On this first day of the new year, I’m indulging in one of my favorite activities—reading. Well, I don’t know that I should call it an indulgence when I’m getting paid to do it for a deadline, but fortunately I’m also enjoying Denise Weimer’s Spring Splash, a novel about competitive teen swimmers that was inspired by the author’s own daughters and will be published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I’m also finishing up another forthcoming LPC title, Hope’s Gentle Touch by Laura Hodges Poole. Quite a different story, that one, featuring a young woman who escapes from a severely abusive marriage and slowly learns to love—and trust—again.
There’s no shortage of books awaiting my attention. Not proofreading assignments, but books in general. In fact, they now number in the hundreds, which was a rather alarming prospect, especially since the list just keeps growing, at a slow but steady pace. What can I say: People will keep writing books, and recommending books, with no sympathy whatsoever for my dilemma. I’ve even taken to deleting most emails from freebooksy.com, since I fear my vulnerability to the temptation of adding ever more titles to the pile. As I’ve wryly remarked a few times to various friends, I have so many books to read, I can never die.
Then I had a short chat with a friend and fellow reader with a TBR not dissimilar to mine, who joked that I had discovered the Fountain of Youth. And I thought . . .
Dang . . . she’s RIGHT!
Too many books? Who cares? Of course I will have time to read them all! Hear that, Ponce de Léon? You didn’t need to visit Florida all those years ago! You just needed a fifteen-page reading list going back over six years and more than four hundred titles in your laptop’s Kindle app!*
With that settled, it was time to think about how many of them I could, and really wanted to, get around to in 2020. I’m not like some folks who plow through dozens of books per year, gleefully surpassing even their own expectations. No siree, I figured that at my typical rate, along with my normal daily responsibilities (day job! Housework! Grocery shopping! Cooking! Exercise! Errands! Car maintenance! Playing with the cat!), the occasional outings with friends, and monthly proofreading assignments, I’d better err on the conservative side of one per month, with a healthy division between memoir, biography, self-help, the craft of writing, and fiction. In no particular order, the top twelve came down to:
- Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. (A classic. Period. As one Amazon.com reviewer put it, “Most of the current speakers in the area of personal development, including Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and others owe a debt to Maxwell Maltz for the foundation of their material.” But even that seems like an understatement.)
- As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling by Anne Serling. (I’m a great fan of The Twilight Zone and have seen enough fellow afficionados recommend this to feel sure it was a must-read.)
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. (Millions of copies sold. Called a classic that should be on every writer’s bookshelf. Over 4,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.com. Plus—it’s Stephen King, peeps.)
- The 10 Commandments of Author Branding by Shayla Raquel. (I need to learn about self-marketing. From someone who freely admits she “used to suck rotten eggs at marketing” and clearly no longer does. After all, she makes a full-time living as an author/editor/marketing coach and is nearly three decades my junior to boot.)
- Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen. (Because I enjoy the light escapism of this genre and aspire to write my own first cozy in 2020. Which is a slightly daunting prospect as I’ve never attempted a mystery of any sort before.)
- Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante. (I’m a nearly lifelong fan of Louisa, and that was one hell of a family.)
- 30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders. (I see this as something of a precursor to one day actually reading through the entire Bible in one year, as I’ve tried and abandoned twice already—and getting more out of that than simply saying I read the entire Bible in one year.)
- Discover Your Writing Self by Andi Cumbo-Floyd. (Help me, Andi.)
- The Cracked Spine (A Scottish Bookshop Mystery) by Paige Shelton. (I love a good cozy mystery. I love bookshops. And I would love to someday visit Scotland. ‘Nuff said.)
- Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn. (The definitive work to date on one seriously crazy story. Plus, I’m also planning to resume work on my second poetry collection, Riding With Bonnie and Clyde, and this is a vital resource to that end—along with book #11.)
- The Shape of Poetry: A Practical Guide to Writing and Reading Poems by Peter Meinke and Jeanne Clark Meinke. (See above.)
- Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches by Renea Winchester. (Renea, I loved your debut novel, so now it’s time for me to check out your nonfiction. Thanks for the autographs!)
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But that’s enough about me. I’ve got READING to do. How about you? Do you have a Big Honking Reading List that will allow you to live pretty much forever? How many titles are on it? How do you prioritize them? (Or do you even bother?) Tell me about it!
*Yes, I know old Ponce wasn’t really searching for a fabled “Fountain of Youth,” but it’s a good story.