Sunday, August 12, 2012

Winter Garden, Kristin Hannah

I recently read Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden. Hannah's work frequently centers around women's lives and relationships. Her novel Firefly Lane focused on female friendships, and True Colors was about Sisterhood. In Winter Garden, Hannah turns her attention to the bond between mothers and daughters.

Winter Garden a novel by Kristin Hannah
Meredith and Nina have never been close with their mother, Anya, a cold and distant women who reserves most of her love and affection for her husband. The only way they could ever connect with their mother was through the fairy tales she told them as children. When their father passes, it is as though they have lost the thread that tied them together as a family.

On his deathbed, their father makes Anya promise to finally finish telling the fairy tale. Only when Anya finally opens up and Meredith and Nina finally start to listen do they realize the meaning behind the story their mother has spent her lifetime trying to tell them.

In this book, Hannah shifts from contemporary issues to take on the past, specifically, Leningrad during World War II. Hannah tells two parallel stories; the story of Meredith, Nina and Anya, and the story of Anya's past that her daughters knew nothing about.

Winter Garden gives a personalized, though fictional, account of a woman and her family's struggle to survive in Leningrad during the war - a tragic time about which not much is known. Readers may enjoy the historical side of this novel; Stalin's oppressive regime and the fear and silence that surrounded it, the women who were left behind while the men went off to fight and how the city of Leningrad fared.

Be patient, especially with the first half of this book as it is slow and repetitive at times. Hannah's story set in the present is not as strong as the story set in the past. Your patience will pay off when, deep into Anya's fairy tale, you will be captivated, as I was.

This is a story that haunt you. In an essay by Hannah which appears at the end of the Special Edition of Winter Garden, Hannah writes, "I wanted to give you all this story survival and loss, horror and heartache in a way that would allow you to experience it with some measure of emotion." And she does just that.

She writes, "The survivors' stories literally clawed their way into my heart and there they remain." Anya's story will claw it's way into your heart too.

This review is written based upon Winter Garden Special Edition, featuring a Conversation with Kristin Hannah, an Essay on Research by the Author, and Recipes featured in the book.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Second Glance - Jodi Picoult

After I finished reading The Hunger Games series and began searching for my next read, I knew I could count on Jodi Picoult. I've read several of Picoult's books, so she seemed like the natural choice for a summer read, like slipping into an old faded pair of jeans.

The book I chose, however, was a bit out of the ordinary - both for me the reader, and Picoult, the writer. Second Glance is a ghost-story, not my usual pick and not something Picoult is known for. But I was intrigued and decided to try something new.

Second Glance is a ghost-story in that the plot is based on mysterious happenings in a small Vermont town that begin when a developer is slated to build a strip mall on an ancient Abenaki Indian burial ground. But at its heart, Second Glance is ultimately a story of love and family.

If you pick up Second Glance, you will notice a lot of characters are introduced right away - don't let that deter you from reading on.   The number of characters in this novel can be overwhelming - I actually jotted down the names as they were introduced to help me keep them all straight in the beginning.

Picoult carefully crafts a complex story blending fact, fiction, past and present, as Ross Wakeman, a ghost-hunter who has never actually seen a ghost though he is haunted by the loss of his fiance, encounters Lia - a mysterious woman unlike any he's ever met.

Picoult pieces together a story of the paranormal, the Abekanki Indians and the real life eugenics project of the 1930s.

Though the paranormal subject matter strays from Picoult's typical topics. readers won't be disappointed. Her story is still compelling, her characters in-depth (despite the number of them) This book may require a bit more patience on the part of readers. It may take some focus to keep up with the characters, their genealogy and their connections to one another.

In the end everything ties together (almost a bit too neatly) I must give Picoult credit for her ability to put all the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. And, as always, Picoult has done her research.

Ultimately, Second Glance was a fun, interesting, read. Just don't bring it to the beach and expect to whip through it in a day or two.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Hunger Games Part 2

Catching Fire picks up right where The Hunger Games left off, with Katniss and fellow champion Peeta traveling on a Victory tour. Although the Hunger Games have ended, the games certainly aren't over. Katniss must convince the public and President Snow that she and Peeta truly are star-crossed lovers in order to settle the unrest that has risen over their defiance against the Capital in the arena. Catching Fire shows us life after the Hunger Games and the continued cruelty of the Capital as it fights to maintain control over the districts to prevent a rebellion from brewing.

