"Literature," Twilight, and everything in between

Continuing with the Best of 2009 Challenge

December 4 Book. What book – fiction or non – touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

Hmm. This is a tough one. I read a lot of great books this year.

  • The Secret Life of Bees was the first book I’ve read and really thought, I wish I’d written this.
  • For all its flaws, Twilight totally engrossed me, and was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of convincing me that I should be writing for readers my age and younger, instead of writing “Literature.”
  • The Host was just awesome.
  • I made a deal with Andy and now he gets to pick every other book I read. This year that included Ray Bradbury’s classic collection of scifi short stories The Martian Chronicles, which was excellent.
  • Bad Things Happen (by Harry Dolan, one of the original Amazon Breakthrough Novel contestants) and Motherless Brooklyn (another of Andy’s picks) rekindled my love for murder mysteries.

There were many, many more. And thanks to our public library system (you should be a member of yours!) and some discount books I bought over Thanksgiving, I look forward to 2010 being another great year of reading.

What did you read this year? Books, short stories, backs of cereal boxes? As a writer, I’m always interested in “what the kids are into these days.”

(I already know at least one of Sonja’s answers! We’ve been emailing about her love of John Irving.)

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25 Comments

  1. I tried The Martian Chronicles as a kid, and couldn’t quite get through it. I really ought to go back and give it another shot.
    .-= • Recent post by Eric: The Year in Reading =-.

  2. You’ve already mentioned John Irving’s latest novel, but a few non-fiction books I read this past year might have a great impact on the rest of my life (too soon to tell just yet!) They are Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run” and Charlotte Joko Beck’s “Everyday Zen: Love & Work” and “Nothing Special: Living Zen.” For fiction (besides Irving) I re-read the Harry Potter series TWICE and thoroughly enjoyed it each time, getting more and more from it with each read, and increasing my respect for JK Rowling by 200% – and I already loved her! And I just finished (today) reading another YA book, sent to me via the amazon vine program: “Ash” by Malinda Lo. While it wasn’t the greatest book of all time, I find myself thinking about what Lo was trying to accomplish and what goals we might have in common for our writing.
    .-= • Recent post by Sonja: My neighbor’s story is better than mine =-.

  3. em

    I finally, finally caved to the phenom that is Twilight, and started it last week.

    Does suck you in (no pun intended) doesn’t it?

    “On Writing” by Steven King
    “The Time Traveler’s Wife”
    “The Last Lecture”
    “Best Friends Forever” Jennifer Weiner – one of my favorites

    Sadly, that’s about it for this year. With two small kiddos and one blog, my reading time has dwindled.

    I think I just found my first New Year’s resolution.
    .-= • Recent post by em: F.F.F.T. – TMN? =-.

  4. Eric-
    You know, it took me a short while to get into to, but the more I read, the more I enjoyed it. Also, an interesting tidbit that Andy told me about (and Wikipedia seems to confirm): the last story in the collection was actually the first Bradbury wrote. So Andy had me read that one first. I’m not sure it made a big difference, but I still thought it was interesting.

    Sonja-
    WOW I can’t imagine rereading HP twice in one year! I do want to reread it, though. Probably will in 2010.

    Also, I didn’t know you were part of the Amazon Vine program!

    Em-
    Hi! And yes, haha, the Twilight Saga totally sucks you in. I hope you enjoy it!

    I’ve read the first 3 of those books, and loved them. I’ve been meaning to tackle some Jennifer Weiner, though. I’ll put BFF on the list right after her first one (Good in Bed). I saw her speak a few months ago and she was HYSTERICAL.

  5. Trisha

    Big fan of Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Slayer series. It has kind of gone too commercial of late. But a fun read.

    Kim Harrison’s white witch series about Rachel Morgan. Honestly, the cover picture grabbed my attention in the store and I’ve never looked back.

    Sherrilyn Kenyon is a prolific writer. Some times she hits her stride and can seamlessly overlap the books in a truly fantastic manner.

    In between I read books of substance, training magazines like T&D, etc.

    Honestly, I’d read the instructions on a fire extinguisher in an elevator just because it’s there.

