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My 2016 Year in Books

Time for the annual year-end reading post!

I read 76 books total, about the same as last year.  I was not successful in surpassing 80 because of the smartphone.  27 books qualify for my diversity book project because they were written by someone non-white and/or non-straight.  That’s a lot better than 2015; fully one-third of what I read in 2016 fit into the diversity category. The different types (including some overlap) were: 13 memoir; 47 fiction; 18 other non-fiction; 4 young adult/middle grade; 19 historical fiction; 3 fantasy-science fiction; 6 that could be considered classics.  I read 46 books written by women authors, 28 by men, and 2 by transpersons.

Some themes I noticed were that I read several books about the trends in women remaining single, which makes sense since 2016 was the anniversary for me of five years of deliberately not dating.  (Dating again may be the topic of a future post!)  I backed way off of writing craft and creativity books, but I didn’t do much in the way of creative writing, either, so maybe regularly reading books about writing helps to keep me inspired to keep writing.

I can’t say that I have a single favorite book of 2016, but there were several that I really loved, with a quick synopsis of each:

  • Life After Life and A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson.  These are companion books; not quite sequels, but they have many of the same characters and same settings.  Life After Life is the story of Ursula, a young girl in Great Britain on the eve of the first world war.  It seems that she has many opportunities to get things right, from a Buddhist perspective, and the book goes back and forth in time.  It may be a little confusing to follow at first, but it’s lovely and heartbreaking and the characters stay with you for a long time.  A God in Ruins tells the story of Ursula’s brother Ted, a bomber pilot during World War II, and his family.  They are different books, but both satisfying in their own way.
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The story of an almost-spinster botanist scholar of mosses in the 1800s doesn’t seem like it would be that exciting, but Alma Whitaker got into my heart and stayed there.  Great historical detail, feminist story, spirituality infused throughout, including quite a bit of sex–this book has it all.  I absolutely loved it.
  • The Hummingbird by Stephen Kiernan.  Combine a hospice social worker with a Iraq war veteran-wounded husband and a disgraced terminally ill professor who seems to have researched a too-incredible story and you have The Hummingbird.  It’s fascinating and hopeful, even though you know that someone dies at the end.
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.   This is young adult romance, set in the 1980s, but it also deals with serious themes such as domestic violence, interracial romance, fat acceptance, and bullying.  It is so well-done!  I wanted the story to keep going, and so we can always hope for a sequel.  I’ve read some criticism that it contributes to the fetishization of Asian folks, so it’s not perfect, but I loved the fact that the main female character is a fat teenager and her size isn’t a primary part of the story line.  It’s who she is, and she finds love anyway.
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  Another young adult coming of age novel, along with a romance for the main character who doesn’t realize he’s falling in love with another boy.  I loved the dialogue and the fact that some of the story was told via letters from Dante to Ari.
  • Wonder, by P.J. Palacio.  Another young adult novel, read by my daughter in school. It’s the story of a boy with severe facial deformities who is starting 5th grade after being homeschooled his entire life.  Again, very well done and so glad to know that my daughter is reading this kind of book in school.
  • The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin.  These are the first two books of an unfinished trilogy, set in a possible-future earth that is plagued by frequent earthquakes and “seasons” where volcanic ash obscures the sun for a long time. But oragenes–persons born with the power to control the quakes–are feared, hated, and necessary for the future of humanity. It’s a fascinating look at oppressed people and systems of power.  I couldn’t put them down and am anxiously awaiting the final installment.
  • The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton.  A 14-year old boy comes of age in a small town in Kentucky affected by mountaintop removal mining, after witnessing a horrific accident that killed his 3-year old brother.  It sounds grim, but it is beautifully written and has a good ending.  It surprises you as you read it–you think it’s going to be a standard coming of age novel, but turns into quite a mystery-thriller. It has environmental, LGBT, and race relations themes, and a philosopher-grandfather whose every other word I wanted to write down.  Highly recommend.

