Ahoy and season’s greetings.
Ho, ho, ahem. Sorry for the radio silence, but you were busy, too. Don’t deny it.
Christmas was very nice. Saw lots of family and had a pretty good time—and then one of the many illnesses that our family and friends had been offering caught up with my husband. We had to stay at my sister’s house an extra day and night to let him get over it. In the mean time, we missed lots of traffic and bad weather and I got to spend more time with my nieces. So it all worked out. Except for the vomiting.
He’s fine now.
We’re on vacation until after the first of the year. My only goal is to read some books.
How is my 2009 Reading List coming along, you ask?
73. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive– Alexander McCall Smith
This guy probably saved my reading year. These books are not going to change the world, but they are light and funny and charming without being ridiculous and/or vampire-laden. This one was a little meh. There are very few mysteries in these mysteries, but there ARE cases to solve, and this one was solved (in my head) too soon for my liking.
74. On Writing– Stephen King
A re-read. This is a good book. It’s part autobiography, part Strunk & White, part writing workshop instruction. Also? Just really fun to read. I feel like Stephen King is a longtime friend; his voice is very strong, say what you may about his style and topics, and I read all his books up until I was about sixteen or so. So to have that voice again, talking about a thing we both enjoy…it’s nice. Felt like a visit. You could do much worse if you’re looking for a writing book (see number 79 below).
75. The Shipping News– Annie Proulx
A re-read. Oh, god, I love this book. This is either the fourth or fifth time I’ve read it, and I was worried. Would all the writing and MFA-ing I’ve been doing over the last few years ruin my opinion of this book? But no, I get to keep this book, for which I am grateful. It’s one of my favorites. It’s charming and odd, and the characters like people I know but will never meet. The novel takes place in Newfoundland in the dead of winter, but it’s somehow really warming. I went to see Proulx read from one of her newer books a few years ago. Someone in the audience stood up to ask if she’d ever write a sequel to this novel. And while that’s a question she had a clear answer for (NO WAY), I get why the guy asked it. You fall in love with these lumpy characters; you want them to be happy. So when the book ends, you really keep wanting to know more. If I could write a book that people felt that way about, I would be very happy indeed.
76. Best Friends Forever– Jennifer Weiner
Jennifer Weiner is about the only “chick-lit” (what the hell does it mean? I don’t even know) author I read. She’s a smart woman, and it shows up in her books (in my opinion, her best book is the mystery one). This one was fun and engaging, the characters complicated enough, the situation interesting. Fast read, and funny. There should be more funny books.
77. The Miracle at Speedy Motors– Alexander McCall Smith
This was a good one. Light, funny, charming, and also well-constructed (better than number 73, in other words).
78. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built– Alexander McCall Smith
“Traditionally Built” being euphemism for “fat” and the term the protagonist uses for her own girth. These are funny little books. This is the 10th book of this series, and the most current. I’m sure McCall Smith is busy printing the money for the 11th book right now, but for now I’m caught up. Will be looking into his other series to see if any of them hit the right level of charming/funny/enjoyable/well-written.
79. The Year You Write Your Novel– Walter Mosley
I read an excerpt of this book somewhere back when it was published and liked it. The excerpt. But it seems that the excerpt may have covered the best bits from the book. This is not a good bet for a writing book purchase. I think it might be skating by on that whole “a year! a novel in a year!” concept, but Mosley doesn’t spend all that much time telling you how to write a book in a year. He spends half the very slim book giving you writing tips that you can get in lots of other places. The last half, where he talks about first drafts (and how they suck, but that’s their job) and how to revise a novel, is much more useful. The whole thing has a bit of a slapdash feel to it. As though he wrote it in a year, perhaps?
One more book to meet my reading list from last year, and two days to finish it. I think I can.