I always tell people that reading is like breathing to me; I simply can’t live without it. Ask my sister, and she’ll tell you how unreachable I can be when I’m deep in a book. My husband has suffered through countless irritated looks as he attempts to draw me away from a news article. My boys will laugh as they describe my predilection for bringing novels to major league ballparks.
While I read every chance I get, I have a daily ritual that is absolutely sacrosanct: The last half hour of every day is set aside to read for pleasure.
Thanks to this addiction, I tend to burn through a lot of books. Here’s what I’ve read just in the last few months.
- The Millenium series (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Girl who Played with Fire, Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) by Stieg Larsson. Yes, that’s right, I’ve read them all, even Hornet, which hit the US just today. I got lucky there, as I was able to buy it last month on a trip to the UK. What do I like best about this series? Intelligent, independent and courageous female characters. Erika Berger, Annika Giannini and Monica Figuerola should inspire legions of young women to begin careers in journalism, law and criminal justice. And what to say about Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo? Sheer ingenuity coupled with deft computer and nail gun skills. Yep, I want to be just like her.
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. OK, so the narrator is a dog and car racing is essential to plot. I’m not really interested in either. Yet…yet… I loved this book; it’s arguably my favorite of the year. Enzo’s obsessions with TV, racing, and thumbs bring this canine character to life. His watchfulness allows him to correctly assess the nuanced changes that will impact his human family. I cheered at the finish line.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This was practically a thriller. Would Skeeter, Abileen and Minny get caught? And I kept wondering: what was in that pie that made Hilly so mad?
- Every Last One by Anna Quindlen. I usually love Anna, but I’m a bit lukewarm about this one. It takes half the book to set up the story, and when the big event is dropped on us, it feels a little contrived. Quindlen’s better when she digs deep into her characters.
- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. A well-drawn character will rivet me to a storyline. I simply fell in love with the sardonic Major Pettigrew. Somehow, I didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Jasmine though, which made the ending little more than a shrug.
So, there it is: the highlights of this year’s fiction reading list. I’ll leave the rest and those on the nonfiction list for another time. I’m coming up on that magical half hour of the night, and I don’t want to miss it.