Things really start to get interesting when President Snow announces that, as part of the "Quarter Quell", a special edition of the Games every quarter-century, tributes will be reaped from a pool of all living Victors of past Hunger Games. I'll admit, its a convenient way to increase the action, but it works. My heart went out to Katniss as she prepared to face the arena yet again.

I read Catching Fire with the same intense curiosity as I did The Hunger Games. I was unsure what to expect as I had heard mixed reviews about Catching Fire, I wondered whether Collins could keep the momentum going. While it is true that the second book is a bit less intense and not so action-packed from the beginning, it is just as engaging as the first. As a reader, I could feel the momentum building. I didn't devour this one in two days, and read at a much slower pace than the first.

When I reached the abrupt end I couldn't believe it was over. The ending was so surprising, I didn't want to stop reading.

So I didn't. I immediately picked up Mockingjay and continued reading.

A lot happens in Mockingjay. Katniss is selected as the reluctant leader of the rebels waging a war against the Capitol, the war to end all Games. In the end, the actions and intentions of those around her come into question and Katniss must decide whom to trust.

I did feel Mockingjay was a bit rushed as all the loose ends were being tied up. When I looked back at all that had transpired, I couldn't believe it had all happened in the pages one book - it almost could have been two books: the war, and the aftermath. Days after finishing the final book, I still found myself wondering about life after the Hunger Games and wishing I could have spent more time learning about Katniss' life there.

The Hunger Games is a trilogy that will stay with you. Even after I put the last book down, I thought of Katniss and all that she had been through and endured at such a young age, the many people she saw die and the weight their of those losses on her. In some way, those losses weighed on me too.

For those who may be skeptical as I was, or who may think it's no good because it's categorized as young-adult lit, I encourage you to give the books a try.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Hunger Games

When it comes to books and movies that are overly hyped and all-the-rage, I'm usually one of the last people to jump on the bandwagon. I get around to them eventually, sometimes I'm just five or ten years late to the party. I'm the one to whom people will say in disbelief, "You mean you've never seen/read insert really popular-movie or book here?!"

For instance, Star Wars. I've never watched any of the movies. I only picked up the Harry Potter books last year. Twlight - nope.

With that said, I apologize for my extremely belated recount of my experience in reading The Hunger Games - but I just (finally) read the series.

When I started hearing about The Hunger Games every where I went, I wasn't among those clamoring for a copy. I didn't know what the book was about exactly (I didn't even know at the time that it was a trilogy.) All I knew was that it involved a war and post-apocalyptic world. Without knowing much else, I decided The Hunger Games could wait.

It wasn't until I saw the movie trailer that I knew I had to read this book. And of course, I had to read it before I saw the movie which was being release within a matter of days. That turned out not to be a problem - I read it in two days and saw the movie in the same weekend. Both the book and the movie lived up to the hype.

Collins leads us inside the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, which rose from the ashes of North America. We meet sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen in District 12, a world of poverty and fear of the ruling Capitol - a Capitol so cruel it sacrifices its children an Annual Hunger Games - a fight to the death in which only one can survive. The Hunger Games serve as a reminder, and punishment, of a previous uprising against the Capitol.

I was drawn in the moment Katniss volunteers to take the place of her twelve year old sister Prim in the Hunger Games. I read on with horror at the concept of a game in which 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 must fight and kill each other in an arena controlled by the Capitol. I shook my head in disgust at the way the tributes must play along with these games, smiling for the cameras, giving interviews and waving to crowds of Capitol citizens in order to win gifts of food and medicine to help them survive in the arena. Perhaps the most disturbing part of all was the way the citizens of the Capitol who treat the games and the loss of innocent children's lives as a source of entertainment.

Because The Hunger Games was targeted for young adult readers, I was skeptical. I expected nothing more than a mildly entertaining read, however, the entire book is suspenseful and full of action. From start to finish The Hunger Games is engaging. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Collins doesn't soften the story for younger readers. Collins does not dilute the issues of poverty and oppression. Her writing is straightforward - easy to read without being overly simple.

