Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Year in Books

Last year, someone asked me how many books I typically read in a year and I realized I didn't know. So this year, I decided to keep a list of all the novels and nonfiction books I read for enjoyment. Here is the complete list:
  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  2. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
  3. Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinor Pruitt Stewart
  4. The Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton
  5. The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas
  6. The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot
  7. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  9. Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
  10. The Odds by Stewart O'Nan
  11. Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara
  12. How to Live, or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
  13. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
  14. North River by Pete Hamill
  15. 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.
  16. The Passion of Artemesia by SusanVreeland
  17. The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life by Dinty W. Moore
  18. The Expats by Chris Pavone
  19. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  20. The Second Empress by Michelle Moran
  21. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall
  22. Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall
  23. Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell
  24. Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat
  25. The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer
  26. Accidents of Providence by Stacia Brown 
  27. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham [currently reading]
  28. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese [currently reading]
  29. The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis [currently reading]
A respectable number of books, considering this list doesn't take into account all the research reading I did for my work in progress. (I will probably only manage to finish one of the last four on the list before the calendar turns, but as they are all hefty books that I've nearly completed, I wanted to account for the time spent reading them.) All in all, a book every two weeks. My English teachers would be proud.

How did I choose the books I read? Several factors guided my choices.
  • Last Christmas, I received a Kindle and loaded it up with free classics. Six of the books on the list (Wilde, Stewart, Wharton, Cather, Chopin, and Maugham) were books I'd been meaning to read for years and finally did, in the electronic version.
  • Six other books were written by author friends. These books I read and reviewed here on the blog (Loupas, Perinot, O'Hara, Moran, Bracewell [review coming in January], and Perrat). I'm very grateful to these friends for sending me copies of their wonderful novels and allowing me to help spread the word about them.
  • Other books were penned by authors who are clients of my agent, Stephanie Cabot, or other agents at The Gernert Company (O'Hara, Jordan, Pavone, O'Nan). Another (Falcones) was recommended to me by Stephanie. It is always very useful and inspiring (and not a little humbling) to see what gorgeous works the agency represents and sells to publishers.
  • Several books I found at random on the new book shelf at the library (Gottshcall, Pillemer, Moore, Hepinstall). I love discovering an unexpected gem!
  • Others books I picked up because of a review I'd read on the internet (Shomer, Ennis, Verghese, Brown, Bakewell). There are several bloggers and reviewers whose judgment I trust and I hasten to read the books they recommend.
  • One book I read because I enjoyed listening to the author speak at the 2011 Historical Novel Society Conference (Vreeland).
  • Two others books on the list were works by favorite authors of mine (Hamill and Zafon). I always look forward to reading new work by favorite authors, or working my way through their previously published corpus.
Now, you might ask, which books stood out as my favorite reads from among these twenty-seven? That, friends, will be a post for later in the week, after I draw a winner for the Historical Holiday Blog Hop giveaway!

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