Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Here is the post I meant to put up last Saturday as part of the new improved Keep The Wisdom blog schedule. It is a quick summary of books I read in the month just ended, in this case November. People who know that I read incessantly are always asking me what I have read lately. Well, here it is.

I read 11 books in November. I was intending to read more. Ever since I spent the early months of 2009 caring for my poor Mom and getting hardly any reading done, I have been trying to catch up. Because My Big Fat Reading Project is so huge, I push myself to get a certain number of those books read each year as research for my memoir. As of today, I still hope to read 15 more books by the end of the year, but man, Christmas, work, family stuff, you name it.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize winner for 2009, was one of the best of the month for me. Excellent, smart and entertaining historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell, the man who helped Henry VIII get his divorce from his first wife so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood was another stand out. It is a follow up and companion to her 2003 Oryx and Crake, which I reread before reading this current one. If you like futuristic dystopian fiction, it is great. Margaret Atwood is one of my top three favorite authors. I have read all of her novels.

I read Four to Score, by Janet Evanovich and Guardian Angel, by Sara Paretsky as part of a reading plan I have going to get through all the novels of each. Janet Evanovich I use to cleanse my reading palette with something light and fast paced. She never fails me. Sara Paretsky, aside from Margaret Atwood, is one of the best feminist writers around, disguised as a mystery author.

Blueberry Girl, by Neil Gaiman turned out to be my favorite picture book of the year. I am giving lots of copies to friends who are moms for Christmas.

I only had to read one book for a reading group this month, because I had already read all the other picks. Mudbound, by Hilary Jordan came highly acclaimed, because it won the Bellwether Prize, which is sponsored by Barbara Kingsolver (another one of my top three favorite authors.) The book was a dud in my humble opinion. A story of racism and misogynism that has been told many times in much better books.

For My Big Fat Reading Project, I managed to read four of the books on my list for 1957. Finally the books of the 1950s are getting a little more life in them. And a lot more sex! By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens, the #1 bestseller, takes on life, law, family and community in a small Maryland town during the 50s. It was long and lugubrious but had plenty of hanky panky. Compulsion by Meyer Levin, at #3, is a fictionalized account of a true crime from Chicago in the 1920s. It includes law, crime, sex of many kinds and psychology. Juicy and entertaining. Rally Round the Flag Boys by Max Shulman is a humorous account of 1950s suburban life complete with sex and a Nike missile base. It took the #4 bestseller spot. I turned 10 years old in 1957 and I recall being obsessed with boys and trying to find out what sex was all about. Hm.

Another 1957 book I read was The Naked Sun, by Isaac Asimov. It had sex in it too! Well, Asimov, early sci fi style sex, which is fairly tame. But it is also a mystery, has more robots than humans, takes place on another planet and was a great read.

Pretty good list, if I do say so myself. But there is always room for more on my reading lists. What have you read? What was great? Not so good? A waste of time?

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