Reading Resolutions for the New Year
It's the time of year to make resolutions and while lots of ink has been spilled over the futility and difficulty of this, I personally am down a whopping 4lbs from my last New Year's weight-related resolution, one thing that can be really satisfying is to resolve to read more.
In 2012, I decided I would work my way through the bestsellers of 1952, a randomly chosen year but one that felt promising at the time, being 60 years prior. Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny spent 48 weeks on the bestseller list that year, making my job not terribly difficult. This World War II story is by turns gripping, terrifying and really quite romantic. No spoilers, but trust me go and read it. There's a reason it was on the list for so long.
The Caine Mutiny's dominance of the bestseller list was briefly interrupted by Daphine Du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel. There's a whole lot of rich people, a whole lot of nice real-estate, and a lot of mystery in this story. After grappling with questions of heroism and patriotism in The Caine Mutiny, My Cousin Rachel is a bit of a tonic soap-opera. Forewarned, the end might make you shed a tear.
A book entitled The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain, that followed My Cousin Rachel, wasn't easy to find, but Cellar Stories Bookstore in Providence was able to get ahold of it for me. This book wasn't my favorite. Its the story of a silversmith hired by the apostle Luke to build a silver holder for the Holy Grail. Costain attempts to paint personal portraits of the apostles using this device and while its interesting, I found his writing a bit stilted. This book did not age well and was the only part of my 'resolution' that felt like work.
1952's bestseller list ended with John Steinbeck's East of Eden. If you've only seen the brilliant Elia Kazan movie, you may not realize that it's based just on the second part of the book. This deeply complex examination of family dynamics, love and hate, is as old as the biblical stories on which Steinbeck based it. And yet, the story feels entirely American, and entirely modern.
If you are going to resolve to read more this year, try looking up the bestsellers from the year you, or maybe your parents, were born. There are tons of ways to organize this and I, for one, found the exercise extremely enjoyable.
More About Silvia
Silvia DiPippo-Aldredge is a writer and a home-schooling mother of three teenagers. A RI native, her family now divides its time between Dubai, UAE and Putnam, CT. She writes about books, the arts, and the intersection of cultures in the Middle East.