I had heard the follow up to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, was not as good. I had to wonder myself if it would live up to The Hunger Games' intensity. More on that later!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Daily Writing - Pictures

In a poetry workshop I took in college, our professor put a painting at the front of the room. She told us to study it for a few moments, and then write about it. This isn't a new trick, but it's an effective one.

I often find the writing that comes from exercises like these surprises me. Ever look back at something you wrote and thought, "Wow, I wrote that?" It's a cool feeling. Random prompts like this allow me to write outside of my comfort zone.

I've always loved photography and wanted to try my hand at it, though I never have. I recently began subscribing to Flickr streams for a regular dose of photographic inspiration. When I'm stuck for an idea, I check my Google Reader and see if any interesting images come up.

Try this. Find an image - a painting in a museum, or a coffee shop, a photograph on a stranger's wall - what's happening in there? What does it look like from the inside, what does it feel like? If there are people in the photo/painting, how did they get there? Where are they going?

Looking for inspiration without leaving the house? Pull out an old photo album, find a photograph. Describe what's happening in the picture. What happened right before that shot was snapped? Right after?

Here is a painting used as a writing prompt in that same workshop:

The Fog Warning, Winslow Homer

Write. Surprise yourself.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"If you haven't got an idea, start a story anyway."

"If you haven't got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you'll only have to throw away the first three pages."
William Campbell Gault

For writers, sometimes ideas come easy. Inspiration can come to us in the shower, on the drive home from work, while we're reading. Ideas can take form from something someone says in passing conversation, the lyrics in a song, the words printed on a sign. But sometimes, our creative outlets are tapped. When you're in a writing rut, nothing seems worth writing about.

It's times like those we must write anyway.Write just to see where it takes you - you may be surprised. Write outside your comfort zone, both literally and figuratively. Instead of writing at your desk or in your living room, move out to the back patio and take in the sights, sounds and smells. Take a notebook and write from a coffee shop or a park bench. Write about things you wouldn't normally write about. Eavesdrop on conversations and take notes. Changing your scenery and your writing routine can be a simple trick to inspire something new.

But what happens when you get to the fourth page, or the tenth, and you still don't have any ideas? We all have days when it seems no matter how much we write, or how hard we try, the writing just isn't there.

And that's okay. Not everything we write is publishable or close to perfect. Sometimes it's just practice.

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Inspiring Teen Writer

Today, I was inspired by a teen writer who I read about on the NaNoWriMo blog 

At only 17 years old, Linda Ge is a NaNoWriMo veteran (she has participated since the seventh grade and won four times) and a co-proprietor of Teens Writing for Teens. A great resource for young adults to find the support and inspiration to write.

Linda Ge

In light of some negative things we've been hearing in the news, it's refreshing to hear about teens like this!

She offers her writing advice on the NaNo blog here.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Making Time

"If you hear a voice within you say, 'You are not a painter,' then by all means paint...and that voice will be silenced." — Vincent Van Gogh

The same is true of writing, or any art. Being a writer, or a painter, requires constantly overcoming self-doubt.

In recent months, I've been in a creative drought. I haven't been writing. I haven't been journaling. I haven't read any good books. I haven't been blogging. I haven't been seeking inspiration for my writing by reading other writers' blogs or visiting photography websites. I have failed miserably at my goal to write everyday. I let my self-doubt get in the way. "I'm not a good writer." "I don't have time to read." "No one reads my blogs, what's the point?"

And so the daily routine took over. Instead of waking up early to write, I slept in. Rather than editing a short story on my lunch break, I played games on my phone. And where I used to read for a while before bed, I watched TV then went straight to sleep.

I've become disconnected. Disconnected from a part of myself that I can only set aside for so long before it catches up to me. It's a cycle that I've been through dozens of times before and one that I'm certain I'll experience, likely for the rest of my life.

I need a creative outlet. And while an afternoon with a good book might not seem like a priority, it's essential for someone like me. It's like food for my soul. And lately I've been feeding my soul a lot of junk food.

It seems there isn't much room for introspection these days. The world can be a harsh place for an artist, something Van Gogh new all too well. It makes me wonder how Van Gogh would do in today's world of twitter and reality TV.... There are so many distractions and things to be doing and to be done.

