How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?*

Measuring the YearIt’s interesting how the end of the year often gets us into a reflective mood, whether or not we make and keep New Year’s resolutions. It’s often a time for taking stock of oneself – well, it is for me anyway. And no, I promise this isn’t going to be one of those ‘Best of 2012’s Reading’ posts. You’ll be reading enough of those as the next weeks go by. Besides, I don’t like to ‘stay within the lines’ like that. But here are a few things I’ve noticed about my crime fiction reading this year. If they help you make some reading choices, then I’m glad to have been of service.

 

 

Book That Has Caused Me to Re-Think My Assumptions

 

Angela Savage – Behind the Night Bazaar

Y.A. Erskine – The Brotherhood

Roger Smith – Dust Devils

Martin EdwardsAll the Lonely People

 

Most of us, myself included, have a set of assumptions about, well, everything. About people from other groups, about how to make the world better, about how to solve the world’s problems. But those assumptions can blind us to the fact that very few of life’s problems and inequities have an easy solution. All of these books present difficult issues (e.g. poverty, human trafficking, questions of racial equity) that do not have an easy solution. And these authors are all to be commended for not offering pat solutions. All of these novels have caused me to question what I always believed, and that’s a good thing. The book that has most caused me to really question myself though is Angela Savage’s Behind the Night Bazaar. In that novel, PI Jayne Keeney investigates the murders of her friend Didier ‘Didi’ de Montpasse and his partner Nou. The trail leads Keeney to some ugly truths about child trafficking and the sex trade. I think we’d all agree that something has to be done to keep children safe and to stop human trafficking. But Savage shows us, without preaching, that there isn’t a simple solution. Not until we question what we assume to be true can we look at the source of these problems and try to solve them. This isn’t an easy, light book, but it stays with me in part because it has invited me to stop and re-think everything I always ‘knew’ about human trafficking.

 

 

Book I Am Very Annoyed at Myself For Not Reading Yet

 

Michael Connelly – The Black Box

Ben Winters – The Last Policeman

Deon Meyer – Seven Days

Vanda Symon – The Faceless 

 

Here’s the thing. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and seven days in a week. And one has to eat and sleep and pay bills, etc…   So there simply isn’t enough time to read it all. I am a fan of all four of these highly talented authors, so it has nothing to do with my interest in their books. It really doesn’t.  I will read all of these books. However, I am most angry with myself for not yet reading Vanda Symon’s The Faceless. Symon is the highly talented author of the Sam Shephard series, and I was very much looking forward to this standalone release. I still am. I promise, Vanda, I will read it. Very soon. Folks, if you haven’t yet read it, give it a try. Symon will not disappoint you.

 

 

Pattern in My Reading That I Didn’t Even Notice

 

I Have Read More Canadian Crime Fiction This Year.

I Have Read More French Crime Fiction This Year.

I Have Read More Australian Crime Fiction This Year, Mostly Written by Women.

I Have Read More Thrillers This Year.

 

Did you ever catch yourself in a new pattern that you weren’t even aware of? Well, this year I found myself, and I promise it was unplanned, branching out in all sorts of different reading directions. I’m glad for that, as I am a better informed crime fiction fan for it. I’m all for ‘stretching oneself’ as a reader. And I am truly grateful for those who’ve helped me do that this year. The pattern that I’ve most noticed – that seems the strongest – without me even being aware of it is that I’ve read a whole lot more crime fiction by Australian women writers than I had before. This year I’ve read some terrific work by Sandy Curtis, Virginia Duigan, Y.A. Erskine,  Kerry Greenwood, Wendy James and Angela Savage, among others. I’m so glad I ‘met’ these wonderful ladies from down under. To all of you, thanks for sharing your work with us, and it is my great pleasure to mention it on my blog. Want to read some terrific crime fiction by Aussie women writers? Sure ya do! Check out Fair Dinkum Crime, which is the source for all Australian crime fiction. And check out the Australian Women Writers challenge. Go ‘head. You’re in for a real treat!

