Anne Tyler – A Firm Favourite

I’ve mentioned that the goals for this year are going to be quiet ones, but something I’ve been thinking a lot about is what reading I’ll be doing this year. Every year I have the mad goal of reading 100 books and I never ever make it. This year it’s 50. I’m hoping that’s not too ambitious. It might be…

Anyway, I was thinking that I really should go back to my favourites a bit this year. I keep making the mistake of grabbing at what others are reading to keep myself more informed on the contemporary/popular stuff and it’s not really my style to do so.

This month I’m visiting with Anne Tyler. She’s been my book friend for almost 20 years now. I’ve got 17 of her books and there are quite a few I haven’t read yet.

Something I have realised about Anne Tyler is that SO MANY of her characters are Atypical. And of course, since discovering that I am Atypical myself, it seems mad that it took me so long to notice. As a younger reader and a writer, Anne Tyler, Nick Hornby, and John Irving introduced me to the most delicious characters and were collectively responsible for my obsession with multi-dimensional and interesting protagonists. That love has never left me and now as I grow to know myself better I understand why!

I know you’ll never read this, Anne, but I adore you. Macon Leary was the first character I ever fell (platonically) in love with. And more recently, Kate Battista stole my heart. Your mind babies are amazing! You showed me that we don’t have to create what we see around us but we can create those that consume us from the inside. And because of you I got to notice and find other amazing writers who were also writing about amazing unconventional characters so I got to fall even more in love with reading and become less uptight about writing. How incredibly freeing that is!

And now I get to dive into The Beginner’s Goodbye. I’ll admit I’m afraid. Probably I should find the tissues…

The Authenticity Project

I got this book from Penguin Random House last month and read it almost immediately. The Authenticity Project. Exactly my kind of book, I must admit. I was quite impressed when the agent I was chatting to recommended it because I had mentioned crime and magic realism as my genres. This is also my genre, but I’ve never quite managed to figure out what it’s called. Contemporary fiction? That surely covers a multitude of possibilities. So was it a fluke that she sent this to me, or do I give myself away in the tone of my correspondence? Who knows…

I actually finished this book weeks ago, and in between the bustle of current events, I’ve been mulling over it in my head. Books make me do that a lot, actually. Sometimes you can say “meh, I see the merit but it’s not for me” or “wow what a fantastic book” or “thanks but no thanks” or whatever. And then you move on. (more…)

Is it ok to cheat on your own goal a little?

I set myself a goal of reading a hundred books this year and so far it isn’t going that great. Granted it is actually going better than I expected (I don’t expect to meet the goal to be honest) and it is most definitely already going better than it did last year. Because yeah: I kind of set this goal for myself every year.

Anyway, I’m seven books behind if I want to meet my goal. I’ve only read five so far. But, I’m going away for a LONG weekend this weekend. It’s my momma’s 60th birthday and we’re leaving town to celebrate.

So I have devised a cunning plan! I’ve gone through my library of over a thousand books (nine hundred-ish of which I haven’t read yet – don’t judge) and I’ve pulled out all the skinniest reads I could find. Those are all coming with me this weekend. One day when I’m big I’ll read a hundred books of three hundred plus pages in a year.

For now while life is a silly kind of hectic…is it ok that I manipulate the odds?

Bookswap Heaven

I don’t do the bookswap thing. You know when you pop into a secondhand place and then they tell you “oh you can bring them back and swap for something else” — no. I don’t do this, ever. Instead I have a carefully and lovingly curated library that consists of a large number of books, all packed away in their various spaces waiting to be lovingly read. I don’t get to reading as much as I would like, but I find comfort in knowing they’re there. All that potential. All those beautiful spines.

The other day a friend of mine, Yolandi, was looking for folks to swap books with. And immediately I sort of thought oh no I don’t swap books but then I remembered a rather silly habit that I have: I buy books that I already have. Sometimes it is by accident, but most times it is because the book is super cheap and I think I might give it to someone else, or it has a better/different cover to the one I already have.

So I decided to give her one of my own books as well as swapping out a couple that I had doubles of in exchange for whatever it was that she had on offer. While I do already have quite a diverse array of books I must admit it’s quite exciting to consider diversifying my library even further with books loved by others instead of only books picked by me. I’m looking forward to digging in to her offerings, and am already starting to collect up my other duplicates with the idea of swapping out some more.

So if you’re looking to do some swapping, let me know.

Happy reading, folks!

Why I Chose to Read a Christian Book

I made an unorthodox choice last week: I accepted a Christian book to review from a friend of mine – JustEllaBella – who gets a lot of review books from Christian Art Media. She had some extra copies of some books that she got from them and was looking to bookclub-style share them with some friends. Normally I would have said no. I’m not much of a consumer of Christian media in general. I do like some Christian music, though, I suppose. But books? Yikes… Those seem quite a bit more serious, don’t they?

The thing is though: the description said something about the woman asking God to break both of her legs, and immediately I was like yeah chick I feel you. Weirdly, for someone who is feeling a little wobbly on the whole God thing these days, I kind of felt a little drawn to it (read into that what you will). And so I thought: let’s try. Because even if I’m not-so-much with the Jesus talk, I very much understand the mom-going-through-a-midlife-crisis talk. If you’ve been reading my personal blog at all you know that I am a bit of a disaster at the moment. Anyway, I am huge believer in the fact that we can all learn something from each other, even if our religious affiliations don’t necessarily match up.

And who knows? Maybe this lady (Chrystal Evans Hurst) will re-spark something in me. So far it’s working out. It’s one of those books that you can use in the morning to meditate a little. It asks questions that are probably good to answer and it feels like a sweet kind of self-care move.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Can I read 100 books in 2018?

Probably no. But I’m going to try anyway. Because I’ve kind of failed at it for the last 5 or so years (I’ve been trying to pull this off for a while) and I imagine that if I keep trying I might eventually get it right. Oh…and I suppose I should mention that I’m back to book blogging for the year. Or at least I hope to be. Of course a re-start is necessary so it will take a bit to time to put my site back together.

But I want to read this year. Because above everything else it is important to read if I want to write. And I really want to write. Even if it has to wait until life is a little less chaotic. That’s fine.

And of course: since I’m a bit fan of watching too much telly I can at least use this space to share a bit about all of that too, now can’t I? Of course I can… It’s my blog.