Monday, January 09, 2006

So many books, so little time.

I don't have much to tell you right now. The holidays are a tough time to be reporting local news. The last few weeks have been pretty quiet. After school let out, there weren't even any choral concerts or gingerbread houses to write about, so I've been beating the streets pretty hard looking for subject matter.

I do want to tell you about the books I've been reading. First, 'Tis by Frank McCourt. Outstanding book. A lesson in writing in first person without becoming self-indulgent. McCourt has lived through interesting times and is a fascinating man. His Irish origins give him an exotic and original take on America, but his fears and insecurities are part of the universal human experience. Kim Murphy, my new sister-in-law, who is terminally cute, turned me onto McCourt when she bought his latest, Teacher Man. (Kim found her way into my good graces at Thanksgiving, when I found out she had decided to read Transit Gloria before Teacher Man. She read TG in one day, then spent the entire holiday weekend talking about the story with me.) McCourt won the Pulitzer for his first book, Angela's Ashes. (My other sister-in-law's name is Angela, and is a beauty in her own right. I wonder if there is some serendipity at work between me and McCourt... how much does the Pulitzer pay?)

Second, I finally finished Terry Goodkind's Blood of the Fold. I have been hard on Goodkind in the past because the quality of his writing has not kept pace with his storytelling. A great story deserves better than to be slowed down by an extra three sentences in every descriptive paragraph. "You are so nice. I am fond of you. I like you. I think you are swell." You get the picture. I think he may have figured it out. The final 200 pages of Blood clipped along as well as anything by Robert Jordan or Frank Herbert.

I just started Blue Latitudes; Going where Capt. Cook has gone before by Tony Horowitz. It promises to be as engaging as his masterpiece, Confederates in the Attic; Dispatches from the unfinished Civil War. Think you want to be a journalist, or write creative non-fiction? Read Confederates in the Attic.

I also just received the first of a series of books I've promised to review: Kosher for the Clueless but Curious, by Shimon Apisdorf. I admit to agreeing to review this little book mainly because I am one of the Clueless. Reading Kinky Friedman is as close as I came to knowing anything about Jewish customs when I was in Texas, and I'm genuinely curious. Two pages in, and I've already learned something. I'd tell you what I learned, but I'm not sure that would be kosher.

I received Anne Rice's Christ the Lord - Out of Egypt for Christmas, and put it under the copy of Hush by my blog-buddy Anne Frasier, which I gave myself for Christmas, and which will be promoted to nightstand reader after I put the paper to bed on Friday. I also have a copy of James Ritchie's Over on the Lonesome Side I've been meaning to read. Anyone who frequents Absolute Write will recognize Ritchie as one of most prolific posters from the AW Forums. I disagree with James about almost everything, and I don't normally read westerns, but he puts in so much time trying to help other writers that I felt like I owed him one, even if this one is an out-of-print hardcover that I bought used. If I could just have an extra four hours a day, I could read at least two more books a week (not two more of Goodkind's 800 pagers, but J.A. Konrath has sure been nice to me, and his books can't be more than 100,000 words each). So many books, so little time.

Mark Pettus,
Monday, January 09, 2006


28 comments so far. Thank you, Anonymous PDF Writer, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Blogger Ray Wong, Blogger Dawno, Blogger Jeff, Blogger Mark Pettus, Anonymous kathie, Blogger Sandra Ruttan, Blogger Shesawriter, Blogger R.J. Baker, Blogger Kelly Parra, Blogger boo, Blogger anne, Blogger Michele, Blogger Ray Wong, Blogger Scott, Anonymous Caryn, Blogger Moni, Blogger Dawno, Blogger Chloe, Blogger Ray Wong, Anonymous PDF Writer, Blogger Amie Stuart, Blogger Christine, Blogger Shesawriter, Blogger Spicy Cauldron, Blogger Dawno, Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins,


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28 Comments

at 9:57 AM Anonymous PDF Writer said...

