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A Year of Books

I  began 2011 in the midst of an Anna Karenina reread. Twelve months later, I can still see Anna's fluttering white hands, Prince Oblonsky's moist teary eyes.

Last year's resolution was to finally finish The House of Niccolo series and I did!
I picked up at #4 To LIe with Lions (when I'd become really, really upset with Nicholas) and went all the way through to 9!!! Thanks to the fabulous ladies at Shamrock and Stone  http://www.voy.com/202493/ who encouraged me to do so. I'm glad to know how Nicholas' and poor Henry's stories ended and how Lymond's began. However, while I am still in awe of Dorothy Dunnet, I think, that no matter how much we love the characters, no story stays fresh after 6 books. (barring Harry Potter that is!)

Speaking of Harry Potter, I reread all 7 this summer. Emily had, in preparation for the last movie. She was so sad that "her childhood was ending" I picked up the first book so she could have someone who was willing to talk endlessly abou them. The sacrifices a mother will make. ; )

I got so inspired with wonderful rereads, I said what the heck and read the Silmarrilion and LOTR again (I'd read Hobbit last summer). This has to be at least the 5th time I've read that series and I still closed the last page with a sigh wishing it wasn't over just as I did the first time over 30 years ago.

I also re-read The Great Gatsby (because a friend wanted me to read it with her) and while I still dislike all the people in it, I am also still blown away by Fitzergerald's beautiful writing and what his book says about all of us who are awed by wealth and its trappings whether we admit it or not.

The same friend wanted me to read John Irving's Prayer for Owen Meanie. It started out OK but ugh, halfway through I was bored, bored, bored. I thought I'd wretch if I had to read one more supposedly humorous and poignant  Owen anecdote, but friend said I had to keep reading, that I would bawl at the end. I did not. I celebrated. I just found Owen to be so self-righteous and full of hate

If you want to read a poignant and beautiful book, go right now and get The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It's true I read it the day before I picked up my mother's old doll from a restoration shop so the story hit home; but that book could wring a tear from a heart of stone and Kate Dicamillo does not waste a single word.

So, what did I read new and loved, loved, loved? A book I picked up off Emily's nightstand. The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare, a way-cool mix of arcane, biblical mythology with hip, edgy people. (I'm currently reading the first in her spinoff series- Clockwork Angel and its good- but that's for next year's post).

If you like a little Monte Python mixed with your horror, read The Gates by John Connelly. Very Funny.

I found Julie Kagagawa's Iron King at the grocery store, liked it and its interesting mythology and passed it along to Em. She and I both read The Iron Daughter but felt the series stalled. Neither of us have read The Iron Knight yet.

The other book I took from Em's room was Of Mice and Men. She had to read it for lit class. I, somehow, never had. Wow. Powerful writing, powerful story.

I also read Wise Man's Fear, the looooong awaited sequel to Patrick Rothfuss' debut, The Name of the Wind. There was some major word wasting there. The story really doesn't get going until page 150 (i'm not kidding) We finally got to Faeire but... I'm still waiting to find out more about Bast, the main reason I read the book!

Now, as to what Duncan got me to read: The Rise of the Hoard, The Last Guardian and The First War, all best selling books based on the World of Warcraft game. Its the backstory/mythos of the game's characters. It is to Duncan what Tolkien was to me at age 12. They remind me very much of the Silmarrilion. I was suppose to read the rise of The Lich King next  but I weanied out because I knew it would be so sad.

Instead, I did a final reread of a favorite author, Susanna Clark's wonderful collection of stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu.

And I'm still working through editor, Cheryl Klein's, Second Sight, the only non-fiction of the year. So far, so good. I'll let you know final thoughts next year!


susan b. james

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