There’s a lot happening here this spring. A possible house purchase (fingers crossed because this one has a gorgeous garden), another trip out east to help my father, slow and steady progress on my current YA novel and plans in the works for another Laura Tobias title.
My head is so full with ‘to do’ lists and changing circumstances that I’ve found myself yearning for consistency: writers who deliver with good writing, excellent stories and a happy ending. The books I’m reading this month have given me all three:
At the gym: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
Beside the pond (and by pond I currently mean ocean): Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber
Before bed: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Books read to date in 2019: 17
It’s a new year, a new windowsill, and a new stack of books. We’ve unpacked and settled in, at least for the short term, to our temporary cottage with a view. It’s quiet here, and much more off the beaten track than I’m used to. Someone asked me the other day if the setting is inspiring my writing. I can’t say it is yet. We’ve only been here a few weeks, we’ve had days of heavy fog and my office is in a nearly windowless back room. I’m optimistic, however, that once I remember to crawl out of my cave occasionally and enjoy the stunning view, my writing will benefit. In the meantime, because I’m not popping out in the evening like I did when I lived in the city, I have more time to read.
Here’s what I’m reading this month:
At the gym: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Before bed: Waking Up in Winter by Cheryl Richardson
On the weekend: Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins
Books read to date in 2019: 5
The sweet peas are blooming though they’re a little confused. They don’t know whether to produce long, sturdy stems with deliciously scented blooms or short, stumpy little wisps with rather ambivalent flowers. I blame it on the weather. It was hot for a while but then it cooled off. As I write this, we’re in for a few days of rain. I’m not bothered. Sweet peas love cool, moist weather; the rain keeps the forest fire threat low; and an indoor day or two means more time to curl up with a book.
Here’s what I’m reading this month:
At the gym: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
On the Kindle: Anything for You by Kristan Higgins
Beside the Pond: A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold
Books read to date in 2016: 40
As I write this, change is in the air. A late summer storm is knocking out power and bringing down trees, a reminder that even though it’s only the beginning of September, fall is on the way. The leaves on some of the trees are turning yellow and dropping early too. The hot, dry summer has stressed them; they don’t have the energy to hang on until the first frost. In the garden, the tomatoes are ripening at a frightening speed, the basil peaked weeks ago, and the raccoons wiped me out of figs a month before the fruit usually ripens.
Things are a little different inside the house this September too. After more than twenty years of having my office in the basement, I’m moving upstairs. Originally I chose the downstairs space so I’d have some privacy and a separate space when my kids were young. Now, Teen Freud wants the distance and he’d like to ‘relocate’ to what’s essentially a downstairs suite. While it makes good sense on a pile of levels, I have mixed feelings. I’m sad because my basement office is a cozy spot with a window seat full of pillows I love, funky purple trim on the walls, and a view of the garden. I’ve written over 20 books there! But I’m excited to paint and decorate a new space even if it won’t have my beloved window seat. I’ve been reading my stash of Feng Shui books to remind myself about the Chinese art of placement. And when I’m not reading up on placement tips, I’m dipping into these books:
On the Kindle: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
At the Gym: The Residence: Inside the World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower
Before Bed: The Sweetness of a Simple Life by Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Books read to date in 2015: 59
Over the last week, I’ve been writing material for a series of guest blogs that will upload to various sites throughout the month of September, coinciding with the release of The Art of Getting Stared At. (I’m grateful to the bloggers for hosting me and when I get blog dates, I’ll share them.) A number of questions focused on the book itself but others were more general. Several people wanted to know my favorite book as a child.
That was a tough question to answer. I read early and voraciously, and my tastes changed as rapidly as I grew. I didn’t have just one favorite book. I had a series of favorites. But as I gave the question some thought, it occurred to me that my natural inclinations were obvious early on.
For the most part, even as a kid I gravitated to two types of books: contemporary stories that dealt with serious issues or over-the-top glamor romps. A close third was mysteries. I was a loyal Nancy Drew fan.