I read a lot of African American classic nonfiction and fiction this year.  I don’t think I’ve completely processed my feelings about all that I’ve read, except that I am certain that we as a country have a lot more work to do to resolve our race issues.  I said it last year, and I’ll say it again.  If you are white, and read, and want to understand race in the United States, you have a duty to read as many books written by authors of color that you can.  Books written by white folks about people of color don’t count.  I cannot claim to know what it’s like to live as a black person in the United States.  But I learned a lot in 2016 from W.E.B. DuBois, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alice Walker, Mychal Denzel Smith, N.K. Jemisin, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Michelle Alexander, and Jesmyn Ward.  I encourage all of my white friends to do the same.

Goals for next year:  I’d like to read at least 80 books, at least one-third (27) meeting the diversity qualification. I’d like to maybe read fewer nonfiction, more memoir and writing/creativity books. I’d also like to do some more analysis of the portrayal of fat women in the fiction that I read, with the goal of reading more authors who portray fat women in a positive light.  So I will probably be keeping some kind of record of that, as well.  Happy New Year of Reading!

The 2016 list, in order of reading:

  1. The End of Men and the Rise of Women by Hanna Rosin (NF)
  2. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (F, BC)
  3. Towelhead, by Alicia Erian (F, Div)
  4. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard (NF)
  5. The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. DuBois (NF, Div, Classic)
  6. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (F, Hist)
  7. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith/ J.K. Rowling (F)
  8. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg (F, Div)
  9. Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He was Black, by Gregory Howard Williams (Mem, Div)
  10. My Brilliant Friend, by Elana Ferrante (F, Hist)
  11. Native Tongue, by Carl Hiassen (F)
  12. The Beautiful Struggle, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Mem, Div)
  13. The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold (F)
  14. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (F, Hist)
  15. The Birth House by Ami McCay (F, Hist, BC)
  16. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (F, Hist, Div)
  17. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr (NF)
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (F, Hist, Div)
  19. Big Magic: Creative Lving Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (NF)
  20. The Return of Simple by Langston Hughes (F, Div)
  21. The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling (Mem)
  22. Lit by Mary Karr (Mem)
  23. The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (F, BC)
  24. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (F, Hist)
  25. The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay (F, Hist, BC)
  26. Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything by Linus Larsson and Daniel Goldberg, translated by Jennifer Hawkins (NF)
  27. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston Mem, Div)
  28. The Signature of All Things  by Elizabeth Gilbert (F, Hist)
  29. Your Heart is a Muscle The Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa (F, Hist)
  30. The Story of a New Name, by Elana Ferrante (F, Hist)
  31. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, by Elana Ferrante (F, Hist)
  32. The Story of the Lost Child, by Elana Ferrante (F, Hist)
  33. Stop-Time by Frank Conroy (Mem)
  34. Boar Island by Nevada Barr (F)
  35. The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian (F)
  36. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (F, Div)
  37. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (NF, Div)
  38. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister (NF)
  39. The Hummingbird by Stephen Kiernan (F, BC)
  40. Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick (Mem, NF)
  41. Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America by Linda Hunt (NF)
  42. The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore (F, Div)
  43. A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein (Mem, Div)
  44. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (F, YA, Hist)
  45. Here if You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Braestrup (Mem)
  46. Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride (NF, Div)
  47. Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie (F, Hist, BC)
  48. Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker (NF, Mem)
  49. The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary (NF, Div)
  50. Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education by Mychal Denzel Smith (Mem, Div)
  51. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (F, YA, Div)
  52. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane (F)
  53. Native Son by Richard Wright (F, Div, Classic)
  54. Wonder by Raquel J. Palacio (F, YA, Div)
  55. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (F)
  56. James Baldwin: A Biography by David Leeming (NF)
  57. The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic by Ginger Strand (NF, BC)
  58. I am Malala  by Malala Yousafzi (Mem, Div)
  59. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (F, SF-Fantasy, Div)
  60. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (F, SF-Fantasy, Div)
  61. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (F, BC)
  62. The Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (F)
  63. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (F)
  64. Waiting  by Ha Jin (F, Hist, Div)
  65. Three Men in a Boat; to Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome (F, BC, Classic)
  66. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong (NF, Div)
  67. The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner (F, YA)
  68. Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett (NF)
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (F, Hist, Classic)
  70. Monastery of Writers by Abe Aamidor (F)
  71. Go Tell It On the Mountain  by James Baldwin (F, Div, Classic)
  72. Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner (Mem)
  73. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (F, Div, Classic)
  74. LaRose by Louise Erdrich (F, Hist, Div)
  75. The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton (F)
  76. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward (NF, Mem, Div)

