Task 1: List the 3 books you’ve read this year you’re most “thankful” for (your favs) or the one book you’ve ever read that changed your life for the better.
The books above aren't necessarily ones I'm thankful for in any obvious way, but they're all 5 star reads and will leave an indelible mark in my memory. They all brought me joy in one form or another too, so I suppose that's reason enough to be thankful.
The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars - Anthony Boucher: This book just hit me in all the feels. It was a serendipitous find for me, as I'd never heard of the title, or really, the author, before. It's a story about people who love Holmes, it had cryptic codes, and it was a little bit slapstick. This book represents the hidden easter egg of my reading year.
File on Fenton & Farr - Q. Patrick: This is a book I first discovered by reading The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards, and I fell in love with the idea of an adult forerunner to Encyclopedia Brown; nothing but the clues and testimony and the reader tries to solve the crime, with the answer in the back of the book. This book represented my childhood, revisited and all grown up.
At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails - Sarah Bakewell: This book is the one that keeps on giving. Its philanthropy began by being a great, engaging read. I listened on audio and the narrator was fantastic. It kept on giving by engendering great conversations between myself, BrokenTune and Lillelara, and it keeps on giving because I'm still thinking about it and chewing over the concepts that Bakewell discussed, and will for the foreseeable future.
Task 2: Describe your perfect meal. What would you cook for the perfect celebration, or, what would you have your imaginary personal chef cook for you?
I have no idea. Isn't that terrible? My knee-jerk reaction is the traditional turkey/ham Christmas dinner, but honestly, none of those foods would actually make my top 10 favorites. If I ignore the "meal" part of the question and stick to foods that make me roll my eyes heavenward and thank all that's holy, then the task becomes more manageable. These foods include, in no particular order:
Hush puppies: deep fried balls of cornmeal with onions and green peppers. Because I'm a Southerner. Also, cornbread.
Stone Crab Claws: This is a species of crab native to Florida. Its name comes from the extraordinarily thick shells that require hammers to break. The meat is sweet and absolutely delicious. But what I like even better than the taste is the fact that only their claws are harvested; the crab is never killed, and it's released back into the waters, where it regenerates new claws.
One of the few things Florida has done right environmentally is strictly policing the harvesting of these crabs' claws; you must have a license, only a very limited number of licenses are released, and there are strict rules on the size of the claws that can be taken. Loads of research was done to determine if one or both claws could be taken (both; as it turns out they use them only for show, not defence or hunting). Ripping claws off a crab is still distasteful, but it's loads better than wiping out a population through over-harvesting.
Corn in pretty much any guise makes me happy. On the cob, off the cob, creamed, grilled, buttered, whatever. It's all corn.
Dessert-wise, if it involves vanilla custard I'm probably swooning. Creme Brûlée, Portuguese custard tarts, vanilla custard slice, custard filled donuts (MT made a 'cake' for my birthday one year by piling custard filled donuts into a pyramid and sticking a candle on the top), whatever - it's all custard. Last year I had a bowl of ice cream just so I'd have something to pour my sister-in-law's homemade vanilla custard (still warm) over. The exception is flan - flan wobbles and it puts me off my custard love. I do not like my food to jiggle.
Task 3: Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”.
I'm cheating here because it's not a book from this year.
I read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco in 2017, and I know I'll not be popular for this choice, but nothing on my shelves - nothing - comes as close to being as full of stuffing as this book was (for me). The story was great but, oh my god, it never freaking ended. The theologising just went on and on and on, until sometimes I'd forget what the chapter started out being about. Again, brilliant story - just ... stuffed.
Task 4: Show us your 2018 book “harvest” – the books you newly acquired this year, regardless whether bought, received as gift or in whichever other way.
Really? It's not that I'm unwilling to fulfil this task, but I'm pretty sure it's not possible in any practical way; not without putting myself in the doghouse with my husband for the foreseeable future for the mess and chaos it would create.
Instead, I took the number of books added to my BL shelves in 2018 and subtracted the books on my To-Buy list, since theoretically I own all the rest. There are some audiobooks I checked out of the library that I didn't subtract because I didn't feel like trolling through my shelves to find them, and there won't be enough of them to make a difference. Ditto a couple of borrowed books that I read for real life book club.
So, roughly speaking, my haul for 2018 was 357 books.
Gracious, I outdid myself this year. 50+ of those were the bargain box of Agatha Christies, but that whole lunatic book buying spree through Florida accounts for most of it. So, that's the pic I'll post, though you've all seen it now at least once.