 

 

New Character I’ve Met This Year That I’d Love to Have a Drink With

 

Anthony Bidulka’s Russell Quant

Angela Savage’s Jayne Keeney

Donna Malane’s Diane Rowe

Alan Orloff’s Channing Hayes

 

All of these sleuths are absolutely terrific characters whom I’m really happy that I met. They’re all smart, interesting and I’m sure they’d be a lot of fun to know in person. My vote, by a slim margin (‘cause they’re all great characters) is Anthony Bidulka’s Russell Quant. Quant’s smart, thoughtful, interesting, and knows lots of cool places to eat and drink. I could truly enjoy sharing a bottle of good wine and swapping stories with him. His would probably trump mine by a long shot. Check out all of these protagonists, folks – they’re all worth getting to know.

 

 

Author Whose Next Release I Am Most Eager For (Fingers are Drumming and I’m Waiting……Still Waiting…)

 

Paddy Richardson

Adrian Hyland

William Ryan

James Craig

 

All of these authors have wowed me with their novels. And now that I’ve gotten hooked it’s really very unfair to keep me waiting. Come on, you folks!! Next novel, please!!!!!!  There are a few other authors who’ve gotten me hooked (e.g. Elizabeth Spann Craig and Donna Malane), but I know when their next books are coming out, so I’ll be patient. But I am especially eager to read the next book by… Adrian Hyland. Hyland’s Emily Tempest series is one of the finest series I’ve read, and I really truly hope there’ll be a new one soon. A-a-a-hem, Mr. Hyland!!!

So there you have it. A few reflections on my own reading as we face the last few weeks of 2012. Now, please don’t ask me which book I’ve liked most of all I’ve read this year. First of all, the year isn’t over yet. Secondly, I couldn’t narrow it down.

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Jonathan Larson’s Seasons of Love.

37 Comments

Filed under Adrian Hyland, Alan Orloff, Angela Savage, Anthony Bidulka, Ben Winters, Deon Meyer, Donna Malane, James Craig, Martin Edwards, Michael Connelly, Paddy Richardson, Roger Smith, Vanda Symon, William Ryan, Y.A. Erskine

37 responses to “How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?*

  1. I like your categories, Margot. I much prefer reading about favorites vs. reading a top ten list.

  2. Great post, Margot :) I just ordered The Brotherhood – finally cracked after waiting patiently for the price to come down a little. Really looking forward to reading it.

    • Mrs. P – Thank you so much – that’s very kind of you. I think you’ll be glad you read The Brotherhood. It is not an easy book to read. And as I mention, it makes one question a lot. But to me that’s one of its real strengths.

  3. This is such a great way of doing it, I may have to copy – pardon me, borrow – the format for myself (with a few tweaks, naturally). And I know what you mean about some writers not being able to write fast enough for my taste… Your comment about developing new patterns is also very valid – I need to think about that one.
    And finally, yes, I too find it really hard to choose just a handful of favourites. Because so much depends on the mood, the style, the expectations… and because there are far more than 5 or 10 good books out there this year!

    • Marina Sofia – Thank you so much for the kind words – I appreciate it. I think we all develop those patterns in our reading and we really aren’t even aware we’re doing it while it’s going on. I’m sure I’ve other patterns in my reading too that I haven’t thought about. And honestly, I really dislike being asked to choose just one or even a few ‘best’ books. It’s just too difficult. I read too many excellent books to do that.

  4. What a great overview of your reading, and full of ideas for the rest of us – much more interesting than a top 10 list. Except that now I’ve got lots more authors and books that I have to find time for…. But thank you anyway.

    • Moira – Why thank you – I’m glad you enjoyed this. And you know, I tire of those ‘normal’ ‘Top-10′ lists myself. And about adding to your own reading list? Ummm…turn about is fair play I’d say. ;-)

  5. What excellent categories and selections. I too shall borrow this to give some better structure to my end of year reflections

  6. I have to agree with everyone else… great categories. And very thoughtful discussion of them.

  7. Margot: Hmmmm! Some of those themes sound familiar.

    I was interested to see how much your 2012 reading has taken you outside the United States. I have been trying to broaden my reading horizons without just picking books from a certain area. Reading crime fiction blogs has helped me achieve that goal.

    While you are limited to a fictional drink with Russell Quant I am sure you would enjoy a real life drink with his creator, Anthony Bidulka, who is just as warm and witty as Russell. Should you decide to travel to Saskatchewan to find Anthony you might wait alittle. It will be -20C by morning.

    • Bill – Ah, yes, winter is coming to the prairie. If I do go in that direction, I’ll either wait or be sure to bring a good coat, a toque, a scarf, gloves and the right footwear. I do hope to meet Anthony Bidulka at some point; from everything I’ve read and heard, he is a terrific person.
       
