Reading Lists

While I was visiting my friend, Chris, down in Tucson, I was admiring her late husband’s book collection. Selling beautifully bound “Great Book” collections used to be a thing–maybe it still is. I have my own collection of world fiction classics with leather binding, gold lettering, marbled end papers, and silk ribbons to mark your place. That got me to pondering what are the current best books to read.

I am a fan of nonfiction so I went looking for the ubiquitous lists that clog the internet. The Greatest Books gives you 1319 nonfiction titles, generated from 130 “best books” lists. That might keep you busy for a while, but if you are interested in more recent works, Book Riot gives you the top twenty nonfiction books of the past decade. Good Housekeeping has a list with a slight bias toward women’s and social issues. You obviously can pick and choose your focus based on the source of the list.

I get a lot of my ideas for books to read from the reviews in The Economist and other media sources. Whenever Retired Admiral James G. Stavridis is interviewed on NBC news, he has a book prominently displayed on a table behind him (he is often the author). The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea looked so interesting I got my hands on a copy. It’s obviously another book list and with a very particular emphasis.

One of the books I found on the Discovery weekly list of best nonfiction books was The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning¬†by Maggie Nelson. This book seems to address the very issues I was writing about in my last blog post, Killing the Dog. I have it on reserve at the library now and can’t wait to read it.

I was surprised, and perhaps shouldn’t have been, at the number of these books I have read. I just might be better informed and well read than I thought. But there are a great many I have yet to read. These reading lists should keep me occupied all through the summer, deep into the winter, and well beyond. Great adventures lie ahead, and I am eager and ready to begin.

Image: Where the books live, Kansas City Public Library, Waldo Branch. By Marilyn Evans.

Happy Birthday!

My blog is now a year old! I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, and I hope my faithful readers have, too. I’ve posted 37 times (this will be 38), about three per month. That doesn’t hold a candle to Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog or the always wonderful Sandra Boynton’s daily output on Facebook, but for a rank amateur, I’d say not bad.

Blogging is far more satisfying for me than, say Twitter. I have never gotten to love Twitter as some people have. I appreciate it, but it’s just not my medium. I need to be able to ramble more than you can in a few letters. That’s probably why short stories, especially flash fiction, are not so much in my wheel house as long fiction, at least according to my rejection letters.

My beloved spouse has tried on occasion to convince me to write nonfiction, and I have from time to time. I’m not so very bad at it, but, as they say, been there, done that. Time to learn something new. In truth, there are some nonfiction projects I’d like to take on, but I feel I owe it to the novels who have been waiting patiently in the wings to finally give them their chance. They may flop spectacularly, but I’ll write them down and let them fend for themselves.

The hardest part of writing for me so far is the book promotion. I love people, and I love talking about my books and the writing process, but selling myself is hard for me. I am much more shy than anyone would guess upon first making my acquaintance. I can bluff pretty well, but I’d rather not say to a total stranger, “You really must read my fantastic book! It will change your life! You will see angels! Puppies and kittens will flock to the shelter of your enlightened mind!” It smacks too much of religious proselytizing and Amway salesmanship. Still, it is part of the process, so I must grit my teeth and have at it, at least to some extent.

I doubt that I will ever “make it big” in the writing game, but the past year has been a great joy for me. Today, I will again do as I did one year ago, brace for the cold and snow, fire up the tea kettle, snuggle down with cats, and write.

I thanks to each and every person who has read anything I’ve ever written. I hope you’ll enjoy what comes next.

Image: January 2019 snow. By Jonathan Hutchins.