I will always be fighting the battle of making time for me, making time for writing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Open publication - Free publishing - More cancer

I was amazed to learn the many benefits of horseback riding. Therapeutic riding can impact a person’s physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being. The benefits of riding are seen across a wide range of disabilities from cerebal palsy, autism, down syndrome, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and attention deficit disorder to name a few.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Daily Writing - The Word

I am huge fan of Janet Fitch. Her novel, White Oleander is one of my favorite books of all time. I was thrilled when I found out she had a blog and even more excited to discover she posts her writing there from writing exercises.

Quite regularly, she posts short-short stories, as part of a semi-weekly series of short short stories base on a writing exercise, The Word. "Inspired by a simply word, chosen at random, write a two-page double-spaced story, using the Word at least once."

You can read Fitch's stories for inspiration and follow along with The Word prompts to write your own. Or, create your own prompt using a word that comes up in your day write from that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Daily Writing - A follow up to Writing Down the Bones

After (re)reading Writing Down the Bones I have been making an effort to write every day.
I keep a notebook with me and try to fit in ten minutes each day of free writing.

It can be trying to take the time for ourselves to write daily. There seems to not be much time or opportunity for inner-reflection in today's world, but I think it is critical not only for me as a writer but for me as a person to stop and slow down for a few minutes each day, to think, to write.

In my attempts at daily writing, several times I've found myself at a loss, wondering what do I write about? Natalie Goldberg offers several suggestions in her book and I wanted to highlight a few of them here for other writers looking for inspiration:

  • Read her chapter, "A list of Topics for Writing Practice." Goldberg dedicates an entire chapter to topics. A few include, "Begin with 'I remember...' and "What is your first memory?" She suggests creating your own list of topics to keep handy whenever you are in need of some quick inspiration.
  • Goldberg suggests getting together with friends and telling stories. She says, talk is the exercise ground for writing. "Make a list of the stories you have told over and over. That's a lot of writing to be done." Read her chapter on story circles.
  • "Whatever's in front of you." Write about your home town, the house you grew up in, the house you're living in now. Go out into the streets and write what is there.
  • Read her chapters, "Spontaneous Writing Booths" and "Writing Marathons." and "Blue Lipstick and a Cigarette Hanging out of your Mouth."
  • When in doubt, write about food. Goldberg says, "If you find you are having trouble writing and nothing seems real, just write about food. It is solid and is the one thing we all can remember about our day."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Writing Down the Bones - Natalie Goldberg

Whenever I face a writing roadblock, I turn to my bookshelf for help. This time, to try to overcome my self-doubt, I went to my bookshelf and pulled down Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. There are a lot of things I can share about this book, but I will focus on the things that were most helpful for me.

Goldberg emphasizes writing as a practice, one that we should live out daily. She attunes daily writing to a runner who warms up before a race: just as a runner must stretch and warm the muscles, the writer must stretch and warm up the voice. It's part of what Goldberg calls "composting." She says,  "Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories." Writing down our observations, thoughts and memories is what leads us to our poems our short stories, our settings, our characters. Not all of what we write will be good or useable but that's why its practice. Write about everything, write whatever moves you to put pen to paper. This is one bit of inspiration I am trying to incorporate into my writing life.

Another great takeaway from Writing Down the Bones is the importance of detail. Details breathe life into our stories. Goldberg says to be specific: "Give things the dignity of their names." Details bring us into the present, into the moment. Plus, she adds, "Tossing in the color of the sky at the right moment lets the piece breathe a little more." She goes on to say, "It is important to say the names of who we are, the places we have lived, and to write the details of our lives. ...We have lived; our moments are important. This is what it is to be a writer: to be the carrier of details that make up history, to care about the orange booths in the coffee shop in Owatonna."

The short chapters in Writing Down the Bones can be read sequentially or not, as they all stand alone so that you can open to any chapter and read it if you wish.

If you are feeling stuck, unsure of yourself or uninspired, open to any chapter that is of interest to you. You are sure to find inspiration within this book's pages.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"If I were cut out to be writer, writing wouldn't be so hard. It would just come naturally."

