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Wednesday, December 31, 2008


In a blog interview this year, I was asked what inspired me as a writer. Several things came to mind: music, being with other writers, listening to God’s voice. As I rethink what I said in that interview, I have to say that my love affair with books—my lifelong attachment to reading is what inspired me to begin writing in the first place and sustains me now on my writing journey. I love words and entering the lives of characters in other times and places. Books have formed my outlook and changed my life.

This year has been no different. However, for the first time that I can remember, I have given myself permission to quit reading a book if I’m not captivated by the second or third chapter. There are just too many great books waiting to be read.

Like many others at this time of year, I’m looking back at my reading list and choosing which books I liked the best in 2008. None stood out as much as Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants did last year, so I’m listing my favorites in the order in which I read them.

My Name is Russell Fink (Michael Synder) – a fun, quirky read that made me laugh one minute and cry the next. I’ll be looking for more books from this debut author.

Magic Time (Doug Marlette) – A serious read about a trial in the 1990s that stems from the tumultuous Freedom March days of the sixties. This book came out in 2007, the second novel of Mr. Marlette, who is better known for his Pulitzer-winning career as a political cartoonist and the creator of the Kudzu comic strip. I had the privilege of hearing the author speak a couple of years ago. Sadly, he died in an automobile accident soon after the release of Magic Time. Highly recommended book.

Trouble the Water (Nicole Seitz) – lovely Southern fiction about the special bond of two sisters. Anything with the Gullah culture intrigues me.

Painted Dresses (Patricia Hickman) – Another Southern fiction, this one a road trip, again about sisters.

Made In The USA (Billie Letts) – Billie is a local (Tulsa) author, who’s gained best seller status, and this may be one of her best. It’s quirky, gritty, and redemptive. Billie does a great job with young protagonists who’ve been dealt a rotten hand in life.

The Shape of Mercy (Susan Meissner) – One of my favorite books this year by one of my all-time favorite authors. This book takes place in the present and in Colonial America during the Salem witch trials. Beautiful, thought-provoking writing that made me think about defending the innocent and my own prejudices.

A Constant Heart (Siri Mitchell) – Historicals are seldom what I pick up, but this one was mesmerizing and gave me a whole new perspective about Queen Elizabeth’s court in the 1600s. Wonderful writing with an unusual love story.

An Irishwoman’s Tale (Patti Lacy) – Based on a true story, this is the life story of a young girl born in Ireland and ripped from her mother’s arms to be sent to America at age five. Lovely writing from this debut author.

Rain Song (Alice Wisler) – Another debut author with a southern voice. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) This one has a Japanese connection which made it fun.

I read a LOT of good books this year, but these are the ones I find myself thinking about, wondering how the characters are doing, and if I might bump into one of them at the grocery story. THAT’s what a good book is, in my opinion – one that lives on in my head . . . and my heart.

I’d love to hear from you. What were your favorite reads in 2008? Anything I should add to my 2009 list? I’ll be posting that in the next week or so. In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours.

1 comment:

Erica Vetsch said...

Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy was my favorite read of 2008. Humor, romance, suspense, that book had it all.

Happy New Year, Carla! May blessings fall like rain.