A good day at the Boerne Book and Arts Fest in Boerne, Texas with a group of my Sisters in Crime from the Heart of Texas Chapter
I sold four times as many copies of MURDER ON WHEELS and LONE STAR LAWLESS as I did last spring in Fort Worth–no need to say how many I sold then–but the company of the Sisters would have made it a good day if I’d sold no books at all.
I surprised myself by un-introverting and not only saying hello to browsers but also telling them MURDER ON WHEELS is better than LONE STAR LAWLESS because I have two stories in MOW and only one in LSL. I also said I like my stories in MOW more than the ones in LSL. The not-my stories in LSL might be better than their counterparts in MOW, but let’s face it, when I’m selling my own books, I get to say what’s what.
For future reference, anyone contemplating buying one of the anthologies should buy MURDER ON WHEELS, unless he or she already has a copy. In that case, take the other. My story in LONE STAR LAWLESS is excellent, too. I showed it to my high school English teacher and she said so.
In other news, at The Bosslight in Nacogdoches a couple of weeks ago, I bought a copy of Book Riot’s READ HARDER. Failing to examine it carefully, I thought it was for keeping a record of books read. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered it’s a series of twelve reading challenges. Among them are
-a book about a current social or political issue
-an award-winning young adult book
-a book about space
-a book published by an independent press
-a book that was originally published in another language
So I must make decisions.
I’m tempted to re-read some books–for a book originally published in another language, for example, I’d like to re-read Giants in the Earth, originally published in 1926, which I read in 1975. Written in Norwegian, it was then translated into English by author Ole Rolvaag. It’s the story of Per Hansa, who in 1873 settles with his family in the Dakota Territory. A look at Wikipedia to check my facts reminds me that Giants is the first book in a trilogy, so I’m free to read the sequels, Peder Victorious (Peder Seier) (1928) and Their Fathers’ God (Den signede dag) (1931).
For an award-winning YA book, I’d like to re-read Katherine Paterson‘s Newbery winner Jacob Have I Loved. Although the Newbery is given for children’s books, Jacob is really for older readers, and, I contend, for adults.* As a person of integrity, though, I’ll read a book that’s new to me. Then I’ll read Jacob again.
Note: All of Paterson’s book are exquisite. She believes that once children reach a certain age, they should not be given fairy tale happily-ever-after endings. Her books carry the message that life can be difficult–as it will be–but that readers have the knowledge, courage, and strength to endure, and that there is always hope. The daughter of missionaries to China, herself a missionary to Japan for a year, and the wife of a Presbyterian minister, Paterson writes realistic–and drop-dead funny–books that hold a prominent place among titles most often banned in the United States: Sometimes, when pushed to their limits, her characters say, Damn. They also have problems, have to make hard choices, and are not happy all the time, conditions some adults have forgotten from their own childhoods. Young readers, however, love her stories.
For a book about books, I’ll read The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1979). It examines Victorian literature–specifically, the works of Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson–from a feminist perspective. The title comes from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, in which Edward Rochester’s mentally ill wife, Bertha Mason, is secretly confined in the attic.
I read part of Madwoman years for a graduate course and found it fascinating. According to Wikipedia, some critics say it’s outdated, but that won’t keep me from being fascinated again. A second edition was released in 2000.
I’ll check the Internet and journals for the subjects of other challenges. The only book I’ll have trouble choosing is one I “would normally consider a guilty pleasure.”
I can’t imagine feeling guilty about reading.
*The best children’s and YA books are for grown-ups, too. Adults who don’t read pictures books don’t know what they’re missing. A good book is a good book.
Here’s a grandmother reading The Wonky Donkey to her grandchild. Or trying to read it. Pay no attention to background noise.
The man standing beside the SINC Heart of Texas banner is author Nichols Grimes, who kindly let us take his picture.