Today in My History
Cast (updated 7/16)
BOOKS OF 2020
5 January 2021
I usually write about the books I read during the previous year in the first week of the new year. My goal for each year is to read 50 books. The year I was commuting back and forth to my mother's in San Rafael and listening to audio books, I managed to "read" 72 books.
While I think of myself as a reader, I seem to be reading fewer and fewer books. In 2015, I read 56; in 2016 43; in 2017 34; in 2018 15; in 2019 I got to reading a bit more and read 22; but in 2020 I only read 11. That's embarrassing!
Part of the problem is that I started a lot of political books that I never finished, so I spent time reading them, but never finished them so they didn't make it to my database.
Of the books I finished, there was an interesting assortment of topics. Seven were autobiographies, one was an "Outlander" book that I re-read, one was a novel based on a real story, and one was kind of difficult to put into a category. It was Sandi Toksvig's "Between the Stops," which I have mentioned many times in these journal entries.
Of the autobiographies, two were by Ree Drummond, "The Pioneer Woman." Her first book was about falling in love with her husband and it was like reading a teen ager's diary. Pretty bad book and about half of it was what a wonderful kisser he was. The book was so bad that I decided I had to read the second book, written after their four children had reached high school and college, and she had started her TV program. I wanted to find out if he was still such a fabulous kisser (apparently yes, but his kissing doesn't take up the bulk of the book). It was interesting, since I watch her program. I had been interested in how (and why) she home schooled four kids plus working on a ranch and recording a TV show and all the rest of the things she did. Found out that her main reason for home schooling was that they lived so far from the school and there was no bus service. (Also, when you home school, you can get your kids up at 3 a.m. to help with ranch work before the sun gets too hot.
A surprising autobiography was Alex Trebek's, which was written about how you think Trebek would write his life story. It is not a normal autobiography and does not go in chronological order through his life, but is a lot of interesting memories, and a lot about Jeopardy!. He has been married twice, for example, but the only time his first wife is mentioned (twice) is when saying that something happened after their divorce. We don't know how they met, when they married, how long they were married, etc. Just her name and that they divorced.
[It is sad to realize that this is the last week of the shows Trebek recorded before his death]
I wanted to read Kate Mulgrew's autobiography because I so enjoyed her character on Orange is the New Black, so different from her other roles. This book doesn't take her up that far in her career and I would like to read her second book.
This autobiography, "Born with Teeth," has no co-writer, like most stars' books do. Mulgrew's writing style is what drew me in. She's eloquent. irreverent, funny and thoroughly entertaining. In fact, I started reading the book at night and nearly read the entire night because I couldn't put it down.
My favorite autobiography was by my friend Jim Brochu. "WATCHING FROM THE WINGS: Fifty Years of Working With The Stars," is both an autobiography and stories of the stars he has known and worked with throughout his life....and he's known everybody. His previous book, "Lucy in the Afternoon" was the story of his daily cribbage games with Lucille Ball in the last year of her life.
I raved so much about this book as I was reading it (I read it in a day and a half) that many people who read this journal and pen pals bought it and also raved about it. (Jim has just finished a new book, a mystery called "Murder on the Orpheum Circuit" which I am reading now.)
I have always read books about the Holocaust and I read two this year. "Rena's Promise: a story of sisters in Auschwitz" By Rena Kornreich Gelissen with Heather Dune Macadam is the story of two sisters who were sent to Auschwitz and how they survive. It was perhaps the most detailed story of what life was like for the prisoners of all the concentration camp books I have read over the years.
While I was reading "Rena's Promise," I got an offer of a book for $1.99 called "In the Hell of Auschwitz: The Wartime Memoirs of Judith Sternberg Newman." Newman was also at Auschwitz, but as a nurse her experiences were quite different. She is the sole survivor of her family, having lost her mother, two sisters, three brothers, a brother-in-law, a niece, an aunt, an uncle and her fiancé to the gas chamber at Auschwitz.
"Dear Edward" was Jenna Bush Hager's book club choice. I can't remember if it's based on a true story or not, but it was another book that was so compelling that I couldn't put it down and finished it in 2 days.
Then there were the two older books, one of the "Outlander" books and "Call of the Wild," which I read because I had read about making the movie and I wanted to remember the story before seeing the movie (I still have not seen the movie)
What I need to do is find another book -- or several books -- that I can't put down to start my reading for 2021. It would be nice if I can read more than 11 books this year!
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This is entry #7593