  6. If you haven’t read HP since it came out, definitely read it again. You will be amazed at how you can get sucked right in, and it’s almost better knowing what happens because then you can sit back and really appreciate the orchestration of the entire series. I’m actually thinking about reading it for a third time in the near future!

    PS I was at Target today, and while I was waiting for my turn in line, there was a whole bunch of Twilight stuff. I wondered if you might like your very own Twilight lunch box? If so, get yourself down to Target pronto!
    .-= • Recent post by Sonja: My neighbor’s story is better than mine =-.

  7. Twiiiiiiilight… I just don’t know if I can do it!

    Damn kids. Get off my lawn.

    Off to google amazon vine.
    .-= • Recent post by Alicia @bethsix: What I’m Reading #Best09 #1000Views =-.

  8. Ihave to say blog reading has taken down the numberof book I read last year. The one I flew through and want to go back and readmore slowly, I liked it that much, was Water for Elephants.
    .-= • Recent post by Pseudo: Titty Mountain =-.

  9. Les

    I think I’ve made it thru 3 books this year. Sad isn’t it? I spend so much time on the PC and in front of the TV that I hardly read anything anymore. I did buy more than 3, but I got halfway through and pretty much lost interest. I swore I wasn’t going to read Twilight… but maybe I should? haha

  10. I’ve heard that The Secret Life of Bees was pretty good. I might have to give that a read. After I finish The Last Lecture perhaps. Thanks for the comment on my entry in the Best of Blog Challenge 2009 – Book topic. Peace to you! :-)
    .-= • Recent post by hstrykid (Les): Best Night Out – Best of Blog Challenge 2009 =-.

  11. Oh totally, I took the 25 Library Book Challenge this year but next year I’ll do 50 for sure.

    And yes, Twilight has changed all of our lives, including my almost-unicorn boyfriend, by virtue of association.

    Best of Blog Challenge? Dang I need to jump back into the blogosphere. I’ve been so busy working after NaNo.

    Kristan – I adore your bff Angie!
    .-= • Recent post by 52 Faces: A Spiritual Recap =-.

  12. Trisha-
    I have a friend who loves Sherrilyn Kenyon. I’ll have to check some of those authors out.

    Sonja-
    LOL thanks for the heads-up, but I’m good. I’m actually NOT a “Twi-hard” I don’t think. Not in comparison to some of the stories I hear about, anyway…

    Alicia-
    Well I don’t think you need to read Twilight to die happy or anything, but if you like teen romances and/or vampires & werewolves, it’s a fun series.

    From what I understand, Amazon Vine is a program that Amazon started to reward and make use of their top reviewers. Vine peeps sometimes get free stuff to review, because they have a history of helpful and comprehensive reviews.

    Pseudo-
    Hey, blogs can be really good reading. Any faves? I finally got on to “Matt, Liz & Madeline.” And I’ve hear great things about Water for Elephants. Which was a NaNoWriMo novel btw!

    Les-
    Like I told Alicia, you don’t need to read Twilight to die happy, but I think it’s a fun series.

    Les #2-
    Secret Life of Bees was excellent, I definitely recommend!

    52 Faces-
    Hehe, that’s because Angie is awesome! ;D

  13. I think Veronika Decides to Die was one of my favorite reads this year. Did I tell you I watched the movie over Thanksgiving? It was filmed quite nicely but it was lacking something–the book is much more moving/inspiring.

    Sadly, I am refusing to get into Twilight, I think Harry Potter (which I loved) was it for me. However my cousins are really into it, so maybe….later. I also need to look into getting a NY public library card, as soon as I locate one first!

    Aww, thanks :)
    .-= • Recent post by Angie: Here’s to new adventures =-.

  14. Oh, no, you didn’t tell me you saw the movie!! I’m still really curious to see it.

    To be honest, I do think you’d like Twilight’s story and romance. But there’s no rush to read it.

  15. Reviewers who are part of the Amazon Vine Program ALWAYS get free stuff. :) I think to be invited, you need to have a decent history of reviews and a high percentage of being rated “helpful” by those who read your reviews. On the other side of the program, you have publishers and manufacturers. They can choose to give Amazon a sample of their product, which Amazon then offers to their Vine reviewers. A publisher might give anywhere to 1-50 (or even more) books to the program for review. Check out “Ash” by Malinda Lo. You’ll see it has 55 reviews, and while I haven’t looked at them all, I’m willing to say that at least 50 of them (if not all of them) are Vine reviews, which means each and every copy was given to the reviewer for free.