My 2015 Year in Books

My reading goals for 2015 were to read more authors of color and LGBT authors, and to read 80 books total.   How did I do?

My total comes to 74 books, a little lower than the previous two years. I blame my smartphone, but all responsibility rests with me.  I’ve deleted Candy Crush saga and another time waster off of my phone now.

The breakdown by genre was 48 novels, 30 memoirs, and 6 nonfiction.  18 were young adult, and 16 I listened to as audiobooks.  12 could be considered historical fiction, and 10 could be considered science fiction/fantasy. One-third (25) were written by men and two-thirds  (48) by women.

Only 18 books qualify for my diversity project.  I’m disappointed, because that’s not many more than the 10 I read in 2014 without really trying.   I highly recommend, if you are white, and especially if you think you don’t understand the current issues surrounding race in this country, that you read as many books by people of color that you can. Read Between the World and Me, Twelve Years a Slave, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, if you do nothing else.   If you want to read science fiction, read anything by Octavia Butler.  If you want to read fiction about contemporary Africa and race relations in the US, read Americanah, and if you want to read fiction set at the time of Africa’s colonization, read Things Fall Apart.  I’m trying to get my daughter to read the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and I’d like to work my way through all of Maya Angelou’s memoirs. I still don’t know what it’s like to be a person of color, but I’m learning a little bit by bit as I read.

I read several books related to art this year, and I’d like to continue that.  Vermeer’s Daughter, by Barbara Shoup, is a lovely young adult book told from the perspective of one of Vermeer’s nine children, and I thoroughly enjoyed Johanna, a epistolary novel told in imagined journal entries and letters.  Later in the year, I was thrilled to be in the presence of Van Gogh’s iconic self-portrait at the Chicago Art Institute, and so grateful for Johanna Van Gogh’s persistence in preserving and promoting her brother-in-law’s art.  The Lady in Gold was also fascinating and taught me much about Gustav Klimt and pre-war Vienna. I have it on my to-see movie list now.

Do you want to read something contemporary?  Try Dietland or The Girl on the Train.

Something almost-but-not-quite-dystopian?  Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. It’s the story of a teenager displaced by a nuclear accident that may have been caused by her father.

My favorite historical fiction books this year were: How to Build a Girl (1990’s Great Britain, although I hate to consider something set in the early 1990’s historical), The Sandcastle Girls (pre-WWI Armenia), The Book Thief (WWII Germany), The Dream Lover (imagining of the life of writer George Sand) and The Light in the Ruins (WWII and 1950s Italy).  I’ve become quite the Chris Bohjalian fan.  I have several of his earlier books in my stack that I’ll need to get through in 2016.

As I was listening to audiobooks this year, I realized that the exposure to different accents done by the actors who read the books affected my thinking.  For example, after listening to The Book Thief, I wanted to call people “saumensch” or “saukell” and after listening to The Help, I was thinking in a southern accent.  There has to be some scientific explanation for this?  Any ideas?

I only read a couple of classics this year.  I believe I’d read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as a child or young teenager, but I didn’t remember much.  Re-reading it, I realized that I have adopted a lot of it into my worldview.

My favorite memoirs of the year were probably Riding the Bus with My Sister (The writer spends a couple of days each month for a year with her developmentally-disabled sister riding the buses with her.  The memoir goes back and forth from their childhood to the bus project.); High Tide in Tucson (This is more a book of essays than a true memoir, but my copy is covered with post-it flags.  I will read anything Kingsolver writes. Anything.); Between the World and Me (Coates writes this memoir/essay as a letter to his 15 year old son about how he has made sense of living in a black male body, and uses the American Dream as a powerful metaphor.)

