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Welcome 2013, but first …

January 2, 2013

Library StatueThe beginning of a new year is full of promise, a clean slate, a time for a fresh start. However, if you’re like me (and surely some of you are), you’re not quite ready to jump in. There are a few loose ends to take care of. One by one I’m ticking them off.

The Christmas tree is down. Decorations are put away. Thank you notes are written. I’ve broken my first resolution. It’s almost nine p.m. on January 2. Dinner is finished. The kitchen is cleaned up. The dishwasher and the cat are both purring downstairs. Time to move ahead … um, not quite.

One of my yearly rituals is go through my “Books Read” journal. It’s a way of taking stock, of seeing where I’ve been. Browsing through the pages, I relive the pleasure I experienced reading each entry and I look for a theme, a connecting thread in my choices. I usually don’t find one. In the year just past, there were more ebooks than in any previous year. Not surprising. Many of the books were written by friends. Not the face to face kind. I’m talking about internet friends. These are people I would not know without facebook and the various lists in which I participate, but they are friends. I share ideas with them and respect their opinions. I treasure their friendship and savor the stories they tell.

Appropriately enough, the first book I read in 2012 was Cold Comfort by Ellis Vidler, an internet friend. Other friends whose books I enjoyed in 2012 were: Mona Ingram, Sheila Claydon, Beate Boeker, Sydell Voeller, Carolyn Brown, Rae Davies, Carolyn Hughey, Gina Ardito, Blanche Marriott, and Barbara Morganroth. I’m not going to list all the titles. If I did, this post would go on forever. To learn more about them, you can Google their name or look them up on Amazon. I will say that enjoyed their books – all of them. These are books which only a few years ago I might not have heard of. What a loss that would have been! They are set in a variety of locales, many of which were new to me. The voices are fresh and, for the most part, optimistic, a welcome respite in a year when I’ve come to dread picking up a newspaper or turning on the TV. So – thank you, my far-flung friends. Keep writing and keep me posted.

Of course, I read other books too, some by writers who were new to me, others by old favorites. A quick sampling:

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey – love the way this lady spins a plot

If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him by Sharyn McCrumb – a sly, entertaining tale that wraps a serious message in fluffy packaging

Deception on His Mind by Elizabeth George – an intricate mystery that examines the racial tensions simmering just below the surface in a small seaside town in Great Britain

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – a slightly different look at the unspeakable inhumanity of slavery and the damage it does to all involved, no matter the color of their skin or their position in society

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson – a gentle, but unflinching, examination of the artificial boundaries we allow to separate us

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – loved this book – what more can I say?

The list goes on, but that’s enough. I’ll just say that the last book I completed in 2012 was Alexander’s Bridge by Willa Cather. This is a bit different from other books I’ve read by her; it’s one of her earlier works and is set in Boston and London, not on her beloved prairie. It seemed more Henry James or Edith Wharton than Willa Cather. I’m glad I read it. It was interesting to see how this American icon evolved.

The book I’m reading now is Life Sentences by Laura Lippman. This is the third book by her I read during the past year. Obviously, I like her. I like the way she tells a story and suspect we share the same prejudices.

What’s next? La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith. Love, love, love his books. I’ve had La’s Orchestra for a while and been saving it to start the new year off right. I’ll probably finish Life Sentences tonight and start this one tomorrow. Can’t wait. It’s going to be a great year.

How about you? Any favorites to share or recommend?

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