Reading a Novel – Winter Break!

Dec 24 2012

Now that the kids are home for the winter break, not much writing is going to get done, so I’ve decided to use the time to read, read, read. After all, unlike writing, reading can be done in 10 minute snatches, and that’s the kind of leisure time I anticipate during the holidays if I’m to be a good mom and not let the kids veg out on TV the whole day. Plus, I figure it will be good for my plot to sit for a couple of weeks and see if any good bacteria grow.

Here is my reading list for the vacation -

On my Kindle: Discovering the Overdrive website where I can borrow ebooks from my local library has been one of the biggest thrills recently. The most recent titles are, of course, not available, but even a voracious reader like I have found several treasures.

- Gorky Park: I can’t believe I haven’t read this wickedly satirical police procedural by Martin Cruz Smith before. Set in post World War communist Soviet Union, the book’s take on corruption and petty power plays still feels fresh and relevant.

- Steve Jobs: The biography by Walter Isaacs has been lying unread for a while, but I think I will get to it while relaxing in Puerto Rico, where the family is going for a week next week.

- Oil on Water: This novel by Helon Habila is another literary murder mystery set in the Nigerian Delta (you can tell what my favorite genre is by now, can’t you?) Reading about an environment devastated by oil production is very sad and depressing, but the book is beautifully written. We know so little about the impact of modern colonization in Africa, a corporate colonization that is taking place with the complicity of native rulers, and this book is a real eye-opener.

- The Snowman: Jo Nesbo books ( thrillers again!) are surprisingly easily available on Overdrive. Harry Hole, his detective, is a recovering alcohlic with the kind of damaged life favored by Nordic writers.

- The Boy in the Suitcase: Another example of Nordic noir by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnette Friis… a new author for me, so I’m excited to find out how she compares to her peers.

- Shanghai Girls: Even though Lisa See’s books are all set in the Orient, the stories are amazingly different. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a charming story of friendship between two girls in nineteenth-century China; Peony in Love is a weird and weirdly entertaining ghost story set in the 17th century, and Shanghai Girls is about two sisters who come to America in the early years of the Depression. Of the three, I think I enjoyed Shanghai Girls the least, perhaps because some of the mystical and lyrical elements of See’s previous novels were missing here.

- 813: A tale of Arsene Lupin, gentleman thief, this classic my Maurice LeBlanc is one of the many free Kindle books available.

In my library bag: Despite having so many books on my Kindle, my greed always gets the better of me when I go to my local library. This time I decided to check out a couple of kidlit novels as well; jopefully, I’ll get some inspiration towards my own novel.

- Matched: This sci-fi YA novel by Ally Condie is the first of a trilogy that is sweeping the imagination of teen girls right now. I thought I would see what the fuss is all about.

- The Search for Wondla: Another sci-fi novel for middle graders, Tony DiTerlizzi’s creation is attention grabbing from the first paragraph – what a wonderful imagination. It is almost enough to give prospective writers the heebie-jeebies about the quality of their work.

- Beta: Random pick from the fantasy/sci-fi shelf at the library. This novel by Rachel Cohn is prompting me to consider setting my own fantasy novel in an alternate planet, so as not to get bogged down by reality.

- Death in August: A police procedural set in Florence by Marco Vichhi that I picked up because the font was nice and I liked the style of what I read while browsing

On my nightstand -

- A Murderous Procession: This book by Ariana Franklin is the little piece of gourmet chocolate that you save for a special day; I just love, love, love the Mistress of the Art of Death series about a female physician from Salerno who is forced to pretend to be the assistant of her servant to practice her skills during the reign of King Henry II.

- The Garlic Ballads: This depressing story about grinding poverty in the Chinese countryside is, perhaps, one of Nobel Laureate Mo Yan’s most readable books, but I cannot seem to get past the first few pages – it is so grim and unredemptive.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully, these books will inspire me rather than deter, and embolden, not discourage. Share your favorite reads of the holidays in the commenst and see you all in the New Year. Happy Holidays!

UPDATE: My friend and writer Jeanne Fredrisen has given me a (Drop)box of tips and pointers on writing kidlit. Also part of my reading list for the break. Thanks Jeanne!

 

4 thoughts on “Reading a Novel – Winter Break!

  1. Vidya Pradhan Post author

    Yup. Done with Shanghai Girls. About 70% into Gorky Park, which I am beginning to realize is a really long book (so hard to tell on the Kindle), impossible to speed read. Have started Ariana Franklin’s book in tandem, which is so engrossing that it will displace everything else.

  2. Jeanne Fredriksen

    The pleasure is all mine, Vidya :) It’s always fun to share with someone who understands.

    BTW, do you intend to read all of those books over winter break? Yahoo!

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