What books surprised me this year?  The Martian–I read it early in the year–way before the movie was coming out, and was hooked from the first sentence; The Rosie Project–it’s a romance written from the perspective of a scientist with Asperger’s Syndrome, and I read it in one sitting; How to Build a Girl–you have to love a book with a fat teenager who unapologetically wanks, settles for looking smug (instead of bragging) when she loses her virginity, and doesn’t end up losing weight or in a relationship.

Which leads to my favorite book of the year, and the subject of a previous post, here.  Dietland. Subversive.  Refreshing.  Fills you with outrage.  Sarai Walker wrote the book I wish I had written.

Several books had been in my pile for years: The Help, Caged Bird, Lovely Bones, Devil in White City.   I should have moved them up in priority sooner–they were all well worth reading.

In chronological order, the 2015 list:

  1. The Pursuit of Happyness, by Chris Gardner (Div)
  2. Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup (Div, Audio, C)
  3. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer (BC)
  4. The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  5. TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann (BC)
  6. Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Div)
  7. So B. It, by Sarah Weeks (YA)
  8. The Martian, by Andy Weir
  9. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  10. Crazy Salad: Some Thoughts About Women, by Nora Ephron
  11. What the Dog Saw & Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell (BC)
  12. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith (C)
  13. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (C)
  14. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion (BC)
  15. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Div, YA)
  16. Skink: No Surrender, by Carl Hiassen (YA)
  17. Drown, by Junot Diaz (Div)
  18. Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiassen (Audio)
  19. Love Again: The Wisdom of Unexpected Romance by Eve Pell
  20. Until the Real Thing Comes Along, by Elizabeth Berg
  21. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian (BC, Audio)
  22. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu (Div)
  23. Riding the Bus with My Sister, by Rachel Simon
  24. The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg
  25. The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian (Audio)
  26. Born With Teeth: A Memoir, by Kate Mulgrew
  27. Dreams of Joy, by Lisa See (Div)
  28. First Frost, by Sarah Addison Allen
  29. Dietland, by Sarai Walker
  30. Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler (Div)
  31. Parable of the Talents, by Octavia Butler (Div)
  32. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak (YA, Audio)
  33. Twelve Views from the Distance, by Mutsuo Takahashi (Div)
  34. Vermeer’s Daughter, by Barbara Shoup
  35. Johanna: A Novel of the Van Gogh family, by Claire Cooperstein (BC)
  36. The Sixty-Eight Rooms, by Marianne Malone (Audio, YA)
  37. Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (Audio, YA)
  38. The Measure of a Man, by Sidney Poitier (Div)
  39. High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never, by Barbara Kingsolver
  40. Divergent, by Veronica Roth (YA)
  41. Living With a Wild God, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  42. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth (YA)
  43. Allegiant, by Veronica Roth (YA)
  44. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Audio, BC)
  45. Redefining Realness, by Janet Mock (Div)
  46. Four, by Veronica Roth (YA)
  47. Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food and Family, by Sasha Martin
  48. CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooks, and About to Snap? Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD, by Edward Hallowell
  49. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (Audio)
  50. A Song Flung Up to Heaven, by Maya Angelou (Audio, Div)
  51. A Year of Pleasures, by Elizabeth Berg
  52. Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood
  53. Yesterday’s Kin, by Nancy Kress
  54. How To Build a Girl, by Caitlyn Moran (BC)
  55. Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell (Audio)
  56. Reckless: My Life as a Pretender, by Chrissie Hynde (Audio)
  57. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Div)
  58. Little Pretty Things, by Lori Rader-Day
  59. Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliet (Audio)
  60. The Temple of My Familiar, by Alice Walker (Div)
  61. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (Div)
  62. Peace Meals: Candy-Wrapped Kalashnikovs and Other War Stories, by Anna Badkhen
  63. The Eight, by Katherine Neville (BC, Audio)
  64. Leaving Little Havana, by Cecelia Fernandez (Div)
  65. Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (Div, Audio)
  66. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larsen
  67. The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, by Alexander McCall Smith
  68. Happier at Home, by Gretchen Rubin
  69. The Look of Love, by Sarah Jio (BC)
  70. The Light in the Ruins, by Chris Bohjalian (Audio)
  71. The Lady in Gold, by Anne Marie O’Connor
  72. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe (Div)
  73. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman (YA, Audio)
  74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

Legend: BC=Read for the library book club; Div=Qualifies for my diversity project; YA=Young adult; C=Classic.

