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Monday Musings, Vol. 2

Valeri Collection
Today, HBE offers a second volume of Monday Musings.

Dear Readers,

Alas, another weekend has come and gone. And you know what that (occasionally) means: another edition of Monday Musings!

Last week, I lamented the fact that our recent move from apartment to house—and the all-consuming tasks that come along with such “upward mobility”—had rendered a visit to the bookstore impossible. Well, I rectified that yesterday by dropping in at our nearest brick-and-mortar: Barnes & Noble in Somerset Square (Glastonbury). They have an impressive stock of Marcia Clark’s debut novel, Guilt by Association (2011), available in the bargain book section for $5.98 each. You may have gathered that I’m a bit obsessed with the author, and so I’ve made it my mission to surreptitiously purchase one copy during each visit. And that means sifting through the stack each time to find the most pristine of the bunch, even if it means going fifteen deep. That’s perfectly normal behavior, right?

I’m in a writers’ group—the “Em Dashes” (you may need to look up the term to appreciate my use of em dashes here)—and one of my fellow members, Dan Foley (author of Death’s Companion and The Whispers of Crows), tagged me in a Facebook post in which you’re asked to identify ten books “that have left a lasting impression on you” (and then tag others to keep the game going). And as much as I wanted to include heavy hitters like the Bible or even Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the truth is that the stories that have stayed with me are the ones that capture a “voice” or tone similar to what I strive for in my own writing and/or those that came across my TBR pile at just the right moment to make them painfully relatable. (That both Jodi Picoult’s The Pact and Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember made the list tells you something of my affinity for tortured teenage romance.) And, speaking of Marcia Clark, her Simpson trial memoir, Without a Doubt (1997), was a true life changer. So much so that I tagged her to take part in the next round …

Like most (err, some?) bibliophiles, I keep an annualized list of the books I read in the hopes of outperforming my prior year’s consumption. (I read 92 last year and am currently on #70 of 2014.) Recently, I came across the 50 Book Pledge from TheSavvyReader.ca. Not only can you earn badges as you hit milestones in your reading challenge, but the site allows you to maintain a virtual bookcase in which you can add the cover image of each title you’ve read (along with commentary, if you’re so moved) or want to read—and it provides an end-of-the-year trajectory based on your progress. I’m currently on target for 105. Booyah!

Oh, and while the great majority of my reading tends to encompass novels, I have read some short story collections recently—and while my relationship with such fare tends to be hit or miss, it’s been more hit than miss this year. B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories was both masterful and riotous, and Simon Rich’s forthcoming Spoiled Brats (out in October from Little Brown) is a worthy follow-up to last year’s The Last Girlfriend on Earth. Sometimes less really is more …

What’s new in your reading world, friends?

Until next time,

John