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52 Books in 2013—Update 01

January 12, 2013

My reading goal for this year is 52 books—a book a week. I did this a few years back, and I’m doing it again. There were too many stretches of 2012 where I didn’t read at all.

All Things Wise and Wonderful

The last time I did this, I posted reviews to my general blog (read: Livejournal, which is currently laying forgotten in a dusty corner of the internet) and the posts were popular. I’d like to do that here because this is a wonderful opportunity to share book reviews and recommendations with those who might appreciate it.

1. All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot

I usually prefer horror or fantasy, but every once in awhile I just have to read some James Herriot. He’s a well-known author, but if you’re not acquainted with his works, each book is a series of short (and true) stories about being a country veterinarian in England in the 1930s. That probably sounds really boring, but it’s not. The author uses his experiences to reflect on life. He met a lot of interesting people in his profession and encountered a number of memorable cases, whether strange, sad, or inspiring.

The Mourning House

2. The Mourning House by Ronald Malfi
At ~180 pages, this is more of a novella than a novel, but I’m including it anyway. For one thing, I often read short Kindle singles (averaging around 80 pages) and I’m not counting those. So I have room to be flexible. Besides, I really, really want to talk about this one. I picked it up on a whim, and it was one of the eeriest things I’ve read in awhile. It’s a very unsettling story in a pleasant way. My only complaint was that afterwards I didn’t fully feel like it was resolved, but this didn’t occur to me until a day after I’d put the book (novella?) down. I fully recommend it. I want to call it a ghost story, but that’s not entirely accurate. Though perhaps it is. I’m not even sure. It was haunting enough that I immediately looked up the author to see what else he’d written. I look forward to reading his other works.

3. The Haunting by Joan Lowery NixonThe-Haunting-Nixon-Joan-Lowery-9781417713073

A young adult book, this one had been on my to-read list for some time. It got pretty good reviews and is apparently a classic ghost story. I can’t imagine why. The horror in this book is that everyone is afraid of Graymoss plantation house, but the story has very little to do with the house itself and everything to do with the fear of the house. There isn’t much interaction with the ghosts. It reads more like a juvenile detective story. The writing style is weak—everything is told matter-of-factly. The character’s thoughts and emotions and impressions are spelled out, leaving no room for the reader’s imagination. The conclusion comes so quickly that, right before it hit, part of me was wondering if there was a “part two” to the book that I would have to go and purchase to get the full story. It was incredibly disappointing because young adult literature is a wonderful place to explore powerful stories. Book length is not an excuse for weak story or shoddy storytelling (see my post Power in Brevity.)

All in all, my year is off to a good start. More to come.


From → Book Reviews

  1. I didn’t read enough last year either and I’m thinking of committing to one book every two weeks. Good luck to us both!

  2. Ditto, I can’t even tell if I managed to read a book in a month last year, much less one per week. I read tons of fanfiction, and I’d daresay one or two of them would count as books, too, but still… I miss just reading for a whole day, and it’s my own damn fault… maybe one completely internet-free day per week will help with that…? :O

  3. I find that searching through Amazon’s free list is a nice way to find interesting new books too. Mind you….not always, but every now and again it’ll work out. 😉

    I can’t wait to see what else you read! There are some books that are on my “I WANT NOW!” list, but I have to wait until they come down a bit in price. I could spend nearly my entire paycheck on books if I allowed myself.

    • I do that too, and every month I check out Amazon’s 100 books for $3.99 or less. I actually get a lot of my books that way. I spend way too much money on books that I don’t have the space for or the time to read. Part of this book challenge stems from the fact that a month or so ago, I made a priority list of all of the books I own, digital or otherwise, that I need to read. It was over 80 books. And I have a separate wishlist just for books, and that has ~130 items in it. So I’m always keeping an eye out for sales.

  4. I admire your goal. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  5. You’re the second person to recommend James Harriet to me, and you have made me much more interested in reading his stuff. I knew he wrote about dogs, but I had no idea most of his writing was about strange, sad, and inspiring experiences as a veterinarian! That sounds fascinating!

    I think I’ll finally read the James Harriet book I received long ago when I was twelve. It was given to me by a camp counselor who knew I love animals and books.

    • I have two of his books, and I know I’ve read more in his lifetime. I enjoy them quite a bit. Hope you do, too!

  6. I agree with you that young adult literature is a great way to explore powerful stories. So is literature for younger children, in my opinion. I too, find it very disappointing when I read a children’s or young adult book that I do not find interesting, since I know how exciting books for young people can be.

    By the way, have you seen the last two posts on my fairy tale blog? I’ve posted the second part of my “Little Mermaid” discussion as well as a retelling of “Thumbelina.” Please check them out!

    • One of my favorite books to this day, The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston, is for ages 8 and up. I find it to be a whimsical but powerful story, and I see it as proof that a story for a younger audience can be strong enough to bring tears to the eyes of an adult.

  7. This is a cool idea, and I look forward to reading more of your reviews as the year goes on!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 52 Books in 2013—Update 02 « writingatmidnight
  2. 52 Books in 2013—Update 03 « writingatmidnight
  3. 52 Books in 2013—Update 04 | writingatmidnight

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