Tag: reading lists

reading lists

Ready to read… any suggestions?

TRACEE: I know, I know. Everyone’s TBR pile is a mile high – as is mine. Sometimes I need a nudge toward ‘clearing’ it. And…. I’m not adverse to reading something straight from the store before it hits the pile.  I’m packing for an Ocean voyage to be followed by a few months in Europe. This means I need to decide what to take to read (while I read in other languages, it’s not the same, so the main reading plan will involve English language books).   There are a few books that I haven’t read for one reason or another, including The Nightingale, although I’ve had a dozen people tell me it have to! While traveling I like to revisit old favorites – particularly handy in a travel emergency where you aren’t sure if you are going or staying and can’t quite concentrate. For this I may take Shogun. But it’s a toss up with Lonesome Dove.  If anyone wants to point me in the right direction this is the moment. Send me your reading favorites! SUSAN: Safe travels, Tracee! Seeing Lonesome Dove and Shogun makes me think of James Michener, and I wonder how he holds up. Also The Thorn Birds. I loved The Nightingale. I read it on a trip to England and I picked it up when we took off and was still reading it when we landed. Just an incredible book. I also like to read books about the country that I’m visiting, so when I went to India I read Vikram Seth’s book, Two Lives, which is a memoir that brings together an Indian love story and the Holocaust. I also find anything by Karin Slaughter grabs my attention. PAULA:When I travel, I like to take nonfiction and fiction. The nonfiction tends to be about writing or yoga or poetry, or, as in the case of te book I took along on my last trip, all three: The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life, by Natalie Goldberg. If you haven’t read Goldberg, start with Writing Down the Bones. It’s a classic.As for fiction: I have a lot of ebooks loaded on my iPad. If I’ll be on the road awhile, I start a new series and read them in order. I read Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels this way. They’re fabulous. I also take a Jack Reacher paperback with me. I’ve read all of Lee Childs’ Reacher novels, and collect them in most all formats: ebooks, paperback, and hardcover. I like to reread them for character and action–and because they are guaranteed to distract me from the annoyances and anxieties of travel. TRACEE: I can’t agree more about the Reacher novels. There’s something about them while traveling! ALEXIA: I bring paperback books (1 or 2) that I won’t mind leaving behind when I’m done with them. I think of it as gifting it to the next traveler. Agatha Christie and Rex Stout are travel favorites. I just read my first Brother Cadfael, and loved it, so he goes on the list. After that I choose something from my TBR pile that’s small enough to slip into a large purse/tote bag. Sometimes I leave my reading choice to fate–and Hudson Booksellers–and choose something from the airport. I actually found one of my all-time favorite books that way–Han Solo at Stars End.P.S. Don’t the Cunard ships have libraries?  ROBIN: I’m like Alexia, if I travel with physical books, I leave them behind in hotel rooms when I finish them. That’s where I tuck tips for hotel maids. The number of physical books I bring depends on where I’m going and why. If it’s business or city travel and the hotel room has a safe, I’ll bring my Kindle, too. If I’m going somewhere with a beach or pool, I leave the Kindle at home and bring only physical books. The number of books depends on the duration of the trip. I’m also a sucker for Hudson Booksellers so I leave room in carry-on luggage for last minute impulse purchases. Funny that Susan brought up Michener – I read Hawaiithe first time I went to Kauai. It didn’t occur to me until just now that I do that sometimes, read fiction relevant to where I’m going. I discovered Cara Black before one of my trips to Paris. I read Joe Finder’s The Fixer on a trip to Boston and then read Paranoia on my way home. Living near San Francisco, I read a bunch of local contemporary authors and several classics like Jack London, Dashiell Hammett, Jack Kerouac, and John Steinbeck. Tracee, my parents used to love cruise ships. They would pack one suitcase dedicated to carrying their books. Usually Cold War spy novels and history for my dad, biographies and rom-com’s for my mom. Have a great trip! MICHELE: One of my favorite things about traveling is deciding which books to pack. Honestly, forget clothes and cosmetics. It’s all about what I will read, how I will write. Books, notebooks, pens, post-its, and highlighters go in the bag first. But which books to bring depends on where I am going and for how long. When I go to St. John or Mexico in the winter, I’ll pack hardcovers, paperbacks, and my Kindle Paperwhite. Titles depend. I save books for occasions like trips. I will read the latest Elizabeth George when I’m on a longer trip because her books are quite lengthy. I started Donna Tart’s The Secret History after loving The Goldfinch, but quickly realized it was too intense to read in little gulps. Sometimes I pack something light and delicious for the plane/beach.  I have a quick trip to St. John coming up. I’ll be taking Paula’s A Borrowing of Bonesand Alison’s Blessed Be the Wickedwith me. When I return, I have to dig into The Dublinersfor a course I signed up for. Happy trails, Tracee. I envy your trip and all those books you’ll get to read. TRACEE: Love all of your suggestions. I should have mentioned the 8,000 volume library shipboard which will provide over two weeks of reading material. I won’t see a single airport, which means I won’t have the joy of the airport bookstore. Although that means I could lug around heavy suitcases for months without worrying about weight allowances, I have decided I’ll use my e-reader. That way I can have a huge assortment of old favorites and new selections available at all times!  ALISON: I love the idea of browsing a library while crossing the Atlantic by ship (Tracee, please send pictures!) and packing books for winter in St. John or Mexico (Michele, what a life!). Back in the pre-Kindle/pre-smart phone days, I always packed Austen and/or Bronte when I travelled because I just love the stories. The writing is beautiful, the characters delicious, and I could rely on relatively happy endings. Now that I can bring an almost infinite number of books with me on my Kindle app, I try to make sure I have a balance of a few books in the mystery/suspense genre (Robert Galbraith springs to mind, Elizabeth George always, Linda Castillo), fiction outside my comfort zone recommended by friends , and then some non-fiction simply because it interests me. Right now, I find my knowledge of Chinese history appallingly thin, so I’m going to find a good primer for my trip to Nashville next week. Happy reading, everyone! TRACEE: Thanks everyone! I’ve been taking notes and my final reading list is coming together! Now I need to remember to pack clothes.

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Book Clubs!

 Writers love books, right? Which must mean that writers love book clubs. After all, this means that people are coming together under the auspices of reading. Recently I’ve talked to several people about their book clubs – clubs of long standing, walking clubs, clubs that meet every month and those that meet four times a year. Clubs that are mainly social clubs and others that are for serious discussion only. The common theme – apart from the books – was that they are all women. This started my quest for a book club for men. Turns out it wasn’t hard to find. Not only did I find a few, I found one that struck me as very special. The Short Attention Span Book Club (SASBC) located in the community of San Luis Obispo, California. The founder, Will Jones, retired from a career in public education (high school English teacher, high school administrator, high school principal) and was interested in next steps. He first started a website called Everyday People where he posted poems he’d written and reviewed books and movies in a section called Short Attention Span reviews. From this the book club was born with the theme ‘short attention span books’ (300 pages or so). Since they started in February 2012, they’ve have only missed a few months and have read well over 50 books. Will sounds like a lot of my friends and acquaintances who are members of books clubs. He has a lot of interests, including traveling, writing and publishing poetry and writing monthly articles for a local magazine, and spending a lot of time outdoors as a backpacker, hiker and rock climber, but he says that the “SASBC has been the most rewarding activity of my retirement because it’s a shared experience with men my age and we talk about literature! Many of us are dealing with the challenges that come with aging, so even though we don’t dwell on those health issues, there’s always a level of support and understanding. We’re a tight group.” As an author I like books clubs because people are reading books, but my exchange with Will reminded me that books are about far more than reading. They are about connecting with people.   Will shared more details about the SASBC:   “We’ve had vibrant, rewarding email exchanges with three authors: Larry Watson (Montana 1948 and American Boy), William Giraldi (Hold the Dark), and Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins). Larry Watson acknowledged his debt to book clubs and wrote that our club name was the best he’d heard to that point. Two local authors, John Hampsey (Kaufman’s Hill) and Franz Wisner (Honeymoon with My Brother) have attended meetings to discuss their books. We attended a Q&A with Kevin Powers (The Yellow Birds) at Cuesta College, a local community college that had chosen The Yellow Birds as its book of the year. We all got to meet Kevin and have our copies signed by him. “I keep updating our list of possible books to read. I recently added several to the classics column that were written between 1910 and 1920 because one club member has a habit of asking which books we’re reading might still be well regarded in 100 years. “We are a relatively homogenous group: college educated professional seniors, most either fully or partly retired. We rotate houses for our meetings, which start at 7:00 and usually end by 9:00 or 9:15. We have a great time, but there’s very little idle chit chat. We spend a few minutes sharing “what’s up,” choosing future books to read, agreeing on date and location, and then we dive into our discussion. He included a two column list of books (attached below) they use as a resource for choosing which books to read. Books with an x next to them are books the SASBC has read (the final two are the next up in their rotation). A big hit recently was O Pioneers by Willa Cather and he notes that they will probably read the other two books in her prairie trilogy soon. This has made me curious about books clubs – what works and doesn’t work? What are people reading and why?     

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