Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Favorite Books of 2018

I fell a few books short of my reading goal for this year, completing only 32 of the 40 I pledged to read.  But then I've been busy getting ready for retirement and travel.  If not for the long commute to work and audio books, I probably would not have even come this close.

My last book read this year was Michelle Obama's autobiography Becoming. It is simply marvelous! Starting with her life growing up in the south side of Chicago, it takes you through her childhood, education, meeting and marrying her husband and starting a family, right through her time as First Lady. It is not a book about Barak Obama, but about her and her struggles raising a family in the public eye.

I read a lot of non-fiction, mostly biographies, and this year was no different. This year I read eight non-fiction books, including two about the Trump White House. But my favorite non-fiction book of the year was Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, first published in 1982. I'm sure my love of this book is due to my soon to be nomadic life, but even if I wasn't travelling, this book was just so genuine in its portrayal of the people found throughout out country. When push came to shove, it squeaked out ahead of Michelle Obama's book for my favorite non-fiction read of the year.

Being a writer, I have a lot of writer friends, and this summer was the summer of my friends, catching up on some of my favorite series written by some of my favorite people such as Matt Coyle, James Ziskin and Glen Erik Hamilton. All worth reading. I'm all caught up now on their wonderful series, except for the very latest.

I also read a lot of short fiction this year, such as short story anthologies and novellas. My favorite short fiction for 2018 was the novella Cleaning Up Flynn, written by my friend Sarah M. Chen.

And now on to full-length fiction. Two novels really stood out from the others. One was She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper. The other Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. So different from each other, yet both powerful in their own right. For the winner in my favorite fiction read of 2018, I must go with Long Way Down. This book, written in verse, is haunting and amazing in its depth and simplicity. From the moment I read it, I knew it would make this list.

Wishing you all a 2019 filled with favorite books. Or maybe discover some new authors.

So many books, so little time!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Lady With The Book Tattoo

I have a bucket list. It's not written down. It's fluid and always changing. Over time items get added to it and items get checked off. This year several items were checked off: 1) I finally got to Yosemite; 2) I finally got to the Alabama Hills; 3) I got a tattoo.

I'd been wanting a tattoo for more than fifteen years, but I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted. I just knew that it had to mean something to me if I was going to wear it for eternity. A few years ago I finally decided what I wanted inked onto my body, but I had trouble finding a tattoo artist who saw my vision. Usually they saw something bigger, grander, more expensive.  Originally, I wanted it on my leg, then changed my mind to my arm. Time went by and I kept putting it off.

Finally, one evening in early October, as I was driving home from work, I told myself that tonight's the night! I found a tattoo artist near where I live and he knew exactly what I wanted. The rest is ink history.

And, yes, it hurt.  But I'm thrilled with it!  And just so you know, I doubt I'll get any more.

Recently, I went into a diner near my home. It's a place I go off and on. After I took my seat in a booth, a waitress came up to me and said, "There you are! I was just asking one of the other waitresses if she'd seen the lady with the book tattoo lately."

So, Lisbeth Salander, keep your stinkin' dragon tattoo. I've got books!

Monday, December 10, 2018

T Minus Whatever...

My life is spiraling out of control. It's caught up in the countdown until retirement. Each turn of the calendar page is a march toward something that both excites and terrifies me. Retirement means I'll be hitting the road as a full-time van-dwelling traveler.  My first stop will be Joshua Tree National Park on December 31st.  I want to spend New Year's Eve already engaged in my new life, staring at the desert stars while enjoying some crisp wine.

In the many weeks since I've blogged here, I have signed up for Social Security and Medicare, had a physical, got new glasses, put some of my short stories into wider release, continued writing on a current work in progress, and even cut a convenient hatch in one of the bed platforms in my van. I've also started training my replacement at the law firm.

So many things to do before the 31st. So little time...

This weekend I tackled another big item on my To Do List: I set up my Patreon page for The Novel RV Journal!

I am using the Patreon platform for this because The Novel RV Journal will only be available via a subscription. But from now until January 1st, you will be able to view it for free using the link below. The reason for the subscription site is that The Journal will be a daily detailed account and the raw material for a travel book. Your subscription helps me continue as an indie author, while creating this new book, and others.

However, should you not want to subscribe, don’t worry, I’ll still be posting on Facebook and on Instagram, and on Babble 'n Blog, just not as often or in as great detail as on The Journal.

I invite you to take a look at The Journal on Patreon. I think you'll like it.