Tag Archives: best books

My Reading List: Winter 2014

Watching for snow - perfect time for a great read. c. Elissa Field

Watching for snow – perfect time for a great read. c. Elissa Field

Snowed in on New Year’s weekend seems the perfect time to curate a reading list for the winter months.  This list includes the books I am reading or plan to read over the coming months, as well as a few other notable recommendations.

Have you been inspired by a recent read or have you compiled a reading list of your own?  We’d love to hear your recommendations (or links) in the comments.  At the bottom, find more links for reading resources.

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Recommended Fiction from 2013

  • Alice McDermott, Someone (September 2013).  Folks, help me lower my expectations as I’m really expecting lots from this one (no, don’t really). McDermott has been one of my favorite authors for her nuanced characters, and an excerpt from Someone was one of my favorite short stories in the New Yorker in recent years. Let’s hope the novel measures up.
  • Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013). I can’t tell you my excitement when Marra’s novel was longlisted for the National Book Award, as I “knew” him from an online writer’s forum years back. He is a graduate of Iowa and Stanford, whose writing maturity and complexity have been compared to Jonathan Safran Foer.  I’m really curious to read this novel. From the New York Times, here is an interesting piece on research for the book, and here is a review.
  • Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch (October 2013). This one has made it to my “must read” list after feedback from reading friends. My mom was slow to warm, but gripped at the end. Missouri Review editor Michael Nye tweeted me, “It’s a book you want to rush to finish AND don’t want it to end at the same time. That’s rare (for a grouch like me!)”
  • Colum McCann,  Transatlantic (2013). I will get myself to read this… but must confess I’m afraid it might disappoint, which pains me, as he is a favorite of mine. McCann’s writing can feel effortless and powerful (as in Let the Great World Spin or his story/novella collection Everything in This Country Must), but the research level of Transatlantic makes me worry it will have the overwrought weight of Zoli (can anyone convince me to finish reading that one?). Hoping for the best case scenario — I’ll let you know.
  • Amy Greene, Long Man (February 25, 2014).  I am so excited to read this new release by critically-acclaimed writer, Amy Greene (a Southern Living book of the month).
  • Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (October 2013). This winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the Canada Governor General’s Literary Award is described as “a breathtaking feat of storytelling where everything is connected but nothing is as it seems.” I’m in.

Other 2013 Fiction on My Radar

Carried Over From My Summer Reading List

Continuing the Challenge: Reading the Books You Always Meant to Read

Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

  • Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief (2007). Well, yes, the opening of the film adaptation in November provoked me to pull this one off my classroom bookshelves, where I’d included it based on a passionate recommendation from a colleague (for 12 & up). I brought it home to buddy-read with my 7th grade son, before seeing the movie.  Random plug for an indie bookseller: this book was included on the weekly bestseller list for Village Books of Bellingham, WA. Click the link if you’d like to buy from them.
  • J.K. Rowling, The Chamber of Secrets (2000). I’m re-enjoying this one as a bedtime read-aloud with my sons.

Nonfiction

  • Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman, How Not to Write a Novel (2008). Not sure if I’ll actually bite on this one, but I’ve heard only great things about this book, which presents writing advice in the negative by sharing “200 classic mistakes and how to avoid them.”
  • Donald Maass, Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012). How to sum this book up? I don’t read it as much as, each time I begin to read, it instantly engages me back in revisions to my novel. I am not big on “how to write” books, but Maass writes amazing prompts to challenge structure, character motivation and more.
  • Margaret Searle, Causes and Cures in the Classroom (November 2013). I’m fascinated to read this one, which draws connections between executive functioning and behavior to optimize learning.

Want more reading recommendations?

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What Are You Reading?

I’d love to hear your own reading suggestions in the comments.  Let us know the favorite books you’ve read this year or ones on your must-reads list.  If this inspires you to blog your own list, share link to your post so we can come read with you.

Where do the book links take you?

For convenience, you can click book titles for their link on Amazon — or find them at your favorite indie bookseller through indiebound.org:

Shop Indie Bookstores

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Friday Links for Writers 02.08.13

friday linksToday was a week where “other plans” intervened — a complete position change in my teaching post wiped me so “blank screen” that I even forgot I had jury duty to call for on Tuesday. I spent my week getting to know new students and sentimental over some great writing students in the class I gave up.

Sigh.

It made little time for fiction writing. But there’s always time for reading. Pinterest has become my stress reliever, and it’s just your luck that this leaves me stumbling on some great pieces.

Here are some of my favorites, which take us from revision to queries, and then to the joy of reading.  Enjoy!

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Home Improvement

As writing conference season approaches, I was reminded of the great things I’ve heard of author Benjamin Percy as a workshop leader. In this article, published in the May-June 2010 issue of Poets & Writers, Percy offers some brave advice about the daily work of revision.

Query Pitfalls

In response to readers who appreciated the link to agent Sara Megibow’s query twitter chats, here is link to a blog by literary agent Janet Reid. Janet is bluntly entertaining in evaluating just what steers a query wrong. This link goes to a most recent post, but the full series is available by clicking the categoy “query pitfalls.”

Query Shark

Want more query pitfalls? This site evaluates actual query letters blow-by-blow.

Everyday Miracles

Tin House runs a series on its blog called The Art of the Sentence in which authors take turns reflecting on the perfection of one single sentence that inspires them. In “Everyday Miracles,” Pamela Erens mulls how John Updike was trained first as a visual artist, wondering if this is what leaves his writing so intimately revealing. Wondering to myself: did I ever actually read Updike?

Shared by the Library of Congress, this poster is from a Chicago promotion 1936-1941. No known copyright restrictions.

Shared by the Library of Congress, this poster is from a Chicago promotion 1936-1941. No known copyright restrictions.

Perfect segue to say I am in the process of getting ready for a March Reading Challenge, which has me thinking about books we “always meant to read.”

Reading list survey for the March Challenge: Click here if you’d like to share the kinds of books currently lingering on your “to read” list.

Finalists for the Story Prize

The Story Prize is given annually to honor an outstanding collection of short stories. The link above takes you to announcement of the 3 finalists for collections published in 2012: Junot Diaz, Dan Chaon and Claire Vaye Watkins. Want more great collections? This link here takes you to The Story Prize blog, with an annotated long list of other great collections they considered.

100 Notable Books of 2012 & 100 Recommended Books of 2012

I’ve posted before, calling 2012 the Year of the Book. It really was a year of some fabulous reads. But where “top 10” lists and award lists tend to hit the same few books over and over, these two lists by the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle offer a more comprehensive range of the fabulous books published in 2012, in all genres.

Bookshelf Porn

If your eyes lit up at links for The Story Prize or {100 + 100} great books from 2012, they you’re probably in a category who would find photography of gorgeously shelved books satisfying. Kick back and enjoy yourself.

What did you find in these links that is useful to you? Let me know if you want more on a particular subject, or share your own best finds. Be sure to click through to the survey for the March Challenge, to share the kinds of books on your 2013 Reading List. I’d love to hear your current must-read titles!

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, or via email or RSS feed. I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

Summer hours spent revising Wake. c. Elissa Field

Summer hours spent revising Wake. c. Elissa Field

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