2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Big List

After a little experimenting, I managed to export a complete list of my 2012 reads, including the titles on which I gave up. I track all of my books using Goodreads, my all-time favorite website. My 2012 total stands at 92 books completed — not close to my record of 112, but besting my 2011 total by 5 books. Frankly, I was surprised to find out I gave up on 6 books this year, but I’m getting better at letting go of books that just didn’t capture my interest.

All in all, it was a good book year for me, with a mix of old and new. I wish I would have had time to include some of 2012’s award-winners and critical faves, but there’s always 2013. I’m setting a 75-book goal for next year. How about you?

Title Author My Rating Average Rating Publisher Number of Pages Year Published Date Read Exclusive Shelf
Telegraph Avenue Michael Chabon 0 3.49 HarperCollins 465 2012 currently-reading
The Chaperone Laura Moriarty 0 3.86 Riverhead Hardcover 371 2012 currently-reading
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire   (Harry Potter, #4) J.K. Rowling 0 4.43 Scholastic Inc. 734 2002 currently-reading
The Flame Alphabet Ben Marcus 1 2.85 Knopf 289 2012 ######## i-gave-up
All The Pretty Horses CD: All The Pretty   Horses CD Cormac McCarthy 2 3.9 HarperAudio 10 2000 i-gave-up
The Next Best Thing Jennifer Weiner 0 3.29 Atria Books 400 2012 i-gave-up
Girl Land Caitlin Flanagan 0 2.74 Reagan Arthur Books 224 2012 i-gave-up
A Hologram for the King Dave Eggers 2 3.39 McSweeney’s 312 2012 ######## i-gave-up
Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen 0 4.03 Penguin Books 409 2003 i-gave-up
The World We Found: A Novel. Thrity Umrigar 4 3.73 Harper Perennial 2012 1/1/2012 read
Maine J. Courtney Sullivan 3 3.29 Knopf 388 2011 1/1/2012 read
The Paris Wife Paula McLain 2 3.72 Ballantine Books 314 2011 1/6/2012 read
Good Omens Terry Pratchett 3 4.27 HarperTorch 398 2006 ######## read
Anatomy of a Disappearance: A Novel Hisham Matar 5 3.48 The Dial Press 224 2011 ######## read
The Cat’s Table Michael Ondaatje 4 3.6 McLelland 269 2011 ######## read
The Dry Grass of August Anna Jean Mayhew 3 3.82 Kensington Books 289 2011 ######## read
Rules of Civility Amor Towles 5 4.02 Viking Adult 335 2011 ######## read
The Descendants: A Novel Kaui Hart Hemmings 4 3.81 Random House 247 2007 ######## read
The Kitchen House Kathleen Grissom 4 4.15 Touchstone 369 2010 2/2/2012 read
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Jonathan Safran Foer 5 4.01 Houghton Mifflin Company 326 2005 2/8/2012 read
Slouching Towards Bethlehem Joan Didion 5 4.26 Farrar Straus Giroux 238 1990 2/9/2012 read
Zeitoun Dave Eggers 4 4.14 McSweeney’s 342 2009 ######## read
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of   Magical Reading Nina Sankovitch 3 3.55 Harper 241 2011 ######## read
Running the Rift Naomi Benaron 4 4.03 Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 365 2012 ######## read
The Translation of the Bones: A Novel Francesca Kay 3 3.31 Scribner 240 2012 ######## read
Girl Reading Katie  Ward 2 3.42 Virago Press (UK) 342 2011 ######## read
Next to Love: A Novel Ellen Feldman 3 3.56 Spiegel & Grau 320 2012 3/2/2012 read
The Fault in Our Stars John Green 4 4.55 Dutton Books 313 2012 3/5/2012 read
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away Christie Watson 4 4.05 Other Press 448 2011 ######## read
The Flight of Gemma Hardy Margot Livesey 3 3.61 HarperCollins Publishers 447 2012 ######## read
Busy Monsters William Giraldi 3 3.31 W. W. Norton & Company 282 2011 ######## read
The Patron Saint of Liars Ann Patchett 3 3.68 Fourth Estate 352 2003 ######## read
Carry the One Carol Anshaw 3 3.19 Simon & Schuster 253 2012 ######## read
When I Was a Child I Read Books Marilynne Robinson 3 3.9 Farrar, Straus and Giroux 224 2012 4/4/2012 read
Horoscopes for the Dead Billy Collins 5 4 Random House 128 2011 4/7/2012 read
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats Jan-Philipp Sendker 4 4.02 Other Press 336 2012 4/9/2012 read
Unless: A Novel Carol Shields 5 3.57 Harper 224 2002 ######## read
The Land of Decoration Grace McCleen 4 3.67 Henry Holt and Co. 320 2012 ######## read
The Underside of Joy Seré Prince Halverson 3 3.84 Dutton Adult 307 2012 ######## read
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other   Stories Flannery O’Connor 4 4.27 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 252 1992 ######## read
The Healing Jonathan Odell 3 4.08 Nan A. Talese 352 2012 ######## read
A Land More Kind Than Home Wiley Cash 5 3.91 William Morrow 320 2012 ######## read
Girlchild: A Novel Tupelo Hassman 4 3.56 Farrar, Straus and Giroux 275 2012 5/6/2012 read
Home Toni Morrison 3 3.72 Alfred A. Knopf 160 2012 5/9/2012 read
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce 3 4.01 Random House 336 2012 ######## read
The Gilly Salt Sisters Tiffany Baker 3 3.36 Grand Central Publishing 370 2012 ######## read
Truth and Beauty Ann Patchett 4 3.88 Harper Perennial 257 2005 ######## read
