Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Terry here (busy, busy, busy) Our question this week: It’s the time of year when family commitments begin to ramp up, AND a huge number of books are published, just in time for the gift-giving season. How will this affect your reading? What’s on your To Be Read pile at the moment? 

 This year my reading time is especially affected by the fact that I’m judging an award for best novel for the Texas Institute of Letters. It doesn’t entail a huge volume of books, but with all my other commitments, it limits my normal reading of crime fiction. Still, it isn’t a burden because most of the books are quite wonderful. A couple I will recommend after the judging is completed and the winners announced. There are a couple of mystery novels and thrillers in the mix. I love seeing that they have been submitted for judging in general fiction. 

 To me, it’s interesting to note that with most fiction, there’s always a mystery at the heart of the story. It may not be a traditional “murder” mystery, but always means that something unrevealed at the beginning happened to change the trajectory of people’s lives. And it often involves nefarious actions. If not murder, something harmful. The revelation is much like the revelation of “whodunnunit.” As with crime fiction, it involves looking at people’s motivations for their actions and an understanding of how they became who they are. Sometimes it's a nature vs nurture question. Was someone born with a propensity for selfishness or meanness, or even evil, or did something occur in their past to influence their behavior? 

 At times I get bogged down in the tropes and formulas of crime fiction. Reading a variety of books gives me a fresh look at the vagaries of human action and interaction. 

 As for how all this will affect my usual reading, I’ve got a stack. And what a stack! Lou Berney’s Dark Ride, Angie Kim’s newest, Happiness Falls (I loved Miracle Creek), Deborah Crombie’s A Killing of Innocents, Deborah Ledford’s Redemption, Matt Coyle’s Odyssey’s End (are we really at the end of this series?), 
Mick Herron’s Spook Street, the Goldberg Boys, Lee (Calico) and Tod (Gangsterland)

I can’t believe I still haven’t gotten around to reading Wanda M. Morris’ Anywhere You Run. And there’s Marty Wingate’s The Garden Plot. I don’t read many cozies, but her reading at Bouchercon was so engaging, I went right out and bought it. (Note to authors: reading your work out loud to an audience can get you new readers!) And then of course Rhys Bowen has a new Lady Georgie out (The Proof of the Pudding), and I have to get that one! 

That’s not to mention how taking time out to read affects my own writing. I have a Samuel Craddock due at the end of December and I just got notes (fabulous notes) from my writer’s group yesterday. I have to get busy on that. And there’s the new project. And work on the Socal SinC/MWA holiday party to wrangle. And...and...and... 

 Maybe as a holiday gift to myself this year, I’ll give myself a few hours to just read what I please! In front of a fire in the fireplace with a cup of tea at hand. Doesn’t that sound grand?

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