….or not. We shall see what we shall see.
I’ve been meaning to keep track of the books I read each year, and never remember to do so until we’re well into the year. And it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t start it at the beginning of the new year (there’s that all or nothing thinking again….) and so think, well, that can wait until next year, I guess.
Only now it won’t. I remembered early this year.
My mom said I could read before I started to school; no one knows how, but I taught myself, apparently, and books have been as essential as food and water to me ever since. I have worked both as a bookseller and as a ‘liberry lady’ (that’s the way the little kids said it, and it’s cute when they say it that way) and my love of reading served me well in both careers.
And one of the things I’ve heard over and over as I’ve attended writers conferences and participated in writers groups and classes and so on, is that writers need to read as much as they need to write. I believe it, because the more I read, the more I notice about the way an author turns a phrase or crafts a paragraph. And that’s true whether the work is good or bad! I’ve actually got notes made that are all about ‘don’t ever do this! never! ever! just don’t!’ I mean, if reading something that is poorly done makes me yell at the book (and I admit I have been known to write a ‘how COULD you!’ letter to a lazy author who had just cut and pasted whole pages of an earlier book into a later one–word for word! identical!) then I know for certain that I don’t want to do that kind of thing with my books. I don’t want a future reader to say to someone else, “I can’t believe she did this!’
So I read, and I write. And it’ll be fun to see what I read (and in some cases, re-read) and what I think about all of it. It isn’t anything original, to be sure–I see blogs all over the place that are all about what people are reading. Saw one that was about reading only the books already in the house; I have hundreds of thousands of books (I am not exaggerating when I say that, either–there are floor to ceiling shelves in most rooms and hallways of this house) and I could easily go an entire year reading only what I already own. Because it’s true I have books that have been purchased or given to me and never read. (Maybe that’s a goal for another year…..read only what I have? It bears consideration.) The thing is, books are the only thing I really spend money on, and I have easily as many used books as new ones.
I have a couple of quirks (if reading a series, I try to get them all at once when possible; I won’t read anything out of order, and if I really like an author I always want to read their biography.) And for some reason, when I am checking books out of the library, I have to have an even number of them. I don’t even want to think about what that means; I’m not that way about anything else, so I don’t worry about a slight OCD-ness in regards to numbers.
So I am beginning this new year with
1) SYCAMORE ROW by John Grisham. It is, as so many of his books are, completely un-put-down-able. It is also what could be called a callback, because the main character is Jake Brigance, as in Jake from his very first book, A TIME TO KILL. I was a new bookseller when Grisham exploded on the scene with THE FIRM, which was actually his second book, and everyone was going nuts asking for something, anything, more, now! and the publisher hurriedly reprinted A TIME TO KILL. Funny thing was, only a few years before, he had not even been able to give it away, and ended up throwing entire boxes of that book into the city dump! I had never been much of one for legal thrillers, but, no pun intended, Grisham set the bar high and it has remained so. I always know I will be reading something good if his name is on the cover.
And SYCAMORE ROW is no exception. Jake takes a case where a man he has never met has committed suicide, leaving a handwritten will that invalidates all previous ones; this will leaves 90% of his estate (and it’s a sizable one, $2$ million in 1988!) to his housekeeper. His explicit instructions are that his children get nothing. And, of course, being set in the South, there’s all kind of black/white issues that will greatly complicate everything, as well as the true identity of the housekeeper that had me thinking of the horrible story of Rosewood, Florida (I’ll leave it to you to see how it’s all resolved.)
Good book. I would expect nothing less from Grisham.
2) CHOSE THE WRONG GUY, GAVE HIM THE WRONG FINGER by Beth Harbison (I was totally intrigued by the title. And I would like to read an earlier one of hers, WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER, but the library doesn’t have it. So I’ll be on the lookout, as they say…..