Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I Don't Stitch More

Because I read 125 books in 2009.  OK, there are plenty of times that I can't stitch -- when the airplane I am in is taking off or landing, when I am eating or when I am taking a bath.  (I love to read for a couple of minutes in a warm bath before I go to bed.)  But I also listened to 6 audiobooks this year while I was stitching, so books and stitching are not completely incompatible.

Of the 125 books I read, 106 were fiction and 19 were nonfiction.  I thought I read more nonfiction this year, but many of these books were dense (and several are still WiPs).  Of the 106 Fiction books I read; 43 were science fiction, 30 were mysteries, 21 were fantasy, 12 were graphic novels, 11 were anthologies, 7 were Advanced Reading Copies, 6 were audiobooks, and 4 were thrillers.  This doesn't add up to 106 as there are several overlapping categories  One of my favorite books was John Birmingham's Without Warning, a post apocalyptic, military, political novel.  I'm not a fan of military science fiction in general, but there is something about John Birmingham's pedal to the medal writing style and sociological insights that just resonates with me.  I also enjoyed George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones read by Roy Dotrice.  Although I had read this book when it first was published, listening to it was another entertaining experience.  My favorite anthology was Cyberabad Days by Ian MacDonald, a group of short stories of a future India that add up to a better story than most novels.  My favorite mysteries were the Kate Shugak novels of a native Alaskan woman who is a private eye in the Bush by Dana Stabenow.  The interlocking family stories are even better than the convoluted mysteries.  My favorite graphic novels were Y: The Last Man, which had both a great story and beautiful illustrations.   My favorite nonfiction book was How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.  Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell got more press, but it was a confused and illogical attempt to talk about decision making compared to the infinitely better How We Decide.

The worst books I read last year?  In nonfiction, Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story by Evan I. Schwartz.  I learned to read using the Oz books when I was only four.  To say they are close to my heart is faint praise.  So I was excited to learn more about the author and how these books came to be.  Instead of a reasoned biography, this book is a apologetic, revisionist history about how L. Frank Baum couldn't have possibly hated American Indians.  There isn't much about how the stories came to be or much history about what happened after the first book was published.  I was truly disappointed.  In fiction, it's a tie between The Copper Bracelet, a collaborative novel started by Jeffery Deaver and We Are Now Beginning Our Descent, a contemporary novel of a journalist in Afghanistan, by James Meek.  Collaborative novels are a bad idea.  Each chapter changes the tone and emphasis of the story.  In this book, I assumed that each author tried to kill off an important character so that the following authors would have a harder time continuing the story.  Only Lisa Scottoline's chapter was written with any skill or grace.  We Are Now Beginning Our Descent is a book at reminds me why I don't read much contemporary fiction.  The narrator is a whiny, over privileged hack whose life is falling apart because he is a jerk.  Overall, nothing much happens.  Unfortunately, I find this description is true of most modern novels.  I guess I just like Dickens and other authors who actually have a plot and characters I can care about.

This will probably be my last post for a while.  Today I am starting to lay out my clothes and stitching that I will taking on the cruise.  We leave for the boat late Monday night.  Although internet access is available on the boat, I don't don't know how much I am willing to pay for it, though there should be a lot of stitching (and a lot of reading) while I am sailing.  May January treat you well and may you enjoy your friends, family, and stitching.


Jackie said...

Enjoy your cruise! They're a lot of fun!

Have you found

Lisa Scottoline said...

Thanks for your very kind comments about my writing! By the way, do you know I'm a needlepoint freak? I have been known to wake up early to stitch! I used my love for needlepoint in my early novel, FINAL APPEAL. We need more stitchers in books! Enjoy your cruise! Love, L

RuthB said...

Kathryn, I do love you -- insightful as ever. :)