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at 4:07 PM Blogger Dennie McDonald said...

Sounds like great books - I will check them out

I have not finished a book in months (though I only have 10 pages left of the one I am currently reading) seems like life gets in the way of writing and reading theses days

 
at 10:05 PM Blogger Ray Wong said...

I'll be reading Teacher Man next. Just picked it up at discount store.

 
at 10:53 AM Blogger Dawno said...

I have an enormous backlog of reading right now. Three more books were delivered yesterday, too. Thank goodness there's a three day weekend coming up, I can make some progress.

Happy De-Lurking Week!!

 
at 11:38 AM Blogger Jeff said...

My "to read" shelf has about twenty books on it right now. Isn't that about average for most of us constant readers?

 
at 7:45 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Dennie - Sometimes I go through long dry spells where I don't seem to be capable of finishing another book... then I read a half dozen in short order...

Ray - I'm gladdened and surprised to see your name here. I will probably finish 'Tis tonight. I'm impressed with this guy. He doesn't cut himself any slack, and that kind of honesty in a writer is rare.

Congrats on your new book. Tell your publisher I need a review copy. :)

Dawn - why don't newspapers take three day weekends? De-Lurking week? Am I missing something?

Jeff - I'm prone to having a dozen "in-progress" books. When I hit the hot spot in a book, then it gets solo billing, until then, I read whatever suits my mood.

 
at 10:09 PM Anonymous kathie said...

I love that your sister-in-law talked to you all day about your book. I'm envious of her devotion to her new family. My best readers are not family members, though they'd pissed to hear me say that. There's nothing quite like someone loving your writing. Nothing.

 
at 10:17 PM Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Wow, you're well-read!

As a newbie to your blog, do you mind if I ask what genre you write? I've only read Angela's Ashes by McCourt - I feel woefully behind.

And I'd email the question, but I don't want to be labelled mysterious stalker woman #2!

 
at 10:53 PM Blogger Shesawriter said...

My TBR pile has gotten ridiculous. So many books is right. I barely have time enough to write, much less anything else. (g) Good for you! Every one of those books sound interesting.

Tanya

 
at 11:58 PM Blogger R.J. Baker said...

I run into your "ass" picture on a few blogs in the sphere and appreciated you comments on mine. Nice blog.

I saw Frank McCourt on BookTV a few weeks ago, he was interesting and a hoot. Maybe his book will move up the best seller lists now that A Million Little Pieces is shattering into a million little pieces...

 
at 12:40 AM Blogger Kelly Parra said...

I read a lot over the holidays, and now I'm having to write more. The reading slows down. I'm wondering why as writers we are compelled to purchase so many books "to be read" when we already have something read, but still buy more and more books. Why can't we wait to purchase the book when we have the time to read it?

Life's little mysteries. =)

 
at 2:37 AM Blogger boo said...

i'm reading dalai lama's {art of happiness} & herman hesse's {journey to the east}

p/s thanks for visiting, HHNT :)

 
at 3:46 AM Blogger anne said...

Ah the to-read list that won't diminish. I'm re-reading Jane Eyre right now, and have some Philip K. Dick and some French stuff in waiting. About 25 other books are clamouring for attention on my shelves.
About Frank McCourt, I was in fact disappointed by 'Tis. It felt more like a repeat, a few years later, of Angela's Ashes. But then I read one right after the other, so maybe that was the problem...

 
at 8:03 AM Blogger Michele said...

Hey there Mark!
Thanks for the awesome comment on my blog! Happy to see you there.

Guess what? I like yours too. I'll be really curious as to your opinion once you read Anne Rice's book. I'm dragging my feet on looking it up myself.

Fascinating list of books you've read.
Oh, from the other post, hard to find "readers who are readers",
I think I qualify..right now anyway. My dream is to be the former. At least,
that's what I had put on my 7 meme.
Right now, I love to read.
Someday...yours?
TTFN!!

 
at 11:03 AM Blogger Ray Wong said...