2014 Writing Project Done!

In May 2013, I was journaling religiously every day, and sporadically working on a book.  I wasn’t sure if it was going to be historical fiction based upon the life of my grandmother, or a memoir, or some combination of family history memoir and my own memoir.

I made the decision then that I would get the book done by the end of 2014.  Done.  I gave myself a year and a half.

Shortly after that decision, my job changed significantly, and eventually got a lot more stressful. I still enjoy it, but it takes up a lot more space in my head, that I had been using for writing.  A year-long search committee at my church also started then, which was extremely rewarding, but also took up tIme I had been using for writing.

In August 2013 my daughter and I both got smartphones.  Everything was at my fingertips!  Instead of my notebook being the first thing I touched when I woke up, it was now the phone.  And Facebook and Pinterest beckoned.

I stopped journaling daily, but I still made time occasionally to work on the book.  I had set that deadline, after all.  By the late fall, I realized that I had to make a schedule so that I had intermediate deadlines and could finish when I said that I would.  And it needed to be a memoir so that I could work out my own stuff before I tried a novel.

I changed the schedule multiple times, but I did it.

It’s January 1, 2015, and I have 246 double-spaced, typewritten pages of a memoir.  93,976 words.

It’s mostly a history of my relationships with boys and men, from my early crushes, to my marriage, divorce, and later boyfriends and fiance.  I online-dated, off and on, from 1999 to 2007. But I also went to college, taught high school, switched careers when I was 23, went to law school, switched careers again at 31, decided to and became a single mom by choice, and in quick succession in 2005 was fired from my job and diagnosed with breast cancer with a not-yet-two year old.

I’m going to take a few weeks off from thinking about my next steps with the memoir, and then I will print it out and see what happens with it next.  Stay tuned for my 2014 in books!

Writing Project 2014 Update

It’s September, and I’ve completely blown the plan to have a draft of what I’m calling my “relationship memoir” done by June 1. But I haven’t given up on the goal of getting a draft done by the end of 2014.  

At first, at the beginning of the year, I separated what is written into twelve chapters and made a schedule.  The schedule went out the window after doing three chapters.  Chapter 4 required a lot more writing to fill in the gaps.  Even though I started it in February, I didn’t finish it until August 10th. (No excuses, but my day job got exponentially busier, leaving a lot less room “in my head” for writing.  My kid also transitioned to middle school, and I’ve had difficulty resisting the siren song of my phone and social media, which require little brain power or effort beyond a swipe of my finger.)

So I re-worked the schedule, and added two chapters, making a total of fourteen.  In August, I had four chapters done and ten chapters left to do, and my goal with the new schedule is to be done by November 30, 2014.  I met my first deadline for the next-in-line chapter on August 24th.  Five of fourteen done!  My second deadline is tomorrow, September 7.  I have four big scene/topics to write, and I’ve started on the editing, so I still have a lot to do.

I still like the general process: Edit the pages I already have; list additional scenes; write additional scenes; type in edits.  I tend to get bogged down in the writing additional scenes. So many things come up when I’m looking at what I’ve already written.  It really is true that the first draft is just the scaffold that a writer uses to build the book, and as you go on, revising and writing, you are making a stronger and stronger structure.  

Enough here!  I could be writing those scenes I’m avoiding!

 

Writing Project 2014 Update

I’ve already blown the schedule I made for revising the memoir I’m working on. I’ve just finished edits to Chapter 3 today (a snow day), which I wanted to get done by January 19. I should already be done with edits to Chapter 4 by now.