I wrote those words in my journal back in high school. At that time, I was struggling with writing and deciding what major to choose in college. I knew I loved writing, English was my best subject in school. But I wasn't sure if there was a career in it for me. (That's still to be determined.)
Back then, I think I had an image in my mind of a writer. I imagined all well-known or published authors must write full-time and couldn't fathom that a writer wouldn't be able to support himself on writing alone after having a book published. I imagined a writer might wake up at one's leisure each morning, sit down at the desk and write beautiful prose for a few hours, break for lunch, then effortlessly write some more. Each day would continue in the same manner until a novel was written and completed. At which point the writer would pop it into an envelope, send it to their agent then sit back and wait for inspiration to strike again.
I can look back now at those words in my journal and laugh. I now know that writing isn't easy. In fact, if you're not terrified of it at least part of the time then you're probably not doing it right.
In her book Writing Down the Bones, (more on that later) Natalie Goldberg says, "If every time you sat down, you expected something great, writing would always be a great disappointment. Plus that expectation would also keep you from writing."
Don't let the expectation of greatness stop you from writing. Not everything we write is going to be good enough for publication. All writers struggle. Even nobel prize winning and best selling writers doubt themselves. What separates writers from wanna-be writers, is that writers keep writing. Despite all their self-doubts, despite their busy lives pulling them to do everything but write.
Stephen King said, "Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position." So write anyway. Even if you feel like all you're doing is shoveling shit, shovel on.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sisters - Danielle Steel

A few months ago, I read my first Stephen King book. Danielle Steel, like Stephen King, can be found in any and every library, garage sale and bookstore - both new and used. She's written countless books since publishing her first in 1972, churning them out at the rate of several per year. According to Wikipedia she's the eighth best selling writer of all time, and is currently the bestselling author alive.

Of the dozens of books Danielle Steel has published, I'd never read any of her books. I think there's something to be learned from every book we read and I was curious to learn the secret to her success.  In a quest to read everything I can get my hands on, I decided next, I'd read Danielle Steel. I didn't realize what a challenge I was in for.

Going into it, I knew her books were characterized as formulaic with over-the-top characters. But I also knew Steel tackled tough topics and thought it'd be worth the read.

For starters, it took me a while to settle on a book I was willing to invest my time to read. After reading summaries and (terrible) reviews online, I finally settled on Sisters, a book about four sisters who come together to deal with a family tragedy.

With an open mind, I began reading hoping for a quick, entertaining read. The first thing I notice is that all of Danielle Steel's characters are flawless: "All the women in the family were knockouts." Reading about the traits of these perfect characters got tiring quickly. But after the sisters and their drastically different lives were laboriously summarized and introduced, and once I was able to keep the sisters straight- the constantly changing perspective made this somewhat difficult - I was interested in the plot and seeing where it would go next. So I plodded through, overlooking flat characters and dialogue. I felt, beneath all that, there was a good story.

But the more I came across bland descriptions - "The relationship was going really well." -  phrases that overstated the obvious - "The two sisters lived in totally different worlds." - and painful repetition: "But for the next year, they all had to be good sports and pitch in to help Annie make the transition to the enormous challenges facing her. Challenges that were huge." (Wow, you mean the challenges were both enormous and huge??) the harder it became to keep reading.

About halfway through the book, Steel's repetition became too much to bear. The final straw came when exact lines of dialogue were stated, then repeated only a few pages later. At first, I assumed it was a Kindle glitch. By the third and fourth time, I knew the mistake was not technological, but editorial. I was too frustrated to keep reading. That's when I put the book down and never picked it back up.

I was disappointed  - I hate to not finish a book. But I couldn't get past Steel's blatant disregard of the old adage in writing, "Don't tell, but show" to stay interested in the story. So my attempt to read Danielle Steel was unsuccessful. Perhaps I picked a bad book for my first Danielle Steel read. I've heard her earlier works are better, though I don't think I will ever take the time to find out.

My next quest will be to read some other modern well known authors, Dean Koontz, John Grisham and James Patterson.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Diane McCue, Eastman Kodak

A few weeks ago I met with Diane McCue, who worked her way up to become one of the highest ranking women at Eastman Kodak. Her leadership and her role in a male-dominated company are inspiring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What I'm (Not) Writing

Two months ago, I finished the first draft of my novel. After participating in a writing marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, my creative juices were drained. I needed a break from my novel and I needed a break from writing in general. I planned to pick up my novel in a few weeks to look at it with a fresh set of eyes.

I slept in. I watched prime time television again. I cleaned the house and spent time with friends I'd neglected in the month of November. I didn't write.

