Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Last 10 (almost) Books

Way back in March I saw someone somewhere do a  blog post–or hop, or meme–asking about the last 10 books you’ve read, and how you heard about them. I started a post on it, then dropped it because I think I got distracted by…well, something…and then ended up forgetting it all together. Well, here I sit on a chilly Monday morning with nothing to write, and I thought, Yeah, I’ll do that last ten books thing. There’s just one problem: I can’t remember the last ten books I’ve read.

Back in March, I didn’t have too much of a problem. I still have that list in a draft, and it’s a nice collection, a fairly eclectic mix of old (On the Beach) and relatively new (The Art of Racing in the Rain), across various genres and styles. And now? Hmm, let’s see. Not counting the one manuscript I beta read for a friend in October, or the one I’m beta reading now, here’s where I’m at:

The Secret History, Donna Tartt. I keep hearing about Ms. Tartt, mostly from agents who say things like, “I’d love to have something like Donna Tartt”, so I grabbed this one from the library. I’m about 2/3 of the way through, and I’ll be honest, it’s been a struggle. This book is very highly-regarded, but it’s not working all that well for me. Still, I hate to put books down unfinished.

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy. This is a word-of-mouth book, heard about from many people. Roy writes in a really intriguing way, and I enjoy reading about different cultures.

And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini. I enjoyed this. A very sad story by Hosseini. This would be word-of-mouth, I guess, or publicity from the publisher.

In One Person, John Irving. I was disappointed. I felt too much like I had read these characters and setting before, and Irving has developed a tendency to lecture about literature. As an Irving fan, I was aware that it was coming out, not sure how.

A Feast for Crows, George R.R. Martin. I’m amazed at Martin’s characterization and his ability to surprise me. I’m not a big fantasy (if you call this fantasy, I’m not sure) reader, so the fact that I will crack open book 5 of the saga this week tells you plenty.

The Night Strangers, Chris Bohjalian. I’ve enjoyed the three other Bohjalian books I’ve read, but this one fell a little flat for me. This was a ‘found’ book–I ran across it at a rummage sale in the fall. I ‘discovered’ Bohajalian on the shelf of my library two years ago.

And that’s all I can remember. My reading is down a bit this year, in large part because I’ve got a lot of things on my mind that have kind of pushed reading to the back burner. Interesting to me, most of what I’ve read recently I’ve ‘discovered’ by word of mouth, or, in the case of the biggest names on the list (Hosseini and Irving) via the publicity machine of their publishers.  What about you? What books have you been reading, and how did you hear about them?

18 Responses

  1. Hmmm… I never thought about putting HOW I heard about the book I read when I write about what I've read (did that come out right?). Anyway, in the last 10 books I've read, 4 were written by author friends (either through my publisher or a group I belong with, so I was supporting them), 3 were written by a favorite author (I'm always keeping an eye out for new releases – or they're on my shelf waiting to be read), 2 were recommended (loved the one my daughter recommended, but the one a reading friend did was just okay), and 1 I was just curious about (that would be Dracula).

    Oh, and if you want help in REMEMBERING what you read, sign up for Goodreads. It's free. You don't even have to have friends. I just love how it keeps track of everything (well, everything reading-related!).

  2. I just finished listening to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I'm revisiting the series after a break. I spent so many year totally immersed in the books while I was a moderator at a HP forum that I needed a break. It's nice to know I'm still totally in love with the series.

    I'm currently listening to Nancy Thompson's "Mistaken". I've been waiting forever for it to come out in audiobook. I wish I had more time to just sit down and read.

  3. I'm reading Unbroken and The Frugal Book Promoter. A great way to start out 2014. They're making a movie on Unbroken so that will be interesting to see if its good or just another crappy money maker for Hollywood.

  4. I just finished Gone Girl. Took me awhile to finally open this one, but what a crazy ride. Really, it's been awhile since a book had me reading in every spare minute of my day. Now I'm on to Code Name Verity. A WWII novel about a young British female spy. So far so good. Both of these books, by the way, I heard about online through friends via Goodreads I think.

  5. This is why I use Goodreads, because I would forget as well!

    I finished book five in George R.R. Martin's series last night. OMGOMGOMG! That is all I'm saying.

  6. You're an eclectic reader – that's awesome! I've been doing a lot more light reading in the past few years. Life has thrown more curveballs our way and my reading reflects that. I'm reading Book 1 of the Dresden files (borrowed from a friend) because I enjoyed the show and a contemporary romance I bought via the Kindle daily deal 🙂

  7. I'm usually better at remembering what I've read, I think I've just been preoccupied with things; I'm not especially eager to join another online community, but I'm sure I will hit up Goodreads at some point. Thanks for sharing, Stacy!

  8. I try to mix it up a bit. That's why that old saw "Write the story you want to read" used to confuzzle me–I like to read a lot of different things, though I notice this list slants a little toward the 'literary' side of things.

  9. I still can't get over how beautifully written 'The God of Small Things' is. I'm going to have to re-read that one some time. It definitely says something when you're cracking open the 5th book in a series of a genre you're not particularly crazy about.

    Most of my recently read books were ones I heard about via word of mouth or the blogosphere, and a couple that were just sitting on the shelf in my room waiting to be read.

  10. It was beautifully written, wasn't it? And yes, I agree, it says a lot that I'm 5 books deep in Martin's work (Haven't quite cracked it open yet, I have to finish The Secret History first, but I should be into it by Saturday).

  11. Honestly, a lot of highly regarded books fall completely flat for me. I heard so many great things about Franzen's The Corrections you'd think that Franzen was the second coming of Christ but I couldn't even finish it. I do plan on reading the GoT books but won't get to them for awhile.

  12. Big build-ups can be dangerous that way. I did not like The Corrections very much–I didn't like any of the characters, which makes it hard for me to really care much about them and what happens to them. I did read his next book, Freedom. I thought it was much better.

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