Mark, if you're serious about doing a review, I think I can pull some strings. Just let me know. Send me an email.

 
at 12:34 PM Blogger Scott said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I've been harping on my job search lately, but I am an aspiring writer that can use any advice he can get. It sure sounds like you read a lot, as we all should. You seem to put Robert Jordan on a pedestal, but I have to say that he really lost me a couple books ago. The man drones on and on about nothing. The investment is worth it if you have the stamina. Goodkind lost me too, and I'm not sure why, but maybe you put your finger on it in this post.

 
at 1:37 PM Anonymous Caryn said...

I've heard that Blue Latitudes is a terrific read, and have nearly picked it up on numerous occasions. Haven't read any of the others, though. Yesterday on the plane I got to read almost all day long. Best part of the day.

 
at 7:52 PM Blogger Moni said...

I started to read Angela's Ashes, but I heard it was very depressing. I haven't read any of Anne Rice's books. I did drive by her house in New Orleans, but I guess that doesn't count. ;)

Happy Birthday to you my fellow Capricorn. You have a wonderful blog...and even nicer chaps. lol ;P

 
at 1:14 AM Blogger Dawno said...

Mark, DeLurking week is explained at a blog called Paper Napkin. I liked the idea a lot as I am a firm believer that there can be no community without conversation.
Paper Napkin

 
at 2:21 PM Blogger Chloe said...

I like unflinching honesty in writers, too. Check out Augusten Burroughs if you haven't already. His memoir Dry and book of short stories Magical Thinking are both stunning.

 
at 2:55 AM Blogger Ray Wong said...

Mark, you've been tagged! Got to my blog and check it out...

(I also like Burrough's wacky humor... quite close to David Sedaris's)

 
at 11:25 PM Anonymous PDF Writer said...

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at 4:53 PM Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Mine is ridiculous too and I keep saying I won't buy anymore....then someone gives me a giftcard or I give the kid one and off we go to the bookstore =)

 
at 8:21 PM Blogger Christine said...

I had to read Angela's Ashes for a course in college. It was awesome. I never did get to read 'Tis. Now I have the rest of the Alanna quartet to finish, Eldest on top of the bookshelf, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister to get to. Oh, and my next book to edit, another to first draft, and one to read and review.

Why aren't there 36 hours in a day?

 
at 12:08 PM Blogger Shesawriter said...

Mark?

Will you PLEASE post something new? I keep coming over here expecting a new post and ... well, come on! LOL!

Tanya

 
at 4:41 PM Blogger Spicy Cauldron said...

Man, you read a fantastic number of books. I envy you, only in so far as since I started my MA in September I've been knee-deep in poetry collections - which is fine, all good, as I'm a poet and it's an MA called Creative Writing (Poetry) but I do love to sit and read a good novel. I just don't have time. A poetry collection might well appear considerably shorter than most novels, but every line, every word, of good poetry demands a certain attention that prose doesn't. I mean sure, you can skim-read a poem but at the end of it you wouldn't be able to tell much of what the poem was about unless you'd already read it in detail before.

I now have a backlog of novels - I still keep buying 'em - for the Summer break. Though I shall no doubt have more poetry to write and, of course, more poetry to read in that time... *sigh* x

 
at 11:53 PM Blogger Dawno said...

Great blog! Buy my...no, wait, I'm not a spammer...sorry.

I'm with Tanya. What's new? How's your stalker?

 
at 11:53 PM Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Mark,
I can relate to the title of your post. There are 15 books in my "to read" pile. I picked up Anne's book Sleep Tight, but I'm hoping to get Hush and read it before this one. I have this habit I've kept for years; I like reading books in order of publication. So since, Hush was her first novel, I want to read it first. Crazy, I know, but at least she can be sure I'll read them all that way. ;)

Which reminds me, I have some other blogs to catch up on.

As usual, your blog is wonderful!

 

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