. Before that many clichés about the innocence of children, mixed with some further development and awareness can generally apply. People decide around 20 or so if they want to continue being an ignorant, superstitious, ideological idiot from their mid-teens... Others turn convenient, arrogant and small-minded later. This is basically the same as described above.)

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