Friday, July 11, 2008

Making a Literary Life: TBR

Is your to-be-read pile higher than your laundry pile? More daunting than that stack of bills threatening to collapse? Taller than the weeds dotting your garden? Well, friends, welcome to the Writers' Group where we feel your pain -- or really, delight. Instead of being intimidated by it, revel in the anticipation of what's waiting for you. Shuffle it around, tease out a few, and share what's on your nightstand. We love hearing about a good book.

Lisa Marnell
I'm hooked, as a person should be when immersed in a good series. I finished Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, and Pretties waits for me ... but not yet. I need to focus, at present. Much of my spare time is spent working on my WIP; I want a draft by August. But Pretties waits for me. Scott writes a good story, a very fun read.

Amy MacKinnon
Right now I'm reading Loved Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. After readings Lynne's fabulous interview last week, I ran right out and bought it. Once I finished that first chapter, I knew I'd buy Belong to Me as well. Add it to the TBR pile. Then there's The Shack by William P. Young. Did you read how Mr. Young came to have the #1 NYT trade paperback bestseller -- with his self-published novel? I thought it was probably hype, good organizing among a religious organization, but after reading a few pages, I recognize a fantastic read. Expect Oprah's call. Finally, a woman I met at Grub's Muse & the Marketplace, book publicist Megan Kelley Hall , was featured in yesterday's USA Today. Congratulations, Megan! Her book is already a hot summer read and it won't even be released until July 29! Sisters of Misery has a gorgeous cover and an all too familiar hook (if you're a woman or girl). Reading the description brought me right back to seventh grade when Jackie Kelly threatened to pummel me because we both liked Tim Madden...This is one I can read and share with my daughters. So looking forward to it.

Hannah Roveto
Of late my BR (Being Read) pile overlaps with the TBR pile; yours, too? I've been reading Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, skipping from the gorgeous title story to the third story, and yet was distracted in rereading sections of Carolyn See's Making a Literary Life. The book has new resonance, and I have been chortling at passages, reading them aloud to my husband, who smiles that smile, debating the value of figuring out what I find so vastly amusing. I've never read Rose Tremain's The Way I Found Her, which See recommends, and I am off to the library today anyway, although I do need to renew Dara Horn's The World To Come...

Lynne Griffin
This is a timely post since yesterday my daughter and I went to a bookstore and then giggled as we pulled the car into the library ten minutes before closing to pick up our holds. What a lovely addiction to have, better yet one to share with your child. So what did I struggle to carry out of the bookstore and library? The Importance of Being Kennedy, by Laurie Graham. Pegged as an imaginative fictionalization, I'm interested to see how this kind of story is constructed. Two books I've been dying to read, no pun intended, are Laura Moriarity's, The Rest of her Life and Tana French's, In the Woods. And like a school girl with a crush, I carried Tobias Wolff's, Our Story Begins into my room last night and placed it right on top of the stack. I can't wait to dive into this collection of his best short stories coupled with ten new ones.


Anonymous said...

If you read anything this summer, read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski's debut novel. It's a moving page-turner of a story, nearly 600 pages that will NOT let you stop turning them. Even more to the point for this blog, read this novel and learn as much about the craft of writing as you'll get in any how-to book. Apparently Wroblewski spent ten years writing it and it's obvious he perfected his craft by the final draft. I've spent hours trying to figure out how he pulls off the overall story as well as the individual scenes and themes. It's seamless. But of course since he's a consummate storyteller, as you read you're immersed in the story; the craft, while far from invisible, is there for the marveling, but it has no issue with letting the story take over. Absolutely fantastic.

Creative A said...

I read "Love walked in" last year and am pretty excited to read the sequel...I loved those characters.

Every once and a while I go on this little reading spree where I just devour everything in sight. Summer is usually one of those times. So my TBR list is kinda short right now, seeing how I'm eating it up. On the top of my list: "The Fiction Class" by Susan Breen, "Awake," "Belong to Me," by Marisa de los Santos, "The Deceived" by Brett Battles, and some on-writing books that I keep trying to get around to. *big smile*


Anonymous said...

I, too, started Love Walked In after reading the interview with her. We have a huge pile of books in the den, making it impossible to choose, so that helped.

Amy MacKinnon said...

Mary, it certainly is the "it" book of Summer 2008, isn't it? I wrote him a letter congratulating him on the success of being heard, but I haven't heard back.

Creative, that's a great list. Isn't it wonderful when you have so many to look forward to instead of those horrid lull periods?

Kira, isn't it great? I'm really enjoying it. I love it when a nice person succeeds as much as she has.

Anonymous said...

Amy, I didn't read it for a month because it was an "it" book and I generally avoid those if I can help it. I only picked it up because it's the first book in a book group I attend that starts back up in the fall. And you know, it's so much more than the hoopla (though wouldn't we all kill for the hoopla). I'm certain it will be around for a long time. A classic. And he's one hell of a writer!

Regardless of how I sound, I rarely if ever gush over books so this is unusual for me. Okay, I'm done. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm loving "Writing Begins with the Breath" by Laraine Herring. Can't wait to read her memoir "Lost Fathers".

ggwritespoetry said...

I just finished reading "Speak." A friend of mine was teaching it in her class, and it intrigued me so she gave me an old tattered copy she no longer uses in class. I absolutely LOVED it. It is become one of my favorite YA books. I have an empty TBR pile because I'm broke (gas prices, arghhh) but I plan to go to the used book store as soon as I make my next trip into town, then I'll have me a nice big pile.

Lisa said...

I was away all week and came home to find an ARE I've been DYING to read -- I tore through half of it last night and I'll be finished tonight if I have to stay up all night. It is riveting!

So glad to hear the great words about THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE. That one is very high on my TBR stack. It was also here when I got back too (it was the July selection for the Odyssey signed first edition book club). Did you know he's a Denver writer? We are building quite a literary community out here in cow town!

Amy MacKinnon said...

GG, Speak is a favorite around here. My daughter just finished it and she wants me to now. I know Lisa loves it too.

Lisa, can't wait to hear about Lighthouse. I do plan to read Edgar as well. As for that bok you're reading -- yikes!

Anonymous said...

Ever wondered how your hormones play with your writing life? I just finished reading "The Venus Week" by Rebecca Booth and was delighted to learn about a certain time of the month that is optimal for hardcore writing sessions! I just wrote about this on my blog but you can also check out the writer's website at If you have teenage daughters, consider reading this book and passing it on to them. I wish I had read it in my teens/twenties!