The Reading...and the Writing...Games

Can you believe April is just about over? Time passes so quickly; I find this concept very difficult to accept and grasp. We are only here 90 years or so, and man, we have to cram in a lot of living in between jobs, shampooing and conditioning the hair, cleaning dustbunnies from under the bed, and chopping vegetables.

Not a great segue, but this does lead me willy-nilly to my book reading. I managed to avoid Colette's Pure and Impure for my March Dangerous Read. It wasn't that it was too dangerous; the prose was more like Virgina Woolf lite, and the first dozen pages or so melted in my brain like so much English toffee. So, I put that down and took refuge in rereading a biography of Dian Fossey and an account of the Titanic sinking (nothing like other people's misfortunes to get you over feeling angry about having to wait for the cable guy on Saturday).

Picked up a silly book. The title got me: Bookmarked to Die. I knew it had to be bibliocentric, and sure enough, the protaganist is a librarian, Helma Zukas. She was a bit too priggish for my tastes, and the story was basic -- two local authors are murdered, the Police Chief (who happens to be Helma's beau) is mad at her so she must regain his trust by solving the mystery. Or something like that. It was silly fun, easy to read, and not too offensive. I figured it would be a good basic book to look at for writing mysteries.

Next up is what portends to be a more literary take on a crime novel, Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files. I'd really like to find some more noir, too, a la James Cain. Love that hardboiled grit.

Re the writing schedule: I'm keeping it simple and doable. 3 times a week during lunch or after work, 1 hour on weekends. I have my best energy and focus mid-day, and that's when I usually exercise. Now will balance that with writing. It's got to be part of the day; otherwise, will just slip off the radar.

I joined the organization Sisters in Crime, too. A few weeks ago I went to a luncheon they hosted in San Francisco, and the people were great. (Much more laid-back than the usual egomaniacal lit-uh-awry stiffs I typically meet at writing events.) They have a good local chapter. I'm hoping that the networking and events will keep me motivated, too.

Anyone out there who wants to commiserate over or share writing experiences, feel free to email me or post here.


Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, Andi is giving away a copy of The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming. Please hurry to her site to enter -- the drawing will be held Friday, April 25th at 8am eastern!

Other eco-related books to check out: Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet and Diet for a New America.

I wonder what is going to happen in light of the current food crisis. What with this, our mortgage crisis, global warming, and mounting fuel prices, you'd think our country would get a clue that the current way of life is not sustainable.

Any other Earth Day-related books that you'd like to list?


What students are reading

UC Berkeley surveyed what students have been reading over a 20-year period, and the results are interesting. The top books are: 1987 - The Color Purple, 1997 - The Fountainhead, and 2007 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Ayn Rand's book was actually #2 in 1987 and has disappeared from 2007's top 10, a list which is rife with J.K. Rowling titles. Fortunately, some oldies-but-goodies have consistently made the grade, including Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The article summarizes the findings this way:

What conclusions can we draw from these admittedly unscientific surveys? Student do manage to read for enjoyment, and they read widely. Best seller lists (and Oprah?) influence their reading, but clearly they have strong wills of their own. Can we explain Madame Bovary, Our Man in Havana, All Quiet on the Western Front, Great Expectations, and The Screwtape Letters as recreational reading among college students? No, but we can be thankful.

Amen to that!