      You know, you have a point too, that in general I’ve been reading a lot of non-U.S. crime fiction. I didn’t mention in my blog post that I also did my share of reading U.K. crime fiction and a little Scandinavian crime fiction too. As I say, I didn’t plan any of that. But I’m glad it worked out that way; I wanted to broaden my reading too.

  8. kathy d.

    These categories are good, quite a bit more interesting than a top 10 list of books of the year. I would have to say that I’ve read more books written by women writers from Oz than any other country, except the U.S. And I’m glad that I have. Also, I’ve read more books from more countries than ever.
    This is due to reading excellent blogs, which expand one’s reading horizons.
    And I must say that some books have made me think, like Angela Savage’s two books as well as Kaaberbol and Friis’ two books, Donna Leon’s, julia Keller’s book, Stef Penney’s — and, as always Sjowall and Wahloo’s books.
    And I’ll add my name to the chorus asking for another Emily Tempest book.
    Well, one thing we can all agree on is that 2013 opens up another year of exciting crime fiction, even though we have limitations due to the darned only 24 hours in a day, with sleep required. Tasks and errands, I can ignore up to a point, but sleep and bill paying I’m afraid aren’t negotiable.

    • Kathy – I couldn’t agree with you more about the effect that blog-reading has had on my crime-fiction reading. I’ve learned about so many books and series just from reading what my fellow book-loving bloggers have had to say. And really, I’ve only scratched the surface. As you say, there are only 24 hours in a day, and sleeping, bill paying and eating sort of have to happen. Of course, one can read while one eats…
       
      It’s interesting that you’ve been reading a lot of crime fiction from Australian women writers too. Ain’t it great? And there are several more of those authors too, whose work I want to explore. I think in a way that that’s why I don’t usually have a specific plan when I read. There’s so much out there that I think if I planned it all I’d be overwhelmed.

  9. Interesting post Margot. I too have plenty of books I’m annoyed that I didn’t get around to reading. BTW I love ‘Seasons of Love’ song and I sang it before with my old choir.

  10. Good idea, Margot. I hate making lists of the best books from this year.too. I would add books that took me to a new time or place. And I liked THE LAST POLICEMAN for this category as well as THE LIFEBOAT and SALVAGE THE BONES.

    • Patti – Thank you – that’s very kind of you. I’m not a big list-maker either about this sort of thing anyway. But I love your idea of a category that describes a book that takes one someplace/somewhere else. Neat!! Thanks for the book suggestions too.

  11. Pingback: My Reading Pattern So Far This Year | The Game's Afoot

  12. You have read some really good books by some very fine writers this year, Ms. Kinberg, and I am going to help myself to many of these titles. In 2013, I hope to branch out into literature from different parts of the world and read more crime-fiction that will also be based on many of your thoughtful recommendations this past one year. As far as fiction goes, 2012 has been a learning curve for me.

    • Prashant – I know exactly what you mean about a learning curve. The older I get, the more I know how very little I really know. Thanks very much for the kind words, and I do hope you enjoy the experience of branching out.

  13. I’m going to have to add those authors to my reading list.

  14. Pingback: My Reading Pattern So Far This Year « The Mystery Bookshelf

  15. kathy d.

    Prepare to set aside a weekend to read Connelly’s The Black Box. That author has not lost his touch, and this book is as riveting as ever, maybe more so. I’ve done nothing the last few days but read, productivity aside. The pages fly by, but this reader can’t put the book down. I’m telling myself just one more chapter, just a few more pages. Yeah, right!

    • Kathy – Oh, I’m quite certain I’m going to lose a lot of sleep when I st art The Black Box. Connelly is such a talented writer! I’m waiting for one of those times when I don’t have a meeting or something the next day, so that if I walk around like a zombie after having stayed up all night reading, it’s OK. ;-)

  16. kathy d.

    With a little Nero Wolfe tossed in to provide some humor, which I needed after that book from Oz, which is so sad, but good. Nothing like mixing it up, with some chocolate, coffee or tea for energy for reading. So, what is sleep needed for anyway? Happy reading!

  17. Hi Margot, Channing Hayes would like to have a drink with you, too! (I’m a little behind on my blog reading)

  18. I have Seven Days on my coffee table from the library. Must. Read. Now.

  19. Pingback: 2012: The Favourites | Reactions to Reading

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