I do not use the word ‘literary’ lightly. If one is expecting car chases and rock-’em-sock’-’em action, one will be highly disappointed. No, this is a psychological book full of quiet terrors, surrounded by incidents so mundane that the average person can’t help but identify. This is of course the point. Your life? Mine? Opened up and spread across the cold metal dissection table? What would one find, if one looked closely enough? In this world of six-degrees-of-separation, who can say they have not met someone at a party, sat next to someone on a bus, bought cheese from someone, had their hair styled by someone, even perhaps been friendly to, even perhaps loved, a person with whom the shadowy offices of global surveillance would take exception. A file would be started. I shouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s one on me.
Although I’ve not finished my reading for 2015, ’tis the time of lists. A number of ‘best of’ lists this year have me scratching my head, since I read some of the books and didn’t care care for them very much, and the fact Kim Kardashian’s SELFISH made the Globe & Mail’s list… well… the less said about that the better. Reading preferences are so personal, aren’t they?
Nonetheless, in case a few of you may share my sensibilities, here are my best 10 reads of the year — some new, some quite old indeed, but in my opinion all of them well worth reading. Enjoy, and tell me what you’ve loved this year, won’t you?
I just read a terrific book — thanks to Sandra Katsuri, my publisher at Chizine Press, who recommended it to me — and I wanted to pass the word along.
The book is NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS by Nathan Ballingrud.
This is a superb collection of short stories. Nathan Ballingrud won the inaugural Shirley Jackson Award for his story “The Monsters of Heaven” which is contained in this book along with eight others. Each might have won the award. They’re that good.
Well, ’tis that time of the year. Winter Solstice — the time when you will find me burrowed under blankets by the fire, book in one hand, tea in the other. Also the time when the “Best of” book lists are coming out. (I’m most grateful to find THE EMPTY ROOM on a couple of them.)
I love book lists and recommendations and I post mine on Booklikes.com and TheReadingRoom.com. They’re both independent sites — by which I mean not affiliated with any large book retailer — and you can, if you’re interested, follow me there.
Every morning I spend a little time reading before I begin the real work of the day, which is writing. I choose the books I read in this time slot for inspirational value, either spiritual or psychological or artistic. This morning I finished The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, by Madeleine L’Engle, which is the second of the “Crosswicks Journal” series, was chosen for a mixture of the three, and it does not disappoint.
Because I am a little neurotic and insecure and oscillate between wanting to be left alone to write and wanting people to remember I exist — in short, you know, a WRITER — I have a Google alert set up. Sometimes it brings me wonderful things, as it did this morning when I was alerted to a truly splendid review by Nikki Brewer of my first novel, THE STUBBORN SEASON, and you can read it by clicking here.
There’s an interesting piece about literary criticism in the Aug. 15, 2012 New York Times, written by literary critic Dwight Garner, called “A Critic’s Case for Critics Who Are Actually Critical.” It’s a fun article to read, peppered as it is with just the sorts of anecdotes that make us want to read critical snark to begin with. Consider:
Oh, Penguin, you’ve found my soft spot. Books, books, beautiful books, as alluring on the outside as you are on the inside.
Take a gander at these beauties:
Penguin has come out with special edition classics, with stunning covers created by acclaimed designer Coralie Bickford-Smith. Their web page says, “Penguin Classics presents beautiful hardcover editions of the world’s favorite books. Featuring gorgeous patterns stamped on linen cases, colored endpapers, and ribbon markers, these are rich and sumptuous volumes that continue what will be one of the most coveted sets of books ever produced.”
I am humbled and grateful for the wonderful review Alan Cuymn gave OUR DAILY BREAD in the Globe & Mail. I have enormous respect for Cuymn’s work; to get such a positive review from him leaves me breathless.
Where is hell, exactly?
Up the mountain, where it has always been. The road there takes your children first.
Our Daily Bread, by Lauren B. Davis, is all about that road. Signs blare from the beginnings of many chapters, sermon excerpts from the Church of Christ Returning. But it’s not all fire and brimstone. Much of the scenery looks hauntingly familiar, and that’s the power of a literary novel detailing, almost lovingly, every good intention.
The site “My Book Addiction” has posted an interview with yours truly, a review of OUR DAILY BREAD — and they’re doing a giveaway! They’re offering 4 print copies of Our Daily Bread. The Giveaway runs from today September 29,until October 6, 2011. Good luck! Let me know if you manage to snag a copy!