The Flowers of War Geling Yan 3 3.49 Harvill Secker 250 2012 ######## read
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake Jenny Wingfield 4 4.17 Random House Trade Paperbacks 352 2012 6/1/2012 read
Stone Arabia Dana Spiotta 4 3.3 Scribner 235 2011 6/3/2012 read
Salvage the Bones Jesmyn Ward 4 3.78 Bloomsbury USA 261 2011 6/8/2012 read
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Aimee Bender 5 3.13 Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 304 2010 ######## read
Blue Asylum Kathy Hepinstall 4 3.62 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 271 2012 ######## read
Run Ann Patchett 4 3.46 Harper 304 2007 ######## read
The Snow Child Eowyn Ivey 3 3.97 Reagan Arthur Books 389 2012 ######## read
South of Superior Ellen Airgood 3 3.51 Riverhead Hardcover 384 2011 ######## read
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Tom Franklin 4 3.79 William Morrow 274 2010 ######## read
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn 5 4.01 Weidenfeld & Nicolson 419 2012 ######## read
Pigeon English Stephen Kelman 4 3.48 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 263 2011 7/5/2012 read
Office Girl Joe Meno 3 3.29 Akashic Books 295 2012 7/6/2012 read
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time   Indian Sherman Alexie 4 4.15 Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 230 2007 7/8/2012 read
The Madonnas of Leningrad Debra Dean 2 3.67 Harper Perennial 228 2007 ######## read
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone   (Harry Potter, #1) J.K. Rowling 4 4.34 Listening Library (Audio) 169 1999 ######## read
In One Person John Irving 3 3.58 Simon & Schuster 425 2012 ######## read
The Sandcastle Girls Chris Bohjalian 4 3.86 Doubleday 320 2012 ######## read
The Weight of All Things Sandra Benitez 4 3.92 Hyperion 256 2002 ######## read
The Sense of an Ending Julian Barnes 5 3.69 Jonathan Cape 150 2011 ######## read
Memory Wall Anthony Doerr 4 4.21 Scribner 256 2010 ######## read
This Is Where I Leave You Jonathan Tropper 4 3.9 Orion 352 2009 8/3/2012 read
The Magician’s Assistant Ann Patchett 3 3.6 8/8/2012 read
A Walk Across the Sun Corban Addison 4 4.17 SilverOak 371 2012 ######## read
Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art Christopher Moore 4 3.74 HarperCollins 403 2012 ######## read
Prodigal Summer Barbara Kingsolver 3 3.91 Harper Perennial 444 2001 ######## read
The Buddha in the Attic Julie Otsuka 3 3.57 Random House Audio 0 2011 ######## read
One Last Thing Before I Go Jonathan Tropper 4 3.79 Dutton Adult 324 2012 9/3/2012 read
Playing with Matches: A Novel Carolyn Wall 3 3.71 Bantam 320 2012 9/9/2012 read
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets   (Harry Potter, #2) J.K. Rowling 4 4.23 Listening Library 9 2001 ######## read
Songs Without Words Ann Packer 2 2.94 Random House Audio 0 2007 ######## read
One Amazing Thing Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 3 3.41 Hyperion 220 2010 ######## read
We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver 4 4.01 Harper Perennial 400 2006 ######## read
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag Alan Bradley 4 3.95 Random House 2010 ######## read
Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter 4 3.85 Harper 337 2012 ######## read
In the Shadow of the Banyan Vaddey Ratner 4 4.12 Simon & Schuster 322 2012 ######## read
The Weird Sisters Eleanor Brown 3 3.39 Penguin Audio 158 2011 ######## read
Where’d You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple 4 3.98 Little, Brown and Company 326 2012 ######## read
Astray Emma Donoghue 4 3.64 Little, Brown and Company 288 2012 ######## read
The Forgetting Tree Tatjana Soli 3 3.15 St. Martin’s Press 404 2012 ######## read
Fool Christopher Moore 4 3.93 HarperAudio 0 2009 ######## read
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) J.K. Rowling 4 4.43 Listening Library (Audio) 10 2000 ######## read
Gold Chris Cleave 4 3.7 Simon & Schuster 324 2012 ######## read
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Anna Quindlen 4 3.73 Random House 182 2012 ######## read
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky 4 4.14 MTV Books and Pocket Books 213 1999 ######## read
Tell the Wolves I’m Home Carol Rifka Brunt 5 4.21 Random House Publishing Group 355 2012 ######## read
Taft Ann Patchett 3 3.36 Harper Perennial 246 2003 ######## read
Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver 4 3.9 HarperCollins 436 2012 ######## read
Live by Night Dennis Lehane 4 3.87 HarperAudio 2012 ######## read
On Canaan’s Side Sebastian Barry 4 3.83 Faber and Faber 2011 ######## read
When it Happens to You Molly Ringwald 3 3.6 Harper Collins 256 2012 ######## read
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of   May Dodd Jim Fergus 4 3.83 St. Martin’s Griffin 420 1999 ######## read
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone   (Harry Potter, #1) J.K. Rowling 4 4.34 Scholastic Press 310 2003 read
Away Amy Bloom 0 3.31 Random House 240 2007 read

