#wsjbookclub, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Alice Sebold, Anna Quindlen, Annabel, Annie Proulx, Gravity, Jennifer Egan, Karen Hillenbrand, Karen Russell, Kathleen Winter, One True Thing, postcards from wonderland, Reading List, Swamplandia, Tess Gerritsen, The Lovely Bones, The Quiet Room, The Shipping News, To Be Read, Unbroken
I spent the first half of 2015, when not behind a book signing table or at the podium during a book festival, reading a variety of books, some outside my comfort zone, some way outside. And yes, to be fair, my reading included a number by male authors — but as we all know life is not fair. This being a blog about women and words, the works included here are the eight pictured above, all penned by women.
While the list may appear random, there was some method to my reading madness.
- What I did (read) on my summer vacation:
This summer, I traveled aboard Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavor to Newfoundland and Labrador. As background reading for the trip, AC recommended Annie Proulx’ The Shipping News and Annabel (by Kathleen Winter who was aboard the ship’s floating book club). Newfoundland and Labrador at times a bleak and unforgiving land, was the setting for both novels. I’d tried Proulx’ Postcards but couldn’t make my way through the book. The Shipping News however, was a delight. Proulx writes with gripping, painstakingly chosen words, her sentences and paragraphs aren’t written as much as architected. Her voice is unvarnished and as unique as I’ve read. Reading her work is like learning a whole new syntax. Sentences that run on or are truncated and would never pass for sentences yet give you the feel of that half-broken land.
- What I’m reading to stimulate thinking about my new novel:
Also, I embarked on a journey of my own of sorts. I’ve started a new novel, this time a thriller, or at least I hope it will be a thriller but can’t say until I’m further along. So, I experimented a bit with crime novels and thus my choice of Gravity and The Lovely Bones. Two types of mystery or suspense novels, the first a medical thriller and pure escapism and the second a very disturbing, tension packed story that could have happened next door to anyone of us.
- What I checked off my TBR list:
Given that I’m still working my way through my long, long list of books I’ve committed to read, I checked off A Visit from the Goon Squad and One True Thing. Egan’s book is as far from my own reality as it could be (including a whole chapter written in PowerPoint) while Quindlen’s hits very close to home as a woman discovers long forgotten aspects of her relationship with her mother.
- What everyone was reading and I had to read too:
I read Unbroken after seeing the block buster movie, something I hate to do as it is so difficult to ignore the big screen scenes playing in your head and enjoy the writing, and this was no exception. If you don’t know the story you owe it to yourself to read the book or see the movie.
- What I read for simple pleasure:
Finally, there was Swamplandia, perhaps my favorite. There’s no way to accurately describe the innovative novel from Karen Russell who intrigued me years ago when I read her short story “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.” If you read and loved that story, you’ll find Swamplandia a must read. So many great lines, including: “I watched as one sentence after another exited my mouth like those knotted magician’s scarves.”
Care to share your 2015 reading list? Reading tips from like minded women (and men) always find their way to my always growing TBR list. They’ve been some of my favorite in the past and I trust they’ll be favorites in the future.
And, of course, I hope you’ll put The Quiet Room and Postcards from Wonderland on your TBR list!