The Book Report

After a semester’s worth of reading, Jones puts the books in an overall review

More stories from Erica Jones

DIY diaries
May 9, 2018

If you all haven’t guessed yet, I love reading. I spend much of my free time (and time that should be otherwise spent) with my nose buried in books.

I’ve had fun reviewing books for this newspaper, and I hope I can read even more before 2017 ends.

The 25 books I’ve read so far this year:

­— “That Part Was True” – Deborah McKinlay.

— “Marley & Me” – John Grogan.

— “The Dog Who Saved Me” – Susan Wilson.

— “Water For Elephants” – Sara Gruen.

— “The Bette Davis Club” – Jane Lotter.

— “As She Climbed Across The Table” – Jonathan Lethem.

— “The Secret Life of Bees” – Sue Monk Kidd.

— “The Girl Who Played With Fire” – Stieg Larsson.

— “A Dog’s Journey” – W. Bruce Cameron.

— “Lucky” – Alice Sebold.

— “The Alchemist” – Paulo Coelho.

— “Snow Falling on Cedars” – David Guterson.

— “Visiting Tom” – Michael Perry.

— “A Man Called Ove” – Fredrik Backman.

—  The “Harry Potter” series (books 1-7) – J.K. Rowling.

— “Love Her Wild” – Atticus.

— “The Good Girl” – Mary Kubica.

Over the past several months’ worth of reading, I’ve picked up a few lessons — both analytical and moral.

While I’m all for enjoying reading material, this year I’ve tried to focus on reading between the lines, looking for themes, symbols, cultural impacts and a greater significance. It’s important to try to analyze novels on a deeper level and identify both their strong points and their weaknesses.

Several of the authors of books I read this year utilized beautiful imagery and other figurative language to improve upon already excellent storytelling, while others used too much or not enough.

From “Marley & Me,” “The Dog Who Saved Me” and “A Dog’s Journey,” I learned there is nothing in this world quite comparable to a human-canine bond. These relationships can make us laugh and cry, take away our pain and change our lives.

Dogs aren’t the only animals that have an impact on us, however. Other inspiring animal tales from this year included “Water For Elephants” and “The Secret Life of Bees” — both of which demonstrate the wisdom and symbolism found in the natural world. Sometimes, we just need to quiet our human hearts and absorb the lessons the earth is trying to give us.

Another book that followed a similar theme to this is “The Alchemist.” This novel was one of my favorites of the year. Its message is pure and enriched my desire to find inner peace.

“The Bette Davis Club,” “As She Climbed Across The Table,” “A Man Called Ove” and “The Good Girl” showed me that love comes in many different forms, and oftentimes it is completely unexpected. Sometimes it isn’t requited when it seems like it should be, and in some scenarios, things fall perfectly into place.

The “Harry Potter” series made me believe in magic, “Love Her Wild” kindled a passion for poetry within me, “Visiting Tom” inspired a newfound pride in my home state.

I gained a sense of secondhand strength and empowerment from “Lucky” and realized how complicated and beautiful human relationships can be through “Snow Falling on Cedars.”

Needless to say, I’ve traveled through time and space with all of the books I’ve read this year, lived numerous lives, experienced a variety of emotions and fallen in love with reading more deeply than ever.

Over break, I challenge you to curl up under a warm blanket, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, pick up a book you normally wouldn’t and dive in with an open mind. You might surprise yourself and enjoy it beyond belief. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Happy holidays, my friends, and happy reading.