My 2012, A Year of Momentous Change

change aheadA year ago I could not have predicted the momentous changes in store for me in 2012, both personally and professionally. I was just kind of rolling along, balancing several jobs, taking care of our sons, finding time for family and reading. I had committed to reviewing all the books I read on Goodreads and was just dabbling in the wider world on blogging, via Tumblr.

For the past 13 years, I had always thought that I’d have time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life once my kids were “a little older.” I was so fortunate to have a built a good part-time job around my needs, working for Chicago Parent. But I was feeling restless, and seriously concerned about sending three boys into private high school in a few years.

Early in 2012, I met with a long-time friend in a more professional capacity. Patti is a former boss who years ago had made the decision to give up the 9-5 security and launch her own business, Go Girl Communications.  She connects mom-bloggers with businesses. And, seriously, I thought it was some kind of make-believe profession. Then we started to talk about this growing “social media” potential and I discovered how easy WordPress made it to combine words, books and pictures.

So in March 2012 I launched alenaslife, half-part a whim and half-part a plan to commit to writing as my professional future. I put myself “out there” and redoubled my efforts to pick up new assignments and make contacts outside my Chicago Parent world. I read other blogs, did research and talked to anyone who was willing to share their advice. I immersed myself in social media – WordPress, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest.  I could do this and still be a mom, I thought.

But 2012 had other designs.things will not stay

While searching for a summer camp for my sons, I happened upon a job opening in public relations at my alma mater. I had stayed only loosely connected to my high school, but the job description seemed so absolutely perfectly, that I took a chance and applied.

I got the job.

In July, I re-entered the world of full-time employment. The change to my life (my children’s and husband’s lives too) was immediate. I know I made the right choice, but it’s not easy to go from keeping my own schedule to having a starting and ending time to my job. We are all still adjusting.

