A fresh new year always finds me with a stack of new To-Be-Reads at my bedside table. Christmas, birthday and too many trips to the bookstore to buy gifts for other people and strangely coming out of the store with books for me, has me grappling with a stack of books that is now doubling as a tea cart. Is there anything wrong with buying new books for a new year when you still have old books from the old year that you haven’t read yet? I submit that there is not. If you care to differ, then differ at will. I don’t care.
Here’s my list of Can’t-Wait-To-Get-To-Them reads. First out of the starting gate is Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. And a very pretty cover, I might add. Can’t say that about all of my CWTGTT reads, as you will see. The book’s promotional synopsis says this: At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. I’m not usually a fan of ruthless, but when coupled by honesty, I usually bite. And Prize-winning books always beckon me. . .
I was swept away by Audrey Niffenneggar’s storytelling and clever concepts in The Time Traveler’s Wife and was anxious to read more by her. Her newest, Her Fearful Symmetry came out this fall and I bought it the day it hit shelves. But alas, I haven’t had the time to read it. I have moved it upward on the tea cart. And yes, this is one of the books whose cover I am not completely in love with. Kind of Halloweeny. But covers, of course, do not a book make. (But they do make good books look good from across a room. This one makes me want to eat little orange pumpkins and candy corn.) Reviews have been mixed on this one, nevertheless I am anxious to dive in, tree branches and all, and see what awaits.
I haven’t yet read anything by Maria de Los Santos, but Belong to Me came recommended and hey! I like the cover! The promo stuff says: Everyone has secrets. Some we keep to protect ourselves, others to protect those we love. A devoted city dweller, Cornelia Brown surprised herself when she was gripped by the sudden desire to head for an idyllic suburb. Though she knows she’s made the right move, she approaches her new life with trepidation and struggles to forge friendships. Cornelia’s mettle is quickly tested by judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt, the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she would find in suburbia. A saving grace soon appears in the form of Lake, and Cornelia develops an instant bond with this warm yet elusive woman. Sounds my kind of plot.
Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible has long been one of my favorite reads; not for its sunny plot – it’s a rather decidely sad book – but for the impressive and poignant storytelling from multiple points of view. So I was very happy to hear she had something new coming out, The Lacuna. To be perfectly honest, the cover is not that appealing to me. I am trying to like it, but I don’t. (I am sooooo glad I’ve an art department at WaterBrook that has produced amazingly stellar covers for me. Harvest House, too.). The promotional stuff says this: In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities. Sounds good, right? But here’s the sadness. The reviewers to date haven’t been impressed. Scares me a little. I haven’t actually read the reviews, just noticed the shortage of little gold stars. We shall see. . .
The Middle Place is the only non-fiction title in my January line-up. Written in memoir-style, The Middle Place is the literary journey of Kelly Corrigan through the labyrinth of breast cancer. Here’s the promo: For Kelly Corrigan, family is everything. At thirty-six, she had a marriage that worked, two funny, active kids, and a weekly newspaper column. But even as a thriving adult, Kelly still saw herself as the daughter of garrulous Irish-American charmer George Corrigan. She was living deep within what she calls the Middle Place—”that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap”—comfortably wedged between her adult duties and her parents’ care. But Kelly is abruptly shoved into coming-of-age when she finds a lump in her breast—and gets the diagnosis no one wants to hear. When George, too, learns that he has late-stage cancer, it is Kelly’s turn to take care of the man who had always taken care of her—and to show us a woman who finally takes the leap and grows up. On Amazon, I see that other people who have liked this book have also liked The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. That’s good enough for me. Way good enough.
And my mom loved it. . .
Lastly, I am so looking forward to reading Christa Parrish’s newest, Watch Over Me. Christa is a friend of mine and a brilliant writer. Her 2008 book, Home Another Way was a finalist alongside The Shape of Mercy last year for the Book of the Year for fiction. It was excellent. Christa writes real, relevant, redemptive stories that breathe a Christian world view without resorting to preachiness. My kind of book. And I very much love the cover on this one!
So there’s my winter 2010 line-up. Let the wild rumpus begin. . .