Thank you all for joining me while I have talked about the many “Books I Saved for Mexico,” my annual 8-week retreat where I decompress and pretend I am retired while I read the books I want to savor. There are a few books left in the pile for me to enjoy during my final week, and of course, there is another TBR pile waiting for me back home. But, one can never have enough books waiting to be read. So I’m inviting you to suggest one title in the comment section you think I must read so I’ll have a healthy shopping list when I visit my local bookstore back on Cape Cod when I return. I’ll draw a name randomly from the comments and send you a copy of No Virgin Island and Permanent Sunset, from the Sabrina Salter series I write set in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. You’ll get to take a vicarious trip to the Caribbean and I’ll replenish my towering TBR pile. Now, that’s a win/win contest!
As much as I love fiction, occasionally I am lured by real stories. Isn’t that what feeds the fiction writer? Ideas from real life? Who knows what books would be sitting on the mystery shelves in stores if writers couldn’t binge on CNN and Dateline Mysteries. When I packed my suitcase with books I had saved for Mexico, my annual winter hiatus where I read endlessly under a palm tree and sip margaritas, I included a few nonfiction works I had been waiting to savor. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe is as compelling a murder mystery as any fictional one I have ever read. This reads nothing like some of the flat feeling true crime books I have read. This is a lyrical account of the brutal abduction and disappearance of a mother witnessed by her many children during The Troubles that brought me the same kind of chills I get reading Stephen King. Keefe is deft at creating a vivid backdrop to a story that spans decades, if not centuries, and manages a cast of hundreds, if not thousands. I often read a nonfiction book at the same […]
Okay, I’ll say it. I find many, more likely most thrillers boring. I know. I must surely be in the minority, but someone has to say it. Non-stop action with weaponry technologically impossible to imagine page after page is as monotonous as any repetition. It’s like having sex in every scene. Who cares? I said most thrillers because there are some fantastic exceptions. Books where writers have taken the time, however brief, to artfully engage the reader in the story in which the action takes place. Books where writers have captured the reader and facilitated an attachment with the character(s) so there is something/someone to care about during the wild ride ahead. One of my favorite thrillers is Harlan Coben’s Tell No One, one of his earliest novels and the one that landed him on the NY Times bestsellers list forever. During the first several pages we meet a young doctor, a pediatrician, who works in an urban setting and witnesses his patients falling prey to sociological problems beyond his medical talents. He is honest and sincere and has in his short time practicing medicine learned not to judge. We like him. We soon learn he has had his own […]
I’ll start by saying I love a traditional mystery, one that was called a “slow burn” by author Sarah Hilary on Twitter when she recently lamented, “Please can we bring back the slow burn for books, TV, film, etc. I feel this frantic push for thrills and twists is killing the art of involvement. And I really struggle to remember those kinds of stories/shows whereas the slow burners stay with me.” Amen to that, Sarah. I was surprised to see how many people engaged in the conversation and supported the slow burn, which I have also called the slow dance and the slow simmer. My husband and I are both insatiable readers but rarely do we like the same book. It’s almost by definition that if he likes a book, I won’t. The exceptions are when there is a traditional mystery so compelling, he can dispense with the plastic explosives, assault rifles, etc. that usually appear on page one of the books he reads and on every other page from thereon. People like different kinds of foods, hobbies, and clothes. Why wouldn’t people enjoy different kinds of books? But writers don’t just write books. They have to sell them to […]
“As I’ve gotten older, I’m more likely to stop reading a book I’m not enjoying, and take my time to truly savor every page of a book I am.” Tweeted by @jasonpinter 6:44PM 2/16/20 Funny, I was just thinking the same thing, Jason. Although I have a few years, if not decades on you, and it took me a lot longer to figure this out. I actually came to this conclusion because I love to travel and I love to read and when I can read leisurely while traveling, I have hit the jackpot. I found myself dividing my TBR (To Be Read) pile of books into two major categories. There are more, but I will spare you the subcategories. One pile is a mountain of books I want to read, but can be done in snippets that often end with the book on my nose after I’ve fallen asleep. The other is towering with books I want to devour, savor, and digest. I would accumulate the second pile until ready to take a trip. I’m more than willing to make wardrobe sacrifices in order to accommodate pounds of books. (I appreciate e-Readers, but nothing will ever replace a physical […]
Today is Boxing Day, the 26th of December, and the day after Christmas. The day when everyone is supposed to rush out and buy more stuff. The same stuff they were supposed to buy as Christmas gifts, only on sale now. The same stuff they were supposed to buy on Black Friday.
There was a time when I would awaken very early when it was still dark and very cold to rush to different stores where I could score huge discounts on Christmas wrappings and decorations to use the following year. I had a penchant for plaid wrapping paper, always too expensive and hard to find. It was part bargain hunting, but mostly sport, done with daughters and friends.
We’re all ready for our new Christmas Eve tradition tailored after the Icelandic Happy Jolabokafod, the Yule celebration that centers on a generous exchange of books. Treats accompany the gentle celebration that sends everyone off to a cozy bed to read their new books.
He chose the latest John Grisham and I picked the most recent Susan Isaacs novel. These are books by authors whose writing suits the simple elegance of this book feast.
How does a book lover celebrate Christmas? Writers typically avoid crowds, with the exception of an occasional writers’ conference, which can take months to recover from. Noise and throngs of people with dazed expressions filling malls are akin to fingernails on a blackboard. The earworm, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (and there are far worse), can implant an impossible case of writers’ block excisable only by a merciful turn of the calendar to a new year.
Michele My recent trip to Ireland taught me that what happened to my great-grandparents is far more relevant than I realized. It almost seems to me if there is a cumulative DNA factor that continues from generation to generation. (I’ve since learned from Alexia about “epigenetics.” It’s a good thing there’s a doctor in the Miss Demeanors’ house.)