― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
At the elementary school library, I remember finding the twins series (The Dutch Twins, The Eskimo Twins, The Japanese Twins, etc.) and received my first experience with other cultures through them. And later, of course Nancy Drew became my hero. The most common reprimand I received from my parents in those years was "Get your nose out of that book!"--probably because I was supposed to be drying dishes, taking a younger brother for a walk or cleaning my room at the time.
So by the age of seventy-four, I should be able to direct my reading time very discriminately. But I don't. How does this happen?
I love history; I was a history teacher for 22 years. So when we travel, I can't resist a museum or park bookstore and snagging at least one biography. I have a stack of biographies to read.
Through my writing, I have become acquainted with numerous other writers and often do beta reads or reviews for them. Last weekend, I was at a book fair at the Sterling, Illinois Library and met an author who described one of his books to me as historical fiction about a man who started teaching in a small Midwestern school in 1968. What?!? I started teaching in 1968. Of course, I had to buy it.
Several of my books have been awarded IndieBRAG Medallions, so I like to pick some of my reading from the other honorees and currently have a few loaded as TBR on my Kindle.
I have had at least three of my former students publish books, so of course I need to read those and give myself a mental pat on the back. So what if I taught them history, not English? I also take credit for a student who had a successful singing career on Broadway and I don't have a musical atom in my body.
I should be diagnosed with series-itis. I am addicted to series by Martha Grimes, Louise Penny, Michael Connelly, and John Sanford. A month ago, at our library, I spotted a book, The Broken Road, about a man who tries to turn his life around by walking the entire length of Route 66. What. again?!? I was writing a book about Route 66, so of course I had to check it out. It was a fast read and very compelling, but you know what? It is the first book of a trilogy and Route 66 doesn't even come into play in the first book. Another series commitment.
I write cozy mysteries and light time travel fiction, so naturally I read a lot in those genres. I am trying to train myself to drop a book that doesn't seem promising and move on to the next, but it's very difficult to do that. Kind of like skipping an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet because they are empty calories...
And then there's lists. I have a good friend, a retired librarian, who puts together a list of the best books she's read in the past year and presents them to our women's club. I'm about four years behind. Facebook has compounded this. You know the posts: "The One Hundred Books from the Twentieth Century You Should Read," "The Classics You Should Have Read in School," and my most recent favorite: "Take a Literary Tour of the U.S. with These 50 State-Set Books."
Finally, what about all the ones I've read that I would love to read again? The Last Convertible (I think my all time favorite), The Winds of War, all of the Betsy-Tacy books, all of Agatha Christy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Giants in the Earth, and on and on.
Right now I need to do some holiday baking, finish a couple of Christmas stockings, work on some scrapbooks, outline my next book...as soon as I finish this chapter.