This month’s selections ran the gamut from writing handbooks to young adult bestsellers thanks to the libraries of friends, public libraries, and some gifts.
I put off reading this acclaimed memoir for a while because I knew it would be powerful and frankly I didn’t feel like having my heart torn out. It was as powerful as I expected, and once again I marveled at her ability to let description do the emotional work of story telling. She clearly got an “A” the day they taught “show, don’t tell” in writing school.
What I found most courageous was that the book simply encompasses the year it advertises on the cover. Nothing is tied up or resolved at the end, there is no punctuation mark on her grieving. She just takes us along for a year, and drops us off at the end.
From time to time I read the YA novels my students have read. From time to time one of the English teachers will leave a book on my desk. That is exactly what happened with Hunger Games, so I took it home and read it in two nights.
I would have been annoyed with myself if I’d given it any more than two nights of my life. The plot was engaging but the writing painfully clunky. At some point I’ll read the other two.
This warm, informative book from Andi Cumbo-Floyd recounts the history of the slaves that lived and worked on the land she now occupies. Working with limited resources in the historical record, Andi weaves her imagination, her history with the area, and historical fact to fill out the story of a place.
These two were next to each other on the shelf at the library so I grabbed them both. Memoir Project in brief: Interesting, helpful, engagingly written, short. Shimmering Images in brief: buzzwordy, gimmicky, short (made shorter by the fact that I didn’t finish it).
This was the third short book I read this month and I was starting to feel like a cheat, stacking my list with easy reads. Vinita Hampton Wright combines artistic advice with practical tips for working with publishers and editors, all in a clear, direct way. I highly recommend this book.
My final recommendation is The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev, a special feature that ran in the Boston Globe during December. The thoroughly researched and marvelously written profile of the brothers who carried out the Marathon Bombing doesn’t necessarily give any answers as to why this tragedy took place, but it paints an enlightening picture of an immigrant family unraveling. This made me tear up, cringe, and be thankful that this kind of writing still has a home in the modern newspaper.
Now I’m on to a novel by Joyce Maynard, and have a stack I hope to conquer before winter break ends. Did you get any good books for Christmas? What did you read in December?
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