Tag Archives: reading

2010 Reading List

Time for my annual brag-a-thon of the books I read in the past year. Nobody likely cares, but I find joy in keeping a running tally. Plus it’s fun to keep track of stuff on an annual basis (like when I turn on the heat—yes,  I’m weird).

This year was a mix of post-apocalyptic tales and some of my favorite authors. I tend to put off reading some of my favorite authors so I can save up their stories, but the result is never I read them. So this year I got around to reading a few from some of my favorites like Anne Lamott, Barbara Kingsolver and Frederick Buencher. I also dove more deeply into the post-apocalyptic genre, carrying over last year’s obsession and being spurned on by publishing my own story.

This year I think I managed to read more books than I have since 2002. I’ve found one way to read more is to have a stack of books on hand that I’m eager to read. That way when I finish one book I can dive right into the next book. Most of my reading droughts happen when I don’t dive into a new book right away. Oddly enough, I’ve had to turn to the library to keep that interesting stack of books (cuz the 1,500+ books in our personal library aren’t enough?!). Carrying a book with me wherever I go also helps me read more—I get my best reading done while waiting for the dogs to pee.

You can also check out my previous reading lists: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001.

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Reading a Chapter from My Book

There I am, sitting in my grandmother’s rocking chair reading the first chapter from my novel, Least of These. It’s kind of like attending an author reading at your favorite bookstore, except you can be in your house and I can be in my house and nobody pays  me to record audiobooks for a reason. But it’s still pretty cool.

Watch the video.

You can buy a copy from Amazon if you like. A few friends have also created e-versions from the free PDF (iPhone and ePub, I think), but I haven’t gotten around to posting them. If you’re clamoring for those, hit me up in the comments I’ll stop procrastinating.

And for the record, I noticed one error and a handful of corrections I wanted to make after reading the first chapter outloud four or five times. I told you it was a rough draft.

2009 Reading List

Every year I keep a list of the books I read and every year I post that list for kicks. I don’t know what anybody else gets out of it, but I enjoy it.

This is perhaps the third year in a row when I’ve gone on a sci-fi bender. That kick accounted for a full third of my list in the last month and a half of the year. I think it’s fair to say that I’m a big sci-fi fan and that sci-fi is perhaps single-handedly keeping me interested in reading. Which is odd, because I’ve never considered myself much of a genre reader. I’ve had pretty wide ranging tastes and usually enjoy general fiction. I don’t even own very many sci-fi books, probably fewer than a half-a-dozen that I can name (and we own a lot of books).

I also went on a little teen novel kick, thinking one of my novels might land in that genre (like I said, I’m not very genre aware). It’s a fun little genre, defined more by the characters and focus than anything, but also kind of a genre with an identity crisis (while they’re categorized ‘for teens,’ they’re perfectly capable novels for adults as well).

You can also check out my previous reading lists: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001.

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Pretentious Literary Snot

Sometimes I’m a pretentious literary snot. Unlike most debt-ridden, almost-newlywed, post college twenty-somethings, my wife and I have a library of nearly 800 books (and the number swells monthly). Now we justify it by picking up the books cheap at the used section of Barnes & Noble, where I balk at paying anything over $5 for a book. The 88-cent paperback table is my favorite gold mine.

But sometimes I think all these books make me a bit of a snot. I ride the bus to work and read quite a lot, and I take great pride in telling people how many books I read. Last year I read around 35, and this year I’m on a pace to break 50. I keep a list of the books I read each year, and every time I finish a book and need to select a new one from the shelves, I go over that list in my head and try to find a writer I haven’t read lately. I’d like to say I do this to have some literary diversity, to give myself a broad spectrum of influences, to hear voices from many different cultures, races, genders, societies and times. And that may be true, but I also like having an impressive list of authors I’ve read.

I’ve already read an Anne Lamott book this year, so I pass her up for Barbara Kingsolver, whom I haven’t read since last year. I’ve actually read a few Frederick Buechners, so I better stay away from him. I haven’t read Maya Angelou yet, and I should be able to say that I know why the caged bird sings. Apparently just knowing isn’t enough.

And all this week while reading Maya Angelou’s famous book I keep hoping people notice what book I’m reading. I want them to see this uppity, suburban white boy reading some black literature. I understand your pain. I feel the sting of racism and stand by you in solidarity. That’s what I think. But my actions betray me. Some relative will make a remark about coons and rather than speak my mind I stay silent. I may be seething, and will later consult with my other solidarity-minded relatives and quietly condemn the racist among us, but I never extinguish the hot spark of racism like I probably should. As I walk to my wife’s work in what some would call the wrong end of town I watch my back and pay more attention than I should to each passing car, each African American pedestrian.

I’m as sorry as the rest of them, and it makes me sad.

The other day I was contemplating writing a book about riding the bus and reading books, yet another of the book ideas that cross my mind and slowly slip away unwritten. But the idea of appearing a pompous literary ass who quotes books to sound important soured me.

I like to think I read books because I like to read, not because I want to be important. And I think the best evidence for that is the fact that I’m so quickly swept into the rhythmic plot of a book that I quickly forget to underline witty passages or pay attention to the arrangement of words and sentences the way most writers do. I just read and read, as fast as I can, barreling toward the end of the book to find out what happened.

And maybe that’s how it’s done: being so wrapped up in humanity and discovery and holiness that we don’t realize the passage we quoted is Shakespeare, or the man we befriended is black.