But that’s OK. I’m still plugging along. I’m actually really happy with the process I’m using and the progress I’m making. I started with 13 pages, and I’ve revised it into 32 pages. I’ve added a lot of scenes and gone way back into my memories, finding insights along the way. I know that there is still a lot to do, but I can’t edit a blank page. Without reaching deep and bringing up what I remember, I wouldn’t get anywhere.

So I will keep going, without judgment. I actually took the laptop to my daughter’s basketball practice and edited while she played! No desktop or anything, just my lap and the bleachers. If that doesn’t show dedication to my writing, I’m not sure what does!

The new goal is to get back on schedule by February 23, when I’m supposed to have both Chapters 4 and 5 done.  They are currently 20 pages, which may morph into 40.

So on this snow day, I will do phases A and B for Chapter 4–which involve editing on paper and listing additional scenes.  I tend to get hung up on writing additional scenes, but I can’t even start writing them if I don’t know what they are supposed to be.  And then I have 2 1/2 weeks to do the rest.

My 2013 In Books

I’m running a little late this year for my annual book list, but here is the list of all of the books I read in 2013, in the general order I read them.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the analysis and reading goals for 2014!

  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  2. Old Friend From Far Away by Natalie Goldberg
  3. Defending Jacob by William Landay
  4. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
  5. The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  6. Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors
  7. Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag
  8. What We Have: One Family’s Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival, by Amy Boesky
  9. Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life by Elizabeth George
  10. Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate by Michael Henderson
  11. An American Tune by Barbara Shoup
  12. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  13. Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall
  14. Open Heart by Elie Wiesel
  15. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
  16. Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
  17. Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make this Country Work by Jeanne Marie Laskas
  18. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  19. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are–Your Guide to a WholeHearted Life by Brene Brown
  20. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  21. Missing Lucile: Memories of the Grandmother I Never Knew by Suzanne Berne
  22. When Memory Speaks: Exploring the Art of Autobiography by Jill Ker Conway
  23. At Home: A Short HIstory of Private Life by Bill Bryson
  24. Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck
  25. Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness by Robin Hemley
  26. Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing by Les Edgerton
  27. The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin
  28. Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg
  29. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
  30. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
  31. Empty Without You: The Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok edited by Roger Streitmatter
  32. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
  33. The Dread Disease: Cancer and Modern American Culture by James T. Patterson
  34. Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf
  35. Four Souls by Louise Erdrich
  36. Night by Elie Wiesel
  37. Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg
  38. Leaving a Trace: The Art of Transforming a Life Into Stories by Alexandra Johnson
  39. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
  40. The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne
  41. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by MIchael Chabon
  42. Goldberg Variations by Susan Isaacs
  43. Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention by Katherine Ellison
  44. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
  45. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
  46. Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream by Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra
  47. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  48. What Came First by Carol Snow
  49. Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating by Dan Slater
  50. The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson by Bryan Furuness
  51. The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
  52. The Faith Club: A Muslim, and Christian, and a Jew –Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Idilby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner
  53. The Lost Get-Back Boogie by James Lee Burke
  54. Devil’s Trill by Gerald Elias
  55. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  56. Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood by Naomi Wolf
  57. A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward edited by Isaac Metzker
  58. Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel
  59. Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression edited by ??????
  60. The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
  61. The Moonstone by Willkie Collins
  62. The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson
  63. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
  64. Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach for Raising Your Distracted Child by Edward Hallowell and Peter Jensen
  65. A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
  66. Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life, and Manifest Your Dreams by Sandy Grason
  67. Room by Emma Donoghue
  68. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  69. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine by Sue Monk Kidd
  70. Writing the Memoir by Judith Barrington
  71. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
  72. MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
  73. Carrie & Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Carol Burnett
  74. The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes
  75. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
  76. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
  77. A Playdate with Death by Ayelet Waldman
  78. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan
  79. Kindred by Octavia Butler
  80. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  81. Novelist’s Essential Guide to Creating Plot by J Madison Davis
  82. Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia by Mark Salzman
  83. Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg