Wednesday, July 04, 2012

My Summer Reading

Barbara here. As National Crime Writing Month winds down and the lazy, hot days of summer stretch ahead, it’s time to contemplate the perfect reading list. In truth, though, since I retired from my job as a psychologist, my schedule is dictated not by work holidays or travel plans but by the rhythm of my own writing.

I write about a novel a year, and in the initial stages of each new novel, I have to read a lot of non-fiction material, both books and internet articles, to research the topic. For my latest Inspector Green novel, I read seven non-fiction books on everything from paddling the Nahanni to gem mining in the north to Dene culture in order to be reasonably accurate. I have little time during this period for pleasure reading, except just before sleep, and I don’t get through books very fast that way!

 Once I start the first draft, most of my time is spent writing, with little left over for reading beyond the necessary internet and book searches. But finally last month I handed that manuscript in to the editor, so now I have a lull while I wait for rewrites. I could start another project, and in fact in a very lazy way, I am beginning to toy with ideas for the next book. But not seriously yet. This is my time for pleasure reading, and I have been forging through all the books that have piled up all year. My list in the past month has been wonderfully eclectic. I love the fact there are books for every mood and taste. I for one don’t read only one type of book. I would bore myself silly only reading historicals or thrillers or cozies. Nor do I read all books even by authors I like. There are simply too many authors and books I want to try. I am quite a slow reader, so every book must count.

This past month I have read funny books, scary books, poignant books, literary and mystery. Each book is a delightful change of pace, a chance to enter a world and live in another skin for the duration, savouring the novelty and the diversity. Here is my list from my recent binge:

Coming in September!
A Green Place for Dying  by R J Harlick. Powerful, touching, and harrowingly close to reality.
Room by Emma Donnahue. A profoundly insightful, claustrophobic novel, all told from the POV of a six year old boy.
A Killer Read by Erika Chase. A cheerful cozy which is the perfect antidote to a stress-filled time, and a nice follow-up to Room.
Gold Mountain by Vicki Delany. A vivid historical caper, told with wit and charm.
The Accident by Linwood Barclay. I don’t think I breathed through the last hundred pages of this thriller.
The Devil’s Dust by C.B. Forrest. True Canadian Noir - dark, powerful and poetic, it haunts you long afterwards.
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. Takes me on a journey to a time, place and culture far different from my own.

There are a lot of Canadians on this list, partly because we write damn good books and partly because I want to support our writing community. For my next book, however, I will probably pick up something from Scotland, Iceland or Sweden. I also want to read more from my blog mates, who are such a varied and interesting group. So many books, so little time! What’s on your must-read list?


Vicki Delany said...

If you are looking to travel afield, I'd recommend A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn. Set in South Africa in the 50s. I loved this book, just finished the third in the series which is what brings it to mind. I enjoyed the Headhunters by Jo Nesbro.

Barbara Fradkin said...

Love reading about Africa, Vicki. Thanks for this. Have you tried the South African writer (actually writing duo) Michael Stanley?

Hannah Dennison said...

Barbara - I found your post so interesting this morning because I too, seem to read for pleasure only when a book is turned in and there is that "lull." I only read non-fiction when I'm "writing." As of Monday, I am now in that happy lull. Thanks for the recommendations.

Charlotte Hinger said...

I'll ditto the recommendation for A Beautiful Place to Die. It's super--and was an Edgar finalist.

Charlotte Hinger said...

By the way, as promised--I'm going to read the wicked grey trilogy to see what all the fuss is about. It can't be just sex. So look for the review on Type M.

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