Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Reading Roundup, 2023 (Part III)

Howdy, folks, and happy new year! Funny, I feel like we usually see “New Year” capitalized, and yet I don’t know that it should be. Hmm. Anyway, we had a good holiday season, and I’m fortunate to have accrued enough vacation time that I was able to take off the full Thanksgiving week AND nearly two full weeks at Christmas (though we also officially close for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day). Good relaxation and family time, a fair amount of reading and writing. Who doesn’t love that?

Quick update on some things, I’m still working on two things in particular, one was what started out as a short (3-5 pages) story that became 60 and then became 180ish in three parts. It’s still raw and rough and has potential. The other is a novel length manuscript that is currently with The Wife. Always a nervous time when someone is reading my stuff, but so far her comments are positive.

On a more personal note I hurt my back either a) shoveling snow last Saturday or b) throwing cases of soda and water into the way-back of my car last Friday. I’ve spent most of this week with a heating pad and chugging stupid amounts of Advil. The good news is it’s feeling much better today, a week after doing it, but let me tell you, you don’t know how many muscles are connected to your back until you hurt it. Woof. Anyway, on to the list, reading between October 1 and December 31 (check here for Part I and Part II of the list):

Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver (2022). Hard life in Appalachia. In addition to examining poverty and addiction, this book made me more aware of how we view the South, and it ain’t nice.

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood (2000).

Skeletons at the Feast, Chris Bohjalion (2008).

The Mountain Hunters, Francis Nolan, MD (2023). Novella written by local doctor about a hunting trip to Alaska.

The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich (2020). Fictionalized tale of a sad piece of US history I wasn’t aware of, an attempt by the US government in 1953 to terminate the treaty with the Turtle Mountain Chippewa and other native tribes.

Holly, Stephen King (2023). Not all horror involves the supernatural.

Only six books, but some of them were real doorstoppers (I also feel like I’m missing something between The Night Watchman and Holly, but I can’t remember. In all, 29 books for the year, though it includes some re-reads. Best book of the year? The Devil Takes You Home, by Gabino Iglesias. That book gripped me, and went places I never expected. I heartily endorse it, though be aware that it is violent and not always pleasant.

What about you? What was your favorite book of the year, and do you have any recommendations for what I should read next? Please share. Now it’s back to the heating pad….

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