On the positive side, I love the school for which I work and the people, now friends, I’ve come to know. But, timing is everything, and starting a new job meant I lost the traction I had with my blog and my writing. I quite simply do not have the time to read and write the way I would wish.

Meanwhile, I was still trying to spend as much time as possible with my father, who was suffering the debilitating effects of ALS. Since he lived almost an hour away, I couldn’t see him as much as I wanted, but I tried to be there for him, for his wife, for my brother, for me. He was so excited about my new job, about my growing sense of confidence in myself, in his grandsons.

Then, in September, too soon, he died. I am grateful he is no longer suffering; but I am still dealing with the knowledge that my dad is gone. Even if we went weeks without talking to each other, I always knew he was there. Now, he is not. It’s strange and sad.

things changeSo, here I am as 2012 draws to a close, wondering what changes I can expect in 2013. I know “change is good,” but I sincerely hope that 12 months from now I am not contemplating a life with a new job and a major personal loss.

I wish you all a peaceful and happy new year.

W…W…W…Wednesday

Wednesday is back again. Gee it feels like just a week ago when I was working on this particular Q & A. Feel free to play along. Just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? I just started Molly Ringwald‘s short story collection, When It Happens to You. It was a very impulsive choice when I saw it on the shelf at the library. I’ve only read the first story, but it’s pretty good so far. For my audio choice I needed an author whose name starts with “M” for a book group challenge. I was hoping for Kate Morton but couldn’t find anything, so I settled on Laura Moriarty‘s The Chaperone. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I’m pleased to listen to Elizabeth Montgomery reading the novel.

What did you recently finish reading? Over the weekend I finished Sebastian Barry‘s On Canaan’s Side, which is just a terrific novel. Thoughtful, intelligent and evocative.  Also finished Dennis Lehane‘s Live by Night on audio. Great escape into Prohibition era gangster-controlled Tampa.

What do you think you’ll read next? Now that I’ve met my 90-book goal for 2012, I feel like the pressure is off my reading choices. I haven’t put anything on hold, but I may try Telegraph Avenue next. I also want to read Stone Diaries since Carol Shields made my Best of 2012 reading list.

What are your W…W…W… titles?

My Favorite Books – 2012

I know. I know. Everyone and their brother has a “Best of” list at this time of year, but this tradition of mine predates blogging. This is just a more convenient way to share.

Readers should keep in mind that I don’t limit myself to books released in 2012. Although I try to keep up with what’s new and hot, I’m just as likely to pick up an unread classic or finally get around to reading something I’ve had on my list for months (or years). So you’ll find a mix of old and new.

And, I just couldn’t decide which book to cut from the list, so here you have my Top 11!

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeTell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is everything I love in a book – a thoughtful, socially awkward young narrator coming of age at a particularly dramatic historical moment. June Elbus is 14 years-old in 1986 when her beloved uncle dies of AIDS.  June is caught between childish games of imagination and the harsh realities of death, fear and discrimination. Struggling with the love-hate relationship between herself and her 16 year-old talented and popular sister, feeling orphaned by her busy-at-work parents and full of teenage self-loathing, she still comes across as tender and sympathetic. Read more…

Extremely LoudExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer

Brilliant. Devastating.  Can a book be described in two words? Probably not, but 2,000 will not be enough to convey the depth and intelligence of this masterpiece. Certainly, it’s a 9/11 book. The main storyline revolves around Oskar, a 9 year-old boy on a quest for closure after his father’s death on that horrible day. But the book is more than that. Read more…

book cover from Goodreads

book cover from Goodreads

A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash

Wiley Cash did not so much ease me into the disturbing world of his novel, as grip me by the throat and pull me along. Within the first few pages I knew to be very afraid of the charismatic, snake-handling, strong-arming Carson Chambliss. I knew someone had died. I knew children were involved. And I felt the heart-wrenching isolation of the people in this Appalachian community through the eyes of Adelaide, an elderly midwife. In fact, as the novel opens, Adelaide is about to step into Chambliss’ church and meet him face to face. Read more…

cover image from Goodreads

cover image from Goodreads

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I find it difficult to review this book without giving the whole thing away. Any spoilers would ruin this brilliantly crafted novel by literary “It Girl” Gillian Flynn. So let me say instead that Flynn has forced me to completely re-examine my belief that I’m not a fan of thrillers. What starts out as a straightforward premise – woman goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary; husband is primary suspect – twists and turns in so many directions that I was left guessing, often. Read more…

