That has to be an 80’s pop song. I mean if there’s a “Careless Whisper,” there must be some “Broken Promises.” Right? But I’m here today to talk about my broken promises, not George Michael’s. I don’t actually know if he has any. He had the careless whispers, but I can’t speak to his promises, kept or not. I personally do not have any careless whispers that I can recall, but broken promises, yes.
At the beginning of 2016 I made a solemn promise that I would not, under any circumstance, buy a new book for myself until I had read all the books in my to-be-read pile. Behold my shelf of to-be-read books.
I possess every intention of reading all these books, however I do not possess endless reading hours. Also, I keep buying news ones and then the pile gets larger and larger and that makes it more difficult to get through it. There’s also my Kindle but we don’t need to discuss that. And then of course the library. Also borrowing books from friends. But I made a solemn promise!
And I did not buy a new book. Alright I did. But it was East of Eden which I’ve never read and the money goes to the Friends of the Library, who do such great things for the library, as good friends should, and I use the library a lot so it’s only right (and friendly) that I also contribute. But then I was at Whole Foods one day and they had some used books for sale and the proceeds went to a very noble cause. I have mailed away for just a few from PaperBack Swap, but technically those are swaps, so I don’t think they count. So far this year, I’ve only broken my promise an estimated 6-8 times. Books I check out of the library do not count. I estimate only 12-15 of those. (My estimates are typically 85% accurate.)
All things considered, I’ve done better than I have in other years when I have made this same solemn promise. I swear in general I am better at promises. For instance, I have been faithfully married to Steve (not his real name) for going on 15 years. And if you tell me a secret I WILL NOT tell anyone. I’m like a vault. Not only because I forget things all the time, either. I have a spot in my brain that is literally a vault. Steve (not his real name) will love that. Misuse of the word “literally” drives him mental. Literally. But there is literally a vault in my brain where I lock up my friends’ deepest secrets. I even have a little key. Maybe I mean figuratively ...
Bottom line: I cannot do this no-buying-new-books thing.
So since it’s clear that I’m not bothering with that solemn promise, we can move right on to more enjoyable topics, such as you must be dying to know what I’m reading, right? Since the beginning of the year, I’ve read The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (lovely), Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna Baggott (incredibly clever plotting and her website is awesome), Georgia by Dawn Tripp (a poignant and rich novelization of Georgia O’Keeffe’s relationship with Alfred Stieglitz done up in gorgeous prose). I reread The Shipping News by Annie Proulx for the 8th time. It’s most likely my favorite novel, which for me is like choosing a favorite child. You CAN do it if you are really pressed, but people frown on it. Wait, that’s actual children. It’s just very hard for me to pick a favorite novel. The reviews on Amazon for this book are hilarious. People either love it with unchecked passion or hate it beyond reason. I read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey in January and, oh lordy, I swoon for it. It was one of those times when I mourned the closing of the back cover. The prose was melodic without distracting from the narrative—a perfect balance. She has a new book coming out in August and I cannot wait. It’s in my planner. (Yeah, I’m gonna buy it.) The story was both realistic and speculative in equal parts and somehow that worked perfectly. Just last week I wrapped up Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera. Oh, this book! A jewel—every sentence sings with imagery, visceral and lush. It’s sad but beautiful. She has a new book out and I'm planning on it for my summer vacation read. (Yeah, I’m gonna buy it.)
I’ve abandoned a few—I have no trouble with this. I used to finish anything I started, like some kind of hero. As John Irving says, “Grown-ups shouldn’t finish books they’re not enjoying.” I took his advice and stopped reading his latest. It just wasn’t doing it for me.
Right now I am really into Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I read Arcadia, her last book, too and loved it. Her characters are so round and full and leaving her books is like saying goodbye to friends. I’m also reading After Birth by Elisa Albert, whose website is super-cool. I’m not sure about the book yet—the protagonist is grating and kind of unlikeable, her voice harsh. I haven’t decided yet whether I dislike her enough to say goodbye—I still want to see what happens to her. We’ll see.
I recently downloaded Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading journal. I gave a copy to my 14 year-old niece and I wish so much that I’d been keeping track of my reading since I was a kid. If you sign up for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s newsletter, she will send you the journal to download! I have a list of books I want to read, but I won’t promise not to buy them until those up there on the shelf(ves) are read. You wouldn’t believe me if I did. I do not blame you.
BONUS BLOG MATERIAL!
I know?! Awesome, right? How many blogs provide bonus material? Just me as far as I know. Which isn’t terribly far, but still. Here’s the 80‘s song about broken promises that’s been floating around the edges of my tender brain folds ever since I started thinking about broken promises.
Why is he in jail? High concept 80‘s videos—so cerebral. Bonus material WITH mullet and indecipherable metaphor? This is what they call value added, people. You should probably tell all your friends to subscribe to my newsletter. I’m just suggesting. I mean if you’re a good friend. Like the Friends of the Library. They really get what friendship is all about. And their weekly book sales are fabulous.
Find my novels, THE MOSQUITO HOURS and TALKING UNDERWATER, online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And don’t forget your local independent bookstore! I’m curious about something: would you like to stay up-to-date on news about my books as well as have my latest blog posts conveniently delivered to your inbox? Then subscribe to my newsletter! Click on that little box right over there on the right. See how easy I made that for you? (You’re welcome.)