January 9: Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)
1. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien– I know. I can’t really call myself a fantasy reader (let alone writer) and not have read these! I will, I swear! They’re sitting on my shelf waiting for me. I think part of the reason I haven’t read them yet is that I want to have a nice chunk of time to really get lost in them. But I did make some progress already. I decided to get started and I’m about 100 pages into The Fellowship of the Ring.
2. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey– This one starts off a series has been recommended to me for years. I have it sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me. But again I feel like I’m waiting for a point where I can just read, and lose myself in the world of the books. That time may never come though! I do want to get through some of these books before I’m a senior citizen.
3. Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson– I’m not usually a fan of “westerns” but this was very highly recommended by a coworker, who isn’t usually a big “reader” so I feel like I should give it a chance. Actually plot-wise it does sound interesting. It’s about Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped by the Comanche Indians at the age of nine and grew up to be a Comanche woman. It’s based on a true story and is supposedly very well researched.
4. Trinity by Leon Uris– I’m a fan of author Cindy Brandner’s Exit Unicorns series and she cites this as a book that book that was hugely influential to her. She says “Long ago I read the book Trinity by Leon Uris. It changed everything for me. I was thirteen at the time and I remember reading that last page, closing the book with a sense of profound loss and just knowing that this is what I wanted to do, tell stories that made people think, cry, laugh and create characters that would live for others as vividly as they lived for me. People that readers would consider personal friends and that they would wonder about long after the last page was turned.” I certainly want that experience as a reader!
5. After Anatevka by Alexandra Silber– In 2007 Alexandra Silber played Hodel in the London revival of The Fiddler on the Roof. In 2015 she played Hodel’s older sister Tzeitzel in the Broadway revival of the show. She’s obviously spent a lot of creative time and space with these characters. In this book, she imagines what Hodel’s life would be like after the curtain falls. We leave Hodel on the way to join her lover, Perchick in a Siberian labor camp. This book picks up at that point. Often actors imagine a backstory for their characters, but I like the idea of imagining a “forward story” for one. I think that when you’ve spent a lot of time and energy in a creative world, it’s can be hard to let go of. This is an interesting way of keeping it alive. Plus, a historical love story against a turn of the century Russian backdrop? Yes, please!
6. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn– This was written in 1966 and has been in print ever since its publication, yet for some reason, it doesn’t get talked about all that much. Learning that made me curious. It’s about a black man and a white woman who fall in love in Depression-era New Orleans. I bought it in 2017 and haven’t started it yet because it’s 750+ pages about a pretty heavy subject (race in America). Hopefully, in 2018 I’ll be able to give it time/attention/thought.
7. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss- I loved The Name of the Wind, the first in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. This is the follow-up. It’s sitting on my shelf and I’ve been putting off starting it because I want to know that the trilogy will have a conclusion. This book came out in 2011. No word on a release date for number three yet. Hopefully, we’ll hear something about a release date for it in 2018 so that I can start this one!
8. The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett– This is book three of Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. They follow the adventures of the main character (sometimes he’s a hero, sometimes he’s more anti-hero), a sixteenth-century Scotsman with a talent for getting into and out of trouble. The first two books in this series can work as stand-alones, but supposedly with this one, it becomes more of a series where each book is dependent on the books that came before. These books can be a lot of fun but they’re dense. We hardly ever get inside the main character’s head, so his motives are often a mystery. Sometimes it’s only in seeing the result of an action that we understand why the character did it. They’re also loaded with allusions to classical literature and words and phrases that you need several dictionaries to understand. That means that reading them when you have other stuff on your mind can be a challenge. I really hope I get to make some progress on this series in 2018 though.
9. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset– This is another series that I’d intended to start in 2017. It’s the story of a woman’s life in 14th century Norway, and it hasn’t been out of print since it was initially published in 1927. The author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the 1930s and at the time, this trilogy was her only published work. I had intended to begin this year, but the translation that I had felt very laborious. I’ve since learned that the translation by Tiina Nunnally (linked) is the way to go.
10. Nor Gold: The Pirate Captain, Chronicles of A Legend by Kerry Lynne– I read The Pirate Captain, the first book in what is intended to be a trilogy in 2017. I enjoyed it a lot in spite of the fact that there was some serious “borrowing” from Outlander and Pirates of the Carribean in terms of plot and characters! It’s not literary greatness by any means, but it’s a fun historical romantic adventure. I wanted to wait until book 3 is out (projected release is sometime in 2018) before reading this one because it supposedly ends with a cliffhanger, and I have no patience to wait and see what happens!