Don’t mind telling you, I’m pretty happy about how my reading year has gone so far. I’ve finished 14 books, well on my way to reaching my goal of 25 books and 100 short stories by the end of the year. AND, since every book I’ve read so far was written by a female author, I’m also on target for my stretch goal, which was to read 25 books BY WOMEN this year.
Here are the latest five I’ve read, in reverse order: most recent to oldest:
Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd. The author was a young model in the 1960s in England when she got a job appearing in the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night.” She met George Harrison, they fell in love and got married. He wrote the song “Something” about her.
They ran in the same circles with a lot of other British musicians, of course, and at some point, she met Eric Clapton, who promptly fell in love with Boyd, his friend’s wife. Clapton wrote the classic unrequited-love song “Layla” about her. Eventually, he lured her away from Harrison, and Boyd and Clapton got married; among other songs Clapton wrote about her was “Wonderful tonight,” which became the title of her memoir.
I love all those 60s English rockers, so I really enjoyed the book. It was very much her side of the story; I actually have both Clapton’s and Harrison’s autobiographies, and I’m looking forward to reading them even more now.
Stillhouse Lake, by Rachel Caine. This was a “Kindle First” book for the month of June. If you’re in Amazon Prime and you use the Kindle app, every month you get to pick a book from a list of six pre-release books. Usually it’s nothing I’ve heard of and by authors I don’t know, and to be honest, I’ve been just letting the books pile up in my Kindle library. Something about this one, though intrigued me, and I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.
I think I tend to be overly judgmental about mysteries and thrillers. I’m constantly on the lookout for plot holes and inconsistencies, and if I come upon they can ruin the book for me. This book, though, contained none, and even though the subject matter wasn’t really my typical fodder—a woman’s husband is found to be a serial killer, and she lives her life on the run from those who want to punish her for his deeds—I found the book gripping and well done. There was one flaw, which I would call more of a marketing error than a plotting error, but it’s something of a spoiler. I won’t discuss it here. If you read it, though, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Wait Till Next Year, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This was the first book I’ve ready by DKG. A Pulitzer Prize winner, she’s most known for her presidential biographies, but this book was a memoir of her youth growing up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan—the endless yearning and the inevitable disappointments. During her childhood, the Dodgers were one of the best teams in the National League, but when they would make the World Series, they would fall to the rival Yankees. And then, finally, the Dodgers won the World Series in 1955 … but then almost immediately moved to Los Angeles.
As a St. Louisan, I can relate to the civic pride that is attached to a long-time successful sports franchise—and also the sense of civic betrayal when a city’s team packs up and moves elsewhere.
I try to read at least one baseball book each summer, and this will be the one for 2017. As mentioned here, I definitely want to read more books by DJG. However, since my “to read” shelf is pretty full, they’ll probably have to (ahem) wait till next year.
The Widow, by Fiona Barton. This one was OK. Amazon has it in the “Thrillers and Suspense” category, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a thriller, and the suspense was, well, minimal. It’s the story of a woman whose husband died in an accident after being accused of the abduction of a child, and the police detective and a tabloid reporter trying to get her story. As I mentioned above, I’m kind of picky about fiction, and I feel like one of the rules is that you limit the point of view to critical characters only. Another is that if a first-person character has knowledge of something, it’s not fair for that character to act like he/she doesn’t have that knowledge in the first 2/3 of the book, and then suddenly, when it’s convenient for the storyteller, reveal the information. I felt like both those rules were violated in this book. I probably won’t be reading her new book, which is coming out this summer.
All I Did Was Ask: Conversations With Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists, by Terry Gross. Terry Gross is the exceptional host of the NPR program Fresh Air, and, as the title indicates, this book contains excerpts of transcripts from dozens of interviews with people from the various entertainment fields. She is a brilliant interviewer, one of the best in the business, and she brings out the humanity in her guests. Or in some cases—I’m lookin’ at you, Gene Simmons—the inhumanity.
The only drawback of this book is that it was published 13 years ago. I think it’s about time for a follow-up.
And here comes the part where I’ll try to predict the next five books I’ll read. I never get this right, but I keep doing it.
Brother Of The More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido. (This one I know for sure—because I’m already halfway through it.)
Giant Of The Senate by Al Franken. Pretty sure on this one as well. It’ll break my string of books by women, but I just got it and I really want to read it.
La Rose by Louise Erdrich.
You Can’t Catch Me by Joyce Carol Oates.
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation Of An American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt.