A List of Ten of Another Sort (not Best, not Worst, just Mine)

Favorite Reads of 2013

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt  I rooted for Theo Decker through every word of every page, all 771 of them, and then was so sad when it was over that is was hard to begin another book, and for me that is saying something.

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes  I knew it would end badly, of course it ends badly, but it was a marvelous journey anyway.

We Need to Talk about Kevin, Lionel Shriver  This one scared me so horribly that I cannot look at a high school gymnasium without shivering.


The Paris Wife, Paula McLain  It is certainly not a flattering portrait of Ernest Hemingway from the perspective of his tremendously patient first wife but a fascinating one nonetheless.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn  Another scary one, and I am not a horror reader generally, this one had me wishing ardently for the death of a main character, no spoilers on which.

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher  Take a trip through the mind of a high school girl on the brink and remember to be nice to everyone. Everyone.

Biggest Book Disappointment

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson  Perhaps it was because I ADORE Jackson Brodie, her series protagonist and anti-hero extraordinaire, and he was nowhere to be seen, but one Life would have been more than enough for me.

Most Anticipated Reads of early 2014

Into the Still Blue, Veronica Rossi  I started four dystopian series last summer and finished three, and I liked this one second best thus far, behind Matched, Ally Condie but ahead of Divergent, Veronica Roth and Delirium, Lauren Oliver. What is up with Veronicas writing dystopian? (Also, so tired of dystopian--am I the only one?)

Lost Lake, Sarah Addison Allen Her books are magical (magicial realism, duh), but they really are. It's like every page comes with glitter and sparkles embedded in the very best way.

Okay, I lied, but it's only nine. These are what came to me, and I'm sticking with them.
stack of well-thumbed books from Wikimedia Commons


It's coming (but not what you might think)

One of my favorite days of the year is coming, certainly my favorite day of the season, and it's not the one that you might think. It's not Christmas, nice in its own way. It's not New Year's Eve, since for me the year runs on an academic cycle beginning in September and runs through the following summer. It's not even Hanukkah, past I know, but closer in spirit to what I'm talking about since it is also called the Festival of Lights. Give up? It's the Winter Solstice, the evening before the daylight begins to creep back in the "right" direction, even if it's only by a few minutes a day. I have never been a night owl, though I hear there are many of you out there, but for me it's all about the light. Perhaps it was growing up on Cape Cod, where the light is better and more lovely than any I've yet seen (generations of artists have agreed); perhaps it's that with the light comes the warmth, which I also cherish; or perhaps it's simply the celebration of something so elemental and ancient as the turning of the Earth on its axis in relation to the sun, rather than the commercial frenzy that the other winter holidays have become that appeals to me. In any case, and maybe it's for all those reasons at once, I slog through the weeks when the clock falls back until the light comes again. There are so many other references to light in this season: the "great light" in the Old Testament, the "star in the east" in the New, and on a more pedestrian but also charming level, the proliferation of lights on people's houses and in their yards this time of year, to me signaling the coming of the great light, faith of whatever sort appeals to you aside. Enjoy the season of light, as I will when I drive past house after lit house, and then we can all move one day at a time closer to the best light, the summer light, of course, summer girl that I am.
Dawn, from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository


How to get a buzz (besides that)

First, let's define buzz. Besides the obvious, the drinking buzz. Yeah, I'm over that. What are we talking about here? For some, that's literally what the buzz is: what we are talking about. And the way to get talked about in our current society seems to be to act as outrageously as possible and tell everyone you know about it via all possible social media outlets. Then, with any luck, it goes viral. Okay, so there's that. For me buzz is a little more. Buzz is a physical feeling that I get when I like something, that little jolt of adrenaline when I interact--sight, smell, touch, sound, taste--with something good. This has happened to me a few times recently, so I'll share:

I started reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, 771 pages, and zing, I was hooked on page 3.
I had two bites (long story) of key lime pie at Thanksgiving. Yum beyond belief.
I heard "Red Rag Top," the new Tim McGraw song, and it threw me back to high school in a flash.
I touched a crazy soft cashmere sweater in Theory, yup, sand-colored, and yearned.
I got an email from another blogger saying she loved my book. Yay!

The buzz is important because it shows us we're alive, really participating in this life. Sure, I'll take the viral one (anyone making the YouTube video for me?), but I'll also take the everyday hits.

What gives you the buzz?


28 ways I'm grateful, begun on 11/28

The posts on Facebook, the time of year, and the mantra of a dear friend to "be grateful before you put your feet on the floor in the morning" prompted this list. Thankful or grateful? Your choice, 28 ways, since Turkey Day was November 28 this year.

In no particular order I am grateful and thankful that:

1. My family is healthy. And awesome. Just saying.
2. I decided to self-publish my book. I have talked to many interesting readers already and look forward to many more.
3. My parents met and decided to marry, much fascinating fallout there.
4. I live in the time that I do with all its glories and its foibles.
5. I see the sunrise more days than not. That's what it's all about, the world going around the sun.
6. I have the family that I have.
7. Words have usually come easily to me.
8. People write books. And I can read them. And do, about one a week.
9. I like my work.
10. My colleagues are excellent.
11. The students, ditto.
12. I knew three of my four grandparents well enough to remember them vividly.
13. Mother Nature hasn't decided to fully fight back for all the indignities and travesties we have visited on her. We should, however, feel amply and rightly warned.
14. I have all my original, working body parts, unless you count the tooth I knocked out in second grade. (Cap doing fine.)
15. Dr. Jacob figured out what was wrong with me.
16. My friends from grade school are still my friends. We know each other's history.
17. Ditto my friends from college.
18. I've made friends since college and continue to do so. Growth is good.
19. I've seen as much of the world as I have (42 states, 1 US territory, 8 countries). I hope to see a lot more.
20. Brown University taught me how to think for myself.
21. Tufts did, too.
22. My teachers have believed in my abilities and encouraged me to develop them.
23. Musicians have provided such a fine soundtrack to my life, the tragic and the ecstatic.
24. Also artists.
25. The seasons continue to come (yes, even the horrible one).
26. I am still capable of learning.
27. Teaching as well.
28. I am.

And you? What are you thankful for?