By the time I was 11, I’d fallen in love with a series of Sue Barton nurse books. She had red hair (how glamorous) and helped save lives (how meaningful). Though it was toned down somewhat, there was gritty realism in those books. There was also realism in With Love From Karen about a young girl with cerebral palsy, and in a novel called Mrs. Mike about a 16-year-old Boston girl who moves to the Canadian wilderness, falls in love with a Mountie and copes with extreme hardship. At the same time, I escaped with a series of books about Donna Parker who visited relatives in Hollywood, traveled overseas, and talked a lot about clothes.
The serious/light split continued into my teens as I went through an Ann Rand phase, took up with depressing Russian novelists (Anna Karenina was a favorite) and scared myself silly with Sybil. At the same time, I devoured the rags to riches story of A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Once is Not Enough by Jacqueline Susann and any Sidney Sheldon book I could find.
Maybe that’s why when people ask me to name a favorite book or favorite author I’m as likely to say Jodi Picoult as I am Jennifer Crusie. Or maybe Jojo Moyes or Kristan Higgins. It depends on the day. It depends on my mood. It just . . . well . . . depends.
And don’t ask me to name my favorite food either. That’s another impossibility.
Happy Easter everybody! It’s been a busy few weeks: getting taxes ready to file, pruning the fruit trees, turning garden beds. Along with garden and tax chores, I just finished up page proofs for The Art of Getting Stared At, and I submitted a partial book proposal to Orca for another in their Limelights series. They got back to me very quickly – in two days! – with a yes, we’d love to buy it. That’s the kind of thing a writer likes to hear!
On the down side, all the activity hasn’t left much time for reading. I’ve averaged about a book a week which is on the low side for me. But with Easter almost here, my sweetie and I are sneaking away for a few days. That means no taxes, no garden chores, no writing deadlines. Instead there will be books. Lots and lots of books.
Here’s what I’m reading right now:
On the Kindle: Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins
In My Bag: The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal
Beside The Bed: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Books Read to Date in 2014: 27
Actually, it was a bookish Christmas at our house. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. I tend to give – and receive – books for Christmas. I scored big-time this year with new titles by Kristan Higgins, Lisa Gardner, Jodi Picoult, and Anne Lamott. Once Christmas was over (and it was a doozy this year with two very sick dogs,though they were well enough to watch out the window as the company left), I settled in to read. It occurred to me that I should set myself an annual reading goal – say two books a week, which is an easy target for me. Ultimately I decided against it. I’m stretching myself with some extra writing goals this year. Reading is my reward; I don’t want to turn it into a ‘should.’ Having said that, I am going to track the number of books I read over the next twelve months. I’m curious to see if I read as much as I think I do. Here’s what I’m reading right now:
At the Gym:
The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom
Beside the Bed:
The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins
On the Kindle:
Man For Grace by EC Sheedy
Books read to date 2014: 4
This week I planned to take my Kindle and run away. I figured every new relationship needs a little alone time. That it’s important to find out how you travel together. How you collectively handle stress. Like do arguments flare if there’s no shade at noon or if the bar runs out of tequila, that kind of thing? I planned to sacrifice a week of my time, pull myself off the couch and take my Kindle to sunnier climes. I figured our fledging relationship needed the test.
Instead my Kindle has to wait for its first plane ride. My mother-in-law had emergency surgery this week. My nurse friend, Julia, called it a ‘big surgery’ – something that’s serious at any age, but especially when you’re 88. So we’ll be staying close to home for a while.
Weeks ago, I loaded my Kindle with some light, perfect-for-the-beach reading material. I may not be beach bound, but light is good, especially when life feels heavy. So here’s what I’m reading this month:
Books on the Kindle for the (postponed) trip:
Do or Di by Eileen Cook
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
The Lear Sisters Trilogy by Julia London
Books beside the bed (when I’m ready for something weightier):
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Miracles Happen by Brian Weiss