And I'm still not writing. I thought I'd take some time to free write and explore other ideas - I haven't done that either. The longer I've stayed away, the harder it is to bring myself back. Fear has set in. A voice in the back of my head started telling me, "Your novel's not really any good! And when you reread it you're going to realize what a terrible writer you really are!"

I've been afraid to look back at my work - afraid that I'll see it's not as good as I thought it was while I was writing it, that it's not cut out for publication. I'm afraid that I'll get the urge to rewrite the entire thing from start to finish (while that's not entirely a bad thing, I can never complete a story because I can't seem to stop rewriting!) I'm afraid that after years of trying to tell this story and developing these characters, I'll see that it's not worth pursuing any longer.

I have a fear of the unknown - I've never made it this far in the novel-writing process. I've never completed a draft and gotten to the down and dirty editing and rewriting phase. No more writing to see where it will take me, no more aimlessly exploring characters and writing scenes or lines of dialogue I know I'll cut later. Now every word counts.

I could lock my draft up in a drawer, never to be looked at again. I could let my fear get in the way of my dream of finishing a novel and potentially getting published. Or I could push through it, start revising and grow as a writer in the process.

Nike said it best: Just Do It.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Books for Writers: Stephen King's On Writing

I was told that, as a writer, I HAD to read Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
I heard time and time again that this was a must-read, that writers read this book like its their bible. But I had already found my writing bible (or Bibles I should say) Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird of course The Elements of Style.

Bear in mind this book is a memoir, so the first half of the book is about Stephen King's life: his childhood as a poor kid with a lot of health problems, and his struggles with alcoholism. While I enjoyed reading about how his first book, Carrie came to be published, I otherwise found this section of the memoir to be rather uninteresting and somewhat irrelevant though King says in the postscript, this section is his attempt to "show some of the incidents and life-situations which made me into the sort of writer I turned out to be." Fair enough I suppose.

The second half of On Writing is more of what I was looking for: reflections and advice on the craft on of writing. King offers a lot of technical writing advice, most notably: The adverb is not your friend. King says: "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs." King also gives advice about dialogue and avoiding the passive tense but he also admits, "You need only look back through some of my own fiction to know that I'm just another ordinary sinner."

My first time through his memoir, it made me feel like an inept writer, coming nowhere close to his daily goal of ten pages (that amounts to 2,000 words a day, 180,000 words over a three-month span, what he calls a goodish length for a book.) No wonder the guy has an entire shelf of books at any given bookstore or library. I found myself resenting his full-time writing life and his daily walks during stays at his summer house in Maine. Sometimes it just came across like writing isn't ever a struggle, that it comes so easily to him. (Maybe I need to go back and read Anne Lamott's chapter on jealousy...)

Perhaps this book will be more appreciated by Stephen King fans, looking to learn more about his life and behind the scenes writing. Still, while King's book on the craft isn't my favorite, he offers plenty of good advice and even includes a corrected story, a book list, and a writing assignment.

King reminds us what I believe to be the foundation for any writer: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wish List for 2012

Looking back on some of the books I read in 2011, I think I read across a variety of genres. I enjoy literary fiction but also read a lot of mainstream fiction and items off the bestsellers list. I like to mix in lighthearted and inspirational stories with some more serious reading. I also try to throw a classic or two in there for good measure.

I'm not sure how many books I average in a year, but I think I'd like to make it my goal to read at least two to three a month, an easily achievable goal which would bring me to 24-36 this year.

Here are a few books that are on my wish list to read this year:

War Horse - Michael Morpurgo

This will be the first book I read in 2012 - I've already downloaded it onto my Kindle. I've heard it's a great read. It's unique because the story is narrated by the horse, Joey, and I'm interested to see how that's done.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

I've heard lots of things about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, both good and bad. It comes to a point where I have to give in to the hype and check it out for myself. I'd like to give this book a try, and perhaps move on to read the other books in the series.

11/22/63 - Stephen King

While I'm not a Stephen King fan, this concept of this book intrigues me. A mix of fantasy and historical fiction, the main character travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon

Another book I've heard a lot about and would like to check out for myself.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer

I'm not going to lie, I didn't even know this was a book. I'd only seen the previews for the movie. But it sounds like a touching story. I've read a few reviews and it seems this book is better purchased as paperback due to the author's illustrations. So this is one I will not be getting on my Kindle.