In his fine book “On Writing”, author Stephen King admonishes those of us who are writers to READ. That never has been a problem for me. In fact, I love reading so much that it has sometimes emerged as one of my character defects. That said, I set the bar pretty high. I wanted to read 50 books in 2013, only managed 33. But what books!
We blasted out of the gate with “The Passage of Power” by Robert Caro, a book club read that covered Lyndon B. Johnson’s rise to the presidency. Johnson’s life was examined under a microscope–not always a great thing, but it certainly answered a lot of questions regarding his actions during that amazing segment in our history. (It was about a million pages and should probably count as two books, but I’m feeling a bit whiny today.)
Then there was another million pages with “I’m Your Man, The Life of Leonard Cohen” by Sylvie Simmons, a microscopic look at the life of Leonard Cohen. Coming of age during the 1960s, I find myself drawn to the accounts that capture these times, and our collective cultural dawning in New York’s Chelsea district as it took place in that era is remarkably captured here. Cohen himself embraced that era as it embraced him. What a story! (Another worthy account of those times is “Just Kids” by Patty Smith. If you haven’t read it, you are missing something.)
Elizabeth George and J.K. Rowling both released novels of epic size in “Just One Evil Act” and “The Cuckoo’s Calling”–mysteries I enjoyed tremendously. New mystery novels by Ellen Crosby, Sue Grafton, Craig Johnson, and Louise Penny were up to their usual standard. These authors never fail me. Other highlights included Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life”, which I was determined to hate and ended up loving, and Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”, which I really did hate, but it was a great book nonetheless.
Newer on the mystery writers scene are Harry Dolan, whose Ann Arbor-based sleuth David Loogan edits (of all things!) a mystery magazine; and Christobel Kent (once at this website, you’ll have to type in her name because the blasted link isn’t working), whose Sandro Cellini works out of Florence, Italy. These are tasty reads, my friends, featuring believable and engaging stories and detectives you will come to love.
However, in the end “Little Century” by Anna Keesey was the book that captured my heart in 2013. Call me a cowgirl, or an eastern Oregonian, or a hick, or what-you-will, this engaging tale encompasses the Wild West, Oregon history, and a resilient heroine who triumphs over adversity in a man’s world by virtue of her grit and honesty. I would love to see more from this author.
My goal for 2014? I will try again for 50 books. How about you? Let me know what you’re reading this year.