    There are always books (and to a lesser extent, products) that are available for review by Vine members. At least once a month (maybe more often, I don’t pay close enough attention), a newsletter goes out to the Vine reviewers that lists new books and products now available for review. But old ones are always hanging around that no one has chosen to review.

    I’ve been a part of the Vine program for over six months now, but I’ve only chosen to review 4 or 5 things. A person determined to get as much free stuff as possible could, conceivably, have reviewed (and received) well over 100 things in that time span. For me, though, I only select things that I might have purchased on my own. I don’t think it’s that helpful for a consumer to read a review from a person who would never have been interested in the product if they were given it for free. And there just haven’t been that many things that I’ve been interested in. Also, you must review at least 75% (I think) of the things you receive or you can’t get new things. So it’s a bit of a commitment to actually read whatever you pick. I don’t like wasting my time reading things that don’t interest me.

    And that’s it, in a nutshell. A large nutshell.
    .-= • Recent post by Sonja: My neighbor’s story is better than mine =-.

  16. I’m usually into vampire stories and whatnot, but I haven’t been drawn to Twilight. Maybe I’ll give it a try early next year. Why/how did it convince you to write for your age group?

    I want to read The Secret Life of Bees; it’s on my short list.

    The best thing I’ve read this year? “Short Cuts”–a selection of Raymond Carver’s short stories.
    .-= • Recent post by Torie Michelle: When I Think of Moving North… =-.

  17. Well, I’d already been struggling with my first novel, in which the 2 main characters were both a decade or more older than me. Then (like 2 yrs ago) I read Harry Potter, and it was the first book I read in a long time that reminded me of what had sparked my love of reading and writing in the first place. So I would say Harry Potter started the ball rolling, some conversations with people continued my self-introspection, and then watching Roswell, reading Twilight, and writing Twenty-Somewhere cemented for me the realization that teens and 20s were who I wanted to be writing for. At least right now.

  18. I find your story very interesting. Isn’t it weird how things inspire us? Twilight did it for me. I love that book flaws and all. So much of a perfect book is about feeling, not just plots and perfect wording. Of course, that stuff is important, too. But, without the feeling, why would we care?

    I loved the Host, too. And, recently read Hush, Hush, among a list of other YA novels that were GREAT!

    I never read Harry Potter. I really, really want too. Maybe this year I will get a chance. I’ve seen the movies, though, and love them!

    Good luck with your writing.
    .-= • Recent post by Kimberly Franklin: Break =-.

  19. “So much of a perfect book is about feeling, not just plots and perfect wording. Of course, that stuff is important, too. But, without the feeling, why would we care?”

    Exactly. And I’ve heard of Hush, Hush — maybe I should check it out. I’d love to hear more YA suggestions. I know Shiver is on my list, because I simply adore the cover.

    And you simply must read HP! It’s a fabulous series.

  20. I thought Hush,Hush was GREAT! You should definitely read it. I’m thinking about doing a review on it. I read it a couple of months ago, so I might need to refresh. But, I do remember it was good and a very fast read.

  21. I actually spent most of this year re-reading books I enjoy, like GRRM’s ASOIAF, JV Jones’ [thing] of [color] Ice, and the Coldfire Trilogy. Not completely productive, perhaps, but I found the experience to be quite enjoyable. Glen Cook, you’re next.
    .-= • Recent post by Todd Newton: ZZZZzzzzzzz…… =-.

  22. That’s when you know you’ve read something that touches you, when you wished you’d written it. That’s the best recommendation i could get; i’m going to get The Secret Life of Bees! Thanks!

  23. Oh my gosh. I’m so thankful for #Best09 because I discovered you. We have the same taste in books!!

  24. YAY! :D And hey, I’m in Htown TX too!! (Just saw that on your Twitter page.) Only for the weekend, lol, but I was born & raised there. Kinda chilly right now, eh? :P

  25. mmmmm… Secret Life of Bees – SO, SO, SO good!

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