Sorry, I've Been Reading

You know those times that you crave hibernation?  When life keeps throwing curveball after curveball and you realize you have the option of stepping away from the plate for a while and saying, "screw it, I'm going to bed to read." That's where I've been for the past month. Reading. Mostly in bed. Sometimes on the couch. Occasionally while waiting somewhere for something or someone.

Before the holidays, we did our "oh my god, people are coming over" blitz-clean. Which usually means "where are we going to put all of these books?!?" (Answer: stacked behind the guest room door until I can get more shelves up). Actually, it lead to me culling some of my collection and boxing it up to take to the used bookstore. As I was rearranging and reshelving my books (with the aid of my lovely spouse), the question that was asked repeatedly was "Oh, have you read this?" And much to my embarrassment, about half of the time I'd noted that the book was on my 'to-read' list but that I'd not yet gotten to it. 

Overwhelmed with the amount of books I'd not yet read, I decided to do the math and figured out that if I read one book a week (or 50 - 52 books a year - I'm by no means a speed reader), it would still take me 11 years to finish reading all the books in my collection. Well, shit, I thought, I'd better get started.

This year for Christmas, we did not go overboard. We (both of us readers) gave each other one book, and we spent most of the day reading. Occasionally getting up to stretch our legs and gnosh on something. Over the course of that weekend, I finished one book then went to my shelves and pulled down another on my well-intentioned 'to-read' list. I had decided that I needed to read a minimum of 50 pages a night to keep myself on track. Over the next 3 weeks, I'd knocked out 6 books! Huzzah!

But as happens when I have a manic reading phase, my brain needs a respite - so for the past week, instead of reading my 50 pages a night, I've been playing Candy Crush.

For my own mental health, I've been staying away from the publisher Websites and book blogs - it's just too easy to get excited about the new batch of books coming out and start procuring titles to add to my 11-year-long to-read list. Instead, I've been shopping at home.

So far, this year, I've read:

he Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (Mulholland, April 2013) :: I  have to say J.K. Rowling has come a long way since the first Harry Potter book. She writes compelling and deeply flawed characters better than most. If you've not read her Comoran Strike series, I'd recommend it.

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (Mulholland, June 2014)::  2nd in the Cormoran Strike series and not a disappointment.

The Enchanted, Rene Denfeld (Harper, March 2014) :: This is Denfeld's debut novel. It's short in stature and in breadth (237 pages). The story centers on the people who live and work on death row. The narrator's perspective is that of someone who has keen observations while at the same time creating a reality that helps him cope with the turns his life has made. Partly poetic, somewhat resigned and at the same time hopeful. It's a good read.

The Door, Andy Marino (Scholastic, April 2014) :: Also a debut novel (I believe), it will most likely be a part of a YA fantasy series. Parts of it reminded me of Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey - in that we're thrust into an alternate universe where the rules are just different enough to feel both surreal and completely normal. This is another quick read and has an interesting take on death and the afterlife. The hero is a young (12 year old) girl, so would be good for that age range.

Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger (Atria, March 2013) :: This won Krueger an Anthony and Edgar award. It's part coming of age, part flash back (a la Stephen King's The Body), and part mystery. I enjoyed it thoroughly although it's not a book that is propelled by action. This is a great choice for anyone who loves character development. That said, most of the female characters tend to be less fleshed-out, but considering the narrator is a 13 year old boy, it's fitting with the story.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2009) :: Fun and quirky with an air of mystery and magic. Parts remind me a little of Christopher Moore (sans the sex) - but that might just be because it's set in San Francisco and celebrates the clash of cultures there. I highly enjoyed it.

Last night, tired of Candy Crush, I picked up one of the books on my bedside table, The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and started reading again. I got to page 37 before I had to put it down and go to sleep.

I try not to make a list of my to-read titles because it's just too overwhelming. I have a stack of books by the bed - about 10 high. When I'm done with one, I'll reach for another. Some, I will start to read and have to put down (I'm looking at you Girl in the Spider's Web), others I'll read little bits at a time (Spiral Jetta, Genius in the Design). Right now, the books in that stack include:

Oh, and not in the pile (as I've not acquired it yet) is my February book club selection: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.

So, that pretty much is my reading list through April 1st. I hope. Knock on wood.

What is on your reading list this winter?

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