Friday, August 29, 2008


For most of my life, I was a book-a-day reader. I read voraciously and obsessively- everything I could get my hands on (I have the usual kid-reader stories of the librarian who made me give an oral report on the books I was returning because she didn't think I could possibly have read them all in the time allotted).

Then at age 37, after nine years of designing/writing/reviewing/illustrating for craft magazines, I started to write fiction. I realized almost instantly, that I could not write fiction and read it at the same time, so my reading output (input?) dropped drastically. I only read fiction when I was between my own manuscripts, or on a hiatus during a book (which happened frequently), or when I was procrastinating (which happened a lot more than frequently).

Life continued that way until 2001, when I lost my fiction publisher (the mystery series sort of just fizzled) and the mainstream novel I wrote (that I still think is my best work) didn't find a publisher. So I came back to craft writing, specifically knitting. Now, at age 55, I can read fiction and design knitting at the same time (well, not the *same* time, but you know what I mean), so my volume of books read should have jumped back to earlier levels. Unfortunately, a series of nasty health issues in my family a few years ago (a son diagnosed with cancer just weeks before his daughter was born, the deaths of my mother and two of my husband's brothers in a six week period) and two fantastic things, the births of our two wonderful granddaughters, also in a six week period, conspired to keep me away from books.

I just stopped wanting to read. For awhile, the rhythm of the needles was the only thing keeping me sane, but eventually the urge to read came back, though I have a feeling that it'll never rise to the levels of my youth. Most of the time, I'd rather knit.

But I still do read, and the blog header actually mentions books. And though I have no desire to write full reviews (being reviewed sort of takes the fun out of being snarky at another writer's expense- I don't have the urge to psychoanalyze anyone based on the stories they make up, any more), I realized that I never mention what I'm reading. These aren't reviews, just comments, on a few of the books I've read in the last year or so. I'll continue to post comment-lets as the spirit moves.

Three Bags Full, Leonie Swann ( ) I don't know that I truly buy the resolution of this mystery, but I absolutely loved spending time with this flock of sheep as they solved the death of their shepherd. Yep, the sheep are the detectives, and they're not cutsey talking sheep, they're actual sheep (who behaved exactly like the sheep we raised, except for the murder-solving part). I not only believed in each and every one of them, I hope there is a sequel in the works. This book is a translation, but it doesn't read like a translation.

Odd Hours, Dean Koontz ( ) I came to Dean Koontz late in the game (which means I'll never get caught up on his backlist- dude is seriously prolific, makes Stephen King look like a piker), but I judge all of his books on the Odd Thomas scale. I thought Odd Thomas was haunting and beautiful, and the best book I read in whatever year it was that I read it. Odd Hours ranks fairly high on the Odd Thomas scale, maybe a 7 out of 10. Nothing matches the original, but this one comes closer than Forever Odd and Brother Odd). Odd Thomas sees dead people, and that complicates his life. He's on the road, and finds himself drawn to an odd (not her name, just a description) pregnant girl, and complications ensue. I don't want to tell much about the plot because I don't want to spoil Odd Thomas if you haven't read it yet. If you plan to start this series (which I understand will have 7 books), start at the beginning, and then just read Forever Odd because you need to know the whole story. It picks up again after that. (btw- Koontz is famously against having his books made into movies, but I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be a perfect Odd).

Un Lun Dun, China Mieville ( ) My friend Ann recommended this book to me, and I'm so glad that she did. It's a deeply complex and weird story about two girls who are transported into an alternate London where machines are alive, evil rules (or at least tries to), and magic lives. It's a fascinating story, and though it's aimed at a YA audience, it's not an easy read (even for me, who's Y fled a long time ago). I loved it, and hope there will be a sequel.


Karen said...

I hear you, re. the not reading so much when you started writing, as well as the not really wanting to psychoanalyze other writers' work, having read some of the wonkier theories about my own. But nice to see some book talk making its way onto your page! I'll look forward to more....

Allison said...

Have you tried to publish your "mainstream" novel lately? Remember that many, many bestsellers were rejected numerous times...JK Rolling was rejected 12 times.

I'm rooting for your book, that it may well end up a national bestseller!

Linda said...

I'm also a knitter and reader (and also a big Koontz fan). I've read most of his stuff and HIGHLY recommend 2 of his older books - Watchers (especially if you love animals) and Lightening (an unusual love story).

Good luck with your future publishing endavors!

Lil Knitter said...

Before knitting came along...I spent a lot of time reading. Dean Koontz is a favorite...will have to check that book out.
Don't give up on your own book...if at first you don't succeed...

maxine said...

I totally fell in love with fiction again recently when I reas The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay. Let me know if you want to borrow my copy. Her use of language was inspiring.