Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Wonderment of What's To Come

This has been a quiet but wonderful year for me, a year brewing with the anticipation of change. In the spring, I signed with an agent and discovered that Tyler and I would welcome a child into the world. Two events that would seem unrelated if they hadn't intersected and happened at the same time.  They indicated a shift, a new way of the wind, and they've carried me to now.

Perhaps I've never been as reflective as I am at this moment, this today, thinking about the year that was and the year that will be. I've spent a lot of time, this year, rearranging words and stories, dreaming them new, hoping they resonate. I've spent an equal amount of time making space inside myself, inside our home, for a tiny someone. No matter how his bones poke and prod and arrange themselves inside me, it's hard to believe he'll be real. That he'll be known.

In preparing for the unknown, Tyler and I cleared our apartment. We had to purge. It was necessity. I got rid of my writing desk which felt like giving away an important piece of who I am even if I know that words can always be written, no matter where.

We found ourselves placing the things left over in closets already too full and three empty boxes, the pretty kind, for keepsakes. Then we watched as an avalanche of generous baby gifts found their way into all the empty spaces, as our apartment flooded with new furniture and gear and gadgets unfurling their miles long instruction sheets.

We like to joke about our three boxes.

Do you know where my pen is? 

   Did you check your box?

Where can I put my new gloves?

   Is there room in the box?

Yes, we cling to our three beloved, crammed, boxes. Some kind of physical testament to who we've been, since the rest of our world and our hearts are already full with the anticipation of new arrivals. I'll admit, it's been hard, wondering how I'll keep those pieces of myself, how those pieces might arrange themselves into someone new.

But it's been a such a lucky year, much of it spent inside the wonderment of what's to come, and I've never dreamed bigger,  on so many fronts, even if, truth be told, I have no idea, really, what the year will bring. Maybe only the sculpt of it.  The skeleton. But not the soul of it. That's to come.

Happy, happy new year everyone.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Year In Reading

View My Book Map -- Melissa Sarno in a larger map

This year, I decided to place all of the books I read on a google map, taking the most prominent setting of each book and marking it there -- an interesting way to keep track of how I travelled with words. I didn't manage to make it to two continents at all (South America and Australia) and I'm somewhat ashamed of that but we'll see where next year takes me.

While I read the lists and follow the awards, at the end of the day, I don't believe in pitting books against one another or ranking them so I'm not interested in creating a best-of list.  This is simply the order in which the books were read. Since I never complete books I don't find redeeming in some way, each of these titles means something to me.  For those paying attention, there are two unfinished books on the list. One had to be returned to the library before a trip and I suppose the book will find me again. The other I plan to complete at a later date.

It turns out most of the books I read this year are set in New York City and the final book I read was set in my very own Brooklyn neighborhood, a fitting end to a remarkable year of reading. A way of coming home.

Happy reading to you all in 2014 : )

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Southern California
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Ormaie, France
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Wilderness of Alaska
The Odd Sea by Frederick Reiken
Plainfield, MA
The Eighth Day by Dianne Salerni
Western Pennsylvania
The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon
Farmland near Oxford in 1831
Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY
Return To Me by Justina Chen
Fictional Island: Lewis Island, near Puget Sound. Also, New Jersey and Hawaii.
You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon
Majority of it takes place in a fictional town, St. Bonaventure, NE (but also Chicago, among other US towns)
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco
Takes place near Poughkeepsie but not here (never specifically named)
Reply to a Letter From Helga by Bergsveinn Birgisson
Kolkustadir, Iceland
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
Alpes-Maritimes, France and Nice, France
Philida by Andre Brink
Cape-town, South Africa 1832-1834
Boy21 by Matthew Quick
Fictional neighborhood of Bellmont near Philadelphia
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Fictional town of Henrietta, VA
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Hiroshima In The Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
Hiroshima, Japan
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Fictional town Shirley Falls, Maine and Park Slope, Brooklyn
The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
London and Bristol
Look At Me by Jennifer Egan
Rockford, Illinois and New York, NY
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Salt Lake City, Utah
The Salt God's Daughter by Ilie Ruby
Long Beach, CA
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Omaha, NE
The Dinner by Herman Koch
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Schroder by Amity Gaige
Starts in Albany, NY but also goes to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Boston, MA
Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Standing Still by Kelly Simmons
"anywhere in suburbia"
Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart
1871 Bush Hill, Philadelphia
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Paris, France
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
East Hampton, NY and Rosedale, Queens
Nobody's Family Is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh
Upper West Side, Manhattan
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (unfinished)
Outside of Oslo, Norway
In the Shadow Of the Banyan Tree by Vaddey Ratner
Phnom Penh, and in the country-side of Cambodia
The Time Travelling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
Fairfield, CT
The Original 1982 by Lori Carson
New York, NY
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Seattle, WA
The Eighth Day - The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne Salerni
New York, NY
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Unnamed city in Florida
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Fictional town, Manifest, Kansas
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Starts in San Francisco, CA. Road trip novel that ends in Portland, Oregan
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
Outside of Limerick
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Town in Wisconsin
Starglass by Phoebe North
On The Shore by Paul Yoon
Fictional Island, Solla Island
Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
Queens, NY
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Somewhere outside of New York City, small fictional town: Kindling.
Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
San Francisco, CA
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Southern California
Three Times Lucky by Shiela Turnage
Fictional town in back woods of North Carolina, Tulepo Landing
Handling The Truth by Beth Kephart
Non-Fiction. Wherever you write. For me, Brooklyn, NY
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Central Valley, California
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Lowland, near Calcutta, also Providence, RI
Bruised by Sarah Skilton
Near Chicago
The Diviners by Libba Bray
New York, NY
The Underneath by Katherine Appelt
East Texas
One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Fairfield, CT
Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave by Patty Chang Anker
New York City, Hudson River Valley, Chicago
How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford
Baltimore, MD
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Bronx, New York City
Red by Alison Cherry
Fictional town Scarlettville, near Des Moines, IA
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
North River Heights, Manhattan, NY
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Philadelphia, PA
Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman (unfinished)
Paris, France
Someone by Alice McDermott
Brooklyn, NY