The Rules of CivilityRules of Civility by Amor Towles

I cannot possibly write a review that reflects the intelligence and sophistication of this book. Integrating art, photography and literature into his portrait of 1938 New York, Amor Towles also tells a great story about the choices made by one young woman — Kate/Katey/Katherine Kontent, and her friends. Kate is smart, funny, unpredictable and determined, all qualities that make a fine heroine. But she’s also imperfect, which makes her infinitely more interesting. Read more…

sense of an endingThe Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending is further proof that my favorite books are not those that are driven by plot, or even by character, but instead, are books whose language transports me. I don’t mean to imply that nothing happens or that I didn’t care about the characters, but they aren’t the critical elements in my 5 star rating for this book. What elevates Julian Barnes to 5 star status is the way he makes me think. Read more…

Cover image from Goodreads

Cover image from Goodreads

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

Raw.
To love Girlchild as much as I did, you have to be willing to understand “raw.” Several times while I was reading this book, my husband looked at my face and asked me what was wrong. (I was alternating between tears brimming over and horror leaving my mouth agape.) Rory Dawn suffers neglect, mistreatment and abuse at the hands of those trusted to care for her. Growing up in a Nevada trailer park outside Reno, Rory clings to her tattered copy of the Girl Scouts Handbook as the only set of rules that use “honor” and “obey” as positive edicts. Read more…

This is Where I leave youThis is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud, but this one did. It also made me blush, got me a little choked up at times, and introduced me to another author whose work I will actively seek. Forced to take part in a traditional Jewish 7-day shiva for his father, Judd Foxman ping-pongs between his hilariously dysfunctional siblings, his larger than life newly widowed mother, and the agony of his failed marriage. Read more…

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins defies easy categorization. A little bit mystery, a little romance, a little historical fiction, even a little Hollywood. Jess Walters does a fantastic job of blending all these components into something smart, entertaining and lovely. What I really loved is the way Walters carried me away to another world, another time. He puts me squarely inside the minds of his characters so that I’m on the journey with them. The characters themselves are the beautiful ruins of this novel. Read more…

unlessUnless by Carol Shields

Although Carol Shields’ novel has a tragic background, it doesn’t focus on a traditional story. Instead, we meet Reta Winters, whose 19 year-old daughter has chosen to sit on a busy corner in Toronto wearing a sign that reads only, “Goodness.”  Reta does not take dramatic action to retrieve her daughter. She does not yell or pull her hair. Instead, she thinks and she writes. This kind of passive first-person storytelling will not work for all readers, but I loved Reta from page one. Read more…

anatomy of a disappearanceAnatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

How does an author write about something/someone who no longer exists? In Matar’s case, with incredible beauty and delicacy. He words seem not so much written, as poured gently. Matar provides a touching story of a boy whose father disappears. We assume it’s a political kidnapping based on the few clues the author provides, but we don’t get all the answers — exactly Matar’s point. He wisely tells a story without depending on plot points. Read more…

Honorable Mentions: Sacre Bleu, Horoscopes for the Dead, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, The Fault in Our Stars, Zeitoun, Stone Arabia, The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Astray, One Last Thing Before I Go

A November Reading Wrap-Up

I did post an individual review of my favorite book in November (actually my favorite book I read this year), Tell the Wolves I’m Home, but I managed to complete quite a few more novels. Here’s a wrap-up of what I read in November.

Harry Potter Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (audio)

4 stars

My sons and I have been listening to the Jim Dale audio versions of the Harry Potter series and this one did not disappoint us. I love how Rowling tackles the trials and tribulations of a boy growing up. Of course Harry’s world is fantastic and dangerous and full of wizards and magic, but at its core, this entire series is a coming-of-age saga. The four of us experience the books each in our own way. That’s an achievement in itself – the fact that my sons want to sit in the car just to listen to more is astonishing.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

GoldGold by Chris Cleave

3.5 stars

I was so eager to read Cleave’s follow-up to Little Bee that it’s no wonder I was slightly disappointed. I loved the high stakes world of Olympic cyclists and I have to say that Cleave really understands how to write broken, wounded women, but I was never 100% invested in either of the protagonists. Gripping while it lasted, but didn’t stay with me long.

