It’s getting so I’m afraid to hear the morning news. Is it me or was January 2017 particularly grim? But it’s the first day of a shiny new month. It’s past noon and I haven’t heard any bad news yet. Maybe because I haven’t turned on the radio? Here’s what’s helping me cope:
Audiobooks – I finished On Beauty by Zadie Smith last week. It was a joy. Yesterday I started Any Human Heart by William Boyd. So far, so fantastic.
Books – I’m about a third into Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. It feels like ages since I’ve read such a zingy, humourous book. I highly recommend it.
My Library Card – which enabled me to get On Beauty, Any Human Heart and Today Will Be Different.
Prizes – Who doesn’t like winning a random prize? I won a guide to small and independent publishers (book and magazine) from Mslexia Magazine last week. A quick flick through it has inspired me to get submitting again.
Publication – I’m thrilled to already have two short stories accepted for publication in 2017, one will be out later this month, the other in April. (more details soon.)
What gets you through? Tell me something good. Please.
In Up She Rises, Rachel has this to say about her best friend Sheila:
“Sheila has been leaving behind a trail of broken hearts since seventh grade. She always has several men on rotation. It’s her rule of three: one on the way in, one on the way out and one on the side. I have the same rule. For books.”
Here’s my latest book rotation:
One on the Way In: My Kindle is bursting with books. I much prefer reading physical books, but it’s time to dip into my digital store. Choices include:
I was going to ask you to vote, but having just finished a door-stopper, I’ve decided to go for the shortest of the three: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri it is.
One on The Way Out: Fifty pages into All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, I started to worry it would end too quickly. For a francophile like me there was much to love about the Parisian and Malouin settings. Marie-Laure was a compelling character and her various relationships (with her father, uncle, Madame and Werner) were engaging. I also loved Werner who tried to do the right thing. But I was wrong in thinking the book would end too quickly. For all I enjoyed it, it didn’t need to be 544 pages long.
One on the Side: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I adore Patchett’s writing. This would be the one on the way in, but I don’t have it. I’ve placed a reservation at the library but so have a few other like minded people. I’m sure it will be worth the wait.
What are you reading?
I’m back from a trip to Canada, where we spent time in various places (Toronto, St Catherine’s, Kingston and Mansfield) visiting friends and family. Driving through my sister’s neighbourhood, I spotted this:
I’ve read so much about the Little Free Library phenomenon but never seen one, so I pulled over and walked back.
Lovely, simple and full of books to be enjoyed. I took this one:
I mean, Margaret Atwood & Susanna Moodie? Margaret Atwood’s poems about Susanna Moodie’s immigrant experience? Perfect. When I’ve read it, I’d love to put it in a Little Free Library over here, if I could find one. Even better, I would love to
build have someone build me one. My own private library. Swoon.
One on the way in, one on the way out and one on the side.
That’s how someone I know used to describe the men in her life. For me, then and now, it was always going to describe books not men.
One on the Way In: Love Like Salt by Helen Stevenson, a memoir about mothers and daughters and specifically about raising a daughter with cystic fibrosis. One of my daughter’s friends has CF. I’m hoping this book will help me better understand the disease.
One on the Way Out: My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal. Leon, the nine-year old narrator burrowed his way into my heart as he struggled to care for his troubled mum and baby brother Jake. This debut novel explores the heartache of lost families, foster care and the swiftness with which a boy can fall between the cracks and hurtle towards trouble. The pace lagged a bit about 2/3rds of the way through, but overall I enjoyed this compassionate look at people on the margins, many of whom help Leon, a character who will stay with me for a long time.
One On the Side: In truth I have many books on the side. My to be read pile teeters with new additions. Three Junes by Julia Glass was recommended by a friend and late last week the library reservation arrived. So Three Junes it is.
What are you reading?
Isn’t that a beautiful title? There’s a beautiful book cover to go along with it, too:
The anthology was put together for National Flash Fiction Day 2016, which takes place on Saturday 25th June. I’m thrilled to have a flash in the anthology, with the not so beautiful title Onion.
I’m in very good company, with some truly amazing writers, so I encourage you to purchase a copy of the anthology. You can buy the UK print version here or the Kindle version here. It’s also available on the Canadian and American Amazon websites.
To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day, I’m giving away one print copy. Everyone who leaves a comment below before midnight (GMT) on Saturday 25th June will be entered into the draw. The name picked from a hat will be the winner. Good luck!
Now, I have to ask: What’s beneath your bed?