Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not Writing, But Reading

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

This month's cycle at GBC, we're talking about NaNo. The only problem is that I never do NaNo, because my year is typically one big NaNo. For example, since Monday, I've written 14,000 words of a new novel, not to mention blog posts etc.

So instead of talking about strategies for writing quickly, I'm going to do a reading post. Since others else-Internet are posting their Best of 2012 reading lists, although it's not even December yet, and since I'm likely not due up here again until 2013, I thought I'd post my list now.

I keep a reading journal and put stars next to the books I deem the most worthy reads. When I make my end-of-year list, I knock out those books that I can no longer remember. Here then are the best books I read this year that I can still remember:

Best Books Read in 2012

Best Adult Fiction


The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

The Odds, Stuart O'Nan

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

Hanging Hill, Mo Hayder

Trick of the Dark, Val McDermid

The Leopard, Jo Nesbo

The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

The Night Swimmer, Matt Bondurant

Night Swim, Jessica Keener

Light from a Distant Star, Mary McGarry Morris

The Lost Saints of Tennessee, Amy Franklin-Willis

Vixen, Ken Bruen

Gone, Cathi Hanauer

The Good Father, Noah Hawley

Helsinki White, James Thompson

The Darlings, Cristina Alger

Broken Harbor, Tana French

Say Nice Things About Detroit, Scott Lasser

The Innocents, Francesca Segal

The World Without You, Joshua Henkin

Alys, Always, Harriet Lane

The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Shadow Girls, Henning Mankell

The Lifeboat, Charlotte Rogan

Best YA and Middle Grade (MG)

First Day on Earth, Cecil Castellucci (YA)

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness (MG)

Where Things Come Back, John Corey Whaley (MG)

The Big Crunch, Pete Hautman (YA)

This is Not a Test, Courtney Summers (YA)

The Wicked and the Just, J. Anderson Coats (YA)

Best Nonfiction

The Presidents Club, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

Note: For the last several years, I've always picked one book that stood above all the others. This year, despite how many books appear on this year-end roundup, there are no books that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Here, then, are some of the books I've given this accolade to in previous years:

This Human Season, Louise Dean

Breath, Tim Winton

Kings of the Earth, Jon Clinch

The Old Romantic, Louise Dean

Little Bee, Chris Cleave

And that's it! A long list of books for you to potentially go out and buy to support your reading habit.

Oh, bloody hell. Even though I never do NaNo, clearly a writer who can string together 14,000 (hopefully) intelligible words in four days knows something about stringing words together, so here are some free tips from me to you:

1) Don't cook. You want to pile up the pages? Other people cook for you - you don't cook for them - or you rely on takeout or, my favorite lunch, Chips In A Bag.

2) Don't clean. If nothing is actively crawling in your house, it's clean enough.

3) Don't apologize or ask for permission. Presumably, all the others in your household, however many there may be, don't apologize because they do things that satisfy their soul in some way. You shouldn't either.

4) Set daily goals. Sure, Twitter etc is a distraction - for all of us - but "I spent too much time on social media today" is no better an excuse than "the dog ate my homework." Be professional about your writing. Set those daily goals and then don't sleep until you've met them. You can always play afterward or in the gaps.

And that's really it! Enjoy your reading list! Enjoy the last day of NaNo!

Oops, before I go, here's one thing you can do for me. I don't expect a whole list, but how about telling me the title of just one book you read this year that you think the world - or at least I! - would enjoy?

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of 26 books - and counting - for adults, teens and children, the most recent of which is Pursuing the Times, a comedic romance for adults (buy it! buy it!) You can read more about her life and work at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com or follow her on Twitter at @LaurenBaratzL

16 comments:

  1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

    And, thanks for the free tips. Of course, I don't have to be writing for some of those to not happen, but the validation is comforting!

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  2. Oh.My.Gawd!!!!!

    You had me at chips in a bag, girlfriend. xo

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  3. Love this list, Lauren!! For me, GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn was the best book of the year. That thing blew me away. Pick it up asap and read it-- they're about to cast the movie and I'm sure they'll give away all of the plot twists. And trust me, they are too good to miss.

    And man, do I love these tips!! So, no cooking or cleaning, and you get to eat potato chips for your meals? When are you organizing a writer's retreat at your house? I'm in!!

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  4. I agree with Brenda on Gone Girl and I also loved Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

    Great rules. Especially the house cleaning bit.

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  5. Because I couldn't pick just one, I have two favorites from the year: Labor Day by Joyce Meynard (I was sobbing by the end), and Domestic Violets by Matt Norman (hilarious, with an epic rant skewering corporate cube life).

    Have heard great things about The Art of Fielding--adding to my wish list now!

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  6. Am so impressed (and shamed) that you read so many books this year. My list is anemic at best. Hoping to catch up over Xmas break!

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  8. Dear Lauren,
    I echo the above comment--you have put my 2012 reading list to shame! Must do better in 2013 :) Thank you so much for including Lost Saints of Tennessee on your best reads list. It warms this debut novelist's heart.

    Best wishes for a lovely holiday season. I'm off to try to write 14,000 words in the next 2 1/2 days so I can finish draft of new book. :) I'll be consuming only Lean Cuisine and Diet Dr. Pepper...

    Amy Franklin-Willis

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  9. Lauren, your list is amazing! Thanks for all the recs...
    Agreeing with Brenda and Karin on GONE GIRL. That was a fascinating one. A really unique and clever paranormal story was THE ROOK by Daniel O'Malley. And I'm enjoying Kate Morton's THE SECRET KEEPER right now.

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  10. You put my list to shame as well...haven't been able to read NEAR enough this year. Oh, I keep buying them...they just look at me...or my Nook keeps looking at me for them. I get so excited when I get to read one, like I've accomplished something major. :)

    I read alot of Karen White this year, and Roni Loren. (two extremes, I know, but love them both). Right now I'm reading THE RIVER WITCH by Kimberly Brock, which so far is awesome. :)

    Now...I have to steal your #2 cleaning comment to use SOMEWHERE because I'm still giggling about it right now as I type this. Love it to death and back. :)

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  11. Thanks for all the great recs, peeps! Some I've read; others I'll add to my list.

    Amy, thanks for popping in. I did so love your book

    OK, remember, everyone: NO CLEANING!

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  12. Lauren, I keep lists like this, too! All the books I read, my favorites, and then pick an overall favorite. Love it!

    I appreciate all these recommendations.

    The best book I read in 2012 was CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein. I highly recommend it!

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  13. You had me at chips in a bag, too. Still laughing.

    Would love to read your review of Alys, Always.

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  14. So nice to find your blog on Largehearted Boy's aggregate. I confess I haven't kept up with your work since the Readerville Days. I'll have to check it out.

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  15. Thanks for the list!

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