“Love wasn’t supposed to require the constant reassurance. But then again, love wasn’t supposed to sit watching its own reflection in a dead TV while temptation rode a blazing path to glory.”

LLots of Candlesots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (audio)

4 stars

Listening to Quindlen read her own essays was an easy pleasure. I admit there were moments when I felt “too young” to totally identify with her, but how can I complain about a book that makes me feel too young? Seriously though, I loved the prompt to think about where I am in my life — both what’s behind me and what’s ahead. Quindlen has a remarkable way of bringing me in tune with myself. There are no huge revelations of life-changers in this collection, just an interesting collection of thoughts from a very strong writer, woman and mother. I’m a little jealous.

“One of the useful things about age is realizing conventional wisdom is often simply inertia with a candy coating of conformity.”

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

4 stars

I almost feel bad about how much I liked this coming-of-age novel because it’s all so obvious and melodramatic, but I loved it. I fell right into this dysfunctional world of overwrought and seriously damaged teenagers and didn’t want to come out. Nothing subtle about Chbosky’s writing, but I didn’t expect anything else from YA. What he did successfully was capture that very particular moment in teenage-dom when you are both cynical and naïve.

“I guess what I’m saying is it all feels familiar. But it’s not mine to be familiar about. I just know another kid has felt this…all the books you’ve read have been read by other people. The songs you love have been heard by other people. The girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people. You know that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing “unity.””

taftTaft by Ann Patchett

3 stars

Definitely not my favorite Patchett. As I expected she sets an incredible scene (in this case Memphis) and gives the readers a multitude of interesting characters, both black and white, trying to balance life’s joys and challenges. There are peaks of drama and a whole lot of internal monologues. All typical Patchett stuff. But this story, this setting, these characters never really captured my interest. Looking back on the body of her fiction work, I can say that her books just keep getting better and better.

“As a state, Tennessee was nearly as screwed up as Texas, in that a man’s allegiance wasn’t to the whole state, just that little part he comes from. People got stuck in the mountains. But in Memphis there’s a river running through the middle of things. It takes people out, brings other ones in. That’s why mountain people kept to themselves and delta people make love in alleyways.”

 

Flight BehaviorFlight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

4 stars

Kingsolver returns to the citizens of rural Appalachia, which she writes so well. Still socially responsible (and even a little preachy at times) she still drew me in to Dellarobia’s world. From the very beginning with its description of a flame-haired woman ready to throw away her life for a moment of rapture, I was hooked. Dellarobia’s natural intelligence and wit, combined with her desire for something more out of life, was a winning combination. Add to that a thought-provoking treatment of the global warming crisis, and I had a winning book.

“…and understood that he had become himself, in the presence of his wife. With the sense of a great weight settling, she recognized marriage. Not the precarious risk she’d balanced for years against forbidden fruits, something easily lost in a brittle moment by flying away or jumping a train to ride off on someone else’s steam. She was not about to lose it. She’d never had it.”

W…W…W…Wednesday

When in blogging doubt, just play a game. It’s Wednesday everyone and since I’m trying to get back in the writing groove, I thought I’d bring back a favorite Q & A. Just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? Reading Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side, which may be contributing to my sluggish reading pace. It’s dense and wordy and thoughtful without much action — but it’s so, so good. I was a big fan of another of his novel’s The Secret Scripture and I think he’s just going to be one of those authors I can count on when I’m in the mood. Listening to another wordy writer, Dennis Lehane, on audio. Live by Night is a sort of continuation of The Given Day — mob meets immigration meets human rights meets film noir.

What did you recently finish reading? Last week I read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, which was pretty great. I also finished my Ann Patchett Project, reading the only one left on my personal list, Taft. I liked it, but didn’t love it. Glad I completed the project but I’m Patchetted out.

What do you think you’ll read next? I’m going to listen to something by Kate Morton next, to fulfill a challenge I’m attempting with my Goodreads book group. I’m open to suggestions, but may just choose from what’s available on the library shelf.

What are your W…W…W… titles?